A key to the success of the Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly SIRTF) Mission was a unique management structure that
promoted open communication and collaboration among scientific, engineering, and contractor personnel at all levels of
the project. This helped us to recruit and maintain the very best people to work on Spitzer. We describe the management
concept that led to the success of the mission. Specific examples of how the project benefited from the communication
and reporting structure, and lessons learned about technology are described.
This paper presents lessons learned over the course of several space telescope mission and instrument developments
spanning two decades. These projects involved astronomical telescopes developed by the National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA) and were designed to further our understanding of the Universe. It is hoped that the
lessons drawn from these experiences may be of use to future mission developers.
Mirror technology is a critical enabling capability for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). JWST requires a
Primary Mirror Segment Assembly (PMSA) that can survive launch, deploy and align itself to form a 6.5 meter
diameter (25 square meter collecting area) primary mirror with a 131 nm rms wavefront error at temperatures < 50K and
provide stable optical performance. At the inception of JWST in 1996, such a capability did not exist. A highly
successful technology development program was initiated which achieved TRL-6 in 2007. This paper reviews the
technology development program, the methodology for assessing that TRL-6 was achieved, and the importance of an
Engineering Development Unit (EDU). Additionally, this paper captures the author's lessons learned.
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)
project has dominated my life for the last 12 years, and
it has been an interesting, rewarding and frustrating experience.
The first proposal was made in 1998, and the very good core team
assembled then has continued to work on the project. Scientific
satellites are almost always unique designs, and there were many
challenges in building a one-of-a-kind system. But the rewards from
a successful mission are new data on the Universe, and here WISE
has really delivered. Data has been flowing in at 250 Gbits per day
for most of 2010.
The Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer is a NASA Medium Class Explorer mission which launched in December,
2009 to perform an all-sky survey in four infrared wavelength bands. The science payload is a cryogenically cooled
infrared telescope with four 1024x1024 infrared focal plane arrays covering the wavelength range from 2.6 to 26 μm.
The survey has been highly successful, with millions of images collected, and nearly daily discoveries of previously
unknown astronomical objects. The WISE science payload was designed, built, and characterized by the Space
Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University.
This paper provides a brief overview of the WISE science payload and its on-orbit performance and describes lessons
learned from managing the design, fabrication, testing, and operation of a state-of-the-art electro-optical payload.
The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission launched in December of 2009 is a true success story. The
mission is performing beyond expectations on-orbit and maintained cost and schedule throughout. How does such a
thing happen? A team constantly focused on mission success is a key factor. Mission success is more than a program
meeting its ultimate science goals; it is also meeting schedule and cost goals to avoid cancellation. The WISE program
can attribute some of its success in achieving the image quality needed to meet science goals to lessons learned along the
way. A requirement was missed in early decomposition, the absence of which would have adversely affected end-to-end
system image quality. Fortunately, the ability of the cross-organizational team to focus on fixing the problem without
pointing fingers or waiting for paperwork was crucial in achieving a timely solution. Asking layman questions early in
the program could have revealed requirement flowdown misunderstandings between spacecraft control stability and
image processing needs. Such is the lesson learned with the WISE spacecraft Attitude Determination & Control
Subsystem (ADCS) jitter control and the image data reductions needs. Spacecraft motion can affect image quality in
numerous ways. Something as seemingly benign as different terminology being used by teammates in separate groups
working on data reduction, spacecraft ADCS, the instrument, mission operations, and the science proved to be a risk to
system image quality. While the spacecraft was meeting the allocated jitter requirement , the drift rate variation need was
not being met. This missing need was noticed about a year before launch and with a dedicated team effort, an adjustment
was made to the spacecraft ADCS control. WISE is meeting all image quality requirements on-orbit thanks to a diligent
team noticing something was missing before it was too late and applying their best effort to find a solution.
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission was successfully launched on December 14, 2009. All
spacecraft subsystems and the single instrument consisting of four imaging bands from 3.4 to 22 microns, a 40 cm afocal
telescope, reimaging optics, and a two-stage solid hydrogen cryostat have performed nominally on orbit, enabling the
trouble-free survey of the entire infrared sky. Among the many factors that contributed to the WISE post-launch success
is the thorough pre-launch system integration and test (I&T) approach tailored to the cryogenic payload. The simple and
straightforward interfaces between the spacecraft and the payload allowed the payload to be fully tested prior to
integration with the spacecraft. A payload high-fidelity thermal, mass and dynamic simulator allowed the spacecraft I&T
to proceed independently through the system-level thermal vacuum test and random vibration test. A payload electrical
simulator, a high-rate data processor and a science data ingest processor enabled very early end-to-end data flow and
radio-frequency testing using engineering model payload electronics and spacecraft avionics, which allowed engineers to
identify and fix developmental issues prior to building flight electronics. This paper describes in detail the WISE I&T
approach, its benefits, challenges encountered and lessons learned.
L-3 Integrated Optical Systems/SSG designed and built the telescope, aft imager, and scanner for the Widefield Infrared
Survey Explorer (WISE) under subcontract to Utah State University/Space Dynamics Laboratory. The WISE mission
and collection scheme imparted several driving requirements on the telescope and scanner, including the need for low
cost implementation, <11 Kelvin operation, and the need to back-scan by half a degree during detector integration in
order to freeze the line of sight on the sky as the spacecraft pitched in orbit. These requirements led to several unique
design and implementation choices for the telescope and scanner. In this paper we highlight several of those design
choices as well as lessons learned from the telescope and scanner design, fabrication, and test. WISE, a NASA MIDEX
mission within the Explorers program, was managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. WISE launched on December
14, 2009 and is currently operating successfully.
DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems, under contract to the Space Dynamics Laboratory of Utah State University, provided
the focal plane detector system for NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE). The focal plane detector
system consists of two mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) focal plane module assemblies (FPMAs), two arsenic doped
silicon (Si:As) Blocked Impurity Band (BIB) FPMAs, electronics to drive the FPMAs and report digital data from them,
and the cryogenic and ambient temperature cabling that connect the FPMAs and electronics. The WISE Satellite was
launched in late 2009 and has been a very rewarding success. In light of the recent success on orbit, there were many
challenges and hurdles the DRS team had to overcome in order to guarantee the ultimate success of the instrument. This
report highlights a few of the challenges that the team overcame in hopes that the information can be made available to
the astronomy community for future use.
The design, fabrication and testing of the BeamSplitter Assembly (BSA) of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
(WISE) instrument are discussed in the paper. The BSA splits the WISE telescope optical output beam into 4 spectral
wavelength bands: 2.8-3.8, 4.1-5.2, 7.5-16.5, and 20-26 μm. The BSA also provides focus adjustments to focus the
WISE instrument prior to launch. The methods used to focus WISE are also discussed in this paper. Funding for and
management of the WISE program were provided by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is a JPL-managed MIDEX mission to perform an infrared all-sky
survey. The WISE instrument, developed by the Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL), is a 40-cm cryogenically-cooled
telescope which includes a cryogenic scan mirror and four infrared focal planes (2-HgCdTe, 2-Si:As). Cooling the
instrument to the desired temperatures is accomplished by a two-stage, solid hydrogen cryostat, provided by Lockheed
Martin Advanced Technology Center (LMATC). Required temperatures for the instrument optics and Si:As focal planes
are <13 K and <7.6 K respectively. To reduce heat loads, the vacuum shell is isolated from the spacecraft bus via
composite struts and radiatively cooled to <200 K. The telescope aperture is protected from on-orbit environmental loads
via a two-stage radiatively cooled aperture shade. WISE was successfully launched into a 530 km, polar orbit on
December 14, 2009, beginning a 10-month mission to survey the entire sky in the infrared.
NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), which launched in December 2009, is currently producing an allsky
survey in the mid-infrared (2.8 - 26 microns) with far greater sensitivity and resolution than any previous IR survey
mission. The ongoing on-orbit calibration of the instrument is performed at the Wise Science Data Center (WSDC), but
several of the calibration parameters of interest were best measured on the ground, and have been maintained as part of
the on-orbit calibration process.
The Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) built the science payload, and performed a series of
ground characterization tests prior to launch. A challenge in a MIDEX mission such as WISE is to balance the various
program demands to perform a thorough ground calibration within schedule and budget constraints, while also
demonstrating compliance with formal flow-down requirements, and simultaneously verifying that performance has not
been degraded during late-program environmental testing. These activities are not always entirely compatible. This
paper presents an assessment of ground characterization challenges and solutions that contributed to a successful WISE
NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) MIDEX mission is surveying the entire sky in four infrared bands
from 3.4 to 22 micrometers. The WISE instrument consists of a 40 cm telescope, a solid hydrogen cryostat, a scan mirror
mechanism, and four 1K x1K infrared detectors. The WISE spacecraft bus provides communication, data handling, and
avionics including instrument pointing. A Delta 7920 successfully launched WISE into a Sun-synchronous polar orbit on
December 14, 2009. WISE was competitively selected by NASA as a Medium cost Explorer mission (MIDEX) in 2002.
MIDEX missions are led by the Principal Investigator who delegates day-to-day management to the Project Manager.
Given the tight cost cap and relatively short development schedule, NASA chose to extend the development period one
year with an option to cancel the mission if certain criteria were not met. To meet this and other challenges, the WISE
management team had to learn to work seamlessly across institutional lines and to recognize risks and opportunities in
order to develop the flight hardware within the project resources. In spite of significant technical issues, the WISE
satellite was delivered on budget and on schedule. This paper describes our management approach and risk posture,
technical issues, and critical decisions made.
After leading well over 1500 optical projects for over 500 companies during the last 20 years, some fundamentals emerge. In reviewing the most striking and in many cases devastating failures a clear pattern emerges. In every case, the failure can be traced an assumption that may have been valid for decades, or even centuries, but, is suddenly no longer valid, and the change in status is not recognized in-time.
People are any company's greatest asset. Without a great team no company would be able to conceive of a product or
service. It would not be able to design or develop a product or service. It could not possibly market or sell that product or
service. How a company goes about hiring its talent is one of the most critical components to developing a great team, to
having low attrition, and to having a high level of employee faith in management. Far too often I have seen companies
when tasked with filling requisitions not take the time to consider, or layout and execute their priorities in hiring. It's a
pretty safe assumption that if one doesn't feel they have enough time to be careful and thorough in their hiring approach
in order to get the right person the first time - they probably won't have enough time to replace someone they would not
have hired had they done it right in the first place! The flip side of this is the problem of letting too much time pass in the
process and therefore losing opportunities to hire great people. This paper will point out many mistakes I have seen
made in hiring approaches so that hopefully, different strategies can be adopted to avoid those mistakes in the future.
Intellectual Property, particularly a patent portfolio, is a critical part of many companies' assets. Yet many of these
companies act dumb when it comes to Intellectual Property. Blundering forward without a plan or a manager, the
company may throw money at a patent attorney pursuing a patent of little value; it may fool itself into thinking it has
protection with a "provisional patent"; it may fail to act in a timely fashion and lose its rights to a valuable patent. This
paper highlights some of the mistakes some companies make so that you can avoid falling into the same pitfalls.
Stable platforms are not necessarily the same as stable lines of sight nor do stable platforms necessarily provide stable
boresight alignment among instruments. Success in stabilizing lines of sight requires the unified treatment of the
disparate arts of structures and optics. Segregating these arts can lead to insoluble problems in the subsequent hardware.
Unified methods are available but need to be applied early in the conceptualization in order to properly allocate the
resources (mass, size, stiffness, resonances, apertures, optical paths, motors, encoders, gyroscopes etc.) among the
disciplines, all of which compete for a limited supply.
Root causes of mission critical failures and major cost and schedule overruns in complex systems and programs are
studied through the post-mortem analyses compiled for several examples, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the
Challenger and Columbia Shuttle accidents, and the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident. The roles of
organizational complexity, cognitive biases in decision making, the display of quantitative data, and cost and schedule
pressure are all considered. Recommendations for mitigating the risk of similar failures in future programs are also