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NASA Strategic Management Council Meeting 2 November 2006: Status of the Exploration Strategy and Architecture Activities

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Monday, February 26, 2007

Fourth Item of Business: Status of the Exploration Strategy and Architecture Activities

Doug Cooke, ESMD Deputy Associate Administrator, provided the status of the directorate's activities to develop the lunar exploration strategy as a preview to the program's presentation at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Second Space Exploration Conference to be held in Houston, December 4-6, 2006.

- Cooke showed the flow from Agency goals to the architecture and strategy.

- He described year-long effort to solicit international input to lunar exploration through a series of meetings and open workshops, resulting in discreet strategic themes and 180 specific objectives grouped in 23 categories.

- He presented major questions driving the lunar exploration strategy, and US intentions for lunar exploration: to enable an extended US lunar presence and prepare for human missions to Mars, and preserve strategic US capabilities in launch vehicles and communications/navigation while leaving other architecture elements open for collaboration with international partners and commercial interests.

- Cooke identified a two-phase process intended to define early missions sufficiently to enable progress while engaging in a longer-term effort to iterate the overall architecture with international partners.

- The Lunar Architecture Team determined that the optimal approach is to develop an outpost, rather than sortie missions to different locations, and showed how this approach addresses US lunar exploration goals.

- Cooke then stepped through a series of charts showing the team's recommendation for a polar landing site, a notional lander, manifests with and without cargo landers, crew stay times and lander capabilities for a number of different lunar sites.

- Cooke closed with a description of the proposed lunar architecture and a summary of the work done to date and planned for the first half of 2007.

Griffin reaffirmed that aspects of our exploration program central to national interests will not be open to collaboration with international partners. Members discussed the difference between an international contribution or collaboration and purchasing a system from a foreign firm. Cooke stated that the final proposed architecture presented at the December conference will provide the basis for ongoing discussion with potential international partners. Members commented on the flexibility of the strategy to support longer range lunar objectives or human expeditions to Mars. Griffin stated that NASA cannot develop top level requirements for a Mars mission, but wants to have a draft of top level architectural requirements to use in shaping lunar activities. Chief of Safety and Mission Assurance Bryan posed the question: how would NASA's lunar architecture differ if the Agency's sole intent at the Moon was to support expeditions to Mars? Griffin stated that the current architecture keeps options open for later decisions consistent with policy direction and that it leaves open the possibility that there may be strategic or economic value to be derived from US lunar exploration and operations.

SMC Action: ESMD, in cooperation with Deputy Administrator and the Office of External Relations, will vet possible candidates for international partner contributions to the lunar exploration program with other federal agencies, as appropriate, before the December exploration workshop.

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