levels of autonomy, as mission controllers would prefer to wait a few hours to troubleshoot a potential issue rather than spend the money to develop on-board autonomy and avoid that delay. Entry, descent, and landing (EDL) applications may drive this technology pull because of the short timeframe available to make decisions.
• Risk of autonomy. During the autonomy discussion, some participants viewed autonomy as a risk to the program, because the spacecraft may take an action that puts the hardware at risk. They mentioned that NASA may be hesitant to use high levels of autonomy because of the high cost of mission and the high visibility of failure. Other participants viewed autonomy as a way to protect those assets and to speed up the sense-understand-decide-act loop by removing information transport delays and ground operators from the loop. This was a fundamental disconnect about the role of technology in future missions. Additional autonomy can be tested on existing vehicles during extended missions, where the program risk tolerance is higher.
• Technology pull from future missions. There was some discussion about how realistic the missions in the roadmap were. Many of the target missions may not be funded, and may not have high enough priority to become real. As a result, NASA should consider updating the roadmaps with a more realistic assessment of potential missions, so that a better rationale for market pull (versus technology push) can be identified.
• Synergy with DOD investments. A participant from the DOD encouraged NASA to participate in interagency technology development efforts. This could be a mechanism for NASA to communicate with their DOD counterparts and to identify high-TRL development items that NASA could productize to claim early successes for OCT.