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Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program: An Interim Report
In a number of areas, mission-critical tests—i.e., a system or subsystem model or prototype demonstration in an operational environment—are not included in the program, usually as a result of a lack of time (scheduling) and/or funding to carry out necessary flight tests or to develop needed test facilities. Specific examples were identified in the following programs:
02 Ablative Thermal Protection System for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, 03 Lunar Dust Mitigation, 05 Cryogenic Fluid Management, 09 Integrated Systems for Health Management, 11 Intelligent Software Design, 12 Autonomous Landing and Hazardous Avoidance Technology, 19 In Situ Resource Utilization, 20 Fission Surface Power, and 22 Human-Robotic Systems/Analogs. Not including these tests may limit the TRL to which the technologies can be advanced and may increase mission risk. Although near-term budgetary pressures are clear, the need for adequate testing is a recurrent theme in program failure reports and should be addressed.
Many of these cross-cutting issues will form the basis of the findings and recommendations to be elaborated on in the committee’s final report. The committee hopes that the observations made in this interim report will contribute to the ultimate success of the Exploration Technology Development Program.