As part of this recommended NASA review, a careful examination of the approaches to cost, schedule, and risk management should be made, and a comprehensive examination should be done of options to reduce cost while maintaining a mission’s capability to achieve the science priorities for which it was recommended. The committee urges that steps be taken to allow all missions currently under development to make reasonable progress while the competitive assessment of projects across the SMD is underway. Major missions are an essential part of a balanced program—it is important to have large missions as well as medium and small missions—and finding ways to keep them on track and affordable is thus crucial.
Finding 5. A past strength of the NASA science programs, in both their planning and their execution, has been the intimate involvement of the scientific community. Some of the current mismatch between the NASA plans for the next 5 years and a balanced and robust program stems from the lack of an effective internal advisory structure at the level of NASA’s mission directorates.
Recommendation 5. NASA should engage with its reconstituted advisory committees as soon as possible for the purpose of determining how to create in the space and Earth science program a proper balance among large, medium, and small missions, and research and analysis programs, and for evaluating the advice in and the consequences of the results from the comprehensive reviews of the major missions called for in Recommendation 4. Reconstitution and engagement of advisory committees for the microgravity life and physical sciences are equally important and should be given attention.