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The 1989 NASA Space Exploration Initiative Cost Risk Estimate and Related Issues

Management Track

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This paper examines cost related issues that arose during and after performing the 1989 cost risk estimate for returning to the Moon and going on to Mars (The Space Exploration Initiative (SEI)). It will describe how the cost risk estimate was performed and issues that arose from that process. It will also examine cost related issues that arose from follow on personal research driven by performing that estimate. The observations and perspective contained in this paper are personal and may differ from the perspective of the SEI project and NASA.


Edwin B. Dean
Ed Dean spent fourteen years at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory as a physicist, mathematician, operations research analyst, electronic engineer, software engineer, combat systems engineer, and manager. He spent just over a year at the Naval Supply Systems Command Security Group as a computer security specialist.
He joined NASA at the Langley Research Center in 1983. Until 1990, he was in charge of cost estimating at NASA Langley where he managed, performed, or participated in about sixty five system cost estimates including the Space Exploration Initiative Ninety Day Study (back to the Moon and on to Mars). He then joined the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) Office at Langley where he focused on cost and logistics aspects of returning to the Moon and the colonization of Mars, as well as technologies for designing systems for cost. From 1994 until March 1997 his research focus was design for competitive advantage and the incorporation of value into multidisciplinary product and process development. From 1994 to 1999 he authored the 500+ page NASA Design for Competitive Advantage website.
He retired from NASA on 2 January 1999 as a senior research engineer in the MultiDisciplinary Design Optimization Branch of the NASA Langley Research Center with research focus on optimization under uncertainty.
Since retiring from NASA he has performed cost estimating support for PRICE Systems and Valador Inc., and has provided cost data analysis using neural networks for Galorath Inc.
He has published over 70 papers/presentations in simulation, nuclear weapons effects, computers, operations research, cost estimating, quality, engineering management, design for cost, and design for competitive advantage. He is a past Director and past Chairman for the International Society of Parametric Analysts. He was the NASA Langley delegate to the Space Systems Cost Analysis Group where he focused on cost risk.