Akins’ Laws Of Spacecraft Design

I’ve known Dave for decades, but this is the first time I’ve seen these.

I particularly like 39(s):

39. Any exploration program which “just happens” to include a new launch vehicle is, de facto, a launch vehicle program.

39. (alternate formulation) The three keys to keeping a new human space program affordable and on schedule:
1) No new launch vehicles.
2) No new launch vehicles.
3) Whatever you do, don’t develop any new launch vehicles.

Shame that NASA and Congress can’t learn this.

6 thoughts on “Akins’ Laws Of Spacecraft Design”

  1. I don’t disagree with the law as stated (initially), but I’m not sure if I agree with some of the underlying suggestion. Often exploitation will only be expanded when new technologies are employed which often requires a new vehicle. So I’d say a new exploration initiative may require a new vehicle. However, in the short term, the focus should be on vehicle capability as a new launch vehicle.

    The problem at NASA is less about a new vehicle than how it is procured plus their aversion to risk (not really safety risks as much as risk of negative press leading to Congressional cuts).

  2. Larry’s First Law: “Anything is possible if you lower your standards far enough.”

    Larry’s Second Law: “Laziness is the foundation of efficiency.”

    Larry’s Third Law: “Fashion is for suckers.”

  3. 39. Any exploration program which “just happens” to include a new launch vehicle is, de facto, a launch vehicle program.

    This is debatable but recent history bears him out. Going further back, the Saturn vehicle development costs were less than half the total cost of the Apollo program. The spacecraft cost more.

  4. I’ve had the pleasure of touring his lab at U of MD, and discussing robotics, parashields, etc. What an underutilized guy. And he certainly has had the hard knocks to have produced such a comprehensive, and accurate, list of laws.

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