Faster, Better, Cheaper: Low-Cost Innovation in the U. S. Space Program / Edition 1

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In Faster, Better, Cheaper: Low-Cost Innovation in the U.S. Space Program, Howard E. McCurdy examines NASA's recent efforts to save money while improving mission frequency and performance. McCurdy details the sixteen missions undertaken during the 1990s—including an orbit of the moon, deployment of three space telescopes, four Earth-orbiting satellites, two rendezvous with comets and asteroids, and a test of an ion propulsion engine—which cost less than the sum traditionally spent on a single, conventionally planned planetary mission. He shows how these missions employed smaller spacecraft and cheaper technology to undertake less complex and more specific tasks in outer space. While the technological innovation and space exploration approach that McCurdy describes is still controversial, the historical perspective on its disappointments and triumphs points to ways of developing "faster, better, and cheaper" as a management manifesto.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Satellite Evolution Group

It is an engaging story, and the book itself is small enough for bedtime reading.

Technology and Culture

An excellent overview of Goldin's initiative and of the scholarly literature that bears on the topic.

Enterprise and Society
Readers interested in either the management or economics of complex organizations will find a wealth of material in this well-written exposition. Fans of space travel, like the author himself, will also enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at NASA's operation.

— Michael N. Geselowitz


This excellent summary of an important part of NASA's history is recommended for all readers.

Enterprise and Society - Michael N. Geselowitz

Readers interested in either the management or economics of complex organizations will find a wealth of material in this well-written exposition. Fans of space travel, like the author himself, will also enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at NASA's operation.

From The Critics
After the highly publicized failure of the Mars Observer spacecraft in 1993, NASA decided that the problem was related to the many additions of instruments and equipment that had occurred since its original conception in 1981. In response, NASA adopted the "faster, better, cheaper" method in which spacecraft were designed for limited missions and budgets were kept down. McCurdy (public affairs, American U.) details the 16 missions that have occurred since the switch, discussing reasons for failure or success. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801877490
  • Publisher: Hopkins Fulfillment Service
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Series: New Series in NASA History Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard E. McCurdy is a professor in the School of Public Affairs at American University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents


List of Boxes


1 - The Reform

2 - The Nature of the Challenge

3 - Cost Control

4 - The Philosophy

5 - Mars Pathfinder

6 - Organization

7 - Technology

8 - Risk and Reliability

9 - Future Implications



Johns Hopkins University Press

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