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January 9, 2008 Vol. 1, Issue 1


Innovation was the theme of the Academy’s fifteenth Master Forum, which took place October 15-18, 2007, in Mesa, Arizona.

Participants from all ten NASA field centers came together to consider the design and development challenges posed by NASA’s exploration agenda. Speakers from a variety of backgrounds addressed the question of how NASA can encourage and manage innovation:

  • Dr. Howard McCurdy of American University and Dr. Stephen Johnson of NASA offered historical perspectives on how NASA adapted organizationally to meet the Apollo challenge.
  • Peter Homer, winner of the NASA Astronaut Glove Centennial Challenge Award, and Peter Love, founder and executive director of the Island Astronomy Institute, discussed their personal experiences with small-scale innovation outside of government.
  • Jeff McCandless of Ames Research Center and Bob Moorehead of Glenn Research Center compared notes on efforts at Ames and Glenn to shift those centers from a research orientation toward spaceflight project management.
  • ASK Magazine Editor-in-Chief Larry Prusak and Managing Editor Don Cohen led a discussion based on research they have conducted at Babson College about organizational environments that enable innovation.

The conference also featured reflections by several senior NASA practitioners on recent project management experiences:

  • Chip Jones of Marshall Space Flight Center spoke about the project management challenges involved in the design and development of the upper stage of the Ares I launch vehicle.
  • Todd May of the New Frontiers program in the Science Mission Directorate shared a program management perspective on the New Horizons mission and the recent launches of Dawn and the Mars Phoenix Lander.
  • Frank Snow of Goddard Space Flight Center recounted his experience managing the THEMIS mission, which required the simultaneous design and development of five spacecraft.
  • Shaun Standley of JPL discussed the dynamics of international project management that he encountered while working on the Cassini-Huygens mission for the European Space Agency.

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