| Though each issue of ASK
Magazine addresses the concerns of project management,
this issue, like all previous issues, is a one-of-a-kind
product filled with the unique and often innovative insights
of individual project practitioners.
In that way, we feel a kinship with Ames Research Center
technologist Dan Gundo, who builds one-of-a-kind hardware
for NASA projects and has given us a story about one.
In "The Clock Is Ticking," Gundo writes about an exercise
bed he built for space scientists studying ways to counter
the atrophying effects of microgravity on human muscles.
The novelty of the exercise bed is only part of what we
think you'll find interesting in the story. Best of all
is how Gundo learned to work with his customer to define
project requirements clearly enough and early enough to
allow him to meet a challenging deadline.
Requirements challenges come up in another story, "Enough
is Enough," by James Barrowman. On the Rossi X-Ray Timing
Explorer mission, Barrowman worked with the science team
to put down on paper what constituted "good enough" science
before development work on the spacecraft began. This
looked prescient when a technical problem emerged, and
suddenly the scientists forgot about what was good enough.
This story is not the first to appear by Barrowman in
ASK. In Issue 3, we featured his story "Pin
the Deputy's Badge on Me" about doing double duty as program
manager and deputy project manager in the Explorer Program
Office at Goddard Space Flight Center. You can read Barrowman's
other story by going to the ASK archives on our
Donald Margolies is also making a repeat appearance in
the magazine. We featured a story by Margolies in Issue
9 about an episode on the Advanced Composition Explorer
(ACE) mission, for which he was project manager. In the
interview you'll find in this issue, Margolies invokes
examples from ACE to discuss the challenges of scheduling.
After reading the interview, you may want to read more
about ACE. Again, visit our Web site and you'll find several
stories about ACE in Issue 9.
If it sounds as though I'm pushing our Web site, then
I guess it's because I am. After several issues not having
a Web companion to our print edition, ASK is back
online at http://appel.nasa.gov.
We've taken advantage of being part of the expansive NASA
portal to introduce many new features. For example, in
this print issue we've collected several lessons learned
from retired Goddard project manager Jerry Madden. These
lessons first appeared in 1995 when Jerry released his
underground cult classic, "100
Lessons Learned for Project Managers." We've pulled
together some of our favorites here from the 128 Madden
collected. If you want to read all of the lessons and
you don't have a well-connected friend with the original
copy of the lessons, you can find them all on the ASK
Web site. And by the way, you can also read an interview
we did with Madden that appeared in Issue
What else this issue? In early 2004, a NASA spacecraft
will intersect a comet and return home in 2006 with some
microscopic particles of stardust, another one-of-a-kind
mission. This is the subject of Jet Propulsion Laboratory
project manager Ken Atkins' story "Mr. Stardust's Wild
Ride." The spacecraft is presently on its way to rendezvous
with Comet Wild II, but Atkins will tell you how precipitously
close the project came to an early demise. This story
will be a jolt to anyone who thinks the only money issue
that matters on a project is how much you get. Atkins
shows that when the money arrives can be just as important.
There is plenty more good stuff in Issue 14, so go ahead
and dive in.