A study on improving United States Air Force space systems engineering and acquisition
Stahr, Jeremiah B.
Huynh, Thomas V.
Forseth, Christopher E.
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Systems engineering is a vital element of systems acquisition, and yet, as a result of previous Department of Defense (DoD) and United States Air Force (USAF) policies and practices, many government systems engineers today lack the systems engineering/management skills required to successfully execute national security space programs. The purpose of this thesis is to study and understand common issues that have impacted the ability of the USAF to cost-effectively acquire satellite systems. The research performed here involves an analysis of the differences between the traditional DoD systems acquisition and the national security space systems acquisition processes and an investigation of previous national efforts to improve these processes. The analysis results, together with the findings from a review of successful and struggling space programs, are then used to discover trends that aid in the formulation of the recommendations in this thesis. Specifically, to improve USAF systems engineering management skills and thereby improve the national security space systems acquisition process, the role of the government systems engineer should be defined as one of risk management, and the government systems engineers should be trained, equipped, and tracked in order to efficiently perform systems engineering in support of the space systems acquisition process. Finally, the research findings will provide a foundation for future researchers to expand upon the recommendations and make steady progress toward improving DoD and USAF space systems engineering expertise.
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