Ten Principles for Successful Space Programs- 2 Day


This two-day course for leaders, managers, supervisors, systems engineers, and consultants addresses the most challenging problem in the space industry: How do we reduce cost and schedule time while also trying to ensure a successful mission? After examining the driving issues in space-system development, the instructors introduce ten principles for successful space programs. The course then explores key aspects of leadership, management, and engineering within the framework of those principles. The instructors share many examples, case histories, and personal experiences to drive home the key points. The objectives are to provide a fresh focus on quality and mission success, build understanding, spur thought, and help your program improve efficiency of its organization and processes—from the top level of management on down to how every engineer or technician approaches his or her job.

Course Outline:

  1. Introduction What constitutes a “successful space program?”
  2. Why Are Space Missions So Challenging?
    • How do we reduce cost and ensure a successful mission?
    • A wake-up call
    • Common problems in space programs
    • Taking time to understand the problem
  3. Finding Solutions: Ten Principles
    • Establishing a vision
    • Faster, better, cheaper: can we get all three?
    • Adapting what Deming taught us
    • The key to cost-effective, successful space programs
    • Ten principles for successful space programs
  4. Building a Mission-Success Culture and an Effective Team
    • What business are you in?
    • What it means to have a “commercial mentality”
    • What “quality” means in the space industry
    • Whose job is this?
    • Quality starts with the right attitude
    • Instilling the right attitude
    • Building an effective team, internally and between customers and contractors
    • Striving for “profound knowledge”
  5. Instilling Ownership and Responsibility in Contractors
    • What “verification” means in the space industry
    • Distinguishing between requirements and verification
    • Recognizing customer and contractor responsibilities
    • You can’t specify quality and mission success!
    • Understanding verification
    • Using standards without taking away responsibility
  6. Overview of System Development
    • A process for system development
    • The role of requirements documents
    • Requirements hierarchy
    • Controlling interfaces
    • Bottoms-up verification
    • Proactive versus reactive verification
    • Verification logic
    • Testing
  7. Reducing Cost and Risk By Design
    • Strategies for reducing cost while improving quality
    • Dispelling some myths
    • Keep it simple!
    • Reducing the number of parts
    • Accommodating likely growth
    • Standardizing
  8. Managing Risk with a Quality System
    • What is a “quality system”?
    • Keys to an effective quality system
    • Examples of quality systems at multiple levels
    • Attending to details
    • Controlling the configuration
    • Philosophies for product inspection
    • Responding to discrepancies
    • Managing weight growth
    • Designing and establishing a quality system
  9. Responsibly Accepting Risk
    • What it means to understand a risk
    • Common risk rating systems
    • Removing subjectivity with expected cost of failure
    • Hypothetical examples
    • Making the launch decision
  10. Summary
    • What about the tenth principle?
    • Key points from this course
    • Ten principles for successful space programs
    • Using the principles as a compass


  • One of the best classes I have taken. All engineers, project managers, engineering management, chief engineers, and quality would benefit from this class to assist in looking at right practices in conducting programs.

  • Enjoyed the outside perspective on how to deal with overall engineering processes. Also enjoyed the different real life examples/stories.

  • Highly recommended for engineers and managers involved in the design and development of aerospace systems.

  • After this course, I am more aware that ‘ownership’ needs to shift between customers and contractors depending on where you are in the hardware development phase.


This course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses. If you are interested in attending this or another course as open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or at ati@aticourses.com and indicate the course name and number of students who wish to participate. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a lead time of 3-5 months. Group courses can be presented at your facility at any time. For on-site pricing, request an on-site quote. You may also call us at (410)956-8805 or email us at ati@aticourses.com.


  • Tom Sarafin is President and Chief Engineer of Instar Engineering and Consulting, Inc. He has worked full time in the space industry since 1979 as a structural engineer, a mechanical systems engineer, a project manager, and a consultant. Since founding Instar in 1993, he’s consulted for NASA, DARPA, the DOD Space Test Program, Lockheed Martin, DigitalGlobe, Space Systems/Loral, Spaceflight Industries, and other organizations. He was a core member of the team that developed NASA-STD-5020, “Requirements for Threaded Fastening Systems in Spaceflight Hardware” (March 2012). He is the editor and principal author of Spacecraft Structures and Mechanisms: From Concept to Launch and is a contributing author to Space Mission Analysis and Design. He’s also the principal author of a series of papers titled “Vibration Testing of Small Satellites.” Since 1995, he has taught over 250 courses to more than 5000 engineers and managers in the aerospace industry.is a contributing author to Space Mission Analysis and Design. Since 1995, he’s taught well over 100 courses to more than 3000 engineers and managers in the space industry.

  • Poti Doukas is vice president and senior consultant for a private consulting firm. He worked at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (formerly Martin Marietta Astronautics) from 1978 to 2006. He served as Engineering Manager for the Phoenix Mars Lander program, Mechanical Engineering Lead for the Genesis mission, Structures and Mechanisms Subsystem Lead for the Stardust program, and Structural Analysis Lead for the Mars Global Surveyor. Since joining Instar Engineering in 2006, he has consulted for Lockheed Martin, the U. S. Air Force Academy, AeroAstro, Design Net Engineering, and NASA. He’s a contributing author to Space Mission Analysis and Design and to Spacecraft Structures and Mechanisms: From Concept to Launch.

    Contact these instructors (please mention course name in the subject line)

Request On-Site Quote