PROJECT MANAGEMENT | LARGE PROJECTS | LESSONS LEARNED | MOON
Huge projects are always a fascinating subject, and the past week brought contrasting news about two monumental projects that shared the same goal: getting a rover to the Moon’s south pole.
Still image from the movie “Le Voyage dans la Lune” by Georges Méliès, 1902 — public domain
What do the outcomes of these projects teach us about project management?
1️⃣ Russia’s lunar mission: Lessons from Failure
An ambitious but failed attempt by Russia to return to the moon after nearly half a century gives us some important insights.
Lost in Time: Knowledge Management and the Half-Century Gap
The extensive gap in lunar research and the loss of experience since the last mission in 1976 were key reasons for the failure. This underscores the value of retaining knowledgeable staff and applying lessons learned from previous projects.
“The valuable experience gained by our predecessors in the 1960s and 70s was essentially lost.”
Collaboration Up in Flames: Geopolitics and Partnerships
During the Luna-25 project, Roscosmos collaborated with the European Space Agency (ESA) for a landing-assisting camera. However, the partnership was halted due to geopolitical reasons after Ukraine’s invasion in February 2022 and this disruption had a negative impact on the project. Effective collaboration and partnerships are vital in complex projects involving multiple stakeholders.
When Risk Overrides Caution: Governance and Decision-making
A researcher with the Moscow-based Institute for Space Research, told the state RIA Novosti agency that signs of equipment problems had appeared even before the crash, but space officials still gave the green light for landing. Neglecting recognized risks while rushing to meet timelines can result in catastrophic consequences.