C

Statement of Task

Background Over the past several years NASA has moved toward a “smaller, faster, cheaper” approach to space science missions that is intended to deal with constrained budgets and the need to increase the number of flight opportunities by introducing more small, low-cost, rapidly developed missions into its flight mission portfolio. This shift has led to an increased reliance on development of improved technologies and a heightened need for the integration of space science and technology. Since these issues were addressed in the SSB's 1995 report Managing the Space Sciences, NASA has implemented a number of significant programmatic and organizational changes that call for a reassessment of the earlier recommendations and of NASA's overall approach to technology development. In addition, there have been recent congressional requests for attention to NASA 's handling of technology development. In recent discussion with National Research Council staff, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials have identified this topic as an area of particular interest and concern to OMB in terms of the content and direction of the Office of Space Science (OSS) program.

In the “technology” section of the 1995 SSB report, specific recommendations were made in the areas of technology planning; roles and responsibilities for near-term and far-term technology development; relative roles of NASA headquarters, field centers, and extramural organizations; insularity and other “cultural” impediments at NASA field centers; open competition for technology projects; technology utilization; and technology budgets. NASA has subsequently taken a number of actions which are relevant to those recommendations and which are likely to impact aspects of technology development and utilization. Those actions include full implementation of the New Millennium series of technology demonstration spacecraft, transfer of the technology development responsibilities and budget of the former Office of Space Access and Technology to the OSS, and adoption of future-year budgets that make explicit assumptions about cost-savings derived from incorporation of new technologies.

Plan The SSB, with assistance of the ASEB, will establish a task group composed of six to eight members with expertise and/or specific knowledge regarding aspects of advanced technology development and the uses of advanced technologies in NASA science programs. Task group members will be drawn from membership of the SSB or its Committee on Space Science, from participants in the earlier (1995) SSB study, and additional experts.

The study will provide an independent technical assessment of:

  1. the current OSS approach and process for technology development and how well it meets agency needs;

  2. OSS's response to the intent of SSB recommendations regarding technology development outlined in Section 6 of Managing the Space Sciences; and



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Assessment of Technology Development in NASA's Office of Space Science C Statement of Task Background Over the past several years NASA has moved toward a “smaller, faster, cheaper” approach to space science missions that is intended to deal with constrained budgets and the need to increase the number of flight opportunities by introducing more small, low-cost, rapidly developed missions into its flight mission portfolio. This shift has led to an increased reliance on development of improved technologies and a heightened need for the integration of space science and technology. Since these issues were addressed in the SSB's 1995 report Managing the Space Sciences, NASA has implemented a number of significant programmatic and organizational changes that call for a reassessment of the earlier recommendations and of NASA's overall approach to technology development. In addition, there have been recent congressional requests for attention to NASA 's handling of technology development. In recent discussion with National Research Council staff, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials have identified this topic as an area of particular interest and concern to OMB in terms of the content and direction of the Office of Space Science (OSS) program. In the “technology” section of the 1995 SSB report, specific recommendations were made in the areas of technology planning; roles and responsibilities for near-term and far-term technology development; relative roles of NASA headquarters, field centers, and extramural organizations; insularity and other “cultural” impediments at NASA field centers; open competition for technology projects; technology utilization; and technology budgets. NASA has subsequently taken a number of actions which are relevant to those recommendations and which are likely to impact aspects of technology development and utilization. Those actions include full implementation of the New Millennium series of technology demonstration spacecraft, transfer of the technology development responsibilities and budget of the former Office of Space Access and Technology to the OSS, and adoption of future-year budgets that make explicit assumptions about cost-savings derived from incorporation of new technologies. Plan The SSB, with assistance of the ASEB, will establish a task group composed of six to eight members with expertise and/or specific knowledge regarding aspects of advanced technology development and the uses of advanced technologies in NASA science programs. Task group members will be drawn from membership of the SSB or its Committee on Space Science, from participants in the earlier (1995) SSB study, and additional experts. The study will provide an independent technical assessment of: the current OSS approach and process for technology development and how well it meets agency needs; OSS's response to the intent of SSB recommendations regarding technology development outlined in Section 6 of Managing the Space Sciences; and

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Assessment of Technology Development in NASA's Office of Space Science the extent to which the new OSS approach addresses concerns expressed by Congress with regard to advanced technology development in support of NASA's science programs. In addition, the study will recommend changes or new approaches NASA should consider to improve the efficacy of advanced technology development. Schedule The study is planned as a fast-track effort with approximately two three-day meetings during a six-month period. NASA officials will be invited to give detailed briefings on the approaches and processes utilized by OSS in its technology development programs and on the relation of those programs to space science. The SSB and the ASEB will collaborate in identifying candidates for task group membership and will jointly staff the study. The product of the study will be a short report.