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The WIRE telescope inside the cryostat assembly.
WIRE: Learning from Failure

In 1999, the Wide-field Infrared Explorer (WIRE) lost its primary mission thirty-six hours after launch. Those who worked on WIRE, which was the fifth of the Explorer Program’s Small Explorer-class missions, thought they had done what they needed to achieve success.

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President Lincoln and his cabinet in council, September 22, 1862, adopting the Emancipation Proclamation.
Lessons from Lincoln

By Roger Forsgren   Like most people, project managers and engineers may have an interest in history without realizing that understanding the past can help them better understand and manage the present. Studying the past can be an opportunity to see how leaders overcame daunting obstacles to achieve their goals.

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The Bloodhound SSC show car at the Bloodhound Technical Center.
Something to Shout About: Bloodhound Supersonic Car

By Haley Stephenson   The Bloodhound Supersonic Car aims to set a new land-speed record and a new standard for openness in projects.

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First complete image of the far side of the sun taken on June 1, 2011.
Getting Cozy with Our Closest Star

By Holly R. Gilbert   We inhabitants of Earth have an intimate and complex relationship with the sun. As we learn more about the underlying physics driving the magnetic ball of plasma that is essential for our very existence, the complexity of that relationship becomes increasingly apparent.

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Juno: A Look Back at Successful Development

By Jan Chodas   Dr. Scott Bolton, Juno’s principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute, and the Juno team had been working toward this milestone for several years. A mission of this length and complexity required careful planning and testing to increase its chances of success.

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In This Issue by Don Cohen
In This Issue (ASK 45)

Don Cohen, Managing Editor   In their frank analysis of the failure of the Wide-field Infrared Explorers primary mission (“WIRE: Learning from Failure”), Bryan Fafaul and Kerry Ellis explain that this project based on “insight, not oversight” didn’t have enough of either.

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From the Academy Director: The Appeal of Space

By Ed Hoffman     The first International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held on the African continent was a potent reminder that nations seek the benefits of spaceflight for many different reasons.

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The Herschel telescope.
The Importance of Human Factors

By Alessandro Ercolani   Since joining the European Space Agency, ESA, in 2000, I have developed my whole career at the Department of Ground Segment Engineering.

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Bryan O’Connor
Interview with Bryan OConnor

By Matthew Kohut     Bryan O’Connor retired as chief of Safety and Mission Assurance on August 31, 2011, after serving nearly a decade as NASA’s top safety and mission assurance official.

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