Dorian Shainin’s Contribution to the Lunar Mission of NASA
Celebrating 50 Years Since Man First Set Foot on the Moon
By Richard D. Shainin
In the 1960s, Dorian was engaged as a reliability consultant by Grumman Aerospace. They wanted to bid on the Apollo Lunar Module but were considered a long shot. NASA specified a reliability level of 99.99% but did not specify a confidence level. Other bidders agreed to the reliability level with a confidence of only 50%. Dorian had developed an idea for a revolutionary method for reliability testing that allowed Grumman to commit to the reliability level with 90% confidence. Grumman won the bid and with Dorian’s method, Step Overstress Probe Testing, Grumman was able to test components, assemblies, subsystems and systems under realistic stresses to discover design flaws early in development. As a result, during all eleven manned missions the Lunar Module performed flawlessly.
Dorian’s new method has been applied to other product development efforts with great success. Detroit Diesel used Step Overstress Probe Testing in the development of their Series 60 diesel engine which has been their most reliable engine ever. Gilbarco used the method in their development of the first digital display fuel delivery pumps for gas stations. Their superior reliability led to dominance in the market.