• 8-Meter Monolithic Space Telescope,

  • Exploration of Near Earth Objects via the Crew Exploration Vehicle,

  • Generation-X (Gen-X),

  • Interstellar Probe,

  • Modern Universe Space Telescope (MUST),

  • Neptune Orbiter with Probes (2 studies),

  • Solar Polar Imager,

  • Solar Probe 2,

  • Stellar Imager, and

  • Titan Explorer.

Chapter 3 provides a discussion of technology that may be required by many of these missions and an overview of NASA technology development efforts relevant to the mission concepts that were evaluated. Chapter 4 addresses the potential of human and robotic servicing of space missions, discussing relatively new capabilities that Constellation and other projects will provide. Finally, Chapter 5 provides an overview of the Orion spacecraft, the Constellation launch vehicles, and alternative launch vehicles available to space science missions.

The committee chose the 12 concepts listed above to evaluate as types of missions that could be conducted using Constellation (see Chapter 2). The committee determined that the 5 mission concepts listed below would not be enabled by Constellation (these 5 concepts are summarized in Appendix B):

  • Advanced Compton Telescope (ACT),

  • Kilometer-Baseline Far-Infrared/Submillimeter Interferometer,

  • Single Aperture Far Infrared (SAFIR) Telescope,

  • Solar System Exploration/Astrobiology Vision Mission (Palmer Quest), and

  • Super-EUSO (Extreme Universe Space Observatory).


The kinds of proposed science missions presented to the committee for evaluation for this report are relatively large and ambitious. They all fall into a category that is generally referred to as flagship-class missions. The committee grouped the missions into three “cost bins” for the purpose of this study: those with preliminary cost estimates of less than $1 billion, of $1 billion to $5 billion, and of more than $5 billion. Of the mission concepts evaluated, only one was considered to be marginally in the “less-than-$1 billion” category, and seven were considered to be in the “more-than-$5 billion” category, which would make them larger than any other space science mission developed by NASA to date.

Finding: The scientific missions reviewed by the committee as appropriate for launch on an Ares V vehicle fall, with few exceptions, into the “flagship” class of missions. The preliminary cost estimates, based on mission concepts that at this time are not very detailed, indicate that the costs of many of the missions analyzed will be above $5 billion (in current dollars). The Ares V costs are not included in these estimates.

The committee notes that expensive space science programs will place a great strain on the space science budget, which has been essentially flat for several years and is already under strain from an ambitious slate of 85 flight missions.4

To estimate the costs of potential, large space science missions, the committee used NASA’s Advanced Missions Cost Model and estimated the costs of three new-design planetary science missions representing the three


NASA’s science program as of Spring 2008 consisted of 94 flight missions—53 in operation plus 41 in development (Alan Stern, NASA Science Mission Directorate, presentation to the Space Studies Board, March 10, 2008).

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