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KMWorld, April 27th, 1998

DM boosts shuttle fleet preparation

United Space Alliance launches best-of-breed solution

A joint venture of Boeing (Seattle) and Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD), the United Space Alliance (USA) was formed in 1995 in response to NASA's desire to privatize its space shuttle operations with a single prime contractor. USA (Houston) began full operation of the six-year, $7 billion Space Flight Operations Contract in October 1996. Eighty percent of USA's contract fee is contingent upon performance, and was specifically written to ensure NASA's primary goals of maintaining mission safety, supporting the flight schedule and reducing operating costs. USA maintains it can save the federal government more than $400 million over the term of its core contract, while improving safety and logistical efficiency. The joint venture hopes to realize at least a portion of those savings by applying the latest document management technology to the creation and editing of the space shuttle's owners manual--the technical documentation that prepares each shuttle for flight.

Currently, USA's technical authors use a combination of three flat-file legacy document systems to produce and revise mission-critical procedure documents covering standard tests and maintenance, inspection and modification and the installation and removal of equipment and payloads. Some 6,000 engineers and technicians rely on the accuracy of those procedure documents to ensure mission success. Beginning this month, USA plans to replace its existing document management systems with a new application called the WAVE (Work Authorization Document Authoring and Validation Environment). The WAVE will be comprised of Documentum's (www.documentum.com) electronic document management system (EDMS) and ArborText's (www.arbortext.com) Adept 7 content creation and management software. Altro Solutions (www.altro.com) will integrate the installation.

Industry protocols like standard generalized markup language (SGML) and extensible markup language (XML) will allow WAVE users to access and edit standardized documents stored in a single database. Adept is a member of a class of software products known as SGML editors. Documents in the database can be broken into component parts or "document objects" that can be stored, accessed and edited separately, thus improving the efficiency of the editing process. A key feature in the integration is called Willow, Adept's application program interface (API). Willow technology will allow USA's technical authors to use Adept's SGML editing capabilities on the wealth of SGML and XML-structured object data contained in Documentum's EDMS.

Jim Sterkin, CEO and founder of ArborText, said, "Adept-Editor's Willow integration to document management systems, tagging structure, viewing options and overall stability provide much needed user friendliness and will streamline production and improve quality in USA's document creation/maintenance procedures."

Documentum's Larry Warnock, VP of corporate marketing, said, "By combining Adept 7 with our EDMS system, USA is getting a robust, powerful and intuitive best-of-breed solution. Willow integration of Adept and EDMS is an ideal solution for SGML/XML-intensive applications such as the WAVE."

"The advantages of combining powerful SGML and XML tools with Documentum's robust platform brings new information management capabilities and productive benefits to complex programs such as NASA's space shuttle," said Altro CEO and founder Joseph Garappolo.