committee recognizes not only the need to learn from implementation of the 1 7 recommended missions but also the need to efficiently transition select research observations to operational status and the need to create space-based observing opportunities aimed at fostering new science leaders and revolutionary ideas. In light of those objectives the committee makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation: U.S. civil space agencies should aggressively pursue technology development that supports the missions recommended in Tables 2.1 and 2.2; plan for transitions to continue demonstrably useful research observations on a sustained, or operational, basis; and foster innovative space-based concepts. In particular:

  • NASA should increase investment in both mission-focused and cross-cutting technology development in order to decrease technical risk in the recommended missions and promote cost reduction across multiple missions. Early technology-focused investments through extended mission Phase A studies are essential.

  • To restore more frequent launch opportunities and to facilitate the demonstration of innovative ideas and higher-risk technologies, NASA should create a new Venture class of low-cost research and application missions (~$100 million to $200 million). These missions should focus on fostering revolutionary innovation and on training future leaders of space-based Earth science and applications.

  • NOAA should increase investment in identifying and facilitating the transition of demonstrably useful research observations to operational use.

The Venture class of missions, in particular, would replace and be very different from the current ESSP mission line, which is increasingly a competitive means for implementing NASA’s strategic missions. Priority would be given to cost-effective, innovative missions rather than those with excessive scientific and technological requirements. The Venture class could include stand-alone missions that use simple, small instruments, spacecraft, and launch vehicles; more complex instruments of opportunity flown on partner spacecraft and launch vehicles; or complex sets of instruments flown on suitable suborbital platforms to address focused sets of scientific questions. These missions could focus on establishing new research avenues or on demonstrating key application-oriented measurements. Key to the success of such a program will be maintaining a steady stream of opportunities for community participation in the development of innovative ideas, which requires that strict schedule and cost guidelines be enforced for the program participants.


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