The Race to Commercialize Space Travel – a New Approach

Post by Jim Lee

 
shuttle launch. shuttle liftoff. rocket launches into space.-slight graininess, best at smaller sizes

Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle… all were US manned space programs from 1961 through 2011.  Why is it so different now with SpaceX, Orbital ATK, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada Corp., Virgin Galactic, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin competing to put man in space?  Why is a commercial crew program such a big deal?  I asked these questions at the Collaboration on Quality in the Space and Defense Industries conference and got a variety of opinions about the collaboration between government and these industries. Here’s my takeaway from the conference.

  • NASA wanted to take their 50 years of manned space flight experience with Mission Assurance and partner with the innovative aerospace industry to come up with cutting edge solutions to take astronauts into space.  This included design, development, manufacturing, and operation in rapid succession that is more efficient and effective than the US government could do on their own.
  • All of these industry players are either private companies or large corporations, not the US government.
  • NASA wants to be a customer for these services, but doesn’t want to be the only customer.  If an interested company didn’t have other customers and uses for the technology and solutions, then NASA wasn’t interested in partnering with them.
  • You might have to take 2 steps backward to take 10 steps forward for continual improvement.  NASA learned that they had to let go of some of their oversight and restrictions, and let these other companies take responsibility for what happens in their buildings.  NASA’s Kennedy Space Center just created new values of being helpful, building relationships, and knowing what matters.  Part of this speaks to their focus on the safety of the astronauts and total mission assurance, and leaving the innovation companies at KSC to take their own responsibility for safety, quality and internal mission assurance. NASA wouldn’t get involved unless one of these tenants would affect stakeholders outside their buildings.  This is a big change in philosophy and culture.
  • Taking 2 steps backward to take 10 steps forward cannot include loss of life.
  • NASA has to rely on these new companies that have never put a human in space.  There is lost organizational knowledge from NASA that has to be relearned with these new technologies and innovations.
  • Where it doesn’t matter, get out of the way and let capitalism and entrepreneurs provide innovations never imagined.  If you’ve never seen the SpaceX first stage rockets return to earth and land, it’s like throwing a pencil and it landing upright on its eraser.  That’s just one example of the many innovations.
  • I also asked about Russia’s and China’s manned space programs, both of which are fully government funded. Is this possibly our opportunity to leave them in the dust by taking an approach to draw funds from a broader pool, and leap past current technology using more government/corporate resources?

Reaching New Heights at NASA’s Quality Leadership Forum

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Sustaining a Quality Foundation in Challenging Times

SimpleQuE president, Jim Lee, eagerly anticipates attending the Collaboration on Quality in the Space and Defense Industries conference then taking part in the informational NASA Quality Leadership Forum that follows. He’s set to join others in the industry who are focused on sustaining a quality foundation at the conference and forum, running March 12-15 in Cape Canaveral, Florida, not far from simpleQuE’s Space Coast office.

The American Society for Quality has designed the conference specifically for those working with organizations in the space and defense industries. Government and industry leaders representing NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman will discuss the latest policies and practices.

For SimpleQuE, the conference will provide invaluable information, trends and best practices to share with our clients, allowing us to become even more effective when consulting with manufacturers and suppliers in the aerospace industry.

In the days following the conference, the NASA Quality Leadership Forum will offer a great mix of speakers who will provide the NASA assurance context, delve deeply into specific quality management issues, find issue resonance across agency lines, and a refreshed understanding of quality sub-discipline areas.

Forum topics will include lessons learned, emerging trends, quality threats and risk mitigation techniques of particular relevance in today’s rapidly evolving and cost-constrained environment. Of particular interest is the Counterfeit Parts Awareness and Inspection Training that Jim and simpleQuE aerospace consultant, Doreen Everett will be attending.

Attendees can look forward to hearing about the work of industry leaders and strengthening their network. More importantly, the forum offers a chance to meet colleagues face to face, with the potential to build and strengthen relationships. It’s an excellent opportunity to keep the quality management community vibrant and looking toward the future.

SimpleQuE is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company that provides consulting, training and auditing services for the AS9100 series of standards to assist organizations in successfully meeting transition and implementation targets.

Discovering Earth While Reaching for the Moon

On December 24, 1968 the Apollo 8 astronauts, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders shared this iconic “Earthrise” photo during the first manned mission to the moon.  The first astronauts to orbit the moon and spend Christmas in space.

Knowing that millions of people would listen to their transmission on Christmas Eve, and as NASA’s only guidance was to do something appropriate, the astronauts decided on the book of Genesis. Lovell explained, “The first ten verses of Genesis is the foundation of many of the world’s religions, not just the Christian religion,” added Lovell. “There are more people in other religions than the Christian religion around the world, and so this would be appropriate to that and so that’s how it came to pass.”

So while orbiting above the lunar surface, the astronauts shared images of the Earth and moon and took turns reading from the book of Genesis, closing with a wish for everyone “on the good Earth.”

Seeing Earth rise beyond the barren lunar surface gave us a new perspective of our home planet and became the icon of the environmental movement. Anders has said that despite all the training and preparation for an exploration of the moon, the astronauts ended up discovering Earth.

The crew launched into orbit on December 21, and after circling the moon 10 times on Christmas Eve, prepared to return home. On Christmas morning, mission control anxiously waited to hear that Apollo 8’s engine burn had successfully propelled it outside the moon’s gravitational pull. Confirmation arrived when Lovell radioed, “Roger, please be informed there is a Santa Claus.”

In 2013 NASA recreated the historic moment when the crew first saw and photographed the Earth rising from behind the Moon. The visualization captures the view from both inside and outside the spacecraft and is synced with the onboard audio of the astronauts. Watching and listening in, you can’t help but feel their wonder and excitement.

Wherever you are on Earth, our team at simpleQuE wishes all a Merry Christmas, cherished holiday celebrations and a New Year filled with peace and the spirit of innovation and exploration!

IATF Transition Update from IAOB

Cherie Reiche of the International Automotive Oversight Board (IAOB) shared the following IATF 16949 transition update at several registrar conferences.  As of April 30th 2017:

  • 68,332 sites are IATF 16949 or IATF 16949 certified worldwide
  • 181 audits were completed to IATF 16949 (0.3% upgraded)
    • To date the total NCs issued = 975 (avg 5.4 findings per audit)
      • Major NCs = 133 (16% of the findings are major)
      • Minor NCs = 842

A summary of the highest incidence of NCs (major/minor) by section is represented in the chart below.  It’s interesting to note that Customer Specific Requirements and Quality Management System Audit had the largest number of major NCs, while most minor NCs were written on Contingency and Control Plans.

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News Regarding Revision of the ASA-100 Standard

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Aviation Suppliers Association (ASA) promotes safety, regulatory compliance and ethical business practices among aviation parts suppliers throughout the aviation community. Jim Lee is a presenter and attending the ASA Annual Conference and shares news about important changes to the standard.

The ASA-100 standard is going through a revision that will require all accredited companies to add to their quality manuals.  The standard and checklist will be released October 1, 2017 and all audits afterJanuary 1, 2018 must be completed to the new 4.1 version.

  • One of the changes requires that quality manuals or specific procedures contain requirements for drop shipments direct from a supplier to a customer, bypassing the distributor who sold the part.
  • Another change follows ISO and requires that suspect and non-conforming material be addressed in a procedure. Material is to be segregated. If non-conforming material is shipped, the customer must be notified timely.
  • All changes to the quality manual must be submitted to ASA by 1/1/2018.

Over 300 companies have received accreditation to the ASA-100 Quality System Standard and FAA Advisory Circular 00-56 since 1996.

The History of AS9100

Once again, the IAQGs AS9100 standard has undergone a new revision. The latest version of this standard adds requirements for product safety, counterfeit parts, formal processes for operational risks, awareness, and ethics and human factors. Read more about the journey this pivotal standard has taken over the years.
SQ_Infographic_AS9100

 

Don’t forget, June 15, 2018 is the final transition audit deadline for the new AS9100 standard. Learn more by viewing our transition timeline.

Risk Management for Aerospace and Defense Industries

Aerospace transport and people. Two pilots dressed in uniform flying jet airliner on sunny day sitting inside aircraft cockpit surrounded by equipment. Selective focus on captain's hand on power lever

In a business environment failure and negative consequences are the last things anyone wants to encounter.  But the reality is that risk is always present and comes from multiple sources, whether from inside the organization or from external elements. Due to the complexity of aviation, space, and defense processes, products, and services, and the severity of the potential consequences of failures, a formal process to manage operational risks is required.

The exercise of risk management is how a company proactively applies quality standards to keep a lid on risk as much as possible from creating negative ramifications in the supply chain or to production or scheduling, etc. While to some it can seem like bureaucracy or unnecessary controls, risk management pays for itself many times over with the cost avoidance it helps secure. All it takes is one bad event to see why risk management is so important, that’s assuming the company survives that event.

The elements of risk management are clear and straightforward as well. It’s an ongoing, cyclical process of identifying risks, assessing them, proactively reducing their probability of occurring by control, and mitigating those that are allowable. But just following the process alone doesn’t explain why a business should have a risk management process in the first place.

In AS9100 the operational risk management process is supported by specific requirements throughout clause 8, to drive an enhanced focus on:

  • understanding risk impacts on operational processes; and
  • making decisions on operational processes and actions to manage (e.g., prevent, mitigate, control) potential undesired effects.

Within aviation, aerospace, and defense, risk is expressed as a combination of severity and likelihood of having a potential negative impact to processes, products, services, customer, or end users. In AS9100, operational risk management must include how the company defines their risk assessment criteria (e.g., likelihood, consequences, risk acceptance), and ultimately acceptance of risks remaining after implementation of any mitigating actions. Something as simple as the example below may be the simplest way to quantify risks. More detail could be utilized with scoring.

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The standard requires an aerospace quality management system that takes into account the identification of various risks related to organizational circumstances in regard to its needs, business objectives, product range, applied processes and the size of the organization.  Given the fact that risk can trigger catastrophic results when unmanaged, every aerospace process must have the ability to reduce the occurrences and impacts of unacceptable risks, if not eliminate them entirely. And a risk management process is the only consistent way to assess risks and quantify when they are acceptable risks or when action is required.

Benefits to companies that incorporate risk management through ISO and AS quality standards include:

  • An increased probability of meeting schedules, budgets and production objectives
  • The means of making management proactive instead of reactive to risk issues
  • An increased awareness across the organization to recognize and mitigate risk
  • Reduced warranty and field complaints
  • Reduced supply chain risks
  • An increased ability to successfully plan, manage and implement changes (whether customer, supplier or self-initiated)
  • An increased ability to comply with laws, regulations, and customer requirements
  • An enhanced capability to track financial expenditures to poor results, and
  • Improved relations with stakeholders who see the results of quality and risk management in place

5 Steps To Manage Your Environmental Impact And Boost Growth

hand holding signs of different green sources of energy in hexahedron shape a 'reduce reuse recycle' sign in the centre. Blurred green background. Concept of clean environment.

Twenty years ago small businesses focused on one thing: how to make profits. Today, environmental impact is turning out to be just as important as meeting the bottom line. Here’s how to manage it for growth:

  • Incorporate planning – the very first place to start with addressing environmental impact and risks is to include them in strategic planning at every level. Because ISO 14001 is the cornerstone of environmental standards for a business, planning is essential. If the matter isn’t addressed to begin with from the top down, one of two things occur: 1) no one internally treats the matter as a priority, and 2) responses that do occur end up being ad hoc and disparate, which often incurs more costs than expected.
  • Anticipate that not everyone will be happy at first – getting environmentally focused is still a politically-charged approach. Education is probably the best response, even though it may require a bit more effort. At the end of the day, however, socially-conscious businesses sometimes have to stake out a claim. Choose wisely and then stay the course.
  • Embrace leadership – businesses that really break out and become the major players using ISO 14001 as their environmental management system are not necessarily the biggest in their industry. Smart businesses are out ahead looking for these leadership opportunities to craft their own path and market niche before anyone else.
  • Use size to an advantage – Being a small business comes with a lot of advantages in terms of flexibility and speed for adjusting to changes. Rather than a big bureaucracy involved in shutting down an assembly line, small business can test the waters far more rapidly and frequently with new ideas in environmental impact and that’s a huge competitive advantage when used effectively.
  • Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water – Every new change should have a thorough cost-benefit analysis. There are plenty of existing quality management procedures that align with ISO 14001, including ISO 9001 and IATF 16949.

SimpleQuE offers customized consulting solutions for all sizes of Aerospace, Automotive, Laboratory, Manufacturing and Service organizations. When it comes to environmental impact and responsibility, ISO 14001 certification makes good business sense for businesses small and large, across all industries.