the value of our space assets to terrestrial needs. In this case, Prioritization Criteria 4, 5, and 8 would have primary importance, and Prioritization Criteria 6 and 7 might also be of importance in building the integrated research portfolio that best supports this policy goal.
In addition to providing a basis for prioritization, Table 13.2 also illustrates the interdependence among the different individual research recommendations, none of which, as pointed out above, should be seen in isolation. Although an exact order of dependency among the individual recommendations is not specified, their grouping clearly indicates their interdependence and underscores the importance of an integrated approach.
The committee was tasked with developing a timeline for the conduct of its recommended research, and except where indicated otherwise the panel chapters contain rough estimates—based on assumptions of robust programmatic support and reasonable access to flight opportunities—of time frames for the individual research areas. The committee identified priority areas and questions that need to be addressed during the present decade (2010-2020), as well as more overarching areas going beyond 2020. It refrained from suggesting a detailed timeline for the overall research portfolio, because this will depend to a major extent on future policy and funding decisions. It is the committee’s belief and hope that the high-priority recommended research and its categorization according to eight prioritization criteria will serve to inform policymakers about knowledge needed irrespective of decisions that might favor long-term human space exploration, planetary surface habitation and presence, or more basic and fundamental research. In the committee’s view, all of these endeavors will require a science portfolio integrated so as to enable NASA to derive optimal benefits and science return from its investments in research, as well as from support provided by other government agencies and/or commercial sources.
An integrated research portfolio can also enable the identification and execution of radical new options to reduce cost and risk for the U.S. space program. Specifically, new options that offer significant reductions in cost and/or risk can best be conceived and developed in the context of integrated solutions to science and engineering challenges and inclusion of translational end points.
Many of the thematic chapters include information on the current status of research and what would be reasonable expectations with regard to accomplishments for the decade 2010-2019 versus 2020 and beyond. Much of this estimation is based on the time required to conduct experiments and on the near-term expected availability of platforms for conducting research. For a detailed summary of the rationale for and the respective targets of research for the decades 2010-2019 and 2020-2029, the reader is referred to each of the thematic chapters (4 through 10). In addition, the mapping of research areas to prioritization criteria presented in Table 13.2 offers an approach to considering timelines for research, as does Table 13.3, in which the disciplinary panels have further classified each high-priority recommendation as being of high, medium, or low applicability with respect to each of the eight prioritization criteria.
The committee chose this tabular presentation to avoid redundancy and to provide a ready means for NASA to identify specific components of an integrated research portfolio judged most likely to contribute to capability and flexibility for achieving space exploration program goals, as represented by the eight prioritization criteria shown. Thus, for example, in considering a martian exploration mission (see Box 13.3), each recommendation can be seen in Table 13.2 as ranked at a finer granularity with regard to its importance in addressing that specific goal. If NASA were to decide to increase synergism with other agencies in building its research program, the recommendations most relevant to addressing this priority would be found under Prioritization Criteria 6 in Table 13.2, and the relative importance of all identified high-priority recommendations for this specific action item would be as indicated in Table 13.3.
The committee anticipates that the categorization offered in Table 13.3 will guide NASA’s decision making on timeline and urgency issues. The committee realizes that a careful assessment of timeline goals will require a comprehensive and broad overview of space-relevant research and will require a strong life and physical sciences research organization in the agency. Hence, the programmatic focus and recommendations summarized in Chapter 12 will be a key mechanism to ensure that specific, thematic committee recommendations can be adapted to a flexible timeline responsive to NASA’s overarching goals.