Sciency Words: Descope

Sciency Words MATH

Today’s post is part of a special series here on Planet Pailly called Sciency Words. Each week, we take a closer look at an interesting science or science-related term to help us all expand our scientific vocabularies together. Today’s term is:


What do you call it when a space mission that’s supposed to look like this…

Fb10 Epic Huge Space Probe

… turns out looking more like this?

Fb10 Teeny Tiny Space Probe

It’s called descoping.

Descoping is a term, apparently used at NASA and other space agencies, for when the “scope” of a mission is reduced, usually due to budgetary concerns. At least being descoped is better than being canceled outright, although I can easily imagine missions being descoped to the point that they may as well be canceled.

It seems the term can also apply to military hardware that, once again for budgetary reasons, had to be scaled down. So the verb “to descope” could be doubly useful for science fiction writers.

P.S.: I’d planned to write more for today, but due to budgetary concerns, this blog post has been descoped.

8 thoughts on “Sciency Words: Descope

  1. As far as military projects go, sometimes descoping is good. I’m not saying its a bad vehicle, but the M2 Bradley started as a troop transport and due to politics, turned out as a troop transport with reduced troop capacity, a scout vehicle, an infantry support vehicle with its gun, and a tank destroyer with anti-tank missiles all rolled into one. The end result is that it wasn’t as good at any of those roles as a vehicle dedicated to one specific role.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly. SelfAwarePatterns’ “scope creep” describes it pretty well. Look up the evolution of the bradley scene from pentagon wars and it will explain what happened pretty well.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Descope” is a funny word, but referring to reducing the scope of a project, it refers to a concept often used in all types of management. I’ve had to descope many an IT project. It also seems like the opposite of a concept called “scope creep” where people keep adding things to the project until it becomes far larger than the original need that drove its creation.

    A typical time line in the planning for a project is
    1) recognize a need
    2) propose a project to address it
    3) add on subsidiary and comcomitant goals
    4) find out what the budget is and descope as necessary, hopefully to something not smaller than the original idea in 2)

    Liked by 1 person

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