Mission Collaborations for International Projects

The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) routinely partners with International organizations building spacecraft or instruments for launching on foreign vehicles or vice versa. GSFC built an X-ray Spectrometer (XRS) which was incorporated into a Japanese spacecraft, Astro E-2, which was launched on a Japanese vehicle. Astro E-2 was actually the repeat of the failed Astro E mission in which the launch vehicle failed to make orbit. Interestingly, Astro E was deemed a success even though XRS was never operated on orbit and was the rationale behind adopting a “build to print” approach for Astro E-2. That is, use the same drawings and design approach as the original Astro E build with little or no changes. Astro E-2 made it to orbit and was renamed Suzaku as is Japanese custom. Unfortunately both Astro E and Astro E-2 had the same flaw which failed the Astro E-2 and would have failed Astro E had its launch been successful. The fatal design flaw that originated in the Astro E spacecraft was propagated to the Astro E-2 spacecraft was found to be the single proximate cause for this mishap but the underlying root causes are complex and intertwined which were enabled by the nature of the unsound approach to the inter- organizational collaborative effort.

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