The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology Development: A Workshop Report
activity during 2003, leading to the new vision for space exploration announced in January 2004; the creation of the Office of Exploration Systems; the appointment of Craig Steidle, Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems; John Mankins’s move from the Office of Space Flight to the Office of Exploration Systems; and the assignment of personnel to Exploration Systems. Other changes came in response to the Aldridge commission’s report.9, 10 In the face of this steady stream of changes and reorganizations, NASA has begun to synthesize parallel lines of activity for its different missions while focusing on the pursuit of technology in support of the new vision for space exploration.
Mankins ended his remarks by saying that the workshop series continued to be extremely timely and impotant. NASA is pushing ahead with a rather dramatic reformulation of its investment portfolio. As a result, information from the workshop series will be quite timely.
Steering committee member Molly Macauley, Resources for the Future, provided an introduction to the workshop. She began by saying NASA’s reason for hosting the workshop was to ascertain from other federal agencies, industry, and universities what has and has not worked in their collaborative efforts. She noted that collaboration is perhaps more complicated than it would appear. For instance, there are different types of universities and colleges, from community colleges to large research universities, as well as different types of industry, from small, entrepreneurial companies to large industrial conglomerates. She asked whether there was a one-size-fits-all approach to collaboration. How can we have the best and brightest in the country working for NASA in a collaborative atmosphere and also make sure that taxpayer money is not wasted, given complications such as intellectual property rights, patents, and royalties? For example, are peer-reviewed grants or procurement contracts good mechanisms for collaboration? Or would a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) methodology work well?
Macauley mentioned that NASA had proposed bringing back the idea of prizes to stimulate technology development, as was done from 1900 to 1927 for the aviation industry, when prizes were awarded largely by the private sector to entrepreneurs to advance aviation technology. The idea was successful, even though in comparison to today, that earlier period in U.S. history was a time of limited federal government—during much of the heyday of aviation prizes, there was as yet no personal income tax, let alone a system of peer-review grants and procurement contracts. It is still questionable whether a prize approach will work within government in lieu of existing methods of collaboration, but Macauley said that NASA’s program of prizes—Centennial Challenges—was indicative of a willingness to consider new approaches for stimulating technology development. Congress, however, has not been fully receptive. Macauley said the workshop was an opportunity to discuss the best approaches to technology advancement—for example, experimental demonstration programs or other mechanisms that workshop participants might suggest. She also noted that mechanisms for long-term technology development needed to provide for sustained interaction across
Aldridge Commission. 2004. Report of the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy: A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, June.
NASA reorganized again on August 1, 2004, renaming the Office of Exploration Systems, NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate.