•   To enhance the ability of spacecraft to land on a wide variety of surfaces in our solar system, new technologies are needed to provide guidance, navigation, and control (GN&C) systems with greater precision, and real-time recognition with trajectory adaptation for surface hazard avoidance.

•   Future space science missions capable of addressing the highest-priority goals in astrophysics will need a new generation of lower-cost astronomical telescopes that can utilize advanced coolers and camera systems, improved focal-plane arrays, and low-cost, ultra-stable, large-aperture mirrors. Likewise, high-contrast exoplanet imaging technologies with unprecedented sensitivity, field of view, and spectroscopy of faint objects are needed to enable discovery and characterization of exoplanets orbiting in the habitable zones of their host stars.

A robust space technology base is urgently needed. The Steering Committee for NASA Technology Roadmaps is encouraged by the initiative NASA has taken through the Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) to develop technology roadmaps and seek input from the aerospace technical community via this study.1


The 2010 NASA Authorization Act, signed into law on October 11, 2010, directed NASA to create a program to maintain its research and development base in space technology:

It is critical that NASA maintain an agency space technology base that helps align mission directorate investments and supports long term needs to complement mission-directorate funded research and support, where appropriate, multiple users, building upon its Innovative Partnerships Program and other partnering approaches. (Public Law 111-267, Sec. 904)

On February 14, 2011, NASA issued its 2011 NASA Strategic Plan outlining agency goals and plans for achieving those goals in the 2011-2021 decade and beyond (NASA, 2011). The strategic plan highlights five strategic goals that relate directly to the scope of this study. The sixth strategic goal deals directly with the agency’s aeronautics mission, which as mentioned in the preface is outside the statement of task for this study. The 14 draft space technology roadmaps identify a number of critical enabling technologies that the steering committee and panels evaluated and prioritized. Together they represent a foundation upon which to build and achieve the strategic goals outlined in the 2011 strategic plan:

1.   Extend and sustain human activities across the solar system.

2.   Expand scientific understanding of the Earth and the universe in which we live.

3.   Create the innovative new space technologies for our exploration, science, and economic future.

4.   Advance aeronautics research for societal benefit.

5.   Enable program and institutional capabilities to conduct NASA’s aeronautics and space activities.

6.   Share NASA with the public, educators, and students to provide opportunities to participate in our Mission, foster innovation, and contribute to a strong national economy.


As part of the effort to develop a detailed plan for implementing the Space Technology Program, OCT developed a set of 14 draft technology roadmaps. These roadmaps establish time sequencing and interdependencies of advanced space technology research and development over the next 5 to 30 years for the following 14 technology areas (Tas):

•   TA01. Launch Propulsion Systems

•   TA02. In-Space Propulsion Technologies

•   TA03. Space Power and Energy Storage

•   TA04. Robotics, TeleRobotics, and Autonomous Systems


1The draft space technology roadmaps are available at http://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/strategic_integration/technology_roadmap.html

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