of activity for each vehicle research program would be on the order of $30 million to $50 million total per vehicle over a 3-year period—that is, $10 million to $15 million per vehicle per year. The priority focused programs should be drawn from the research areas identified by the 2006 NRC decadal survey of civil aeronautics, in order to achieve progress for fundamental aeronautics as well as other relevant related military requirements. To implement this recommendation without additional funding for ARMD, NASA should phase out the majority of its lower-priority aeronautics activities.
The committee notes that “focused, integrated, higher-risk, higher-payoff, and interdisciplinary programs” does not mean “aircraft” or “vehicles.” Indeed, a new program, such as one to advance research in an area such as UASs in the National Air Space, could require several relatively small UAVs. Furthermore, new innovative air vehicles do not have to be piloted, nor do they have to be “flagship” class, but they could be relatively small unmanned systems. Finally, the committee concluded that additional funding for aeronautics could enable more of these programs (i.e., four to five) to be selected and implemented, but that it is possible to begin making progress by re-prioritizing and phasing out lower-priority aeronautics activities.
The purpose of introducing new and innovative vehicles is to enable NASA to return to its role of fostering advances in U.S. aeronautics, as established in the agency’s original charter, which is something that NASA cannot achieve without actually reviving its once active and productive flight research capabilities.
The basis for this recommendation is further illuminated in the chapters that follow, which focus on a subset of the agency’s numerous aeronautics research programs and discuss the value of focusing them on a few higher-risk and higher-payoff programs with a path to flight research.