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Lessons Learned from New Subsystem Development in Manned Space

Estimating Track

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The effort to develop new technology is complicated. We will examine the effect when a bottom up risk adjusted schedule is not used. Low technical readiness level (TRL) components carry particular risks which can play havoc with budgets and deadlines. Commercial parametric models such as Galorath’s SEER are designed for estimating hardware at a TRL of at least 4, component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment. When engineers are challenged with realizing truly advanced technology concepts the cost risk (amount it can exceed the parametric estimate) is 110% to 400% based on limited historical evidence. Risks should be quantified for the effect on cost and schedule. We will examine a case involving development of a manned space subsystem rocket motor. The technology concept to achieve the required thrust while meeting weight limits was so advanced actual cost greatly exceeded the budget and performance exceeded the schedule. Because of a lack of integrated schedules the plans for flight test were not synced up with the hardware’s design, development, test and evaluation (DDT&E) schedule. This prevented the flight test schedule from reflecting a realistic date. The reality being that a flight test requiring a piece of hardware to work could only have been successfully and safely conducted after the hardware was designed properly and built. Finally we will conclude with how to establish a framework for the integration of cost, schedule and risk for projects. This framework would serve as an internal management tool as well as supporting the development of further analysis as data matures, the architecture changes and mitigation plans are put into place.


Robert Georgi
Booz Allen Hamilton
Robert Georgi has been employed with Booz Allen Hamilton as an Associate for over eleven years. He has performed cost and risk analysis on several programs and Projects within NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA). He has received three NASA Group Achievement awards as a participant on project teams and also received numerous recognitions from the firm. He was previously the lead for the Booz Allen cost estimators contracted in support of the International Space Station Program from 2004 to 2007 before moving on to new assignments for Lunar Surface System architecture, Project Orion (Crew Exploration Vehicle), Constellation Program operations cost reduction initiatives, and the Constellation Mission Operations Project Training Facility. Robert also authored sections of the inaugural NASA Cost Estimating Handbook. He has presented previously at SCEA, NASA Cost Symposia, Space System Cost Analysis Group meetings and the Galorath Users Conference.