Saturday, June 14, 2014

Destinations vs Capabilities

Brian Enke has another good article, this time on how NASA is treating things around the Mars mission. I've never been a fan of the plan to go to an asteroid. Yes, it's technically difficult, but unless they're going to figure out how to mine it by going there, just go to Mars or the Moon. The latest twist on the Mars mission is to test out things in Lunar orbit.

What I liked about the article was the discussion on Capabilities vs Destinations, since for years I've been trained to talk about what capability is needed, rather than the solutions asked for. For example, don't say that you need five people to clean up an abandoned parking lot that's been used for a dump, say that you need the capability of moving x tons of trash in y amount of time, and repaving a parking lot of z size. While this is a little different from a "Destination" I wanted to see what he said.

And the answer is ... destinations are cheaper than capabilities. I think this is true because you can pool your trade space when you're looking at the destination, goal, or end state. When you list out a bunch of individual capabilities, the tendency is to over-engineer each one, they aren't exactly made to interface with each other, and you still need the destination at the end, because a rocket, habitat, and a life support system through space don't magically come together for the mission.