This paper describes the concept of Risk Based Design in the context of NASA s low volume, high cost missions. The concept of accounting for risk in the design lifecycle has been discussed and proposed under several research topics, including reliability, risk analysis, optimization, uncertainty, decision-based design, and robust design. This work aims to identify and develop methods to enable and automate a means to characterize and optimize risk, and use risk as a tradeable resource to make robust and reliable decisions, in the context of the uncertain and ambiguous stage of early conceptual design. This paper first presents a survey of the related topics explored in the design research community as they relate to risk based design. Then, a summary of the topics from the NASA-led Risk Colloquium is presented, followed by current efforts within NASA to account for risk in early design. Finally, a list of ''risk elements'', identified for early-phase conceptual design at NASA, is presented. The purpose is to lay the foundation and develop a roadmap for future work and collaborations for research to eliminate and mitigate these risk elements in early phase design.