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                                   Technical Standards - Frequently Asked Questions
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What differentiates a "standard" from other requirement documents?

NASA standards differ from requirements in that compliance with standards is at the discretion of the program/project unless mandated by a NASA directive or other NASA communication, and standards may be tailored by the project accordingly. Similarly, JPL standards are mandatory unless waived or tailored by JPL flight projects. In contrast, some NASA and JPL requirements may not be waived or tailored.

Do "standards" include guidance documents?

The NASA and industry documents available on NASA Technical Standards Program website include guidance documents. According to NASA policy, however, guidance documents (e.g., NASA handbooks, guidebooks, best practices, guidelines) differ from standards in that the former cannot contain requirements language (i.e., “shall” statements).

What is a NASA "mandatory standard?"

In 2008 NASA identified a set of core standards that were designated as mandatory for application on all NASA programs and projects where technically applicable, with a waiver from the Technical Authority required for non-use. However, NASA has indicated that they plan to withdraw this requirement and identify a list of "endorsed standards" that projects are encouraged to consider in setting project requirements.

What is a NASA "endorsed standard?"

NASA OCE has identified a set of NASA, government, and industry standards that NASA projects should consider for adoption. This set was derived by having the NASA Technical Fellows vet a list of standards that meet the following criteria:

    • Maintained document that is reviewed and updated on a periodic basis
    • Leverages best practices, sound engineering practices, and the latest technical knowledge
    • Widely accepted by engineering discipline experts
      • Assures proven consistent common practices in area of engineering discipline are applied
      • Experts can be in industry, military, academia, or NASA
    • Documents that address common, high-level functions that need to be addressed by all projects across or within a given program, all elements across or within a given project, etc.

    Do "NASA standards" include only those that have been officially released by NASA?

    No, NASA standards include voluntary consensus standards (VCS) published and maintained by industry and international standards developing organizations (SDOs). Use of VCS wherever feasible has been mandated by Executive Order (OMB Circular A-119, "Federal Participation in the Development and Use of Voluntary Consensus Standard and in Conformity Assessment Activities"). This means that NASA cannot issue a new standard if an existing VCS can be adapted to NASA use.


    How may I propose a new NASA standard or guideline, or propose that an existing JPL standard or guideline be adopted NASA-wide?

    Navigate to the NASA Technical Standards Program website select the “Standards Management System” link, and view the “Submit Proposal” pull-down menu. A standards proposal form will appear for completion online. (Note that you must register for initial access to the NASA standards site.)






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