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OCR for page 189

OCR for page 189

OCR for page 189
A Statement of Task COMMITTEE ON MICROGRAVITY RESEARCH Microgravity Research in Support of Human Exploration and Development Objectives Background A major NASA goal continues to be the exploration of space by humans, a fact reflected by the inclusion of the Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) enterprise in the current organizational structure of NASA. There are numerous technological barriers that must be overcome in order for long-term exploration, development, and habitation of space by humans to occur, and many of these technical issues can be resolved only through a deeper understanding of the behavior of fluids and materials in a reduced gravity environ- ment. NASA's Microgravity Science and Applications Division (MSAD) now resides within the HEDS enter- prise, and there is a strong need to explore opportunities for Microgravity research to support human exploration objectives through fundamental research. Plan At the request of the MSAD, the Committee on Microgravity Research will undertake an assessment of scientific and related technological issues facing NASA's Human Exploration and Development of Space en- deavor. The committee will look specifically at mission enabling and enhancing technologies which, for develop- ment, require an improved understanding of fluid and material behavior in a reduced gravity environment. These might range from construction assembly techniques such as welding in space, to chemical processing of extraterrestrially derived fuels and oxygen. The committee will identify opportunities that exist for Microgravity research to contribute to the understanding of fundamental science questions underlying exploration technologies and make recommendations for some areas of directed research. Some of the topics the committee will consider in developing its recommendations are the following: Fluids and materials behavior in reduced gravity; Technological barriers, related to low-gravity fluid and material behavior, that must be resolved in order for efficient human exploration of space to occur; The maturity of the science base underlying key technologies that have been identified for a space station, a lunar base, and interplanetary missions; and 191

OCR for page 189
92 APPENDIX A Areas of research that MSAD can pursue in order to help develop an understanding of the fundamental science underlying these technical issues. Study Plan The study will be carried out in two phases. A preliminary (phase I) report will address current program balance and near-term scientific and technological issues. The final (phase II) report will address long- term exploration goals.