6. Lesson: Provide Flexibility in Planning
The late additions to program objectives can be extremely productive and may be more important than the initial detailed objectives. Prepare the program plan to be able to accommodate good ideas which are surfaced late in the development cycle. Be prepared to accept new ideas. Have a sufficient financial reserve in the late years.
Many of the detailed program objectives of Skylab could only be thought of after considerable design had been accomplished. For example, the addition of the solar sounding rocket program permitted the solar data to be calibrated directly and, thus, greatly enhanced its usefullness. The ground based observation program (the Skylab project funded the enhancement and use of ground based solar observatories around the World) gave the solar physicist the base of data needed to observe the solar events as they occurred. Neither of these ideas were conceived at the inception of the program, but as the planning progressed, it became obvious they were required.
Numerous examples can be cited, but the general tendency when program costs increase in the early years is to reduce the fiscal forecast in later years since "all the engineering will be complete" and "the test hardware will be built early." Don't believe it. The engineering will be needed until the end, and new test requirements will be surfaced late as you become smarter.
These lessons learned are from SKYLAB LESSONS LEARNED AS APPLICABLE TO A LARGE SPACE STATION, A dissertation submitted to the faculty of The School of Engineering and Architecture Of the Catholic University of America For the Degree Doctor of Engineering by William C. Schneider, Washington, D.C., 1976.
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