Our objective was to evaluate the sufficiency of Department of Defense (DoD) mission assurance policies and procedures used in the acquisition of spacecraft and strategic systems.
The DoD space industry uses the term “mission assurance”, which is defined by the Mission Assurance Guide TOR-2007(8546)‑6018 (MAG),1 used by several strategic space programs, as the “disciplined application of general systems engineering, quality, and management principles towards the goal of achieving mission success.” DoD does not use the term “mission assurance” and focuses on an overall systems engineering approach. We initiated this evaluation to determine whether gaps exist in the overarching DoD policy related to systems engineering, manufacturing, testing, quality assurance, risk management, reliability, maintainability, and availability requirements leading to mission success.
Evaluation Methodology and Criteria
The evaluation was limited to evaluating overarching DoD policy, and evaluating the approach taken by several agencies to ensure mission success with mission assurance principles. This evaluation was limited to DoD agencies that procure complex weapon systems that must survive the harsh environments of space, such as satellites and strategic missile systems. The selected agencies were:
• Missile Defense Agency (MDA), which is responsible for the development and operation of the DoD Ballistic Missile Defense System;
• Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), which is responsible for space programs; and
• Navy Strategic Systems Program (SSP), which is responsible for the nuclear ballistic missile program.
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