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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 1) Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science 1 Introduction STUDY ORIGINS The role that advanced technology plays in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's pursuit of the nation's civil space goals is self-evident. Technology underpins every aspect of space missions and ground operations. In common with other high-technology organizations, NASA must periodically assess its processes for selecting technology development tasks and choosing programs. In December 1991, NASA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to identify means of optimizing the future development of technology for space science and applications (see Appendix A). As requested, this resulting study focuses on the technology needs of the NASA Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA), and the relevant decision processes and programs of OSSA and the NASA Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology (OAST). REPORT MENU NOTICE MEMBERSHIP Two boards of the NRC, the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) and PREFACE the Space Studies Board (SSB), advise OAST and OSSA, respectively. These boards EXECUTIVE SUMMARY assembled a broadly representative committee of 26 engineers and scientists from industry, CHAPTER 1 academia, and government: the Committee on Space Science Technology Planning. To CHAPTER 2 perform this study the Committee reviewed the technology needs of the six OSSA science CHAPTER 3 divisions, identifying gaps where possible; reviewed the processes by which the needs had CHAPTER 4 been derived; and reviewed the OAST responses to the needs and the processes by which ACRONYMS these had been derived. After completing the above, the Committee has suggested a BIOGRAPHIES number of modifications and actions to improve coordination and transfer of knowledge and BIBLIOGRAPHY technology between OSSA and OAST. APPENDIX A APPENDIX B The Committee met on May 22, 1992 and June 22-26, 1992. The first meeting was APPENDIX C devoted to briefings from OAST and OSSA officials on their programs and their APPENDIX D perspectives on the requested study. The week-long workshop expanded upon those APPENDIX E briefings in plenary session and permitted subcommittees to examine particular issues in more detail. Subcommittees were formed in four areas: astrophysics and space physics; earth and planetary sciences; life sciences; and microgravity sciences. Workshop participants are listed in Appendix B. In October 1992, the Administrator of NASA announced his intention to reorganize OAST and OSSA. OAST was divided into separate space and aeronautics organizations. OSSA was divided into separate organizations for different areas of space sciences and applications. As this organization occurred during the editing of this report, the study committee had no opportunity to examine the reorganization. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch1.htm (1 of 6) [6/18/2004 11:38:31 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 1) Despite the reorganization, however, the goals and responsibilities previously assigned to OSSA and OAST are likely to endure and the results of this study should prove useful to their successor organizations. Because of the changes in organization, and to avoid cumbersome sentences, all references to OSSA and OAST should be taken to refer with equal facility to the past structure or the successor organizations. NASA AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT The Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology has been the NASA office charged with funding and carrying out exploratory and proof-of-concept technology development in support of other NASA entities. OAST's mission statement for its Space Technology Directorate is to: . . . provide technology for future civil space missions and provide a base of research and technology capabilities to serve all national space goals. [OAST shall] Identify, develop, validate and transfer technology to: increase mission safety and reliability; reduce program development and operations cost; enhance mission performance; and enable new missions. [OAST shall] Provide the capability to: advance technology in critical disciplines; and respond to unanticipated mission needs.1 In accordance with its mission, the Office of Space Science and Applications is: . . . responsible for planning, directing, executing and evaluating that part of the overall NASA program that has the goal of using the unique characteristics of the space environment to conduct a scientific study of the universe, to understand how Earth works as an integrated system, to solve practical problems on Earth, and to provide the scientific and technological research foundation for expanding human presence beyond Earth orbit into the solar system.2 OAST's responsibilities encompass but extend considerably beyond serving OSSA's needs. OAST categorizes its efforts into two areas: basic and focused technology development. Basic research and development is supported by the Research and Technology Base Program, referred to as the Base Program. The Base Program addresses: aerothermodynamics, space energy conversion, propulsion, materials and structures, information and controls, human support, and space communications. Focused research and development is supported primarily by the Civil Space Technology Initiative and is divided into five technology thrusts for the support of space science, operations, transportation, platforms, and planetary surface exploration. The funds allocated to OAST represented, and it is anticipated that those allocated to the successor Office of Advanced Concepts and Technology will continue to represent, the largest discretionary resources that NASA can apply to technology development. In fiscal year (FY) 1992, NASA invested $306 million through OAST to create new technological capabilities. In focused research and development, $13:5 million was allocated specifically to the space science thrust. An estimated $27.7-$47 million more from the $150 million Civil Space Technology Initiative also contributed to space science technology. According to OAST, $67.8 of the $155.9 million in the Base Program file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch1.htm (2 of 6) [6/18/2004 11:38:31 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 1) contributed to space science objectives in a more general way. OSSA divisions fund advanced technology development activities that are generally carried out in support of comparatively near-term requirements of well-defined missions. Ideally, OSSA's technology development activities would begin where those of OAST end, and would lead to jointly-developed flight hardware. OSSA has estimated that it invested $48.8 million in technology development for the space sciences in FY 1992. These estimates and OAST's allocations, which do not include the cost of civil servants, are discussed in Appendix C. Because NASA is inherently a high-technology organization, and because its programs are so diverse, technology development is a pervasive, distributed function across all of NASA's offices, programs, and centers. Technology development may occur within the framework of research or operational missions, or in support of projected future needs. Within NASA, each program and office is largely free to choose its technology according to its own perspectives, establish its own priorities for development, and conduct its programs according to its own procedures. There are few incentives to promote collaboration or the transfer of technology across program or NASA center boundaries. Thus, the collaboration between OSSA and OAST that is a principal subject of this report has been a voluntary one. The complexities of NASA organizational structure and the separate budgets employed to fund activities produce the potential for impediments to technology transfer. One of the most powerful pressures for the integration of programs and activities ordinarily occurs in the development of a budget. The overall NASA budget, however, can be depicted as largely independent segments that are separately examined in the budget process. Each office's budget is individually defended before the NASA Administrator, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress. Therefore, each office naturally feels that it "owns" and has earned its individual budget. Except in the broadest sense, the coordination of activities is left to voluntary efforts among managers. During the 1980s and early 1990s, both OAST and OSSA experienced significant but inconsistent budget growth. From 1980 to 1992, in real dollar terms, OSSA's budget grew approximately 70 percent, and OAST's space technology budget grew approximately 55 percent. The OSSA and OAST space technology budgets from 1980 to 1992 are shown in Figure 1. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch1.htm (3 of 6) [6/18/2004 11:38:31 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 1) Figure 1 OSSA total and OAST space technology budgets 1980-1992. THE INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY PLAN In response to a recommendation by the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program,3 OAST prepared the Integrated Technology Plan for the Civil Space Program (ITP). The ITP is to: . . . serve as a strategic plan for the [OAST] space research and technology (R&T) program, and as a strategic planning framework for other NASA and national participants in advocating and conducting technology developments that support future U.S. civil space missions.4 The preparation of the ITP inns a major effort that addressed the technology needs of all areas of the NASA space program, other interested government agencies, the commercial space industry, and recommendations of advisory groups. A diagram depicting the flow of space science technology needs through OSSA and OAST, and consistent with the activities taking place during the development of the ITP, is shown in Figure 2. The ITP and its subsequent review by the NASA Space Systems and Technology Advisory Committee (SSTAC) were the final major elements leading to the current study. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch1.htm (4 of 6) [6/18/2004 11:38:31 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 1) Figure 2 The flow of space science technology needs through OSSA and OAST. A number of important reports over the last decade have served as background for this study. Appendix D contains summaries of the past recommendations made by several advisory bodies that relate to technology for space science and applications. These form the backdrop and in many cases the rationale for OAST's current program and plans. These studies were the point of departure for the development of the OAST Integrated Technology Plan and its subsequent review by the NASA Space Systems and Technology Advisory Committee. NOTES 1. OAST presentation 2. OSSA 1991 Strategic Plan, p 6 3. Report of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch1.htm (5 of 6) [6/18/2004 11:38:31 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 1) 4. Integrated Technology Plan, p ii Last update 7/10/00 at 12:36 pm Site managed by Anne Simmons, Space Studies Board The National Academies Current Projects Publications Directories Search Site Map Feedback file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch1.htm (6 of 6) [6/18/2004 11:38:31 AM]