June 23, 2024

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NASA is seeking input on space technology shortages

NASA is seeking input on space technology shortages

WASHINGTON — NASA is seeking public input on how to prioritize nearly 200 topics in space technology to improve how it invests limited funding on them.

The agency issued List of 187 “technology deficiencies” Or topics where current technology requires additional development to meet future NASA needs. The shortage exists in 20 areas ranging from space transportation and life support to energy and heat management.

Through a websiteThe agency invites people to review the listed technologies and evaluate their importance until May 13. NASA will use this input to help prioritize those technologies for future investment to fill the shortfall.

This is part of an effort by the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) to provide a more rigorous approach to how technology development is supported. “NASA has entered into a battle rhythm with our stakeholders, where we have prioritized more the area of ​​activities in which we are engaged, rather than initially around the problem space: the problems we are working to solve,” Curt said. “Spuds” Vogel, NASA's associate administrator for space technology, at the April 23 meeting of the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium.

He said the old approach risks turning NASA's space technology program into a “hobby shop” subject to the whims of policymakers. “This is the wrong focus.”

By prioritizing shortcomings in technology, he said NASA will be better able to invest its funding in the most important ones. “We're stretched thin. That means we don't have the budget to address all of these problems at once, so we have to prioritize the limited dollars we're blessed with to attack the problems that matter most to our stakeholders.”

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Through this process, people will be able to evaluate the significance of some or all of the technological shortcomings identified by NASA. They can also list technologies that they think should be included or identify shortcomings that they believe have already been resolved.

NASA will use input from this process, as well as a separate internal agency effort, to develop a ranked list of technologies. “That should be ready by this summer,” Alisyn Lowry, STMD's director of strategic planning and integration, said in a separate presentation at the April 24 meeting.

While NASA will not publish individual input, it plans to reveal how different stakeholder groups in industry and academia ranked the technologies. But Vogel emphasized that public input will be just one factor in setting overall priorities.

“It's a tool, not a tool,” he said, describing input as part of an “audit trail” used to link technologies to problems. “It will impact what we do, but we will make the final decisions.”

He said the deficit number may change in the coming years based on the inputs in this deficit analysis, either up or down. Vogel said he expects NASA to update the priorities annually. “The first year or two will be where most of the changes will happen. After that it will become seamless, and you will see it as a tool that you can use in a similar way that we will use as well.”