• Developers of space technology could more easily access and understand relevant human factors considerations if consolidated crew comments from prior missions were integrated into an existing electronic International Space Station database and made accessible to all U.S. developers of exploration technology.
This interim report also identifies some gaps in the technologies included in the individual roadmaps. To a large extent, these gaps are addressed by the committee through its proposed changes in the technology area breakdown structure for the draft roadmaps. For most of the roadmaps, few, if any, changes have been made in the structure. However, for technology area 04, Robotics, TeleRobotics, and Autonomous Systems, the steering committee made broad changes in the lowest level of the breakdown structure (the “level 3” technologies). In addition, in order for this roadmap to describe and provide supporting text for each of the level 3 technologies (as the other roadmaps do), the steering committee concluded that the 04 roadmap would have to be largely rewritten.
The report also addresses gaps in the draft roadmaps that go beyond the existing technology area breakdown structure. The content of the draft roadmaps could be improved by giving more consideration to the needs of the commercial space sector, perhaps by including commercial space at the second level of the structure in some roadmaps. This approach would show the commercial relevance of a broad range of technologies across many of the roadmaps and make these technologies easier to identify. In addition, advanced avionics technologies could improve the capability, performance, and reliability of a wide range of NASA missions, but they currently get very limited mention in the roadmaps. The roadmaps could also be improved by including technologies that address the full range of space weather phenomena, not just the effects of space radiation, which is currently the case. Advanced technologies are needed to improve space situation awareness, to provide dynamic models of the space environment, and to develop innovative approaches for mitigating the varied effects of space weather and to resolve operational failures and anomalies.
The success of OCT’s technology development program is essential, because technological breakthroughs have long been the foundation of NASA’s successes, from its earliest days, to the Apollo program, to a vast array of space science missions and the International Space Station. The technologies needed for the Apollo program and many other historical efforts were generally self-evident, driven by a clear and well-defined goal. In the modern era, in which the goals of space exploration and science have expanded beyond a single objective, the necessary technological developments have become less clear, and more effort is thus required to evaluate the best path for a forward-leaning technology program. The roadmaps under development by OCT should be a timely contribution to that effort.
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). 2011. 2011 NASA Strategic Plan. NP-2011-01-699-HQ. Washington, D.C.: NASA Headquarters. Available at http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516579main_NASA2011StrategicPlan.pdf.
NRC (National Research Council). 2011a. Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era. Space Studies Board. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13048.html.
NRC. 2011b. Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022. Space Studies Board. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13117/html.