Project Risk Management (Assignment 1)-converted Paper

Published: 2021-09-05 18:40:15
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M.Shahid Ghani
1884153
MPM 2 C
ASSIGNMENT # 1
PROJECT RISK MANAGEMENT
Crisis in Outer Space
Apollo 13 liftoff mission came on 11 th April , 1970. There was a small hiccup during the
launch: the center engine in the second stage had to be shut down early because of a
malfunction known as “pogo oscillation.” Automatic cut -offs stopped the problem before
it could tear the ship apart.
About 56 hours after takeoff, with Apollo 13 much closer to the Moon than to the Earth,
Mission Control ra dioed Jack Swigert and asked him to turn on the stirring fans for the
hydrogen and oxygen tanks. About a minute and a half later, there was a loud bang. The
crew’s first thought was that the lunar module had been struck by a meteoroid.
What had happened w as actually much worse. Number 2 oxygen tank had exploded.
Later analysis would reveal damaged insulation on the wires to the stirring fan, allowing
a short circuit. A large aluminum skin panel on the outside of the ship blew off,
damaging an antenna and m omentarily interrupting communication with Mission
Control. The shock of the explosion caused a break in the number 1 oxygen tank as well.
Over the next two hours, the entire oxygen supply of the service module was lost.
Complicating matters even more, the fuel cells needed oxygen and hydrogen to generate
electricity. The command module was left with backup battery power only.
Landing on the Moon was no longer an option. The crew hastily shut down the
command module to save its limited power and moved into the lunar module. The new
project was how to get the crew back safely to Earth.
Working the Problems
Crises normally have extreme constraints in time and resources. If problems could not
be solved in very short order, the consequences would take hold at once with fatal
results.
While NASA had an extensive supply of spare parts, machine shops, and trained
engineers who could have fixed the ship easily, those resources were on Earth, and the
problem was more than a hundred thousand miles away.
Evacuating and shutting down the command module was the first order of business, but
there were many obstacles yet to be overcome before the crew of Apollo 13 would once
again see home. There were plans for aborting an Apollo mission, but some of them
were ruled out by the exigencies of the situation. The quickest way home required
jettisoning the lunar module, but that was serving as the lifeboat for the crew. The
service module integrity was in doubt, so they didn’t want to fire its engine except as a
last resort.
That left a circumlunar option, using the Moon’s gravity as a slingshot to send the
crippled ship back toward earth. To do that, they needed to make a minor course
correction, but debris from the explosion made it impossibl e to use the onboard sextant
device, requiring Jim Lovell to fly the spacecraft using the sun in the cockpit window as
an alignment star.
The problems mounted. While there was plenty of oxygen in the lunar module, carbon
dioxide removal required the use o f lithium hydroxide canisters. While there were
enough of them available, the square command module canisters wouldn’t fit in the
round LM openings. An engineering team created a kludged -together system using
plastic bags, cardboard, and tape, working on a n extremely limited time span.
Power supplies were limited. The LM was rated for two people for a day and a half, and
now it would need to accommodate three people for four days. All nonessential power
was shut down. Water and food were limited. The crew became dehydrated. Lovell lost
14 pounds.
The team managed to overcome one problem after another, but the toughest technical
challenge came at the end of the mission. There had never been a case where the
command module had to be powered up after a long s leep, and the flight controllers had
to test and write new procedures to accomplish it. (In the movie, that’s the suspenseful
scene in which Ken Mattingly, played by Gary Sinise, tries to find a start -up sequence
that draws less than 20 watts.) The normal time for a project like that was three months;
the team had three days.
By the time the Apollo 13 team reentered the command module, condensation had
covered the interior with fine droplets of water. Water was inside the circuit panels as
well, and the ch ance of a short circuit was all too real. Four hours before landing, the
crew jettisoned the service module, and one hour before landing they jettisoned the LM
that had served as their lifeboat. As they entered the atmosphere, the heat of reentry
created r ain inside the command module.
On April 17, 1970, Apollo 13 splashed down safely near American Samoa.
Crisis Management and the Impossible Project
What distinguishes a crisis from other kinds of projects is the way it tightens the
constraints. Time pr essure is normally high, and the nature of the situation normally
limits resources that would otherwise be available to the team. These revised constraints
are normally established by the situation, not by the will or desire of the project team. In
the cas e of Apollo 13, a procedure that would normally take three months had to be
developed in three days, for the simple reason that three days was all they had.
Modifying the carbon dioxide removal system would have been trivial on Earth; it was a
nail -biting project in space, with only the resources available on the ship able to be used
for the job.
Had the mission control team not been well prepared — had Gene Kranz not insisted on
“tough and competent” — had simulations by the hundreds not taken place, it’s almost
certain that the Apollo 13 mission would have ended in failure.
But that’s the point. To prepare for crisis, prepare early.
By the time the crisis occurs, it’s usually too late.

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