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Mission Assurance -- A Key Part of Space Vehicle Launch Mission Success

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Journal article

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Recent years have shown unprecedented levels of launch success for both Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office NRO missions. To achieve these results, many people and organizations have employed processes and worked in a disciplined and collaborative fashion to ensure that every aspect of the mission has been examined, every scenario has been considered, and every risk has been understood, accepted, or mitigated before a multi-million dollar launch vehicle ignites, carrying a billion dollar payload. This collection of activities over the life cycle of a space vehicle development program and through launch is called mission assurance. Like in other national security space agencies, mission assurance is a key part of ensuring mission success for Air Force and NRO launches. All launches involve integrating the activities of one organization with another, whether those organizations are both internal to the Air Force or between the Air Force and the NRO. The mission assurance process allows the disparate organizations involved in the life cycle of a program to speak in a common language with a common framework about different aspects of a mission. With mission assurance, program offices use a structured, disciplined, and layered verification process that requires rigorous analysis by subject-matter experts on every aspect of a mission to ensure all risks are known. Requiring programs to go through this process ensures that no rock is left unturned before launch. Mission assurance gives us the highest level of confidence to proceed with launch and ultimately ensures the best opportunity for mission success.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Unmanned Spacecraft
  • Manned Spacecraft

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