San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.41.1 - 25.41.12
A Dual Undergraduate/Graduate Course in Space Mission FailuresAbstractTeaching and learning about reasons for engineering failures offer students valuable insights and practicalexperience into the technical, project management, experimental, ethical, and professional issues facedby practicing engineers on a daily basis. Even though space missions and spacecraft systems are designedto operate in the presence of multiple failures, yet, occasionally, these systems will still fail spectacularly.The reasons for failure include incorrect design decisions, operator error, manufacturing defects, andlack of proper subsystem and system level integration and test. The odds of these failures occurring canbe significantly reduced through good systems engineering practice. But, in some cases, the verysystems engineering practices themselves directly contribute to the failure. The lessons learned fromsuccess and failures are a powerful aid to understanding, but it is very difficult to find appropriately-scoped projects that can supplement classroom activity.Faculty at Saint Louis University has created a candidate course in the area of space mission failures forundergraduate and graduate students. This dual undergraduate and graduate course was developed tointroduce the fundamentals of good systems engineering practice to space systems engineering students.This course introduces five heuristics of space mission failures, (1) understand the systems engineeringprocess, (2) Recognize and explain the tradeoffs between budget, schedule, performance and risk,including the consequences of these trades, (3) Identify the six categories of mission failure(environment, design, assembly, parts, operation and budget), (4) Use engineering documents and failurereports to classify mission failures by cause and type, and, (5) applying these principles to universityspacecraft development projects. A series of case studies in failures (rockets, spacecraft, rovers, etc.)was used to illustrate these principles and the new vulnerabilities they introduce.In this paper, we will outline our approach for teaching space mission failures by presenting thefundamental structure of the course with course objectives and various topics covered. The paper willalso present the student assessment as well as the course assessment and example case studiesdeveloped by the students.
Jayaram, S., & Swartwout, M. A. (2012, June), A Dual Undergraduate/Graduate Course in Space Mission Failures Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/20801
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