Integrated Systems Testing of Spacecraft 2007-01-3144
How much integrated system level test should be performed on a spacecraft before it is launched? Although sometimes system test is minimized, experience shows that systems level testing should be thorough and complete. Reducing subsystem testing is a less dangerous way to save cost, since it risks finding problems later in system test, while cutting systems test risks finding them even later on orbit. Human-rated spacecraft test planning is informal, subjective, and inconsistent, and its extent is often determined by the decision maker's risk tolerance, decision-making style, and long-term or short-term view. Decisions on what to test should be guided by an overall mission cost-benefit analysis, similar to the risk analysis used to guide development efforts. Doing a test to detect a potential problem is cost-effective if the cost of the test is less than the expected savings, which are equal to the probability of the test detecting and fixing the problem times the cost impact if the problem occurs later.