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Cost of Mission Assurance for Space Programs

Risk I Track



Standards and strategies for assuring successful space missions have evolved in recent years, with some programs moving toward traditional government standards and others moving to industry’s commercial standards. This has prompted questions from several government leaders about the cost of mission assurance. Although there are decades of engineering studies, test data, and on-orbit failure data to support detailed evaluation of the technical merits of various approaches, there is very little on the cost side of the equation. The National Reconnaissance Office Cost Analysis Improvement Group (NRO CAIG) has begun to address this by focusing on two of the more costly areas of mission assurance—environmental testing and high-reliability electronic parts.

In this briefing we present two preliminary cost models that estimate the change in program cost associated with a change in the program test plan and/or parts assurance process. Models are based on actual costs and mission assurance profiles for government and commercial programs from several industry contractors, and results can be used to independently evaluate the costliness of proposed changes in acquisition strategy from one contract to another.


Erik Burgess
Burgess Consulting, Inc.
Erik Burgess has provided cost estimating and program support to the National Reconnaissance Office since 1995, and prior to that he supported space programs at the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center as an engineer and cost estimator. He is the president of Burgess Consulting Inc., and has also served with The Aerospace Corporation, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and MCR, LLC. Mr. Burgess earned his M.S. and B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Joe Frisbie

Michelle Jones

Chad Krause