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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 5 Congressional Testimony 5.1 Challenges and Opportunities in Life and Microgravity Sciences The Chair of the Committee on Space Biology and Medicine, Mary J. Osborn, delivered the following testimony before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics of the U.S. House of Representatives on March 22, 2000. Mr. Chairman, Ranking Minority Member, and members of the committee: thank you for inviting the Space Studies Board here to testify. My name is Mary Osborn and I am a professor and head of microbiology at the University of Connecticut Health Center. I appear today in my capacity as a member of the Space Studies Board (SSB) and chair of its Committee on Space Biology and Medicine. As you know, the SSB is the unit of the National Research Council (NRC) that is responsible for providing independent advice to the federal government on civil space science and applications research. The SSB oversees two standing committees that focus on issues in life and microgravity sciences, and it also constitutes special task groups and panels as needed. For a number of years I have chaired the Committee on Space Biology and Medicine, which examines issues in all areas of space life sciences research, including such problems as the rapid bone loss and changes in cardiac function seen in astronauts. Our sister committee, the Committee on Microgravity Research, oversees a diverse range of disciplines that include combustion and materials science, fluid physics, and biotechnology research. Over the years Space Studies Board committees and panels have carried out a number of studies directed at NASA programs in life and microgravity sciences and applications, some of which you have asked that I discuss today. The advice resulting from these studies has generally fallen into two categories: (1) long-range strategies that provide detailed scientific priorities for the direction and content of the research program and also identify programmatic barriers to ensuring research quality, and (2) more focused reviews of specific issues of near-term interest to NASA. One of the studies named in your invitation was A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century, published in 1998. This study was a long-range science strategy. Utilizing an expert committee, focused workshops, and specialized task groups, the NRC carried out a comprehensive review of the status of research in eleven disciplines of space life sciences, surveyed the broader scientific fields in which those disciplines reside, and identified the most useful directions for future research both within and across those disciplines. The resulting report lays out a prioritized research agenda for fields ranging from plant biology to bone physiology, and is intended to guide NASA in planning the direction of life sciences research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for at least the next decade.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 In the course of this study it became clear that our understanding of the effects of spaceflight on the human body is still fragmentary despite more than three decades of flight experience. This knowledge gap is due partly to the relative brevity of most U.S. flights to date and the small number of dedicated life sciences missions, but the committee also found that there were numerous barriers—legal, institutional, and cultural—to the collection and analysis of biomedical data from astronauts. Collection and analyses of these data are critical to ensuring the future health and safety of astronauts, and the 1998 report recommended that NASA initiate an ISS-based program to collect detailed biomedical data and that NASA promote internal mechanisms for ensuring that this data is accessible to qualified investigators. In addition to setting specific discipline priorities, the report presented a number of broad findings such as the following: The highest research priority should be given to problems that may limit astronaut survival or function in prolonged spaceflight. Losses in bone and muscle mass, for instance, pose two of the greatest obstacles to astronaut health and safety on long missions. Gravitational transitions experienced by astronauts as they enter and return from space can have debilitating effects on their balance and locomotion control. And exposure to radiation could pose serious health effects for crew members in long-term missions beyond Earth orbit. While space-based research will be crucial for advancing knowledge, those experiments should not be performed until ground-based research has demonstrated a clear need for flight data and a clear-cut hypothesis has been developed that can be credibly tested under flight conditions. There is a critical need for NASA to improve its collection and dissemination of data from astronauts in order to answer fundamental questions about the effects of space travel on the human body and mind. The 1998 report is now being followed up by a review of NASA's current biomedical research program in light of the recommendations of the 1998 strategy report. This follow-up study was requested by NASA and will be completed this summer. An example of a more focused assessment is the recently released SSB/NRC report Future Biotechnology Research on the International Space Station, which reviewed NASA's plans for research in protein crystal growth and in cell science on the ISS. I'll talk in a little more detail about the findings of this report, as I understand it is of special interest to this subcommittee. In general, this report concluded that NASA's protein crystal growth and cell science programs both have the potential to significantly impact relevant scientific fields and to increase understanding and insight into fundamental biological issues. The report includes recommendations in technical areas, such as the kinds of instruments to be used on the space station, and discusses changes that should be made in NASA's culture to improve its interaction with the scientific community. The findings and recommendations detailed in the report are aimed at helping NASA perform biotechnology research effectively on the International Space Station. The specific findings and recommendations of the report include the following points: The body of work to date on protein crystal growth in space has not provided conclusive evidence about how microgravity affects crystals, and the impact of space-grown crystals on the field of structural biology has been limited. However, some biologically important macromolecules are still very hard to crystallize, and NASA could have significant impact by focusing on these types of proteins. NASA needs to fund a series of “proof-of-concept” grants to determine definitively the effects of micro-gravity on protein crystal growth. The success or failure of these research efforts will resolve the issue of whether the microgravity environment can be a valuable tool for researchers and the results should determine the future of the NASA protein crystal growth program. In the cell science area, NASA's broad-based goal of exploring the fundamental effects of the microgravity environment on biological systems at the cellular level is appropriate, and the work in this area has the potential to have significant impact on the fields of cell science and tissue engineering. However, NASA needs to choose among the many possible areas of basic research in order to focus its grants programs and the instrumentation development activities. Some of the hardware currently in advanced stages of development greatly impressed the task group; examples include the x-ray crystallography facility for observing and analyzing protein crystals and the miniaturized and automated systems for growing cell and tissue cultures. The technological innovations reflected in these
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 systems could have significant impact in ground-based laboratories as well as in space. However, the recent instabilities in the ISS budget are compromising equipment development. If money is repeatedly siphoned off from hardware development work, the quality of the equipment on the ISS will be significantly below that of the cuttingedge hardware available on the ground, and researchers will not be interested in using outdated equipment or willing to entrust precious samples to it. NASA should improve its outreach activities in order to broaden the scientific community involved in its biotechnology research program and increase the number of cutting-edge projects submitted for funding. At the same time NASA must be careful to present a balanced picture of the program's successes and limitations. Press releases targeted to the general public often lead to misconceptions about NASA's goals and accomplishments (artificial organs are not being grown in space, and protein crystal growth work has not produced a flu vaccine). By allowing the widespread dissemination of vague or even inaccurate descriptions of the program, NASA is seriously diminishing the credibility of its work within the scientific community. I will now turn to microgravity sciences for a moment. A comprehensive SSB/NRC report published in 1995, Micro gravity Research Opportunities for the 1990s, recommended priorities for basic research in each of the major microgravity disciplines of fluid dynamics, biotechnology, materials science, fundamental physics, and combustion. And just this month, a strategy report with a more applied focus was released, called Microgravity Research in Support of Technologies for the Human Exploration and Development of Space and Planetary Bodies. This major study surveys a wide range of potential exploration technologies and considers how reduced gravity could fundamentally alter the fluids and materials behaviors on which these technologies depend. The report recommends priorities in areas of basic research that could pay off in terms of improving space technology design over the next one to three decades, for example, characterization of the complex behaviors of fluid and vapor in space-based systems. I would like to close by addressing the subcommittee's final question about Space Studies Board recommendations on improving NASA's management of life and microgravity research funds to optimize the scientific return of missions. Programmatic recommendations affecting the management of life and microgravity research funds have been made in many NRC reports over the years. For instance, since 1994, three letter reports, one focused report, and three major reports have addressed peer review. The establishment of rigorous peer review has been credited with greatly improving the quality of NASA's research in these areas, and our reports have stressed the importance of maintaining impartiality in this process by retaining peer review of research grants as a NASA headquarters function. The Space Studies Board continues to monitor this issue carefully as some former NASA responsibilities are shifted to new institutes and non-governmental organizations. Additional SSB advice relevant to the management of life and microgravity research funds has pointed out: The importance of a strong ground-based research program to ensure a pool of quality flight investigations; The importance of maintaining a continuity of flight opportunities in order to retain an investigator community capable of making productive use of the space station; Concerns that diverting funds from ISS experimental hardware development to pay for space station construction could threaten NASA's ability to carry out essential cutting-edge research on the space station; The importance of close interaction between the engineers developing hardware for space experiments and the scientific investigators who will be using it; and Concerns about the limited amount of time and training that astronauts will have for performing experiments on the ISS. To address this limitation NASA has been urged to place a high priority on the automation of routine tasks, development of systems and hardware for ground-based control of experiments (tele-operation), provision of on-orbit analytical capabilities for monitoring and real-time feedback, and transmission of digital data and real-time communications between astronauts and scientists on the ground. NASA's life and microgravity science program leaders have made good progress in strengthening the program in recent years, and the SSB believes that if the agency can implement the recommendations made in the reports cited above, the prospects for performing valuable scientific work on the ISS remain strong. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you and for your attention.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 APPENDIX Bibliography of Recent National Research Council Reports Relevant to the Life and Microgravity Sciences1 Future Biotechnology Research on the International Space Station. 2000. Space Studies Board, Task Group for the Evaluation of NASA's Biotechnology Facility for the International Space Station. An Initial Review of Microgravity Research in Support of Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS Phase I). 1997. Committee on Microgravity Research. Managing the Space Sciences. 1995. Space Studies Board, Committee on the Future of Space Science. Institutional Arrangements for Space Station Research. 1999. Space Studies Board, Aeronautics and Engineering Board, Task Group to Review Alternative Institutional Arrangements for Space Station Research. Microgravity Research in Support of Technologies for the Human Exploration and Development of Space and Planetary Bodies (HEDS Phase II). 2000 (in press). Space Studies Board, Committee on Microgravity Research. Engineering Challenges to the Long-Term Operation of the International Space Station. 2000 (in press). Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, Committee on Engineering Challenges to the Long-Term Operation of the International Space Station. Microgravity Research Opportunities for the 1990s. 1995. Space Studies Board, Committee on Microgravity Research. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. 1998. Space Studies Board, Committee on Space Biology and Medicine. “On Clarification of Issues in the Opportunities Report.” April 19, 1995. Letter from Space Studies Board Chair Claude R. Canizares and Committee on Microgravity Research Chair Martin E. Glicksman to Mr. Robert Rhome, director of NASA's Microgravity Science and Applications Division . “On Life and Microgravity Science and the Space Station Program.” February 25, 1994. Letter from Space Studies Board Chair Louis J. Lanzerotti, Committee on Space Biology and Medicine Chair Fred W. Turek, and Committee on Microgravity Research Chair William A. Sirignano to NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. “On Peer Review on NASA Life Sciences Programs.” July 26, 1995. Letter from Space Studies Board Chair Claude R. Canizares and Committee on Space Biology and Medicine Chair Mary Jane Osborn to Dr. Joan Vernikos, director of NASA's Life and Biomedical Sciences and Applications Division. “On Research Facilities Planning for the International Space Station. ” July 8, 1997. Letter from Space Studies Board Chair Claude R. Canizares, Committee on Space Biology and Medicine Chair Mary Jane Osborn, and Committee on Microgravity Research Chair Martin E. Glicksman to NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. Biography of Witness Mary J. Osborn is professor and head of microbiology at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Dr. Osborn's fields of specialization are biochemistry, microbiology, and molecular biology. Current research interests include biogenesis of bacterial membranes. She has published extensively in these areas. Dr. Osborn has served on numerous distinguished committees, including the National Science Board (1980-1986), the President's Committee on the National Medal of Sciences (1981-1982), the Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health's Division of Research Grants (1989-1994; chair, 1992-1994), the Advisory Council of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology (1974-1978), the Board of Scientific Advisors for the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology (1981-1985; chair, 1983-1985), and the Governing Board of the National Research Council (1990-1993). Dr. Osborn was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1978. In addition, she serves as member of the Space Studies Board and chairs its Committee on Space Biology and Medicine, both since 1994. Memberships include American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (president, 1981-1982), American Chemical Society (chairman, Division of Biological Chemistry, 1975-1976), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (fellow; council, 1988-1992), Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (president, 1982-1983), American Society for Microbiology, and American Academy of Microbiology. Dr. Osborn received a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. (biochemistry) from the University of Washington. 1 The National Research Council's reports are published by the National Academy Press (NAP), Washington, D.C. Space Studies Board letter reports are edited by NAP and published by the Board.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 5.2 Issues and Opportunities in Space Science Space Studies Board Chair Claude R. Canizares delivered the following testimony before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics of the U.S. House of Representatives on September 13, 2000. INTRODUCTION Mr. Chairman, Ranking Minority Member, and members of the subcommittee: thank you for inviting the Space Studies Board (SSB) here to testify. My name is Claude Canizares and I am professor of physics and director of the Center for Space Research at MIT. My research field is astrophysics, specifically X-ray astronomy, and I am a Principal Investigator on the NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory. I appear today in my capacity as former chair of the Space Studies Board. As you know, the SSB is the unit of the National Research Council through which the Council provides independent advice to the federal government on civil space science and applications research, and that is responsible for representing the National Academies in international relations in these areas. The Board conducts its work through a cadre of about 180 experts drawn from academia, industry, and other institutions who serve as volunteers on the Board or its committees and task groups. Another group of 30 to 70 experts serves each year as independent external reviewers of our reports before they are released. Since January, the Board has published 15 reports covering a broad range of space-related topics, providing advice not only to NASA, but also to NOAA, NSF, and DOD. A complete bibliography of SSB reports for the past 3 years is appended to my statement. Included in the recent reports of the Space Studies Board are several studies regarding strategies for managing space research and making decisions about the appropriate portfolio of mission sizes for space research, and on the development of new technologies. Your invitation indicated that my testimony should focus on these reports, as well as on related topics. With your permission I would also like to reflect briefly on some broader relevant conclusions drawn from my six years as chair of the Space Studies Board. ASSESSING THE MIX OF SPACE SCIENCE MISSION SIZES Let me begin by addressing the Board's report, Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA's Earth and Space Science Missions. This report examines fundamental issues of mission architecture in the nation's scientific space program and responds to the FY 1999 appropriations conference report, which requested that NASA commission a study to assess the strengths and weaknesses of small, medium, and large missions. To that end, the study committee undertook three tasks: Evaluate the general scientific and programmatic strengths and weaknesses of small, medium, and large missions; Identify which elements of the science strategies will require medium or large missions to accomplish high-priority objectives; and Recommend general principles or criteria for evaluating the mix of mission sizes in Earth and space science programs. The committee approached these questions in light of the changing environment at NASA, which has been conducting an increasing number of smaller space and Earth science missions having shorter development times and using streamlined management methods, advanced technologies, and more compact platforms than had been employed in the past. The committee referred to this approach as the faster-better-cheaper (FBC) paradigm, a variant of “smaller, faster, cheaper, better” and similar phrases that have been used to describe the changing environment for space research missions. The committee interpreted the FBC paradigm as a set of principles (including, but not limited to, streamlined management, flexibility, and technological capability) that are independent of the size or scope of a mission but can be matched appropriately to the science objectives and requirements for a given mission. The term “mission ” means the entire process of carrying out a space-based research activity, including scientific conception, spacecraft
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 and instrument design and development, selection of development contractors, selection of launch capability, mission operations, data analysis, and dissemination of scientific results. How FBC is defined and how FBC principles are applied to programs of any scale have many implications for the space program. These include the tolerance for risk; strategic planning; the character of science investigated; the products of missions; the training of young scientists and engineers; the role of international cooperation; the role of universities, industry, government laboratories, and NASA centers; and the general health of space science. Decisions about these programs in terms of cost and size trade-offs have to recognize that the variables are more numerous and much more complex than might at first be supposed. “Faster” missions can be made so by streamlining the management and development effort, by shortening the development schedule, by using the best available technology, and perhaps even by knowingly accepting more risk. In general, such methods will also lead to a “cheaper” mission. However, for NASA research programs, innovations in technology or management are not ends unto themselves. The clear and obvious meaning of “ better” is that more science—more knowledge and better quality and quantity of measurements—about some aspects of the universe around us is returned for a given investment and that such returns occur in a timely manner. The impression that faster-better-cheaper also means “smaller” has raised concerns that there is a growing shift away from larger-scale endeavors in the Earth and space science programs. However, the tendency to equate FBC with the size or cost of a space or Earth science mission can overlook a number of things. These include requirements unique to different disciplines, the complexities of scientific objectives, time and spatial scales, and techniques for implementation involved in determining the scope of a mission. Total costs, mission capabilities, and the ultimate scientific results of space programs are a complex combination of the skill and performance of everyone associated with mission development, schedules, approaches to handling technical and management risks, technological implementation, and management style. Since the Board's report was released in mid-March, the Mars Program Independent Assessment Team, led by Thomas Young, issued its findings, and your committee has held hearings on that assessment. The Board's Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs report is entirely consistent with the Young report and is complementary in a number of ways. I believe that the conclusions of the Board's report are still sound and in keeping with the sense of the Young report (i.e., that FBC is a philosophy and not a prescription for how to do small missions and that it needs to be applied correctly across missions of all sizes). Findings The committee report supports several principles being implemented in the FBC methodology. Specifically, it found a number of positive aspects of the FBC approach, including the following: A mixed portfolio of mission sizes is crucial in virtually all Earth and space science disciplines to accomplish the various research objectives. The FBC approach has produced useful improvements across the spectrum of programs regardless of absolute mission size or cost. Shorter development cycles have enhanced scientific responsiveness, lowered costs, involved a larger community, and enabled the use of the best available technologies. The increased frequency of missions has broadened research opportunities for the Earth and space sciences. Scientific objectives can be met with greater flexibility by spreading a program over several missions. Nonetheless, some problems exist in the practical application of the FBC approach, including the following: The heavy emphasis on cost and schedule has too often compromised scientific outcomes (e.g., scope of mission, data return, and analysis of results). Technology development is a cornerstone of the FBC approach for space science missions but is often not aligned with science-based mission objectives. The cost and schedule constraints for some missions may lead to choosing designs, management practices, and technologies that introduce additional risks. The nation's launch infrastructure is limited in its ability to accommodate smaller spacecraft in a timely, reliable, and cost-effective way.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 Recommendations to NASA Faster-Better-Cheaper Principles Faster-better-cheaper methods of management, technology infusion, and implementation have produced useful improvements regardless of absolute mission size or cost. However, while improvements in administrative procedures have proven their worth in shortening the time to science, experience from mission losses has shown that great care must be exercised in making changes to technical management techniques lest mission success be compromised. Consequently, we recommend that NASA should transfer appropriate elements of the FBC management principles to the entire portfolio of space science and Earth science mission sizes and cost ranges. But we also recommend that the management approach of each project should be tailored to the size, complexity, scientific value, and cost of the mission. Science Scope and Balance The nature of phenomena to be observed and the technological means of executing such observations are constrained fundamentally by the laws of physics, such that some worthwhile science objectives cannot be met by small satellites. The strength and appeal of faster-better-cheaper is to promote efficiency in design and timely execution—shorter time to science—of space missions in comparison to what are perceived as less efficient or more costly traditional methods. A mixed portfolio of mission sizes is crucial in virtually all disciplines. An emphasis on medium-sized missions has currently precluded comprehensive payloads on planetary missions and has tended to discourage large mission planning. Consequently, we recommend that NASA ensure that science objectives —and their relative importance in a given discipline—are the primary determinants of what missions are carried out and their sizes. Mission planning should respond to (1) the link between science priorities and science payload, (2) timeliness in meeting science objectives, and (3) risks associated with the mission. Technology and Instrumentation Technology development is a cornerstone of a first-rate Earth and space science program. Advanced technology for instruments and spacecraft systems and its timely infusion into space research missions are essential for carrying out almost all space missions, irrespective of mission size. The fundamental goal of technology infusion is to obtain the highest performance at the lowest cost. The scientific program in Earth and space science missions conducted under the FBC approach has been critically dependent on instruments developed in the past. The ongoing development of new scientific instrumentation is essential for sustaining the FBC paradigm. Therefore, we recommend that NASA maintain a vigorous technology program in the development of advanced instrumentation and spacecraft hardware that will enable a portfolio of missions of varying sizes and complexities. NASA should ensure that funding for such development efforts is augmented and appropriately balanced with space mission budget lines. Access to Space The high cost of access to space remains one of the principal impediments to using the best and most natural mix of small and large spacecraft. While smaller spacecraft might appear to be the right solution for addressing many scientific questions from orbit, present launch costs make them an unfavorable solution from an overall program budgetary standpoint. Moreover, larger missions, too, are plagued by the excessive costs per unit mass for present launch vehicles. Furthermore, the national space transportation policy requiring all U.S. government payloads to be launched on vehicles manufactured in the United States prevents taking advantage of low-cost access to space on foreign launch vehicles. We recommend that NASA develop more affordable launch options for gaining access to space, including—possibly—foreign launch vehicles, so that a mixed portfolio of mission sizes becomes a viable approach.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 International Collaboration International collaboration has proven to be a reliable and cost-effective means to enhance the scientific return from missions and broaden the portfolio of space missions. Nevertheless, it is sometimes considered, within NASA, to be detrimental, perhaps because it adds complexity and can bring delays to a mission and, in part, can increase NASA 's financial risk. In the past, NASA had an international payload line within its budgets, which was an extremely useful device for funding the planning, proposal preparation, and development and integration of peerreviewed science instruments selected to fly on foreign-led missions. This line offered the U.S. scientific community highly leveraged access to important new international missions, by providing investigators with additional opportunities to fly instruments and retrieve data, especially during long hiatuses between U.S. missions in a given discipline. We recommend that NASA encourage international collaboration in all sizes and classes of missions, so that international missions will be able to fill key niches in NASA's space and Earth science programs. Specifically, NASA should restore separate, peer-reviewed announcements of opportunity for enhancements to foreign-led space research missions. TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT IN NASA'S OFFICE OF SPACE SCIENCE A related topic of interest covers the Board's Continuing Assessment of Technology Development in NASA's Office of Space Science. This review, which was conducted by the Board's Task Group on Technology Development in NASA's Office of Space Science (OSS), examined NASA's response to the recommendations in the 1998 SSB report, Assessment of Technology Development in NASA's Office of Space Science. Since these reports were issued, NASA has moved the cross-enterprise technology development program into the Office of Aero-Space Technology (OAST). The principles and recommendations in the Board's 1998 and 2000 reports remain as important and relevant for the reorganized program as they were before. Summary of the 1998 Report The 1998 report recognized the transfer of NASA's cross-agency technology function to the Office of Space Science (OSS) as a positive step for two reasons: (1) Programs under OSS are the largest consumers of space technology, and (2) OSS has a well-developed strategic planning process. However, the task group was concerned with NASA's definition of core competencies. Some NASA Centers claim that their competencies cover an extensive and broad range of technologies. No organization that has realistic fiscal constraints can hope to be competitive or world-class across such a wide range. The task group recommended that NASA narrow the core competencies to those that meet stringent criteria. Thus, individual NASA Centers would not have active programs in all technologies relevant to the mission requirements of the Center. The task group recommended that NASA explore alternatives to maintaining in-house, hands-on research and development programs to achieve smart buying. To be successful, an advanced technology development (ATD) program should be a careful mix of centralized and decentralized activities. The task group recommended in the 1998 report that the planning and selection processes be maintained as Headquarters activities. Other activities, such as selection of near-term technologies for a particular mission, could be delegated to the Centers when they are not competing for these technology development activities. Many of the recommendations in the 1998 report called for external review and advice, including planning, program reviews, evaluation of competing proposals, core competency selection, and Center quality review. Providing adequate Headquarters staff to manage the reviews, utilizing clear investment and performance metrics, and making Centers more accountable to Headquarters are essential elements of the review process. Assessment Regarding Planning Competition and Peer Review The task group found excellent responsiveness on the part of OSS to the task group's 1998 technology planning recommendations. Within OSS the process whereby technology plans are being linked with science objectives and program plans may well be a model of excellence in strategic planning. In addition, the task group lauded the
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 progress toward an objective and impartial technology program selection process administered at the NASA Centers. NASA's report that Center tasks were competitively peer reviewed during the FY 2000 selection process reflects a very positive change. When applied to technology tasks, the concept of competitive peer review must be broadened to include not only peer experts in the specific technologies being addressed, but also expert engineering generalists who can provide a broad perspective on the overall relevance of technology development proposals to NASA's future needs. In addition, competitive peer review of NASA in-house Cross-Enterprise Technology Development Program activities should be conducted by experts both inside and outside the centers. New Millennium Program The task group supported the change in the New Millennium Program (NMP) that refocuses it on flight demonstration of critical new technologies and applauded NASA's intention to use flights of opportunity rather than exclusively dedicated flights. The proposed restoration of the NMP in FY 2001 is important because without it there will be no program dedicated to flight qualifications of technology. Cross-cutting Technology The task group concluded that considerable progress had been made in responding to 1998 recommendations regarding the planning process for cross-cutting technology. The restructuring of the cross-cutting technology program was viewed as moving in the right direction. For example, the open solicitation of competitive proposals for the Cross-Enterprise Technology Program was seen as a positive step. Assessment of Implementation Core Competencies The task group viewed core competencies as central to implementing an effective ATD plan across the NASA Centers. The task group also recognized that the issue of core competencies goes beyond the authority of OSS alone and must be addressed on a NASA-wide level. Having now heard from several of the Centers on this subject, the task group found little consistency in the selection processes or the criteria used to select the Center core competencies required to pursue NASA's mission. That mission includes the preservation of U.S. leadership (not just NASA leadership) in space science and technology. Thus the selection of NASA's core competencies must be made with a sense of responsibility to the nation's technological health and not just to the “care and feeding” of NASA Centers. It is natural that individual Centers might emphasize the latter, which is one reason that a Headquarters-led (with major Center participation) effort should be made in defining and locating NASA's internal core competencies. An approach that employs industrial measures such as competitive edge versus strategic vulnerability can be modified to make judgments about NASA's core competencies. For example, technologies that have a very high potential and for which the external (to NASA) capability is very low are clearly candidates for a NASA core competency. In contrast, those technologies that are mature and widely available externally can be purchased virtually as “commodities.” Those with a high potential for advancement that are also widely available could be candidates for strategic purchasing requiring a “smart buyer.” The task group strongly recommends that Headquarters, working with the Centers, take the issue of core competency seriously. At a time of shrinking budgets yet great opportunity to raise the technology level of our nation's space program, selection of the proper NASA Center core technologies with full knowledge of what capability is important and what is available in industry and academia will be a requirement for success. Headquarters vs. Center Roles Despite the “impracticality” of the task group's recommendation that NASA Headquarters should conduct make-or-buy decisions and competitive procurements for all long-term ATD, it does appear that NASA is making considerable progress in satisfying the intent of the recommendation. It is clarifying the roles of Headquarters and
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 the Centers, retaining certain important decisions at Headquarters, and expanding the “reach” of Headquarters through the effective use of technology area managers at the Centers. Assessment Regarding Infrastructure Workforce Mobility While recognizing the difficulty in implementing the 1998 recommendation to foster increased workforce mobility among Centers and between NASA and industry, universities, and other government agencies the task group concluded that NASA has the ability to do more. There remains a need to encourage identification of alternative approaches to ensuring that Centers can be “smart buyers.” The smart-buyer argument should not be used to maintain unnecessary competency at the Centers. NASA routinely uses IPAs (Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments) to operate its science programs. However, IPAs have not been effectively used to provide transfer of information into the technology programs. The task group continues to encourage NASA to expand its use of IPAs and other cooperative agreements at Headquarters and at the Centers, specifically to transfer technology information (or expertise) into NASA technology programs. Role of the Chief Scientist This position of Chief Scientist provides NASA Headquarters an important focus for evaluating the progress of technology investment in strengthening the nation's science investment. A first step toward this might be a standing committee organized by the Chief Scientist to assess the progress in important technologies for OSS and other science programs defined by the roadmaps. If the Centers are to have essentially non-overlapping responsibilities in the development of new technologies, then it is essential that Headquarters management understand the status of the various projects to balance funding allocations in a manner that achieves a maximum number of significant enhancements to the science missions. Full Cost Accounting Full cost accounting is necessary to permit proper program management, and it will revolutionize the way NASA does business. The lack of full cost accounting makes it difficult to accurately determine and compare the costs of different programs. As pointed out in the task group's 1998 report, without accurate fiscal data about funds, allocations, and program costs, it is impossible for NASA to make informed judgments about Center roles, make-or-buy decisions, or contract awards for competitive procurements that include NASA Centers. However, the task group was encouraged to see that NASA's efforts to implement full cost accounting appear to be nearing fruition and that they are projected to be completed by FY 2002. Performance Measurement Independent External Reviews The task group recognizes that NASA is increasing the level of technology and programmatic external reviews. However, based on material presented to the task group there appears to be little change in Center external reviews. The task group has seen no evidence of Headquarters leadership or interest in the Center review process. There is no coordinated and consistent process for Center review. Each Center has developed its own method of review. In some cases, their customers are reviewing Centers. These customer reviews do not equate to impartial external reviews. NASA might find value in benchmarking against some of our leading industrial organizations. INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION IN SPACE SCIENCE The Board attends to the international dimension of space science, and many of its reports address international aspects of the questions or issues studied. In December 1999 the Board published U.S.-European-Japanese Workshop on Space Cooperation: Summary Report. The workshop, which was held in Tokyo during the spring of 1999, brought together a group of scientists under the auspices of the European Space Science Committee, the
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 Space Research Committee of the Science Council of Japan, and the SSB to examine lessons learned from three trilateral space missions. The workshop reaffirmed earlier findings about key elements of successful international scientific cooperation published in a 1998 joint report with the European Space Science Committee, U.S.-European Collaboration in Space Science. These keys to success included establishing scientific support though peer review, building on an historical foundation of existing partnerships, working from shared goals and objectives, defining clear roles and responsibilities, having an agreed-upon process for data validation and distribution, and applying a sense of partnership for all participants. The workshop report also raised some issues and questions for consideration. They included the challenge of effectively planning for cooperation among nations and agencies having different strategic planning processes, especially in the era of the faster-better-cheaper approach to mission management, and the continuing need to handle legal issues effectively (e.g. governmental memoranda of understanding, waivers of liability, and export licenses). At the same time, the report emphasized the indelible impression cooperation makes on the participating individuals, especially from the scientific and technical gains of working together and the intercultural exchange experienced. SCIENCE AND MISSION STRATEGY FOR EXPLORATION OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM Turning now to strategic planning, the preparation of Roadmaps is a key aspect of the strategic planning process currently adopted by the Office of Space Science (OSS). Their primary purpose is to summarize the scientific objectives and programmatic recommendations put forward by each of OSS's four component groups, or science themes. OSS's four Roadmaps serve as input to the creation of the office's overall strategic plan. At NASA's request, the Board's Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) recently conducted a scientific assessment of the Roadmap for the solar system exploration theme. That Roadmap, Exploration of the Solar System—Science and Mission Strategy, describes plans to address three goals: Explain the formation and evolution of the solar system and of Earth within it; Seek the origin of life and its existence beyond Earth; and Chart our destiny in the solar system. COMPLEX's overall assessment of the program outlined in the Roadmap was mixed. The committee was generally positive about many of the near- and mid-term flight missions and related activities highlighted in the Roadmap because they address priorities outlined in past advisory reports. COMPLEX was particularly pleased to see that: High priority is placed on Mars exploration and that a new initiative relating to Mars sample handling and analysis was proposed; Attention is paid to the Discovery program and the Europa Orbiter and Pluto/Kuiper Express missions; A prominent place is given to a comet nucleus sample-return mission —the highest priority mission advocated by COMPLEX; The proposed program of planetary exploration attempts to systematically address key physical and chemical processes rather than merely cataloging and classifying planetary environments; and An appropriate balance is struck between the broad thematic goals of solar system exploration advocated by the SSB—understanding the origins and evolution of planetary systems and life, and understanding the complex interplay of physical and chemical processes which create the diverse planetary environments seen in the solar system. These positives aside, COMPLEX had a number of concerns about particular aspects of the Roadmap and the program of solar system exploration that it advocates. The report suggests that the document could be strengthened by changes that would: More clearly articulate the scientific objectives of solar system exploration, the critical measurements that must be made to meet these objectives, and how existing or proposed missions will make these measurements; Provide a more thorough scientific justification for both existing and proposed mission lines;
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 Clarify scheduling of, and the rationale for, several of the proposed missions (e.g., Europa Lander, Titan Explorer, and Saturn Ring Observer) relative to the flight programs they logically build on (e.g., Europa Orbiter and Cassini/Huygens); Describe the process by which the roadmap was assembled, the identity of the authoring group, or the means by which the recommended mission sequences were prioritized; Clarify the scientific rationale for some of the proposed mission lines (e.g., “To Build a Planet”) and some of the proposed missions (e.g., the Venus Surface Sample Return mission); Enhance the handling of non-mission activities, such as research and analysis programs and education and public outreach, to better reflect their importance; Sharpen the presentation of important linkages between the Solar System Exploration, Astronomical Search for Origins, and Sun-Earth Connection science themes and Astrobiology; Improve the balance in the discussion of how the goals of Solar System Exploration relate to the Astronomical Search for Origins and the Sun-Earth Connection science themes, on the one hand, and to Astrobiology, on the other; and Add a more detailed discussion of technological issues. COMPLEX's primary finding—that the Roadmap should clearly indicate scientific objectives and the critical measurements that must be made to meet these objectives, should describe how existing or proposed missions will make these measurements, and should indicate relative priorities—reiterated a recommendation made in its assessment of the Roadmap's 1996 edition. Because many of these criticisms result from shortcomings in the Roadmap's structure and format, they should not detract inordinately from the many favorable aspects of the program of planetary exploration missions and supporting activities advocated by NASA. STRATEGIC PLAN OF THE OFFICE OF SPACE SCIENCE You also asked me to comment on the Space Studies Board's review of the draft revision of the NASA Office of Space Science (OSS) strategic plan. OSS has revised its 1997 strategic plan and is in the process of completing the new document for use as part of the agency's overall strategic planning process. At the request of Dr. Edward Weiler, the Associate Administrator for Space Science, the Board has reviewed the draft OSS plan with respect to the following areas: Responsiveness to the prior external guidance on key science issues and opportunities provided in recent Board science strategies; Attention to interdisciplinary aspects and overall scientific balance; Identification and exposition of important opportunities for education and public outreach; Integration of technology development with the science program; and General readability and clarity of presentation. The Board found many aspects of the draft OSS strategic plan to be solidly grounded. For example, the treatment of underlying principles places a priority on scientific merit for program planning and budgeting, and it affirms that the OSS strategy is based on scientific goals. It emphasizes participation by the extramural community in planning, peer review, and research—hallmarks of the strength of the OSS program. The Board also found the sections on recent accomplishments, the current program, and the flight program for 2003 and beyond to be particularly useful. Nevertheless, there are also areas where the plan could be strengthened, and those are addressed in the report. They include attention to methodologies for prioritizing and allocating resources, mapping linkages between goals and objectives and planned flight missions, support of core capabilities of universities, international cooperation, integration of research and data analysis into the strategy, technology infusion and resource allocation, and specificity in plans for education and outreach.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium, the decadal survey report of the National Research Council's Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee (AASC), was released on May 19. The report was presented to NASA for input into the agency 's strategic planning process and was also presented to the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy's Office of Science. The report carries on the astronomy and astrophysics community's tradition of decadal surveys, the most recent of which was the Bahcall committee report of 1991, The Decade of Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The New Millennium report sets out a science strategy that covers both ground and space-based astronomy and astrophysics, taking a unifed perspective on the science. The report details the priorities across the discipline for initiatives, missions, and programs. It makes recommendations concerning astronomy and astrophysics policy, including education, international cooperation, and technology development. The committee worked with nine sub-panels and involved a significant fraction of the astronomy and astrophysics community, including pertinent professional societies and prominent international astronomers. Seven of the nine panels dealt with subdisciplinary areas and each prepared a report that identified the most important scientific goals in their respective areas, prioritized new initiatives needed to achieve those goals, recommended proposals for technology development, considered the possibilities for international collaboration, and discussed relevant policy issues. The committee's report discusses key scientific problems in astronomy: determining the large-scale properties of the universe; studying the dawn of the modern universe; understanding the formation and evolution of black holes of all sizes; studying the formation of stars and their planetary systems, including the birth and evolution of giant and terrestrial planets; and understanding how the astronomical environment affects Earth. The report notes that theorists can help guide the choice of instruments and the interpretation of data, and recommends that one or more Theory Challenges be integrated into most major initiatives to focus attention on project-related theoretical problems. The report also calls for balancing new initiatives with ongoing programs from the previous survey report (such as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility and the Space Interferometry Mission), strengthening ground-based astronomy and astrophysics, ensuring the diversity of NASA missions, coordinating programs among federal agencies (including NASA, NSF, and DOE), and collaborating with international partners. Education is a major item in the report. The recommendations are for improving the opportunities for astronomers to engage in outreach to the K-12 community, to establish astronomy and education department partnerships at a few universities, to develop exemplary science courses for pre-service teachers, to improve coordination among federal programs funding educational initiatives in astronomy, and to improve public understanding of the achievements of all NSF-funded science and facilities. The priorities for major space missions, in order, are the Next Generation Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, followed by Constellation-X, a multi-satellite x-ray telescope. These were followed by the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF), an ambitious mission that could begin at the end of the decade, and a Single-Aperture Far Infrared Observatory (SAFIR). Each of these missions offers unique and powerful capabilities. The best available estimate of cost to the federal government for this category is $2.1 billion, which includes full costs for all initiatives (except TPF and SAFIR, for which only estimates of costs through 2010 are included). In the moderate scale category, the top-ranked mission is the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope, which will study extremely energetic phenomena, followed by the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, a gravitational-wave detector of unprecedented sensitivity. The study of the Sun, which is important both scientifically and economically, will be carried out by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Next are the Energetic X-ray Imaging Survey Telescope and a mission to conduct Advanced Radio Interferometry between space and Earth, both of which will provide high-resolution images in their respective wavelengths. The estimate of costs for this category is $1.35 billion. In the small program category, the top priority is the creation of a National Virtual Observatory (NVO). The NVO will integrate major astronomical data archives into a database accessible via the Internet with standards and tools for data exploration. Other small program priorities are the Advanced Cosmic-ray Composition Experiment for the Space Station, augmentation of the NASA Astrophysics Theory Program, the Laboratory Astrophysics Program, the National Theory Postdoctoral Program, and the Ultra-Long-Duration Balloon Program. The estimate
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 of costs for the small program category is $264 million. The estimated total for these space-based initiatives, excluding technology development, is $3.714 billion. CONCLUDING THOUGHTS Let me add a few general observations based on my six years of experience as Chair of the Space Studies Board and nine years of service on the NASA Advisory Council. One of the most important challenges that we have faced since the dawn of the space age is how best to maintain a vigorous and healthy interaction between all the players in space research. This is a subtle issue that deals with the very institutional fabric of the U.S. space research community. This community includes NASA, both headquarters and field centers, universities and industries. Many forces affect the interrelationship of these entities; the adjustment to faster-better-cheaper missions and how NASA deals with technology development are certainly important among them. Another is how to adapt and improve past modalities for international cooperation to the faster-paced tempo of current space missions. The latter has become especially tricky recently because the heightened concerns about export controls of commercial spacecraft have had the presumably unintended consequence of hampering or even inhibiting the kinds of mutually beneficial international research efforts that have been so successful in space science. I am convinced that future success of the space research enterprise, like the success of the past, depends on healthy relationships among these entities. I feel personally that NASA could play a stronger role in fostering the greater research community, more as the National Science Foundation does for many scientific disciplines. I am pleased that NASA Administrator Goldin has come to a similar conclusion and our Board has been pleased to interact with Gen. Sam Armstrong (ret.), who has recently been charged with addressing this issue. The problem of export controls may also require renewed cooperation by other agencies, such as the Departments of State and Commerce, OSTP and the Congress, and I am glad that this too is now receiving their attention. As to the question of strategic planning I would like to state my own thoughts about the process. NASA's roadmaps and strategic plans are prepared by the agency in close consultation with the scientific community, particularly through NASA's chartered advisory committees. For several years, NASA has then asked the Space Studies Board, whose membership is independent and includes many individuals with no connections to NASA, to review draft versions of the plans in the context of the Board's past strategies and assessments. I believe that this process has been effective in optimizing the scientific research program of the agency, which should be commended for adhering closely to such an open process. How NASA pursues new technologies is one area where this process could be strengthened, as noted in the reports transmitted with this testimony. With your permission I will close with a very personal statement. It has been a great privilege for me to work with many hundreds of dedicated scientists who serve as volunteers for the National Research Council and dozens of talented NRC staff. I have also felt that the nation is very fortunate to have an agency like NASA staffed with so many extraordinarily dedicated and skilled engineers, managers, and scientists. Whatever their triumphs and occasional tragedies, their devotion to the highest goals of space exploration cannot be questioned. Last, but by no means least, I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and your fellow members past and present for your unwavering, though not uncritical, support of our nation's space research enterprise. Thank you, again, Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee today. I am sure that my successor, as chair of the Board, and the entire Board membership stand ready to provide any assistance that you might seek in the future. APPENDIX Space Studies Board Reports 1998-2000 Published in 2000 Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for NASA's Earth and Space Science Missions Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium Federal Funding of Astronomical Research Future Biotechnology Research on the International Space Station Issues in the Integration of Research and Operational Satellite Systems for Climate Research: I. Science and Design Preventing the Forward Contamination of Europa
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 Review of NASA's Biomedical Research Program Review of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise Research Strategy for 2000-2010 Space Studies Board Annual Report—1999 The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs “Scientific Assessment of Exploration of the Solar System—Science and Mission Strategy,” letter to Dr. Carl Pilcher, NASA's science program for Solar System Exploration (April 21) “Review of Scientific Aspects of the NASA Triana Mission,” letter to Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar, associate administrator for NASA 's Office of Earth Science (March 3) “Continuing Assessment of Technology Development in NASA's Office of Space Science,” letter to Dr. Edward J. Weiler, associate administrator for NASA 's Office of Space Science (March 15) “On Scientific Assessment of Options for the Disposition of the Galileo Spacecraft,” letter to Dr. John D. Rummel, planetary protection officer for NASA's Office of Space Science (June 28) “Review of NASA's Office of Space Science Strategic Plan 2000,” letter to Dr. Edward J. Weiler, associate administrator for NASA 's Office of Space Science (June 1, 2000) Published in 1999 Institutional Arrangements for Space Station Research Radiation and the International Space Station: Recommendations to Reduce Risk A Science Strategy for the Exploration of Europa A Scientific Rationale for Mobility in Planetary Environments Size Limits of Very Small Microorganisms: Proceedings of a Workshop Space Studies Board Annual Report—1998 U.S.-European-Japanese Workshop on Space Cooperation: Summary Report “On Antarctic Astronomy,” letter to Dr. Hugh Van Horn, director of NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences, and Dr. Karl Erb, director of NSF's Office of Polar Programs (August 19) “Assessment of NASA's Plans for Post-2002 Earth Observing Missions,” letter to Dr. Ghassem Asrar, NASA's Associate Administrator for Earth Science (April 8) “On the National Science Foundation's Facility Instrumentation Program,” letter to Dr. Hugh Van Horn, director of NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences (June 2) Published in 1998 Assessment of Technology Development in NASA's Office of Space Science Development and Application of Small Spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radars Evaluating the Biological Potential in Samples Returned from Planetary Satellites and Small Solar System Bodies: Framework for Decision Making The Exploration of Near-Earth Objects Exploring the Trans-Neptunian Solar System Failed Stars and Super Planets: A Report Based on the January 1998 Workshop on Substellar-Mass Objects Ground-based Solar Research: An Assessment and Strategy for the Future Readiness for the Upcoming Solar Maximum Report of the Workshop on Biology-based Technology to Enhance Human Well-being and Function in Extended Space Exploration Space Studies Board Annual Report—1997 A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century Supporting Research and Data Analysis in NASA's Science Programs: Engines for Innovation and Synthesis U.S.-European Collaboration in Space Science “On ESA's FIRST and Planck Missions,” letter to Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., NASA associate administrator for space science (February 18) “On Climate Change Research Measurements from NPOESS,” letter to Dr. Ghassem Asar, associate administrator for NASA's Office of Earth Science, and Mr. Robert S. Winokur, director of NOAA's National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (May 27)
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2000 “Assessment of NASA's Mars Exploration Architecture,” letter to Dr. Carl Pilcher, science program director for NASA's Solar System Exploration Division (November 11) Biography of Claude R. Canizares Professor Canizares is the Bruno Rossi Professor of Experimental Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and director of the Center for Space Research. He is a principal investigator on NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, leading the development of the High Resolution Transmission Grating Spectrometer for this major space observatory, and is associate director of the Chandra X-ray Observatory Center. He has also worked on several other space astronomy missions, including as co-investigator on the Einstein Observatory (HEAO-2). His main research interests are high-resolution spectroscopy and plasma diagnostics of supernova remnants and clusters of galaxies, cooling flows in galaxies and clusters, x-ray studies of dark matter, x-ray properties of quasars and active galactic nuclei, and gravitational lenses. He is a former member of the NASA Advisory Council, is former chair of the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Associated Universities Inc. and the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and formerly chaired NASA's Space Science Advisory Committee. Professor Canizares received the B.A., A.M., and Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University. He came to MIT as a postdoctoral fellow in 1971 and joined the faculty in 1974, progressing to professor of physics in 1984. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the International Academy of Astronautics, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Professor Canizares has authored or co-authored more than 145 scientific papers.
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