Project Management in the dramatic world of spacecraft launch and operation – Carter

11:00 am -11:45 am

Friday, April 21, 2023

Benjamin Banneker


Not just another spacecraft atop yet another rocket.

Not just another billionaire demonstrating wealth and ambition.

This was the JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE (JWST) – much delayed, over-budget flagship space observatory, 30 years in the making.

This is NOT that story.

This is the story of the day-to-day project management activities that helped SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE (STScI) prepare for, support, enact readiness to operate and conduct outstanding science missions on JWST…..…and other observatories……and ALL the other ancillary systems that enable the missions of STScI. In particular I shall concentrate on the activities in the IT Services Division of STScI.

Everyone knows that JWST was launched in December 2021 and delivered the first images in July 2022. That didn’t happen by chance, it was by design. And as with many organizations, the demands on STScI’s IT Services Division are far greater than the capacity to deliver. In that context I will look at PRIORITISATION, PREPARATION & PERSEVERENCE and explore what it means to understand and respond to customer’s demands and how the spirit of everyone involved can enable success.

Anyone familiar with space exploration of any kind will tell you that timescales are crucial and the spectrum is wide. At one end there are launch deadlines – at the other, the capability is expected to be in service for many years – Hubble is 30+ years old already and still going strong! And IT service provision has to be able to meet those demands – now and in the future so I shall touch on how we are ‘baking-in’ sustainability as a broader topic.

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