Browse Publications Technical Papers 2008-01-2155
2008-06-29

Explaining Space Project Failures 2008-01-2155

Space projects are spectacular, costly, and highly visible. Their occasional failures receive extensive analysis and explanation. This paper reviews studies of failures of crewed and uncrewed missions. The explanations of these space project failures include simple oversight errors, poor project management, complex combinations of unforeseen events, and conceptual flaws that prohibited success. Failures are usually found to be caused by project management errors, based on the reasoning that the project manager and team members had the capability and responsibility to avoid them. These failure causes are well known. Why do so many projects make the same mistakes?

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