Author Topic: Report Selects 16 Highest Priorities to Guide NASA's Technology Development  (Read 23578 times)

Offline as58

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I don't see a thread about this one yet, and I think some of you could be interested.

Quote
February 1, 2012 -- During the next five years, NASA technology development efforts should focus on 16 high-priority technologies and their associated top technical challenges, says a new report from the National Research Council. The technologies were selected with input from the external technical community as part of NASA’s draft technology roadmaps and include items such as radiation mitigation; guidance, navigation, and control; nuclear systems for both power generation and transportation; and solar power generation (see news release for full table). These priorities were chosen to align with three main facets of NASA's overall mission: extending and sustaining human activities beyond low Earth orbit; exploring the evolution of the solar system and the potential for life elsewhere; and expanding our understanding of Earth and the universe.

http://www.nationalacademies.org/morenews/20120201.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+nationalacademies%2Fna+%28News+from+the+National+Academies%29


Full report (469 pages) is available here:
http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13354

Offline AnalogMan

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This is NASA's press release:

RELEASE : 12-039
NASA Receives Final NRC Report On Space Technology Roadmaps

Feb. 01, 2012

WASHINGTON -- NASA has received the National Research Council (NRC) report "NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities," which provides the agency with findings and recommendations on where best to invest in technologies needed to enable NASA's future missions in space. The NRC report will help define NASA's technology development priorities in the years to come.

One year ago, NASA provided 14 draft space technology area roadmaps to the NRC and asked the council to examine and prioritize technologies for the agency. The technologies were prioritized in each of the 14 areas and then across all categories.

The report finalizes the NRC's review and identifies 16 top-priority technologies necessary for NASA's future missions, which also could benefit American aerospace industries and the nation. The 16 were chosen by the NRC from its own ranking of 83 high-priority technologies out of approximately 300 identified in the roadmaps.

"The report strongly reaffirms the vital importance of technology development to enable the agency's future missions and grow the nation's new technology economy," said Mason Peck, chief technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The report confirms the value of our technology development strategy to date. NASA currently invests in all of the highest-priority technologies and will study the report and adjust its investment portfolio as needed."

The technology priorities the report identifies are aligned with NASA missions to extend and sustain human activities beyond low Earth orbit, explore the evolution of the solar system and the potential for life elsewhere, and expand our un¬derstanding of Earth and the universe in which we live.

The report observes that "technological breakthroughs have been the foundation of virtually every NASA success. In addition, technological advances have yielded benefits far beyond space itself in down-to-Earth applications." It also states "future U.S. leadership in space requires a foundation of sustained technology advances."

During the coming months, NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist will lead an agency-wide analysis and coordination effort to update the 14 technology area roadmaps with the NRC report's findings and recommendations.

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/feb/HQ_12-039_NRC_Roadmaps.html

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I've attached a summary table of the priorities (note that some items appear twice in different columns)

Offline mrmandias

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FYI, this might profitably be in the Space Policy section instead of here.

Offline Namechange User

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I don't get this.  It took a year for this?

There is nothing remarkable on this list nor anything that people inside the Agency/community have not been saying for years.  Did people assume we had everything we ever need to jaunt into the cosmos?  Does this report convince people that they were wrong if for some reason they did believe that?

What is needed, as has always been needed, is an integrated strategy and tactical plan that says when the above will be needed and for what purpose.  Then a priority among the priorities can be established and a funding profile established to meet said strategy and tactical plan. 

We now wasted a year telling us what we already knew for some time.  Time, past time actually, for the "big-picture" plan. 
« Last Edit: 02/01/2012 08:33 pm by OV-106 »
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Offline muomega0

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I don't get this.  It took a year for this?

There is nothing remarkable on this list nor anything that people inside the Agency/community have not been saying for years.  Did people assume we had everything we ever need to jaunt into the cosmos?  Does this report convince people that they were wrong?

What is needed, as has always been needed, is an integrated strategy and tactical plan that says when the above will be needed and for what purpose.  Then a priority among the priorities can be established and a funding profile established to meet said strategy and tactical plan. 

We now wasted a year telling us what we already knew for some time.  Time, past time actually, for the "big-picture" plan. 
Are the issues being adequately addressed and funded?

How do you assign a big picture plan to a Mars Landing when you have not developed a way to land large objects on Mars? 

How do you assign a date to a permanent lunar outpost when the method for radiation protection is not known, nor developed, and the method affects the architecture trades?   

So should the plan be to delay the mission until the technology is developed or revert back to the 6 to (less than 30?) day lunar sorties to the permanent lunar outpost at what frequency?

Offline Namechange User

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Wow.  Way to completely and totally miss my point.  The reason I say that?  Because that was my point.

Set a strategy and goals.  Define what you want to do and when.  Identify the gaps and when they need to be filled with a particular capability in order to meet the strategy/goals/tactics. 

Based on that, define a funding profile. 

"Delaying everything" until the technology is supposedly ready is just a very big excuse for litterally delaying *everything* so that it can *look* like something is being accomplished when in reality nothing is. 

There are things we can do now, without needing some of the above for relatively modest stays in deep space.  Things tend to work best when they evolve over time, bringing on new capabilities as they are needed.  Not waiting, and delaying everything, until the warp core is ready. 
« Last Edit: 02/01/2012 10:23 pm by OV-106 »
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Offline Warren Platts

Wow.  Way to completely and totally miss my point.  The reason I say that?  Because that was my point.

Set a strategy and goals.  Define what you want to do and when.  Identify the gaps and when they need to be filled with a particular capability in order to meet the strategy/goals/tactics. 

Based on that, define a funding profile. 

OV, you're always saying this, yet you never say what your own opinion is with regard to what you think the best big-picture goal should be. You've been involved with NASA for years, so you must have some sort of opinion. What is it? Mars in my lifetime? Lunar ISRU? Asteroid mining? SBSP? Colonization of Alpha Centauri? Or what?
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline Atlan

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Great to see Nuclear Reactor on this list. Do you think we see some new development in this area soon? Would be really great.
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Extinction is approaching. Fight it.

Offline Namechange User

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Wow.  Way to completely and totally miss my point.  The reason I say that?  Because that was my point.

Set a strategy and goals.  Define what you want to do and when.  Identify the gaps and when they need to be filled with a particular capability in order to meet the strategy/goals/tactics. 

Based on that, define a funding profile. 

OV, you're always saying this, yet you never say what your own opinion is with regard to what you think the best big-picture goal should be. You've been involved with NASA for years, so you must have some sort of opinion. What is it? Mars in my lifetime? Lunar ISRU? Asteroid mining? SBSP? Colonization of Alpha Centauri? Or what?

I am always saying it because it is a fundamental truth that I try my hardest to get people to realize!  ;) 

When FY2011 came out, and was void of all that, some assumed that without any kind of over-arching strategy life would be great and we would see all these wonderful things play out.  I think the past three years, which have been essentially directionless, have validated my point. 

Also I know I alone am not qualified, nor is any one person, to say exactly what the big-picture strategy and goals should be.  I personally do want to go to the Moon for the first time in my lifetime.  I want to go to Mars.  I don't even have a real problem with "flexible path", if it is done smartly.  Unfortunately, as I feared initiallty, it ultimately took an interesting concept and turned it an excuse to do nothing. 

With what I have said in that past and with what I outlined above, it gives the chance for something tangible.  It gives direction and people know what they are striving for.  It gives the ability to know what we need and can do in the short-term, with an eye, and rationale, for the medium and long-terms.  All in terms of destination(s) and capabilities. 
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Offline Lee Jay

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It looks to me like the list could have easily been shorted to a single item - motherhood and apple pie.

Offline sdsds

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It's illuminating to compare the items on the list to those that didn't make the cut.  For example, neither "autonomous rendezvous and docking" nor "low-boil-off cryogenic propellant storage" are on the list.
-- sdsds --

Offline alexw

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It's illuminating to compare the items on the list to those that didn't make the cut.  For example, neither "autonomous rendezvous and docking" nor "low-boil-off cryogenic propellant storage" are on the list.
   You mean except for "GN&C" appearing twice, plus "Active thermal control of cryogenic systems"?
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Offline sdsds

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If that's the kind of GN&C they mean, then great!  They don't say that, though.  Also, if they mean e.g. depot thermal management, why is it under the "expand understanding of Earth and universe" category?  Maybe that's a better fit for e.g. thermal control of telescopes?

[EDIT: Specifically as regards GN&C, page S-9 of the summary explains which of the 83 high-priority technologies on the original list provided by NASA were being combined into GN&C:
X.4 GN&C
4.6.2 Relative Guidance Algorithms
5.4.3 Onboard Autonomous Navigation and Maneuvering
9.4.7 GN&C Sensors and Systems (EDL)
Is that AR&D?

« Last Edit: 02/02/2012 05:21 am by sdsds »
-- sdsds --

Offline johncarpinelli

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At the top of the list should be lower launch costs.  Cheaper launches would allow higher spacecraft mass. This would make problems like radiation, life support and zero gravity easier to manage. For unmanned probes, more mass would allow extra power and extra instruments.

The private space companies have the right priorities. Cheaper launches are the key to space development. Unfortunately, they have far smaller resources than NASA.

Offline Namechange User

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At the top of the list should be lower launch costs.  Cheaper launches would allow higher spacecraft mass. This would make problems like radiation, life support and zero gravity easier to manage. For unmanned probes, more mass would allow extra power and extra instruments.

The private space companies have the right priorities. Cheaper launches are the key to space development. Unfortunately, they have far smaller resources than NASA.

That's only a possibility.  The "cheap launches" may only exist in a certain class but, more or less, I know what you are trying to drive to.

The reality is that there is likely no single technological "breakthrough" at this point that is all of the sudden going to wildly bend the cost curve.  That is why an evolutionary and incrimnetal approach, learning the hard-won lessons technically and operationally/managerially and applying them, generally works best. 

If we "sit-around and think" about this or that only, doing supposed R&D that will supposedly "guarantee" reduce costs, I believe we will be disappointed when the "lab" is exposed to an operational environment. 

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Offline Will

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It's illuminating to compare the items on the list to those that didn't make the cut.  For example, neither "autonomous rendezvous and docking" nor "low-boil-off cryogenic propellant storage" are on the list.

On page s-11 of the summary, they specifically recommend orbital flight testing and demonstration of cryogenic storage and handling.

Offline Robotbeat

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It's illuminating to compare the items on the list to those that didn't make the cut.  For example, neither "autonomous rendezvous and docking" nor "low-boil-off cryogenic propellant storage" are on the list.

On page s-11 of the summary, they specifically recommend orbital flight testing and demonstration of cryogenic storage and handling.
That's very good.

And perhaps AR&D is already well-developed? More useful would be to pay for a demo flight to ISS, such as to bring Node 4 to the station. Of course, that's not strictly tech development and would be expensive (at least for making a useful module out of an empty aluminum shell), so it would need to be justified for something other than as a tech demo.
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Offline sdsds

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Blackstar's criticism of the preceding analysis is valid -- it is based on the "16 Highlights" rather than the entire report.

That's rather the problem, though.  Many consumers of this report will never get beyond the highlights ... even to page 9 of the summary much less drilling down to the details of the report.

It is obvious from the summary section that the authors of the report did some good work, but like OV-106 I find some of the work to be reiteration of thinking that is not at all new.  For example, in defining "Technology Objectives A/B/C" the steering committee isn't exactly breaking any new ground!  I personally found the Technical Challenges lists (presented in Table S.2) insightful, and was glad to have access to their thinking on those -- in particular the one for human activities beyond LEO.  (My pet favorite, AR&D, does appear on that list!)

I guess I just don't understand the value added by making the "top 16" selections.
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Offline Robotbeat

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I know that the report's kinda big and all, and it's sure way more fun to spout opinions than to actually, well, gather information. But wouldn't this discussion be a whole lot more fun if you fellas actually bothered to read what it says? And here's a tip: start with the statement of task.
Touche. AR&D is all over the report.

But this isn't a new technology! It seems like it could benefit most from a real demo mission instead of just more studying.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Blackstar

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But this isn't a new technology! It seems like it could benefit most from a real demo mission instead of just more studying.

That's a decision to be made by the recipients of the report. The report was intended to establish a list of priorities.
« Last Edit: 02/02/2012 09:01 pm by Blackstar »

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