uses edicts from engineering management; and NASA Headquarters has created the SSTI and New Millennium programs to fund flight demonstrations of new technologies.

Recommendation 6-8: NASA should make special efforts to ensure that the emphasis it has newly placed on the incorporation of new technology in missions truly carries over to the processes for evaluation and selection of proposals. If increased use of new technology on NASA missions is valued by the agency, it should ensure that this value is explicit in the selection criteria for new projects. Furthermore, there should be stronger incentives for project managers to incorporate new technologies.

First, project managers should participate in the selection and review of technology development projects so that they are familiar with new technologies and, in some sense, have committed themselves to their use. Second, the project's objectives should include references to the use of new technologies. Third, the cost of incorporating a new technology in a flight project should be borne by the parent program so that there is an incentive for the manager of an individual project to use the new technology. While the committee concurs with the value of flight demonstration programs like New Millennium, it urges that every technology demonstration flight that is to benefit the space sciences use the new technology to accomplish valid science. Technology development that is divorced from its application is much less likely to prove fruitful.

TECHNOLOGY BUDGETS

The prospect of decreasing budgets has forced NASA to recognize that the vitality of its science programs depends on the infusion or development of new technologies and the incorporation of new practices in the development, integration, and operation of flight projects. The New Millennium program has been created to increase the demand for needed technologies and practices. However, the relevant expenditures by the science offices and OSAT have not increased sufficiently to foster a level of technology development appropriate to these new realities. While $30 million to $50 million per year is to be available for technology demonstration flights, the committee was not apprised of a corresponding allocation of resources to develop the technologies that could be meaningfully demonstrated.

Recommendation 6-9: While the committee endorses NASA's creation of programs like New Millennium, such programs should be coordinated across the agency to ensure that their appetite for technology is balanced by appropriate technology development budgets, that the new technologies truly serve the space sciences, that validation flights test technologies through the incorporation of real science objectives, and that there is an appropriate balance in the spectrum between flights that are dominated by the immediate needs of science and flights that devote significant resources to the incorporation of technologies that enable better or lower-cost science in the future.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement