A Constrained Space Exploration Technology Program: A Review by Committee to Review NASA 's Exploration Technology

By Committee to Review NASA 's Exploration Technology Development Program, National Research Council

In January 2004, President George W. Bush introduced the imaginative and prescient for house Exploration (VSE), which urged NASA to 'Extend human presence around the sun approach, beginning with a human go back to the Moon by means of the 12 months 2020, in guidance for human exploration of Mars and different destinations,' between different goals. As stated within the VSE, major expertise improvement could be essential to accomplish the targets it articulates.NASA's Exploration expertise improvement application (ETDP) is designed to help, boost, and eventually give you the helpful applied sciences to satisfy the targets of the VSE. This publication, a assessment of the ETDP, is generally supportive of the purpose and pursuits of the VSE, and reveals the ETDP is making development in the direction of the acknowledged objectives of expertise improvement. despite the fact that, the ETDP is working inside of major constraints which restrict its skill to effectively accomplish these targets - the nonetheless dynamic nature of the Constellation application requisites, the restrictions imposed through a restricted finances, the competitive time scale of early expertise deliverables, and the will to totally hire the NASA team.

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Additional info for A Constrained Space Exploration Technology Program: A Review of NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program

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Customer requirements are not yet well established but presumably will be much better defined in the future. The present metrics are based on a bottom-up approach and, in lieu of established customer requirements, are appropriate as a temporary measure. The NASA research effort is quite small compared with that of other agencies and of the battery and fuel cell companies. Consequently, by focusing on issues that are specific to its needs rather than trying to make fundamental advances in the technology, the project will reach its goals more effectively and at lower cost.

Radiation-hardened electronics can be an extremely expensive endeavor in terms of both cost and risk—improper design (ill-informed by physical realities) could deeply jeopardize deliverables such as electronics-based systems fabricated with these components, launch schedules, and even missions. Finally, the work that was presented to the committee would apparently not be closed-loop system tested in a relevant environment, owing in large part to limited buy-in from mission elements. This fact limits the likelihood that these technologies can be validated for flight in time for insertion into mission architectures.

The one stated goal of this effort was to generate long-term stability data for potential fluids. This result seems to be more of a supporting engineering role than a developmental one. Also, there is no metric to define whether this approach is actually beneficial to the Constellation Program’s efforts. Suggested metrics to determine if a single-fluid operation is superior to the two-fluid system are long-term fluid stability, system mass, heat rejection rate, power requirements, and cost. Another goal was to develop a radiator system with at least a 25 percent mass reduction over the present orbiter radiator design.

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