Lessons learned at ESA?
When operating space-and ground systems, Safety and Mission Assurance shall encompass amongst others also one important aspect, which is to address past experience. Any lesson learned, whether positive or negative, shall be properly tabled and related messages passed to those involved in defining, implementing, validating and operating space/ground segment assets. This must involve industrial partners procuring these systems on prime- or subcontractor level, as well as national/ international partners cooperating in these projects. The lessons learned process can be considered being part of the more general Knowledge Management aspects, and as such constitutes an important and valuable process, which requires necessary attention at all implementation levels. At ESA the lessons learned process has been traditionally applied for all spacecraft projects operated by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), in Darmstadt. This was typically done in the form of a one day meeting whereby lead engineers presented feed-back for their domains, e.g. ground systems engineering, software development, network operations, systems validation, and actual in-flight operations, and project representatives have been attending these meetings. Within the European Space Agency all reviews were requested to specifically address lessons learned to allow capturing and preventive action for future projects. Moreover, the ESOC Quality Management System was amended by a procedure how to deal with the Lessons Learned process. This shall enable to apply a coherent approach throughout the centre and to feed internal and external parties, and eventually standards applied in the procurement of the systems. More recently, specific workshops have been held with industry and with the program/project offices to make them aware of deficiencies required to be corrected and positive things recommended to be pursued in future. The paper will describe the lessons learned process as presently applied within ESA whereby giving also some selected specific examples.