Updates to NASA-STD-8739.6 Reflect Ongoing Changes to Industry Standards and Expand ESD Control Applicability

Updates to NASA-STD-8739.6 Reflect Ongoing Changes to Industry Standards and Expand ESD Control Applicability

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Policies and Procedures Binders

The Office of Safety and Mission Assurance’s Workmanship Standards program recently updated NASA-STD-8739.6, Implementation Requirements for NASA Workmanship Standards to

  • Align with changes in industry standards
  • Expand Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) control requirements
  • Clarify training requirements
  • Reflect changes in other NASA Policy Directives (NPDs) and NASA Procedural Requirements (NPRs)

“We have to stay on top of these industry standards because they are constantly evolving with additions for new test procedures and manufacturing technologies,” explained Chris Fitzgerald, Quality Assurance engineer at Goddard Space Flight Center. “Adoption of new industry revisions isn’t automatic because each release needs to be systematically evaluated to determine how it affects our product realization.”

The update, NASA-STD-8739.6B, went into effect Feb. 4, 2021. 

The expansion of ESD control requirements beyond the ANSI/ESD S20.20 baseline returns many of the requirements previously included in NASA-STD-8739.7, Electrostatic Discharge Control (Excluding Electrically Initiated Explosive Devices), which NASA cancelled in 2002. These are requirements that are important for processing NASA hardware but could not be adopted by the industry standard, resulting in a large addition to revision B’s Section 7. 

“ANSI/ESD S20.20 is recognized across the electronics industry as a commonly understood guideline for the electronics industry,” said Fitzgerald. “However, NASA’s unique application and environmental requirements have compelled the use of additional controls for the protection of its highly sensitive custom-built hardware.”

Section 7.2

In addition to the technical requirements that supplement ANSI/ESD S20.20, the update also includes programmatic requirements for Quality Management Systems, including creating and approving ESD control plans at all NASA centers and facilities. This means suppliers operating on-site at a NASA center or facility will have to meet or exceed that center’s local ESD control plan as well. The center’s ESD control plan will need to explain minimum criteria to be met by tenants versus engineering services contractor operations.

The revised standard also includes changes to the location of training requirements. 

“We did some rearranging,” said Fitzgerald. “All our training requirements were placed in an appendix in the back, and we moved them from the appendix to Section 5. The agency publications rules for technical standards had changed to discourage including requirements in appendices.”

Also with regards to training, the standard clarifies the training window for expiring training credentials for NASA Workmanship Standards. Students taking the refresher training up to three months early will retain a training renewal date (i.e., expiration date) that is 24 months after their current renewal date.   For example, if a person had a credential expiring April 15, they could take the necessary training as early as January 15 and keep April 15 as the future expiration date, ensuring the trainee’s original credentials are valid for a full 24-month period. This encourages students to get registered and trained before their credentials expire without penalizing them by increasing the retraining cadence. It enables those students to stay on the same month schedule for their retraining, which makes it easier to remember and plan for. This change is the latest in several made over the years to the training rules to reduce students’ exceeding their retraining due dates. This three-month window also aligns with IPC’s training policies, so NASA Workmanship and IPC retraining procedures are now more similar.

Sections 5.8.5 and 5.8.6

Finally, the updates in revision B reflect a change in other NASA documentation that flow down to the standard. NPD 8730.5, NASA Quality Assurance Program Policy will be retired now that NPR 8735.2C, Hardware Quality Assurance Program Requirements for Programs and Projects is published. The revision proactively removed references to the NPD and provided language that aligns with that in the new NPR, including the definitions for “critical” hardware.

Many newer missions at NASA are considered “Class-D,” “do-no-harm,” or research and development projects, such as CubeSat operations. These are meant to be rapidly developed and deployed for smaller-scale missions that have the lowest budgets and the highest risk tolerance.

“When you consider all mission hardware to be critical, the result is the application of the full slate of Workmanship requirements to all hardware,” explained Fitzgerald. “But applying these requirements all in whole was adding a lot of cost to those projects that they just couldn’t afford.” 

While contemporary agency mission assurance policy expects risk-based requirements tailoring for all missions, NASA-STD-8739.6B now reflects the position stated in NPR 8735.2B that research and development projects managed in accordance with NPR 7120.8, NASA Research and Technology Program and Project Management Requirements may apply these Workmanship requirements at will where they add the most Return on Investment.

Questions about Workmanship policy can be directed to Fitzgerald or Alvin Boutte, Workmanship program manager.