Three Approaches to Space Systems Acquisitions and their Application to the Defense Departments Weather Satellite Program
Phillips, Wellington V.G.
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For more than a half century, the United States government has been acquiring and launching satellites. However, throughout these years, there has been a shift in the space systems acquisitions model, from acquiring greater quantities but less complex satellites, to fewer quantities but drastically more complex individualized satellites. Within the past two decades, when a new satellite was to be built, whether as part of an existing generation of satellites or the first of its kind, it appeared that the acquisition process starts over from the beginning as if it was the first time building a satellite. This shift in the model has resulted in these individualized systems being extremely costly and taking a long time to be produced. The acquisition of the Defense Departments Weather Satellites is one such example. This author asserts that effective systems acquisition requires a system engineering-inspired approach. The result of systems engineering guidance is to synthesize general principles from case studies. Therefore, this thesis researched the history of some Air Force Space acquisitions programs, current factors affecting the way systems are acquired, and new approaches (Fast, Inexpensive, Simple, Tiny [FIST], and Evolutionary Acquisition for Space Efficiency [EASE]) that are intended to remedy the aforementioned problems. In addition, Toyotas process for producing new vehicles models was also reviewed. These three approaches were then applied to the Defense Departments Weather Satellite program to develop recommendations for its follow-on programs acquisition strategy.
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