VPMC: Lessons Learned from Large NASA Projects

Welcome to the VPMC: Lessons Learned from Large NASA Projects! This website is intended to provide all of the information you need to prepare for and attend this event. Please explore the website and review the information provided.

Once you have reviewed all of the course information on the website, please Confirm Your Attendance using the button located at the top or bottom of any page.

After the webcast, you may record this session in SATERN. To do so, log in to SATERN and then click on the “Record Learning” link listed under links header. Type "NASA VPMC" in the Search Catalog box, Select "Other (Select one or more)" and press “Next." Click the “Select” circle to the right of the session "Lessons Learned from Large NASA Projects." and press “Next." Fill out the appropriate information to complete recording this session in SATERN.

The Virtual PM Challenge will count as continuous learning for NASA PM certification. Please refer to our online FAQ’s for more information see FAQ#2.


Large, complex missions have long development timeframes that often increase the challenges associated with budget, schedule, risk and reviews. In this VPMC session, associate administrators of two NASA mission directorates will share lessons learned from large projects. 

William H. Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, provides strategic direction for NASA's human exploration of space and programmatic direction for the International Space Station, Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, is responsible for directing and overseeing the nation’s space research program in Earth and space science. 

Gerstenmaier and Zurbuchen will share project management insights from a NASA senior leadership perspective. The conversation will cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Understanding inherent risk of large missions
  • Investing in people to prevent mistakes and their consequences
  • Built-in schedule margin for problem resolution during assembly, integration and test
  • The importance of active management that engages often
  • Government-contractor work environments
  • “Positive tension” required for effective mission oversight
  • Examining the Standing Review Board process for improvements



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