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Chapter 8. Evaluating and Terminating the Project

Chapter 8. Evaluating and Terminating the Project

As the Beagle 2 Mars probe designed jointly by the European Space Agency and British National Space Center headed to the surface of Mars in December 2003, contact was lost and the probe never heard from again (PMI, October 2004). In retrospect, it appears that excessive pressure on time, cost, and weight compromised the mission right from the start. With insufficient public funding, the design team had to spend much of their time raising private funds instead of addressing difficult technical issues. Further, late changes forced the team to reduce the Beagle's weight from 238 pounds to 132 pounds. The three airbags developed to soften the probe's landing impact failed during tests, and a parachute design was installed, but lack of time prevented sufficient testing of it. A review commission recommended that in the future:

  • Requisite financing be available at the outset of a project.

  • Formal project reviews be conducted on a regular basis.

  • Milestones be established where all stakeholders reconsider the project.

  • Expectations of potential failure be included in the funding consideration.

  • Robust safety margins be included and funded for uncertainties.


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