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Defense Acquisition University
Spacebased Kill Assessment to Recognized with Packard Award for Excellence
Written by: DAU Public Affairs
February 11, 2019
The David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award is awarded annually to DoD teams, organizations, and groups that have demonstrated acquisition excellence and greater efficiency and productivity. The presentation of the 2018 awards will occur February 25, 2019.
Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is being honored for the Spacebased Kill Assessment (SKA) program, which provides a battle damage assessment capability from space through sensors placed on commercial satellites. MDA used innovative methods to simultaneously cut costs and speed up the development timeline of the SKA program.
The SKA program was able to reduce costs dramatically by pursuing a commercially hosted payload acquisition strategy. By choosing a hosted payload program, the SKA program was able to narrow their focus to the sensors and paying for their fair share of the launch and communication expenses, instead of paying for the development of a new network. MDA was able to identify and mitigate challenges to their strategy, allowing significant cost savings to be realized. In addition, the SKA team delivered minimum essential utilities instead of new technology development, allowing cost containment and delivery of its commitments. MDA saved approximately $700M using these techniques.
The decision to place the SKA sensors on commercial satellites instead of DoD dedicated ones necessitated the shortening of the lifecycle schedule to meet the host provider’s schedule. To do this, SKA shortened the traditional development timeline of 6-to-8 years down to less than 4 years by establishing program priorities, with speed of schedule being top priority, followed by cost containment and performance. Establishing priorities had the benefit of creating decision making space for the program to trade cost or performance to ease schedule pressures. Additionally, the team used business practices to speed up decision making. As a result of these methods, the SKA program was developed in half the time of a traditional program and met all of the schedule commitments to the commercial host, delivering its first flight hardware items to the satellite integrator within two years and deploying its first flight instrument on orbit in less than four years, launching the first SKA payloads in 2018.
Image courtesy of Missile Defense Agency