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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions ASSESSMENT OF MISSION SIZE TRADE-OFFS FOR NASA’S EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE MISSIONS Ad Hoc Committee on the Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for Earth and Space Science Missions Space Studies Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by Contract NASW 96013 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor. International Standard Book Number 0-309-06976-9 Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Printed in the United States of America
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions AD HOC COMMITTEE ON THE ASSESSMENT OF MISSION SIZE TRADE-OFFS FOR EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE MISSIONS DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado, Chair FRAN BAGENAL, University of Colorado ROBERT L. CAROVILLANO, Boston College RICHARD G. KRON, University of Chicago GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired) R. KEITH RANEY, Johns Hopkins University PEDRO L. RUSTAN, JR., U.S. Air Force (retired) Discipline Committee Liaisons WENDY CALVIN, U.S. Geological Survey (Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration) ROBERT L. CAROVILLANO, Boston College (Committee on Solar and Space Physics) RICHARD F. MUSHOTZKY, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA)) DEANE PETERSON, State University of New York (CAA) BLAIR D. SAVAGE, Washburn Observatory (CAA) LAWRENCE C. SCHOLZ, West Orange, New Jersey (Committee on Earth Studies) Staff PAMELA L. WHITNEY, Study Director TAMARA DICKINSON, Senior Program Officer REBECCA SHAPACK, Research Assistant CARMELA CHAMBERLAIN, Senior Program Assistant
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions SPACE STUDIES BOARD CLAUDE R. CANIZARES, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chair MARK R. ABBOTT, Oregon State University FRAN BAGENAL, University of Colorado DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado ROBERT E. CLELAND, University of Washington MARILYN L. FOGEL, Carnegie Institution of Washington BILL GREEN, former member, U.S. House of Representatives JOHN H. HOPPS, JR., Morehouse College CHRISTIAN J. JOHANNSEN, Purdue University RICHARD G. KRON, University of Chicago JONATHAN I. LUNINE, University of Arizona ROBERTA BALSTAD MILLER, Columbia University GARY J. OLSEN, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign MARY JANE OSBORN, University of Connecticut Health Center GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired) JOYCE E. PENNER, University of Michigan THOMAS A. PRINCE, California Institute of Technology PEDRO L. RUSTAN, JR., U.S. Air Force (retired) GEORGE L. SISCOE, Boston University EUGENE B. SKOLNIKOFF, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MITCHELL SOGIN, Marine Biological Laboratory NORMAN E. THAGARD, Florida State University ALAN M. TITLE, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center RAYMOND VISKANTA, Purdue University PETER W. VOORHEES, Northwestern University JOHN A. WOOD, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER, Director
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS PETER M. BANKS, Veridian ERIM International, Inc., Co-chair W. CARL LINEBERGER, University of Colorado, Co-chair WILLIAM F. BALLHAUS, JR., Lockheed Martin Corporation SHIRLEY CHIANG, University of California at Davis MARSHALL H. COHEN, California Institute of Technology RONALD G. DOUGLAS, Texas A&M University SAMUEL H. FULLER, Analog Devices, Inc. JERRY P. GOLLUB, Haverford College MICHAEL F. GOODCHILD, University of California at Santa Barbara MARTHA P. HAYNES, Cornell University WESLEY T. HUNTRESS, JR., Carnegie Institution CAROL M. JANTZEN, Westinghouse Savannah River Company PAUL G. KAMINSKI, Technovation, Inc. KENNETH H. KELLER, University of Minnesota JOHN R. KREICK, Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company (retired) MARSHA I. LESTER, University of Pennsylvania DUSA M. McDUFF, State University of New York at Stony Brook JANET L. NORWOOD, Former Commissioner, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics M. ELISABETH PATÉ-CORNELL, Stanford University NICHOLAS P. SAMIOS, Brookhaven National Laboratory ROBERT J. SPINRAD, Xerox PARC (retired) MYRON F. UMAN, Acting Executive Director
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions Preface In the mid-1990s, NASA began to reorient its approach to space science missions by placing increased emphasis on ways to make projects faster, better, and cheaper. The faster-better-cheaper (FBC) label generally refers to space research missions such as those in the small and medium Explorer series and the Discovery and Earth System Science Pathfinder lines. These missions are allotted 3 or 4 years for completion from the time they are selected. Costs range from less than $150 million to approximately $350 million.1 The emphasis NASA is placing on faster-better-cheaper missions has created the impression that it may have completely abandoned the larger missions it had been known for in the past. Concerned about this impression, Congress directed NASA to “contract with the National Research Council (NRC) for a study across all space science and Earth science disciplines to identify missions that cannot be accomplished within the parameters imposed by the smaller, faster, cheaper, better regime” (see Appendix A). This report represents the response of the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Space Studies Board (SSB) to that congressional request. Based on understanding of the information needed, three tasks were formulated for the ad hoc committee conducting the study (Appendix B). As the SSB noted in its approach to this assessment, NASA’s FBC strategy has involved efforts to streamline mission development cycles, thereby increasing the number and frequency of flight missions. In principle, this should provide more opportunities for investigators to access spaceflight data. Such missions can be developed and launched in a few years, at a flight rate of 10 or more per year and at costs of no more than a few hundred million dollars each. In contrast, traditional large missions such as Viking, Voyager, Galileo, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), and the Earth Observing System (EOS) Terra mission have each required a decade or more to develop and budgets from several hundred million to several billion dollars. However, it is also true that FBC missions can involve certain scientific sacrifices and risks: for example, when they require compromises in the breadth or depth of the measurements that can be accomplished or when design practices or technology features require risk-taking to meet cost constraints. The approach to conducting the study was determined by the Space Studies Board at its meeting on June 22-24, 1999, at the NASA John Glenn Research Center. The board decided to assemble an ad hoc committee comprising a subset of board members with expertise in the Earth sciences, astronomy and astrophysics, space 1 For the purposes of this study, NASA defined “small” as missions with total life-cycle costs of less than $150 million, “medium” as between $150 million and $350 million, and “large” as more than $350 million.
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions physics, planetary sciences, and space technology to conduct the study. The committee worked with liaison members from four of the board’s discipline committees and also received input from one of its interdisciplinary committees.2 These committees were assigned a series of questions (see Appendix C) and asked to provide written materials for the ad hoc committee. Their contributions (Appendix E) provided the raw material for the report. The Ad Hoc Committee on the Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for Earth and Space Science Missions met concurrently with the Space Studies Board Executive Committee in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on September 8-10, 1999, and again on November 10-11, 1999, at the NASA Stennis Space Center (Appendix D). Chapter 1 of the committee’s report outlines the central issues and considerations for assessing mission size trade-offs for Earth and space science programs, including (1) fundamental science limits, (2) scientific return, (3) mission implementation, (4) technology, (5) access to space, (6) risk, and (7) problems with past missions. Chapter 2 identifies and illustrates arguments for evaluating a portfolio of mission sizes in the various sub-disciplines of Earth and space sciences. Chapter 3 revisits the tasks assigned in the charge and presents the committee’s findings and recommendations. 2 The Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA), the Committee on Earth Studies (CES), the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX), the Committee on Solar and Space Physics (CSSP), and the Committee on International Space Programs (CISP).
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The contents of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee wishes to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Peter Burr, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (retired), John R. Casani, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (retired), Marshall H. Cohen, California Institute of Technology, Richard Goody, Harvard University (emeritus), Marcia J. Rieki, University of Arizona, Byron Tapley, University of Texas, Joseph Veverka, Cornell University, and Donald Williams, Johns Hopkins University. Although the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the NRC. The committee also wishes to acknowledge Kenneth Ledbetter, Mission and Payload Development Division, Office of Space Science, NASA, and his staff, and Andrew Hunter, Business Division, Office of Earth Science, NASA, for providing information on the costs of missions.
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Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA’s Earth and Space Science Missions Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 ISSUES AND CONSIDERATIONS IN THE ASSESSMENT OF MISSION SIZE TRADE-OFFS IN THE EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCES 6 Fundamental Science Limits, 7 Measuring and Enhancing the Scientific Return on Investment, 14 Implementation, 16 Technology, 24 Access to Space, 27 Risk, 27 Problems with Past Missions, 28 2 SCIENCE PRIORITIES AND NASA MISSION PLANS 31 Introduction, 31 Cross-Cutting Themes, 32 Discipline-Specific Issues and Concerns, 38 3 SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS 52 The Charge, 52 Strengths and Weaknesses of Small and Large Missions, 53 Recommendations in Response to the Charge, 54 Other Findings on Issues Affecting Mission Size Mix, 56 APPENDIXES A Letter of Request from NASA to the Space Studies Board 61 B Statement of Task 65 C Information Sought from Space Studies Board Discipline Committees 67 D Meeting Agenda 69 E Material Provided by Space Studies Board Discipline Committees 71 F Acronyms and Abbreviations 86 G Biographies of Committee Members 90
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