Systems Engineering Seminar

Risk is at the Center of All the Important Decisions when Sampling an Asteroid

Presented by:
David Everett, Code 599 - Project Systems Engineer (OSIRIS-REx)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 1:00 pm
Building 3 Auditorium


One of the important functions of systems engineers (SE) and project managers is decision making. With a large planetary mission, the big decisions always involve some uncertainty, and the consequences of a bad decision can be really expensive. Uncertainty, because we are doing something unique and we have limited time with a schedule fixed by orbital dynamics; and expensive, because the wrong decision could result in mission failure or a long launch delay. A culture of risk management and risk-based decision making enabled the OSIRIS-REx team to bring the mission through development on time and well under budget. Risk management is not simply reporting. Key pieces include effectively hearing concerns from all levels of the project and a willingness to spend money in the short run to save money in the long run. After an introduction to the mission, this talk will discuss the OSIRIS-REx risk management culture, the SE's role in leading and developing that culture, and examples of how big decisions boiled down to risk trades.


David Everett is currently the Project Systems Engineer for the OSIRIS-REx. In his 25 years at NASA, he has led the design, build, and launch of four spacecraft, and he was a key player during the launch of three others. Before OSIRIS-REx, Mr. Everett led the technical effort for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter as the Mission Systems Engineer, from design through early-orbit operations. Mr. Everett has actively supported NASA outreach activities through over 75 speaking engagements. He has received 37 individual awards, 25 group awards, and a patent for his efforts at NASA; he has published 18 papers; and he co-edited (and wrote the spacecraft design chapter for) the book Space Mission Engineering: The New SMAD. He earned a BSEE summa cum laude, at Virginia Tech in 1986 and a MSEE at the University of Maryland in 1989. Before he joined NASA in 1991, Mr. Everett worked at Westinghouse Electric Corporation where he was awarded two patents for his designs of RF circuits.


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