Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

AN "inappropriate emphasis on cost" contributed to failures of Lockheed Martin-built satellite launch vehicles earlier this year. An independent assessment team has recommended that the company develop a plan to guarantee mission success for the remaining 11 launches of the Titan IV booster.

Lockheed Martin says it will complete by the end of the month a plan to implement the recommendations of the 16-member review team, led by former Martin Marietta president Thomas Young.

In addition to recommending development of a "fly-out" plan for the remaining Titan IV launches, the team called on the company to strengthen management accountability and oversight and to improve quality control and supplier management.

Young says the team "found more emphasis on cost than appropriate" in its four-month review of Lockheed Martin's Space & Strategic Missiles sector. The Titan IV programme was of particular concern, he says, following the loss of a vehicle and its Milstar military communications satellite payload earlier this year because a software change was not tested.

Lockheed Martin president Peter Teets says the company is committed to ensuring 100% mission success for the remaining Titan IV launches, which will all carry US military satellites.

"Mission success must come before cost and schedule performance," he says. A plan to retain critical skills to the end of the programme has been implemented, he adds.

The review team criticised the relatively recent combination of the sector's product assurance and mission success functions, responsible for quality control and corrective actions, respectively, into a single organisation.

The company says it will make the two organisations independent again.

Source: Flight International