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An Analysis of Rocket Propulsion Testing CostsThe primary mission at NASA Stennis Space Center (SSC) is rocket propulsion testing. Such testing is generally performed within two arenas: (1) Production testing for certification and acceptance, and (2) Developmental testing for prototype or experimental purposes. The customer base consists of NASA programs, DOD programs, and commercial programs. Resources in place to perform on-site testing include both civil servants and contractor personnel, hardware and software including data acquisition and control, and 6 test stands with a total of 14 test positions/cells. For several business reasons there is the need to augment understanding of the test costs for all the various types of test campaigns. Historical propulsion test data was evaluated and analyzed in many different ways with the intent to find any correlation or statistics that could help produce more reliable and accurate cost estimates and projections. The analytical efforts included timeline trends, statistical curve fitting, average cost per test, cost per test second, test cost timeline, and test cost envelopes. Further, the analytical effort includes examining the test cost from the perspective of thrust level and test article characteristics. Some of the analytical approaches did not produce evidence strong enough for further analysis. Some other analytical approaches yield promising results and are candidates for further development and focused study. Information was organized for into its elements: a Project Profile, Test Cost Timeline, and Cost Envelope. The Project Profile is a snap shot of the project life cycle on a timeline fashion, which includes various statistical analyses. The Test Cost Timeline shows the cumulative average test cost, for each project, at each month where there was test activity. The Test Cost Envelope shows a range of cost for a given number of test(s). The supporting information upon which this study was performed came from diverse sources and thus it was necessary to build several intermediate databases in order to understand, validate, and manipulate data. These intermediate databases (validated historical account of schedule, test activity, and cost) by themselves are of great value and utility. For example, for the Project Profile, we were able to merged schedule, cost, and test activity. This kind of historical account conveys important information about sequence of events, lead time, and opportunities for improvement in future propulsion test projects. The Product Requirement Document (PRD) file is a collection of data extracted from each project PRD (technical characteristics, test requirements, and projection of cost, schedule, and test activity). This information could help expedite the development of future PRD (or equivalent document) on similar projects, and could also, when compared to the actual results, help improve projections around cost and schedule. Also, this file can be sorted by the parameter of interest to perform a visual review of potential common themes or trends. The process of searching, collecting, and validating propulsion test data encountered a lot of difficulties which then led to a set of recommendations for improvement in order to facilitate future data gathering and analysis.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Ramirez-Pagan, Carmen P.
(NASA Stennis Space Center Stennis Space Center, MS, United States)
Rahman, Shamim A.
(NASA Stennis Space Center Stennis Space Center, MS, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2009
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Space 2009 Conference and Exposition
Location: Pasadena, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: September 14, 2009
End Date: September 17, 2009
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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