Original Date: 07/08/2002
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Mission Control Panel
The Directorate for Missiles and Surface Launchers instituted a rigorous process to increase the mission success of critical test demonstrations by actively using the Mission Control Panel process. This process provides a structure to ensure that critical issues involved in planning, preparation, and execution are satisfactorily resolved prior to test.
The Directorate for Missiles and Surface Launchers (PEO TSC-M/L) instituted a rigorous mission preparedness process to assist in mitigating the risk of missile test failures. The Mission Control Panel (MCP) is a structured process used to resolve critical issues involved in the planning, preparation, and execution of critical missile flight and ground tests prior to the actual test event. The MCP process assesses all aspects of the critical mission test to increase the likelihood of mission success. A typical MCP agenda addresses the following areas: Mission and Test Objectives Overview; Performance Predictions; Test Article (Missile) Readiness/Pedigree; Supporting Systems (Desert Ship and Vertical Launch System [VLS]) Readiness; Target Readiness; Range and Instrumentation Readiness; Test Execution and Test Documentation; Data Analysis Plans; and Panel Deliberation, Summary, and Action Items.
An MCP is typically held two to four weeks prior to a critical test. The MCP consists of a panel of senior government and industry leaders that 1) thoroughly review test readiness; 2) review degree of system readiness, and 3) assign action items to be completed prior to test. During the MCP process, a detailed review of the mission test is presented; performance predictions are documented; a review of support systems, target, and range readiness is evaluated; and a determination is made as to the readiness for missile flight test. A written report documents pertinent panel findings, action items, issues/concerns, and recommendations. Immediately prior to the actual test event, a subsequent readiness assessment, known as a Mission Readiness Review (MRR), is conducted to ensure all MCP recommendations and outstanding issues have been resolved. This final systems readiness review ensures that all concerns and issues have been resolved satisfactorily, and the system is ready to proceed with the critical test demonstration.
The MCP process is a standardized way of doing business for PEO TSC-M/L, and the up-front time and effort associated with the MCP process is believed to pay huge dividends in mitigating the risk of potential system test failures. PEO TSC-M/L recognizes that one of the major benefits of the MCP process is in preparing for presentation to the panel itself the process requires test participants to think through each aspect of the test procedure and demonstrate hardware and mission preparedness to proceed with the execution of the test. The MCP process also provides a unique opportunity for the free exchange of corporate knowledge among senior leadership and mid-level managers as they prepare for final test preparations. Missile flight tests provide just one opportunity for many complex elements to come together to achieve mission success. The cost of failure is high for an exacting program such as STANDARD Missile (SM), both in dollars and schedule delays. The cost to conduct a missile test can be as high as tens of millions of dollars plus the cost of the test missile. Schedule delays associated with test failures are measured in terms of months, not days or weeks. Repeated system test failures can do irreparable harm to a program office’s reputation and its viability as a program. Methodical and rigorous process controls alleviate the risk associated with test failures by detecting potential points of failure and correcting them in advance of a critical mission test.
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