NASA ESMD Managers Information Packet: A New Space Enterprise

Status Report From: NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate
Posted: Monday, April 26, 2010




We sent out a manager information packet March 26 to give you accurate FY 2011 budget request information. In the interest of providing you with the most current information possible, we want to send you this update on the study teams and their progress. More information will follow as we know it.

On Feb. 1, 2010, the President released the FY 2011 Budget Request. The budget proposes several exciting new programs that seek to foster a sustainable human space exploration enterprise. Although our philosophy and approach to exploration will change, our fundamental goal remains the same: to send human explorers into the solar system to stay.

We invite you to read below about the study teams that have been formed to develop strategies for the proposed new programs. Plans will continue to evolve with the next step of House and Senate appropriations. In addition, the President's speech outlined the addition of an initial Orion build to be used as a crew rescue vehicle at ISS. We are working diligently now to incorporate this exciting news into our plans. To learn more about the FY 2011 budget and get the latest status updates, please visit

NASA's workforce remains the agency's greatest asset. Our key goal is to execute our challenging and exciting new missions utilizing our skill base, and ensuring the viability of its strategic core competencies. Times of change and uncertainty can cause a lot of stress, so the Agency and ESMD will continue communication and planning. Our intent is to keep our valuable workforce informed as much as possible about what is going on.


Enabling Technology Development and Demonstration (ETDD)
Led by Chris Moore

The Enabling Technology Development and Demonstration (ETDD) Study Team is formulating plans to develop exploration technologies to a maturity point at which they can be demonstrated in small ground and flight test experiments. Successfully tested technology prototypes will be transferred to other NASA exploration programs and projects for validation of key capabilities.

ETDD Objectives:

  • Develop and demonstrate prototype systems to support exploration goals.
  • Develop long-range, critical technologies to provide the foundation for a broad set of future exploration capabilities.
  • Provide infusion path for promising, game-changing technologies developed by Space Technology Program in the Office of the Chief Technologist.
  • Assess the feasibility of system and operational concepts resulting from architectural studies by building and testing proof-of-concept systems.
  • Develop exploration technologies that may also have terrestrial applications for clean energy and protecting the environment.
Commercial Crew and Transportation Development (CCTP)
Led by Phil McAlister

The Commercial Crew and Cargo (CCC) Study Team plans to expedite and improve robustness of current COTS solutions. The study team will also draft a human ratings requirements document and develop a plan that supports the development of commercial crew transportation providers to whom NASA could competitively award a crew transportation services contract.
  • Commercial Cargo: Additional funding in FY11 to accelerate the achievement of already-planned milestones or introduce new milestones that would ultimately improve mission success
  • Crew: Use a COTS-like approach to support the development of commercial crew transportation providers to whom NASA could competitively award a crew transportation services contract much like the Commercial Resupply Services contract for cargo
  • NASA will set standards and have appropriate insight/oversight to ensure that all systems meet the agency's human-rating requirements to maintain the necessary level of safety
Flagship Technology Demonstrations (FTD)
Led by Michael Conley

The Flagship Technology Demonstrations (FTD) Study Team is studying ways to demonstrate transformational technologies in space to achieve operational readiness for future human exploration missions.

Some examples of these game-changing technologies include:
  • advanced solar and nuclear propulsion systems that can achieve an Earth-Mars transit in weeks instead of months;
  • in-space storage and transfer of propellants that could be used to refuel/resupply mission assets;
  • light-weight and/or inflatable structures for habitats, spacecraft, and re-entry systems;
  • closed-loop environmental conditioning and life support systems that efficiently and reliably recycle liquid and gaseous products in a micro-gravity environment;
  • automated systems that can reliably rendezvous & dock spacecraft and manage interplanetary mission systems from launch to landing;
  • self healing structures that can automatically repair themselves due to damage from micrometeoroids and orbital debris; and
  • robotic systems that can autonomously construct structures, perform maintenance, and execute complicated repairs in space or in hostile planetary environments.
  • aerocapture, and/or entry, descent and landing (EDL) technology; involving the development and demonstration of systems technologies for precision landing of payloads on "high-g" and "low-g" planetary bodies, returning humans or collected samples to Earth, and enabling orbital insertion in various atmospheric conditions.
Exploration Precursor Robotic Missions (xPRM)
Led by Jay Jenkins

The Exploration Precursor Robotic Missions (xPRM) Study Team is formulating plans to conduct a series of robotic precursor missions to scout targets for future human exploration. Potential destinations may include the moon, Mars and its moons, lagrange points and nearby asteroids. The xRPM effort consists of two Programs: the Exploration Precursor Robotic Program (xPRP) and the Exploration Scout Program (xScout). xPRP will consist of three program elements: Flight missions which are generally $800M or less to investigate priority needs of human exploration, Instrument Development for partnering on non-xPRP missions to conduct Exploration investigations,and Research and Analysis to translate flight data into strategic knowledge for Exploration. The xScout program will consist of small ($100M to $200M) flight missions which are openly competed and PI-ledTogether these two programs will conduct precursor investigations in support of human exploration which will:
  • Identify the engineering boundary conditions associated with the environments of human exploration beyond LEO.
  • Indentify hazards (to ensure safety)
  • Identify resources (to facilitate sustainability, lower launch mass, and "living off the land")
  • Provide knowledge to inform the selection of Human Exploration destinations
  • xPRM will also provide a flight platform for technology flight demonstrations which support human exploration.
Additionally in executing these programs the xPRM effort will:
  • identify complementary objectives and leverage dual-use opportunities within NASA and with other government agencies;
  • foster competition in mission, payload and investigation selections;
  • foster opportunities for international collaborations that benefit human exploration; and
  • foster participatory exploration opportunities.
Heavy Lift and Propulsion Technologies (HLPT)
Led by Cris Guidi

NASA is taking a new approach to long-term exploration goals by strengthening technology development and laying the ground work for heavy lift liquid chemical propulsion systems to more efficiently further and sustain the course of human exploration through affordable space launches.

The Heavy Lift and Propulsion Technology (HLPT) Study Team was established to formulate plans to improve performance and flexibility of the nation's current heavy lift propulsion capabilities. Initial planning includes research and development of liquid chemical first stage launch propulsion, in-space engine demonstration and foundational propulsion research.

The HLPT Study Team has outlined key objectives that will make it possible for NASA and the nation to affordably explore multiple destinations, including the moon, asteroids, Lagrange points, and Mars and its environs.

This approach is designed with strategic goals that will create sustainable liquid chemical propulsion capabilities for NASA and for the nation -- capabilities that are:
  • Affordable: reduce the annual cost of propulsion systems to enable multiple missions with multiple customers
  • Resilient: provide innovative research and development of chemical propulsion elements to enable heavy space lift, space transfer, and descent/ascent for multiple destinations
  • Transformational: create a competitive environment of multiple and emerging suppliers across the supply chain for improved capability and reduced cost (robust and right-sized industry base)
  • Available: demonstrate robust, low cost propulsion systems for operational readiness
  • Mutually beneficial: partner with the Department of Defense and commercial space launch companies to reap the benefits of economies of scale from a common national engine
  • Innovative: create opportunities for business, entrepreneurial companies and academia and engage the public in participating in this journey
Human Research
Led by Steve Davison

The Human Research Study Team activities will identify ways to enhance work that NASA is already performing in the area of human research as a result of a budget augmentation.

Top priorities include:
  • Biomedical technologies with advanced medical care capabilities and bioinformatics to be integrated into the International Space Station to demonstrate a remote medical suite appropriate for long-duration space missions
  • Innovative biomedical technologies to enable novel solutions to the challenges of human spaceflight with potential Earth applications
  • Space radiation research to reduce the uncertainty of radiation risks to space explorers in the areas of carcinogenesis, central nervous system disease, degenerative tissue effects, and acute radiation syndromes (coordinate with Space Radiation Protection Project under ETDD)
  • Behavioral health research that enhances the portfolio related to behavioral factors and physiological implications of long-duration missions
Constellation Transition (CxT)
Led by John Olson

Following the release of the FY 2011 President's Budget Request on Feb 1, 2010, which proposes the cancellation of the Constellation Program (CxP), NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate established the Constellation Transition (CxT) Study Team.

The team is comprised of NASA experts in the areas of workforce, contracts, facilities and infrastructure, property and hardware, risk and knowledge management, records management, security, IT, communications and partnerships.

The purpose of this CxT Study Team is to:
  • Capture the current state of the CxP; study and outline the transition plans, actions, and processes to cancel the CxP, if and when authorized by Congress;
  • Identify the strategic capabilities available and necessary to safely and efficiently develop human spaceflight systems and conduct successful mission operations.
Participatory Exploration (PE)
Led by Kathy Nado

The Participatory Exploration (PE) study team is assembled with the objective of creating a Participatory Exploration Office. The Office shall support and coordinate programs, projects, and activities across the agency that will advance the state-of-the-art and facilitate many opportunities for people to engage and collaborate in NASA's exploration goals.

The PE office would:
  • Support research in new technologies that can increase public participation;
  • Coordinate NASA-wide efforts to incorporate participatory exploration into future missions;
  • Act as a clearinghouse for identifying and communicating best practices; and
  • Enable NASA to be a more open and accessible agency so that the public can feel they contribute to exploration and understand the influence NASA has on their everyday lives.
Participatory exploration is actively engaging the public in partnership and collaboration, sharing with them the excitement and value of the agency's mission, and tapping their creativity and capabilities to enhance NASA's goals of discovery.

Participatory exploration embodies far more than simply exposing people to, or educating them about NASA's discoveries and exploration activities; it also recognizes citizens as capable, creative individuals who can advance NASA's mission of discovery.

// end //

More status reports and news releases or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.