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Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program: An Interim Report A Statement of Task In the House report accompanying the FY2007 appropriations act that includes NASA (the Science, State, Justice, Commerce bill), NASA was directed to “enter into an arrangement with the National Research Council (NRC) for an independent assessment of NASA’s restructured Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP) to determine how well the program is aligned with the stated objectives of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), identify any gaps, and assess the quality of the research.” The following statement of task was developed by NASA and the NRC: The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the NRC will form a committee to perform this independent assessment. The committee’s assessment will include findings and recommendations related to the relevance of ETDP research to the objectives of the Vision for Space Exploration, to any gaps in the ETDP research portfolio, and to the quality of ETDP research. The scope of the assessment will include all internal, collaborative, and competitively sourced research, development, analysis, etc. funded by ETDP. While the primary objective is to conduct peer assessments that provide scientific and technical advice, the committee may offer programmatic advice when it follows naturally from technical considerations. The specific criteria for the committee to use are Alignment with the stated objectives of the Vision for Space Exploration, The presence of gaps in research, and The quality of research. NASA believes that it will be beneficial for the NRC to make additional comments and recommendations in the following areas: The effectiveness of the program in developing technology products and transitioning them to its customers; The balance between near-term and far-term technology investments; The metrics used for assessing progress in technology development; The involvement of the broader community; The program management and implementation methodology; and The overall capabilities of the research team. The committee will not make budget recommendations. The committee will meet as required during the study to receive technical presentations about the projects under review by their group and formulate final findings and recommendations. Committee members will also make site visits as deemed necessary in formulating the assessment. Meetings will involve interactive discussions with NASA personnel from the programs. The committee may use NASA’s Global Exploration Strategy, which establishes themes and objectives for lunar exploration and was presented at the 2nd Space Exploration Conference in Houston, Texas, in December 2006; the reference architecture for lunar missions developed by the Lunar Architecture Team of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD); and the Constellation Systems Program’s Technology Priorities documents that identify the critical
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Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program: An Interim Report technologies needed to enable the design of flight systems such as the Orion crew exploration vehicle, the Ares launch vehicle, and the Lunar Lander. The final report will be provided no later than 12 months from the contract award. The NRC will provide a letter to the ESMD Associate Administrator that summarizes significant interim findings of the committee no later than seven months from contract award. The committee chair(s) will also provide an oral briefing to NASA on significant interim findings.