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ASK OCE — May 29, 2007 — Vol. 2, Issue 3


By Chris Scolese


Two new NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) documents developed by the Office of the Chief Engineer establish common Agency-wide requirements for project management and systems engineering.

NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements (NPR 7120.5D) defines project management requirements for all NASA space flight programs and projects. This NPR applies to every facet of spaceflight programs and projects, including the spacecraft, launch vehicles, instruments developed for space flight programs and projects, research and technology developments funded by and to be incorporated into space flight programs and projects, critical technical facilities specifically developed or significantly modified for space flight systems, and ground systems that are in direct support of space flight operations. Among other things, 7120.5D differs from earlier versions of the document because it integrates the program/project life cycle and milestone reviews for both human and robotic missions, standardizes terminology across NASA centers, and defines the processes for programmatic authority, technical authority, and the handling of dissenting opinions. Most importantly, perhaps, this document takes the guesswork out of Agency-wide requirements for project management by identifying who is responsible for what in each phase in the project life cycle.

NASA Systems Engineering Processes and Requirements (NPR 7123.1A) spells out a set of common technical processes for systems engineering. Systems engineering has traditionally had very few governing documents at NASA. The previous version of this document, which was published a year ago, was the first Agency-wide requirements document for systems engineering. Prior to that, the 1995 Systems Engineering Handbook (SP-6105)Adobe PDF was the most extensive guidance that NASA offered on systems engineering. (The handbook is now in the process of being updated.) One of the most important purposes of 7123.1 was simply developing a common definition for systems engineering and its practices. The systems engineering framework in 7123.1 focuses on three elements: workforce, tools and methods, and common technical processes. Together, these three elements comprise our systems engineering capability. As our missions become increasingly complex, a consistent, disciplined, and repeatable approach is essential to meet the needs of our programs and projects.

The Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership (APPEL) has taken several steps to introduce NPRs 7120.5D and 7123.1A. In addition to updating its course materials, it has developed an online knowledge self-assessment tool to test understanding of 7120.5D. (A similar tool is being created for 7123.1A.) It has also dedicated a special issue of ASK Magazine (Issue 26) to these documents, including articles by authors ranging from Administrator Michael Griffin to the Smithsonian’s space historian Roger Launius.

On the surface, a requirements document is just what its name implies: a set of boundaries, limitations, and expectations. While NPRs 7120.5D and 7123.1A are clearly intended to function in this regard, they are more than that; they are the distilled product of nearly fifty years of expertise in project management and systems engineering. Both involved thousands of hours of discussions with experts within and outside the Agency. The teams who developed them reached out to the best, most experienced minds within NASA and the broader aerospace community. The result is nothing less than our essential best practices and lessons learned in project management and systems engineering.

I would like to thank each and every person who participated in the development of these documents. In particular, I wish to recognize and thank the leadership and members of the writing teams (listed below) who devoted so much time and effort to deliver these documents.



Ledetria Beaudoin Don Beckmeyer Neil Rainwater

Thomas R. Gavin Ralph Anderson Greg Robinson
Maria Bayon Sheryl Bergstrom Stephen Rider
Mike Blythe Bill Bihner Harriet L. Ross
John Brunson Jim Bilbro Robert Shishko
Jose Christian Richard Burg Michael G. Stamatelatos
Gary Cox Paul Bleiler Greg Stover
Dan Ditman Hugo Delgado Amber Sutton
Orlando Figueroa Bill Hill Randall Taylor
Stan Fishkind Edward J. Hoffman John E. Tinsley
Jim Greaves Rhonda Holstein Clayton Turner
Joe Hamaker Walter Hussey Jim VanLaak
Jay Henn Edward J. Ingraham Jeff Webster
Clint Herbert Stephen J. Kapurch Richard Wickman
Mark King Brian Keegan Kern Witcher
Ken Ledbetter Beth A. Keer Paul Gilbert
David H. Lehman John Kelly Sheryl Goddard
Todd A. May Lia S. LaPiana Lee Graham
Mike McNeill James Lawrence Ruth Harrison
Deanna Murphy Jeff Leising John Herrin
Carol Reukauf David Liskowsky Fuk Li
Ken Sateriale Michael R. Luther Kathryn Lueders
Mark Saunders Anthony J. Maturo Deborah Neubek
Bart A. Singer Kenneth L. Newton Stephen Nunez
Len Sirota Bryan O’Connor Ron Ticker
Ellen Stigberg James Ortiz William Syrett
Tom Sutliff Steven Peyton Bobby Watkins
Warren Wiley Julie A. Pollitt
Dave Pye



Rex Geveden Ross Jones
Theron Bradley Dwight Auzenne
Chris Scoleese Clayton Turner
Greg Robinson Dawn Schaible
John Kelly Bartt Hebert
Tony Maturo Garry Lyles
Ed Hoffman James Afarin
Tim Brady Dale Thomas
Jim Andary Ken Ledbetter
Steve Wall Dan Schumacher
Linda Bromley Rob Anderson
Roger Mathews Jerry Lake
Al Motley Karen Fashimpaur
Clayton Turner Linda Voss
Neil Rainwater Eric Ernst
Peggy Chun Herb Shivers
Christine Powell Phil Luna
Barry Briendal Kathy Potter
Steve Kapurch Ellen Stigberg
John Kelley John Snodderly
Stan Fishkind Mark Schaeffer
Wil Harkins Robert Skalamera
Dave Brown Dev Banerjee
Bill McGovern Zig Rafalik
Jalal Mapar Bob Rassa
Barry Briendal Tom Holzer
Paul Robitaille Tim Schmidt
Nina Scheller Col. Michael Holbert
John Saltzman Col. James Horejsi
Rick Wiedenmannott Rob Klotz
Mike Ryschkewitsch Jim van Gaasbeek
Eric Isaac

In This Issue

Message from the Chief Engineer

NASA On the Hill: Transition to Next Generation Human Spaceflight System

This Week in NASA History: JFK’s Moon Challenge

Universal Management Lessons from GP-B

NASA Scientists Honored

Leadership Corner: Charles Koch on the Science of Success

A View from the Outside: Venus Express

Archimedes Archive: The Anemometer

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