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NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited (2016)

Chapter: 3 Highest-Priority Technologies

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Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×

3

Highest-Priority Technologies

As detailed in Chapter 2, the committee added 5 of the 42 technologies assessed in this report to the list of 83 high-priority level 3 technologies from the 2012 NRC report. The 5 technologies (listed in order of the technology number) are as follows:

4.3.7, Grappling

4.4.8, Remote Interaction

9.2.7, Terrain-Relative Sensing and Characterization

9.2.8, Autonomous Targeting

14.3.2, TPS Modeling and Simulation

As summarized below, the 2012 report also determined which of the 83 high-priority technologies should be given the highest priority. Of the five new high-priority technologies listed above, this chapter describes how the first three have been integrated into the initial group of highest-priority technologies.

TECHNOLOGY OBJECTIVES

As described in Appendix C, the highest-priority technologies were identified based largely on their correlation with three technology objectives, as follows:

Technology Objective A, Human Space Exploration: Extend and sustain human activities beyond low Earth orbit.

This objective includes a major part of NASA’s mission to send humans beyond the protection of the Van Allen belts, mitigate the effects of space radiation and long exposure to the microgravity environment, enable the crew to accomplish the goals of the mission (contained in Technology Objective B), and then return to Earth safely. This objective includes using the International Space Station (ISS) for technology advancement to support future human space exploration, providing opportunities for commercial companies to offer services to low Earth orbit and beyond, and developing the launch capability required for safe access to locations beyond low Earth orbit. Supporting technologies would enable humans to survive long voyages throughout the solar system, get to their chosen destination, work effectively, and return safely.

Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×

Technology Objective B, In Situ Measurements: Explore the evolution of the solar system and the potential for life elsewher

This objective is concerned with the in situ analysis of planetary bodies in the solar system. It includes the detailed analysis of the physical and chemical properties and processes that shape planetary environments and the study of the geologic and biological processes that explain how life evolved on Earth and whether it exists elsewhere. It involves development of instruments for in situ measurements and the associated data analysis. This objective includes all the in situ aspects of planetary science; measurement of interior properties, atmospheres, particles, and fields of planets, moons, and small bodies; and methods of planetary protection. Supporting technologies would enable humans and robots to perform in situ measurements on Earth and on other planetary bodies (astrobiology).

Technology Objective C, Remote Measurements: Expand our understanding of Earth and the universe in which we live.

This objective includes astrophysics research; stellar, planetary, galactic, and extragalactic astronomy; particle astrophysics and fundamental physics related to astronomical objects; solar and heliospheric physics; and magnetospheric physics and solar–planetary interactions. This objective also includes space-based observational Earth-system science and applications aimed at improving our understanding of Earth and its responses to natural and human-induced changes. This objective includes all space science activities that rely on measurements obtained remotely from various observational platforms. Supporting technologies would enable remote measurements from platforms that orbit or fly by Earth and other planetary bodies, and from other in-space and ground-based observatories.

GROUPED TECHNOLOGIES

In the process of developing the final list of the highest-priority technologies, the 2012 steering committee first developed an interim list (Table 3.1).1

In additional to individual technologies (designated by a three-digit identifier from the Technology Area Breakdown Structure for the 2010 draft roadmaps), the table also includes five grouped technologies (designated by a two-digit identifier starting with “X”). The 2012 steering committee had determined that, in several instances, technologies on the original list of 83 high-priority technologies that were highly ranked in the final prioritization process were also highly coupled. During the prioritization process, these highly coupled technologies were grouped together and considered as one unit, as follows: There are a total of five grouped technologies (designated X.1 through X.5). Each one consists of 3 to 5 original technologies as follows:

X.1, Radiation Mitigation for Human Spaceflight

6.5.1, Radiation Risk Assessment Modeling

6.5.2, Radiation Mitigation2

6.5.3, Radiation Protection Systems

6.5.4, Radiation Prediction

6.5.5, Radiation Monitoring Technology

X.2, Lightweight and Multifunctional Materials and Structures

10.1.1, (Nano) Lightweight Materials and Structures

12.1.1, Materials: Lightweight Structures

12.2.1, Structures: Lightweight Concepts

12.2.2, Structures: Design and Certification Methods

12.2.5, Structures: Innovative, Multifunctional Concepts

___________________

1 The derivation of this interim list is described in Appendix C.

2 Renamed Radiation Mitigation and Biological Countermeasures in the 2015 TABS.

Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×

TABLE 3.1 Interim List of Highest-Priority Technologies, Ranked by Technology Objective, Comprising 27 Individual and Grouped Technologies, with 11 to 13 per Technology Objective

Highest-Priority Technologies for Technology Objective A, Human Space Exploration Highest-Priority Technologies for Technology Objective B, In Situ Measurements Highest-Priority Technologies for Technology Objective C, Remote Measurements
Radiation Mitigation for Human Spaceflight (X.1) GN&C (X.4) Optical Systems (Instruments and Sensors) (8.1.3)
Long-Duration (Crew) Health (6.3.2) Electric Propulsion (2.2.1) High-Contrast Imaging and Spectroscopy Technologies (8.2.4)
ECLSS (X.3) Solar Power Generation (Photo-voltaic and Thermal) (3.1.3) Detectors & Focal Planes (8.1.1)
GN&C (X.4) In Situ (Instruments and Sensor) (8.3.3) Lightweight and Multifunctional Materials and Structures (X.2)
Thermal Propulsion (2.2.3) Fission Power Generation (3.1.5) Radioisotope (Power) (3.1.4)
Fission (Power) (3.1.5) Extreme Terrain Mobility (4.2.1) Electric Propulsion (2.2.1)
Lightweight and Multifunctional Materials and Structures (X.2) Lightweight and Multifunctional Materials and Structures (X.2) Solar Power Generation (Photo-voltaic and Thermal) (3.1.3)
EDL Thermal Protection System (TPS) (X.5) Radioisotope (Power) (3.1.4) Science Modeling and Simulation (11.2.4a)
Atmosphere and Surface Characterization (9.4.4) Robotic Drilling and Sample Handling (4.3.6)a Batteries (3.2.1)
Propellant Storage and Transfer (2.4.2) EDL TPS (X.5) Electronics (Instruments and Sensors) (8.1.2)
Pressure Garment (6.2.1) Docking and Capture Mechanisms/Interfaces (4.6.3) Active Thermal Control of Cryogenic Systems (14.1.2)
(Mechanisms) Reliability / Life Assessment / Health Monitoring (12.3.5)
Vehicle System Management and FDIR (4.5.1)

a Technology 4.3.6 has been renamed Sample Acquisition and Handling in the 2015 roadmap for TA 4, Robotics, Telerobotics, and Autonomous Systems.

NOTE: Shaded items do not appear in the 2012 report’s final list of highest-priority technologies.

X.3, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS)

6.1.1, ECLSS: Air Revitalization

6.1.2, ECLSS: Water Recovery and Management

6.1.3, ECLSS: Waste Management

6.1.4, ECLSS: Habitation

X.4, Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C)

4.6.2, Relative Guidance Algorithms (for Automation Rendezvous and Docking)3

5.4.3, Onboard Autonomous Navigation and Maneuvering (for Position, Navigation, and Timing)

9.4.7, GN&C Sensors and Systems (for Entry, Descent, and Landing)

X.5, Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) Thermal Protection Systems (TPS)

9.1.1, Rigid Thermal Protection Systems

9.1.2, Flexible Thermal Protection Systems

14.3.1, Ascent/Entry TPS

___________________

3 Renamed GN&C Algorithms in the 2015 TABS.

Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×

FINAL RANKING OF THE NEW HIGH-PRIORITY TECHNOLOGIES

Technologies 9.2.7 and 9.2.8

In deciding whether to add one or more of the five new high-priority technologies to the list of highest-priority technologies, the committee first examined the new technologies in the context of the above list of grouped technologies. As indicated above, group X.4 contains three technologies: 4.6.2, 5.4.3, 9.4.7. The new 2015 roadmap for TA 9, however, has essentially deleted technology 9.4.7, because it no longer has any technical content. All of the research previously included in 9.4.7 has been moved into the following technologies:

  • 9.1.3, Rigid Hypersonic Decelerators
  • 9.1.4, Deployable Hypersonic Decelerators
  • 9.2.6, Large Divert Guidance
  • 9.2.7, Terrain-Relative Sensing and Characterization
  • 9.2.8, Autonomous Targeting

Given this situation, the committee had to decide which of the above technologies (if any) to move into group X.4 to take the place of 9.4.7. Two of these five technologies, 9.1.3 and 9.1.4, were in the 2010 draft roadmaps, and the steering committee did not include them in the list of highest-priority technologies, either as individual technologies or as elements of group X.4. Because this committee was not tasked with reprioritizing technologies that appeared in the 2012 report, technologies 9.1.3 and 9.1.4 have not been promoted to the list of highest-priority technologies as elements of group X.4. The other three technologies listed above are new in the 2015 roadmap (9.2.6, 9.2.7, and 9.2.8). As detailed in Chapter 2, this committee has ranked two of these as a high priority (9.2.7 and 9.2.8), and the committee added both of them to group X.4 to take the place of 9.4.7.

Technology 4.3.7

The committee then considered the interim list of highest-priority technologies produced by the 2012 steering committee (see Table 3.1). As shown in Table 3.2, two of the technologies related to Technology Objective B, In Situ Measurements, are related to robotics (4.3.6 and 4.6.3). The committee determined that both of these technologies are closely coupled to one of the five newly ranked high-priority technologies: 4.3.7, Grappling. Accordingly, the committee has created a new technology group, X.6, Grappling, Docking, and Handling. Given that two of these technologies appeared in the 2012 interim list of highest-priority technologies, and given the combined weight of these three technologies as a group, the committee also added group X.6 as a new item in the final list of highest-priority technologies, at the bottom of the column for Technology Objective B. In addition, because these technologies as a group are also relevant to the top technical challenges4 for Technology Objective A, this group has also been added at the bottom of the list of highest-priority technologies for Technology Objective A.

Technologies 4.4.8 and 14.3.2

After examining technologies 4.4.8, Remote Interaction, and 14.3.2, TPS Modeling and Simulation, in accordance with the process outlined in Appendix C for identifying the highest-priority technologies, the committee determined that although both of these technologies are a high priority, neither warrants inclusion as a highest-priority technology.

___________________

4 See Appendix C for a discussion of the top technical challenges and lists of challenges for each technology objective.

Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×

Final 2016 List of Highest-Priority Technologies

The new list of grouped technologies appears below, and the new list of the highest-priority technologies appears in Table 3.2. In both the list and the table, new or modified items are shaded.

X.1, Radiation Mitigation for Human Spaceflight

6.5.1, Radiation Risk Assessment Modeling

6.5.2, Radiation Mitigation5

6.5.3, Radiation Protection Systems

6.5.4, Radiation Prediction

6.5.5, Radiation Monitoring Technology

X.2, Lightweight and Multifunctional Materials and Structures

10.1.1, (Nano) Lightweight Materials and Structures

12.1.1, Materials: Lightweight Structures

12.2.1, Structures: Lightweight Concepts

12.2.2, Structures: Design and Certification Methods

12.2.5, Structures: Innovative, Multifunctional Concepts

X.3, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS)

6.1.1, ECLSS: Air Revitalization

6.1.2, ECLSS: Water Recovery and Management

6.1.3, ECLSS: Waste Management

6.1.4, ECLSS: Habitation

X.4, Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GN&C)6

4.6.2, Relative Guidance Algorithms (for Automation Rendezvous and Docking)7

5.4.3, Onboard Autonomous Navigation and Maneuvering (for Position, Navigation, and Timing)

9.2.7, Terrain-Relative Sensing and Characterization (for Descent and Targeting)

9.2.8, Autonomous Targeting (for Descent and Targeting)

X.5, Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) Thermal Protection Systems (TPS)

9.1.1, Rigid Thermal Protection Systems

9.1.2, Flexible Thermal Protection Systems

14.3.1, Ascent/Entry TPS

X.6, Grappling, Docking, and Handling

4.3.6, Sample Acquisition and Handling (formerly Robotic Drilling and Sample Handling)

4.3.7, Grappling

4.6.3, Docking and Capture Mechanisms and Interfaces

Finding 2. Based on the review and analysis of the five new level 3 technologies that have been added to the list of high-priority technologies, three of the technologies (4.3.7, 9.2.7, and 9.2.8), along with two other technologies (4.3.6 and 4.6.3) that previously appeared in the interim list of highest-priority technologies in the 2012 NRC report, have been added to the list of the 16 highest-priority technologies, as follows:

  • Technology group X.4, Guidance, Navigation, and Control, has been expanded to include 9.2.7, Terrain-Relative Sensing and Characterization (for Descent and Targeting), and 9.2.8, Autonomous Targeting (for Descent and Targeting). Technology 9.4.7, GN&C Sensors and Systems (for Entry, Descent, and Landing), which has no technical content in the 2015 roadmap for TA 9, has been deleted.

___________________

5 Renamed Radiation Mitigation and Biological Countermeasures in the 2015 TABS.

6 Technology 9.4.7, GN&C Sensors and Systems (for entry, descent, and landing), which was an element of group X.4 in the 2012 NRC report, has been deleted because it has no technical content in the 2015 roadmap for TA 9.

7 Renamed GN&C Algorithms in the 2015 TABS.

Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×
  • A new technology group has been created: X.6, Grappling, Docking, and Handling. This group consists of 4.3.6, Sample Acquisition and Handling (formerly Robotic Drilling and Sample Handling); 4.3.7, Grappling; and 4.6.3, Docking and Capture Mechanisms and Interfaces. Group X.6 has been added to the list of highest-priority technologies for Technology Objective A, Human Space Exploration, and Technology Objective B, In Situ Measurements.

The revised list of highest-priority technologies has a total of 17 technologies/technology groups.

TABLE 3.2 The Committee’s Final 2016 List of Highest-Priority Technologies, Ranked by Technology Objective, Comprising 17 Individual and Grouped Technologies, with Up to 9 per Technology Objective

Highest-Priority Technologies for Technology Objective A, Human Space Exploration Highest-Priority Technologies for Technology Objective B, In Situ Measurements Highest-Priority Technologies for Technology Objective C, Remote Measurements
Radiation Mitigation for Human Spaceflight (X.1) GN&C (X.4) Optical Systems (Instruments and Sensors) (8.1.3)
Long-Duration Crew Health (6.3.2) Solar Power Generation (Photovoltaic and Thermal) (3.1.3) High-Contrast Imaging and Spectroscopy Technologies (8.2.4)
ECLSS (X.3) Electric Propulsion (2.2.1) Detectors and Focal Planes (8.1.1)
GN&C (X.4) Fission Power Generation (3.1.5) Lightweight and Multifunctional Materials and Structures (X.2)
(Nuclear) Thermal Propulsion (2.2.3) EDL TPS (X.5) Active Thermal Control of Cryogenic Systems (14.1.2)
Lightweight and Multifunctional Materials and Structures (X.2) In Situ Instruments and Sensors (8.3.3) Electric Propulsion (2.2.1)
Fission Power Generation (3.1.5) Lightweight and Multifunctional Materials and Structures (X.2) Solar Power Generation (Photovoltaic and Thermal) (3.1.3)
EDL TPS (X.5) Extreme Terrain Mobility (4.2.1)
Grappling, Docking, and Handling (X.6) Grappling, Docking, and Handling (X.6)
Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×
Page 41
Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×
Page 42
Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×
Page 43
Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×
Page 44
Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×
Page 45
Suggested Citation:"3 Highest-Priority Technologies." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23582.
×
Page 46
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Historically, the United States has been a world leader in aerospace endeavors in both the government and commercial sectors. A key factor in aerospace leadership is continuous development of advanced technology, which is critical to U.S. ambitions in space, including a human mission to Mars. To continue to achieve progress, NASA is currently executing a series of aeronautics and space technology programs using a roadmapping process to identify technology needs and improve the management of its technology development portfolio.

NASA created a set of 14 draft technology roadmaps in 2010 to guide the development of space technologies. In 2015, NASA issued a revised set of roadmaps. A significant new aspect of the update has been the effort to assess the relevance of the technologies by listing the enabling and enhancing technologies for specific design reference missions (DRMs) from the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and the Science Mission Directorate. NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities Revisited prioritizes new technologies in the 2015 roadmaps and recommends a methodology for conducting independent reviews of future updates to NASA’s space technology roadmaps, which are expected to occur every 4 years.

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