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09/17/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://www.clavius.org/techdefect.html

A few days ago, Ritchie posted a link to a conspiracy-debunking site related to the Apollo and Gemini space missions. On one of the pages, there's a discussion about the huge number of outstanding defect reports when the various missions launched. The writers of the site have to say about that:

Since quality control engineers are often held just as responsible as design and manufacturing engineers for defects in products, quality controllers tend to prolifically write chits so that in the event of future failure they can prove to their managers that they did their job. Often these CYA chits are nothing more than differences in the interpretation of the product's written specifications. But since little or nothing can or ought to be done about the CYA issues, many languish in defect tracking systems as "open" issues when in fact the designers have no intention of addressing them.

The defect reporting mechanism is also used to introduce requests for additional functionality or enhancements. Failure to address these defects does not necessary diminish the safety or functionality of the spacecraft. These chits basically start out saying, "It would be nice if ..." Since these observations frequently illuminate deficiencies in the original specifications, it's worth paying attention to them. But it's wrong to classify them as something that must be corrected before a safe flight.

I'm actually slightly surprised how closely this tracks my experience in the software development field. It's nice to know that we're not deviating that far from standard procedure.


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