The panels identified a number of challenges for each technology area that should be addressed for NASA to improve its capability to achieve its strategic goals. These top technical challenges were generated to assist in the prioritization of the level 3 technologies. The challenges were developed to identify the general needs NASA has within each technology area, whereas the technologies themselves address how those needs will be met.

The individual panels were tasked with categorizing the individual level 3 technologies into high-, medium-, and low-priority groups. The panels generated a weighted decision matrix based on quality function deployment (QFD) techniques for each technology area. In this method, each criterion and sub-criterion was given a numerical weight by the steering committee. The steering committee based the criteria weighting on the importance of the criteria to meeting NASA’s goals of technology advancement.


The study panels produced an assessment of each roadmap that defined top technical challenges for that technical area; prioritized the level 3 technologies for the assigned roadmap into high, medium, and low categories; described the value of the high-priority technologies; identified gaps in the draft roadmaps; identified development or schedule changes of the technologies covered; and summarized the public workshop that focused on the draft roadmap. The results of the panels’ work are summarized in this report in 14 appendixes (D through Q; one for each roadmap). This input from the panels was then integrated by the steering committee and documented in the main body of this report.

The high-priority technologies identified by the panels are shown in Table S.1. The panels identified a total of 83 high-priority technologies from a total of 295 possible technologies. In subsequent prioritizations, the steering committee used only these 83 technologies from which to make its technology assessments.


The technology priorities recommended in this report were generated with an awareness of NASA’s current mission plans, but those priorities are not closely linked to any particular set of future NASA missions because the goals and schedules of individual missions frequently change. As described above, NASA’s 2011 strategic plan formed the foundation for the panel’s process of setting technology priorities, and defining top technical challenges was an important intermediate step for setting the panels’ technology priorities.

In selecting the highest-priority technologies among all 14 roadmaps, the steering committee took the additional step of established an organizing framework that addressed balance across NASA mission areas, relevance in meeting the highest-priority technical challenges, and expectations that significant progress could be made in the next 5 years of the 30-year window of the roadmaps. Furthermore, the steering committee constrained the number of highest-priority technologies to be included in the final list in the belief that in the face of probable scarce resources, focusing initially on a small number of the highest-priority technologies offers the best chance to make the greatest impact, especially given that agency mission areas, particularly in exploration, are being refined and can be shaped by technology options. Within this organizing framework, technology objectives were defined by the steering committee to address the breadth of NASA missions and group related technologies.

•   Technology Objective A: Extend and sustain human activities beyond low Earth orbit. Technologies to enable humans to survive long voyages throughout the solar system, get to their chosen destination, work effectively, and return safely.

•   Technology Objective B: Explore the evolution of the solar system and the potential for life elsewhere. Technologies that enable humans and robots to perform in situ measurements on Earth (astrobiology) and on other planetary bodies.

•   Technology Objective C: Expand our understanding of Earth and the universe in which we live. Technologies for remote measurements from platforms that orbit or fly by Earth and other planetary bodies, and from other in-space and ground-based observatories.

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