Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Alan Johnson, PhD


The launch services that the USAF procures to carry DOD payloads into orbit are characterized by high risks and high costs. If a launch vehicle experiences a catastrophic failure, the cost of the entire launch vehicle, the launch processing, and the payload are completely lost (often in excess of 1,5 billion dollars.) Despite this enormous risk for the payload customer, and indeed the launch provider, launch success rates around the world are not much above 90 percent. The current USAF medium and heavylift launch systems are often based on technology that is 20 years old and older. Furthermore, little historical data exists because of the complex technologies used and the unique nature of individual missions. As such, reliability management is limited and faces serious shortcomings. This research investigates the various shortcomings associated with mission reliability measurement and management. Through literature review, case study analyses and interviews, the shortcomings are determined and analyzed. The results of this thesis effort demonstrate these shortcomings. Recommendations are presented for immediate improvement to selected shortcomings and suggestions are made for future research.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number



Thesis presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Logistics and Acquisitions Management.