5s at NASA

NASA did some amazing things culminating with landing on Moon. Much of what they did was doing many small things very well. They used 5s, checklists, gemba thinking, usability, simplicity, testing out on a small scale and much more.

Here are a few photos from the Smithsonian Air and Space museum in Washington DC. I also have some nicer NASA 5s photos from the new Annex near Dulles Airport, but, ironically, I can’t find them.

photo of container labeled with many compartments for NASA

These kits were used by NASA astronauts on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Obviously NASA had to have everything that might be needed where it was needed (picking up something from the supply closet in building 2 wasn’t an option).


Sorting – NASA certainly took care to determine what was needed and not take anything along that wasn’t needed.

Set in Order – NASA had a place for everything and everything was kept in its place and labeled.

Shining – NASA’s procedures made sure everything was kept clean and where it belonged.

Standardizing – Procedures were clearly documented. As amazing as Astronauts, for example, Neil Armstrong were they were treated as part of the system. They each could be replaced by another for a launch and everyone knew what the procedures were – they were not dependent on who was fulfilling the role this time.

photo of NASA checklists for the Apollo 11 mission

Related: NASA Drops a Hammer and a Feather on the MoonNASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover

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