Recommendation 6-1. NASA should establish a well defined management structure for the human support programs and forthrightly inform NASA personnel. OLMSA should then proceed with these programs to meet the unique needs for human support technologies for future crewed missions beyond low Earth orbit.
Finding. Requirements for technology development should be predicated on carefully developed reference missions and systems analysis to determine functional requirements. There are many good existing design reference mission studies that could be adapted and used by all programs.
Recommendation 6-2. OLMSA should not expend significant resources to develop new reference missions but should increase the use of systems analysis and modeling tools.
Finding. Current funding levels (less than $20 million annually for all four OLMSA programs) are clearly not high enough to support R&D on all of the technologies for human space exploration. As long as funding remains at or near current levels, the committee believes that little progress will be made unless programs are narrowly focused and prioritized to meet the key technology needs in each area.
Recommendation 6-3. The roles and tasks of all groups (NASA and non-NASA) involved in human support research and development sponsored by NASA should be clearly defined and prioritized. Program resources should only be allocated to those projects that address the highest priority technology needs for future missions. NASA should direct its limited resources for research in areas where advances are unlikely to be made by others.
Recommendation 6-4. Systems analysis approaches should be included in ongoing and future processes to determine the highest priority technologies for human support in space.
Recommendation 6-5. Periodic NASA Research Announcements calling for proposals from prospective researchers in topics related to human support in space should clearly identify the high priority areas in each program. The selection process should give added weight to proposals that are most relevant to the high priority areas defined in the announcements.
Recommendation 6-6. Spin-off technologies should be transferred outside of OLMSA as appropriate, but only as dividends from a project aimed at furthering NASA objectives. Technology transfer should not become a major emphasis of these small technology development programs.