It can be difficult for U.S. industry to access some NASA research results, especially for companies not under contract to NASA. Improving this situation requires addressing multiple issues that constrain data transfer to U.S. commercial enterprises. Dissemination of technical data held by NASA to commercial entities is sometimes limited by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and by intellectual property rights associated with a given research project. These factors are complicated by the multi-national nature of many aerospace firms and their involvement in the space programs of foreign nations. NASA prime contractors typically have good access to NASA’s technical data for projects in which they participate, but the impact of NASA technology development would be enhanced by more effectively disseminating technology data— past, present, and future— to companies that are not under contract to NASA. For example, NASA has considerable experimental information about human adaptation to the microgravity environment of LEO and the design requirements for the various life support systems needed to sustain life and human operations in a closed environment. This information would be of particular interest to commercial companies developing crewed systems not only for NASA but also for purely commercial missions. (See for instance Appendix I (TA06), which references robust human factors data going back to the earliest days of human spaceflight.) In addition, new commercial space orbital and suborbital vehicles most likely could take advantage of NASA data on the performance of EDL technologies. Currently, the Life Sciences Data Archive at Johnson Space Center provides a positive example of effective data archiving, sharing, and transparency (see

In addition, new NASA programs could implement data plans that target specific governmental and commercial markets. A good (non-NASA) example of this practice is found in the National Science Foundation (NSF); the NSF Grant Proposal Guide requires a data management plan which is reviewed as an integral part of every grant proposal submitted (see

Recommendation. Industry Access to NASA Data. OCT should make the engineering, scientific, and technical data that NASA has acquired from past and present space missions and technology development more readily available to U.S. industry, including companies that do not have an ongoing working relationship with NASA and which are pursuing their own commercial goals apart from NASA’s science and exploration missions. To facilitate this process in the future, OCT should propose changes to NASA procedures so that programs are required to archive data in a readily accessible format.

Recommendation. NASA Investments in Commercial Space Technology. While OCT should focus primarily on developing advanced technologies of high value to NASA’s own mission needs, OCT should also collaborate with the U.S. commercial space industry in the development of precompetitive technologies of interest to and sought by the commercial space industry.


OCT’s draft technology roadmaps identify many crosscutting technologies that have the potential for broad and significant advances. In fact, all but one of the roadmaps (TA09, EDL Systems) has a section on interdependencies with the other roadmaps, and TA09 still addresses many technologies related to other roadmaps. For example, many of the level 3 technologies in the roadmaps for TA10 (Nanotechnology), TA11 (Modeling, Simulation, Information Technology, and Processing), and TA12 (Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems, and Manufacturing) support technology advances in other technology areas. The current set of draft roadmaps would be improved if they explicitly and systematically addressed two additional crosscutting technologies: avionics and space weather beyond radiation effects.

Space weather refers to the dynamic state of the space environment. It includes space radiation as well as other phenomena, such as solar electromagnetic flux, magnetic fields, charged and neutral components of the solar wind, and energetic particles superimposed on the solar wind from solar and galactic sources. The space environment extends from the Sun throughout the solar system, and it includes the magnetospheres and ionospheres of planets and moons. The space environment changes over time scales ranging from seconds to millennia, but the most

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