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5 Implementation Statement of task item 3: Considerations for the development and implementation of a new HPD program that would allow agile responses to future short-notice rideshare opportunities. A responsibility is placed on NASA to ensure that processes are developed for strategic use of rideshare opportunities to address critical gaps in the existing HPD program. Two main elements to consider in developing and implementing a new program that optimizes agile response to short-notice rideshare opportunities are efficiency (see the section âEfficiency,â below) and effectiveness (see the section âEffectiveness,â later in this chapter). The goal of efficiency in this context is to deliver functional and compliant payloads on a schedule that allows for successful integration, launch, and operation. The goal of effectiveness in this context is to identify adaptations and investments that would optimize the program. EFFICIENCY The committee identified several implementation approaches that may contribute to the efficiency and thereby maximize the scientific return of a new agile rideshare program. They are discussed in this section in three broad categories: contractual and review requirements, programmatic standardization, and secondary payload scoping documentation. Contractual and Review Requirements The implementation of contractual agreements and transfer of funds between NASA and rideshare opportunity and secondary payload providers could take months based on current practices. Associated challenges are attributable to varying processes at individual institutions combined with turnaround time at the NASA Shared Services Center.1 Regardless of the reasons, streamlining all aspects of contractual agreements is necessary for a healthy, agile, and responsive rideshare program. The process for selection of proposed secondary payloads as well as their oversight to delivery will be critical components of an efficient rideshare program. A streamlined proposal and review process could include a rolling solicitation process analogous to that used for the SIMPLEx program.2 In particular, the committee envisions a program with reduced NASA oversight of the secondary payload design and build phases in order to maximize efficiency and minimize cost. Formal preship review of all documentation and test data will continue to be critical to ensure successful integration and operation of the secondary 1 NASA, âNASA Shared Services Center (NSSC),â https://www.nssc.nasa.gov/about, accessed April 6, 2020. 2 NASA, âSIMPLEx: Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration,â last update May 22, 2018, SIMPLEx Program Library, https://soma.larc.nasa.gov/SIMPLEx/programlibrary.html. 13
payload. Moreover, for secondary payloads developed for âoff-the-shelf selection,â a mechanism to preselect investigations and providers independent of the rideshare opportunity would be needed. A mechanism needs to be provided to retain technical expertise of selected investigators after development and fabrication through an undetermined hiatus to eventual launch. Finding: Lack of timely proposal review, selection, and subsequent oversight and contractual agreements are particular issues that negatively impact agility in responding to rideshare opportunities. Programmatic Standardization Chapter 4 discussed the importance of standardization of host platform-secondary payload interfaces (see the section âSecondary Payloads That Are Rapidly Integrated with Host Platformsâ). This section presents some aspects of programmatic standardization to be considered in designing an efficient agile rideshare program. Such a program requires collective effort by NASA and other government agencies with commercial satellite providers and instrument developers from all sectors. The primary standardization topics are calibration, validation, and verification (CVV) activities; functionality and performance metrics; data products; and protocols and documentation. CVV activities for secondary payloads are critical to the success of mission science, and in particular for constellations. Minimum acceptable CVV-level requirements could be defined prior to delivery. Calibration of comparable sensors built by different institutions is a specific CVV challenge that could also require cross-calibration to ensure adequate understanding of individual sensor performance and lab calibration response.3 Another challenge to overcome is that the teams that build the sensors have the advantage over third-party organizations in carrying out CVV activities owing to the formerâs scientific and technical heritage. This information could be transferred if the sensor-building teams acted to guide and mentor third parties. Standardization of both functionality and performance metrics for a given payload type is a means to ensure easily shareable data as well as payload replacement feasibility. Examples of some specific performance metrics include sensitivity, noise threshold, precision, accuracy, and sample rate and resolution. Functionality standards would allow quick payload swap-out. For example, a probe that measures plasma density could specify the size of the collection area of the probe, the voltage it is biased to or the voltage range swept through, the sampling rate, and the volume of data produced in terms of bits per second. In addition to functionality and performance, standardization of data products, their formats, and metadata is essential for data accessibility by the community to enable cutting-edge research and system science. Early infrastructure planning and implementation will ensure that the program conforms to HPD open data policies. To facilitate efficient commissioning and integration of new members of a constellation (e.g., a new spacecraft carrying replicas of instruments on existing constellation members, but to be flown in different orbits), an agile HPD rideshare program would benefit from standardized protocols and scalable services for telemetry and ground infrastructure support. Documentation of these and other standards is essential. An accessible archive may include interface documents created by secondary payload providers (see the next section). Data management documents may emanate from the program, requiring that, for example, particular types of sensors provide data in an agreed-upon format, and secondaries conform to HSD open data policies. 3 NASA, 2019, NASA Science and Technology Definition Team for the Geospace Dynamics Constellation Final Report, https://smd-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/science-red/s3fs-public/atoms/files/GDC%20STDT%20Report%20 FINAL.pdf. 14
Finding: Elements of programmatic standardization include CVV, functionality and performance metrics, and protocols and documentation. Secondary Payload Scoping Documentation There is currently no centralized and actively maintained database providing information about known potential secondary payloads. Agile rideshare program efficiency would benefit from a clear listing of potential secondary payloads, including well-established designs with flight heritage,4 repurposing suborbital payloads or spares for use as secondary payloads, and technology demonstration payloads in development. Beyond this, it is essential to characterize and scope the elements of secondary payloads in order to set up a program that can deal with their essential heterogeneity. Categories that could be included in such a continually updated and evolving scoping document might include the following: ï· Scientific benefitâdescribing how the secondary payload would contribute to heliophysics science in the context of the decadal survey and the categories described in Chapter 3; ï· Secondary payload specificationsâfor example, ridealong or free-flyer, propulsion or no propulsion, mass, standard interface control documents (ICDs) and end item data package (EIDP) templates providing details such as calibration methodology and results, testing, and interface requirements verification; ï· Requirements on launch vehicle and host platformâfor example, acceptable deployment orbits and timing (in some cases, constellations are required to be deployed together for formation flying or other timing issues), pointing requirements, environmental concerns (e.g., potential for contamination from primary payload or launch vehicle); ï· Communication requirementsâfor example, timely identification of communication frequencies and licensing requirements and processes; ï· Development specificationsâidentifying secondary payload development status (e.g., designed, constructed, or stored) and estimating cost, engineering and management requirements, and time to deliver, factoring in commercial or open-source availability of components; ï· Technical readiness and required technical expertiseâidentification of the NASA-defined technology readiness level (TRL) and the required expertise and knowledge base needed to ensure successful operation and science product generation upon eventual deployment; ï· Shelvabilityâsecondary payload suitability to be stocked and stored, treating issues such as shelf life, storage and maintenance requirements, and time to be ready for launch. The last three items taken together would provide the information necessary to establish how much lead time is needed to implement a given secondary payload. In other words, it would allow an assessment of âhow late is too lateâ for the secondary payload to be considered as an option for a rideshare opportunity. Options for populating a secondary payload scoping document might include extracting the key element information for existing and under-development NASA missions, creating a supplemental form to be filled out by Phase A developers (which could also explore options for producing flight spares or engineering models to be stocked and stored), and soliciting community input in the form of white papers. Finding: Key elements that would characterize potential secondary payloads for the agile rideshare program may include scientific benefit, secondary payload specifications, requirements on launch 4 Some of these data may be proprietary or competition-sensitive in nature and require appropriate protections. 15
vehicle and host platform, development specifications, technical readiness and required expertise, and shelvability. Taken together, these findings support the committeeâs conclusion, as follows: Conclusion: NASA and the research community it serves would benefit from programmatic efficiencies resulting from expedited contractual and review processes; standardization of calibration, validation, verification, metrics, and ground infrastructure; and the development of a centralized database containing standardization and secondary payload availability and a document to characterize and scope the elements of the secondary payloads. EFFECTIVENESS The committee identified several implementation approaches that may contribute to the effectiveness and thereby maximize the scientific return of a new agile rideshare program. They are discussed in this section in two broad categories: strategic investments and risk tolerance. Strategic Investments This section presents some strategic investments that HPD may want to consider in order to optimize the scientific return and, thus, the effectiveness of a new agile rideshare program. Rideshare opportunities may increase the cadence of new instruments deployed as additions to the HSO.5 Thus, the agency might consider managing the new HSO subfleet as a heterogeneous facility-class resource6 (hereafter, the facility) to tackle the goals of current and future decadal surveys along with the goals of the National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan,7 enabling continuous and distributed observations as discussed in Chapter 3.8 The facility might consist of arrays of secondary payloads distributed in space and developed by cohorts of principal investigators. Researchers might propose to use the facilityâfor example, as the astrophysics community proposes to utilize the Hubble Space Telescope. For enhanced effectiveness in managing heterogeneous distributed arrays, the facility could provide a mechanism to support advanced or novel techniques for calibration across multiple instruments and mitigation or adaptation to nonideal accommodation by the host platform. An agile rideshare program may facilitate opportunities to build secondary payload development networks that engage new groups in heliophysics research and space technology. Such networks could further strengthen and develop NASA flight programs through knowledge transfer from institutions with 5 NRC, Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2013, https://doi.org/10.17226/13060, Figure 1.2. 6 See NRC, Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2013, https://doi.org/10.17226/13060: A Heterogeneous Facility (HetFac) . . . encompasses all aspects of a mission, but [is] applied to a variety of platforms that are integrated through operational means, data analysis and dissemination, to target science objectives in an integrated fashion. HetFacs are particularly valuable for system science, understanding mesoscale and global-scale processesâ (Appendix C, p. 350). 7 National Science and Technology Council, National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan, 2019, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/National-Space-Weather-Strategy-and-Action-Plan- 2019.pdf. 8 For example, ground-based distributed networks have been run as a facility by a national center such as the National Solar Observatory, which runs the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG) network; see https://gong.nso.edu/. 16
substantial experience in space hardware development to institutions newer to the space enterprise. These networks may include universities that serve underrepresented minority groups in heliophysics research, who may otherwise face implicit barriers to participation. These barriers include a lack of infrastructure to develop and support a competitive NASA flight proposal, or insufficient support to set up and manage subcontracts. Investments that increase the TRL of various propulsion technologies9 may allow secondary spacecraft payloads to maneuver to custom orbits following launch. Advances in optical communications10 may increase bandwidth, ameliorating the duty cycle required for uplinks and downlinks, thereby lowering requirements for ground system services and eliminating the need for frequency licensing. Secondary payload autonomous capabilities11 (e.g., radiation-tolerant, low-power, high-performance computational platforms; software applying artificial intelligence techniques; automated operations; and multiagent coordination) may enhance the scientific return of instruments and the resilience of missions. Broad community access to measurements will optimize the scientific return of the new rideshare program. The merits of two extant heliophysics model standards are worthy of consideration in developing and implementing a data archive infrastructure that ensures community access. ï· The ground-based magnetometer data archive, characterized by a uniform format, which provides user-friendly Internet access to similar data from multiple locations;12 and ï· Tools capable of searching across heterogeneous online databases of instruments and events, making data accessible via well-documented application programming interfaces (APIs)âfor example, the suite of Virtual Observatories.13 Finding: The effectiveness of a new agile rideshare program may benefit from strategic investments to enable innovative management structures, increased TRL of enabling technologies, easy access to data archives, and broad community engagement with the program. Risk Tolerance Traditional NASA HPD flight programs are intolerant of risk that may jeopardize the success of the mission. HPD may consider whether and how to develop some risk tolerance within a new program aimed at facilitating agile response to short-notice rideshare opportunities. Some considerations for relevant risks include risk of harm to other elements of the rideshare opportunity, performance risk, and risk to the scientific return, and are discussed in this section. A prime directive for secondary payloads is to âdo no harm.â This pertains to either the primary payload, host platform, or launch vehicle. Without maintaining this standard, a rideshare program would cease to be viable. However, it is important to note that assessing the âdo no harmâ risk may significantly differ when the secondary payload is a free-flyer versus a ridealong. There is likely to be a tension 9 NASA, âState of the Art Spacecraft Technology,â updated March 19, 2020, https://sst-soa.arc.nasa.gov/04- propulsion. 10 R. Kingsbury, K. Reising, and K. Cahoy, âDesign of a Free-Space Optical Communication Module for Small Satellites,â Technical Session IX: Advanced Technologies-Communications, 28th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, 2014, https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/smallsat/2014/AdvTechComm/6/. 11 T. Fong, âAutonomous Systems: NASA Capability Overview,â 2018, https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nac_tie_aug2018_tfong_tagged.pdf. 12 NSF, NASA, and ESA, âMagnetometer Data,â http://supermag.jhuapl.edu/mag/?fidelity=low&start=2001- 01-01T00%3A00%3A00.000Z&interval=23%3A59, accessed April 6, 2020. 13 Such as the Virtual Solar Observatory, https://sdac.virtualsolar.org/cgi/search, or the Virtual Magnetospheric Observatory, https://science.nasa.gov/heliophysics/heliophysics-data-centers/virtual-magnetospheric-observatory- vmo. 17
between âdo no harmâ and rapid deployment, which may lead to less rigorous testing and, consequently, a higher risk of mission failure. Performance risk refers to the likelihood that the secondary payload operates as designed and provides the science measurements within the required precision, accuracy, and sensitivity. In order to achieve agile response to short-notice rideshare opportunities, the tolerance for performance risk may need to be increased. HPD may want to consider releasing or relaxing requirements of readiness or allowing a âdevelop as you launchâ approach for secondary payloads containing nonheritage instruments. The indeterminate nature and character of potential rideshare opportunities and the possibilities of measurement contamination, launch performance, and calibration stability accuracy are among the issues that would need to be recognized through formally accepted risks without penalizing investigators. There is also a risk of not having the payload ready in time for the launch. This risk is more significant when the destination of the rideshare opportunity is uncommon (e.g., planetary). Conversely, the risk is minimized if launches to some orbits are frequent (see Chapter 6 for further discussion). Science return risk characterizes situations where the secondary payload operates as expected, but the targeted phenomenon is either not detected, not detectable, or does not exist. Some allowable risk of returning null results may facilitate a high scientific return or reward, including the provision of unprecedented limits or constraints on models and theories, or the discovery of unexpected, new phenomena. Two tangible examples are the measurement of solar energetic neutral atoms and the measurement of ionospheric energy input partitioning to different scales. Finding: The effectiveness of an agile rideshare program may inherently depend upon some risk tolerance to the secondary payload in terms of performance or scientific return; however, substantially increased risk to the primary payload, host platform, or launch vehicle is not acceptable. Taken together, the findings in this section support the committeeâs conclusion, as follows: Conclusion: Implementation approaches aimed at optimizing the effectiveness of a new HPD agile rideshare program may include strategic investments in innovative infrastructure and management approaches along with risk tolerance that extends beyond the accepted norms of traditional HPD programs. 18