Using Agile Methodologies In The Development Of A Wax Hybrid Rocket

A. Moreno, M. Regina, Javier Stober, Danielle Wood. "Using Agile Methodologies In The Development Of A Wax Hybrid Rocket," 3AF Space Propulsion Conference 2022, May 2022.


 Historically, the field of propulsion has primarily used waterfall project management methodologies in their technology development. The main reason for the industry’s preference towards waterfall is the high financial and safety costs that come with each functionality and safety test and design review. However, given the growth of accessibility to relevant space environments such as microgravity platforms via parabolic flights, suborbital flights, and experiments in the ISS, the cost of accessing microgravity has significantly decreased to the point that research groups now have the possibility of multiple iterations for each type of flight during the development of a new space technology. This led to the possibility of applying agile methodologies to the development of an in-space wax hybrid rocket. 

Agile project management is considered a common practice in fields that rely heavily on software development given that it tends to enable fast turnarounds, collaborations among large teams, and low cost per iteration. In this paper, agile is defined from the agile manifesto of 2005 that prioritises, individuals and interactions, working product, customer collaboration, and responding to change [1]. The paper presents the specific ways in which the wax development project demonstrated these methodologies duringthe past couple of years. 

Additionally, this work demonstrates how using the agile approach led to the research group preparing for three different flight milestones in one year during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made collaboration and lab access difficult. Lastly, as part of the analysis, the lessons learned and future steps to applying such methodologies are discussed.  

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