Ready to book your ticket to the Red Planet? You’re in luck. Soon, visiting Mars will no longer be the stuff of science fiction—thanks to engineers and analysts at NASA and Lockheed Martin. “We are building the first stepping stones to Mars,” says Michael Watson, a senior member of the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Integrated Program Planning staff, and part of the Master Planning team for the Orion program.
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle program will build America’s next human exploration spacecraft, capable of taking humans into deep space, the moon, asteroids, and Mars. The first step of this program is an unmanned test flight, Exploration Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), which will orbit around Earth 3600 miles into space, providing engineers with critical data about Orion’s systems and capabilities. The next step in the mission will be an unmanned 25-day mission to circle the moon and back, followed by a manned mission that will take astronauts to explore nearby asteroids.
Watson and his colleagues have used @RISK to plan and analyze potential challenges with EFT-1, and how those challenges will affect the overall Orion program schedule. Watson says @RISK makes evaluating schedule risk much more efficient. “Palisade software really makes it a lot easier to handle large, complex systems in data analysis,” he says. “It tells us the probability of making our contractual dates, highlights any areas of risk that we may not have identified, and also provides us with forensic data to look back at for other areas of opportunities.”
When humans do first set foot on that alien terrain, they’ll have Palisade software (in part) to thank for getting them there on schedule.