Why is Systems Engineering important?
Systems engineering effectively 'gives birth' to missions, turning an initial idea into a full system description, with all necessary elements integrated into a complete whole. These blueprints can then become the basis of subsequent decision-making, ultimately by ESA's Member States as they judge which future missions should gain their support.
Systems engineering also follows the development and the operation of the space system to ensure that the space system will fulfill this initial idea as well as possible and as efficiently as possible.
Systems engineers maintain the focus on the space system as a whole rather than a collection of functional elements through regular project reviews occurring during subsequent 'Phase C/D' development, production and testing. These serve to ensure the mission remains on track. Systems engineering also guides technology development and assesses the impact of new technologies.
In addition, the linked discipline of Cost engineering delivers early awareness of costs associated with engineering decisions as a project first gets underway, giving knowledge of the likely expenses associated with different potential solutions and allowing decisions to be made on a cost/benefit basis. In an interactive process, Cost engineering narrows the error band of the cost estimates as Systems engineering improves the system technical definition.
Last update: 18 November 2009