Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in Competed Space Mission Leadership at NASA Will Require Extensive Efforts Along Entire Career Pathways, Says New Report

WASHINGTON (National Academis PR) – NASA should continue to bolster its efforts to increase diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in leadership of competed space science missions, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report outlines both near- and long-term actions that NASA should take to meet its stated diversity and inclusion goals, such as expanding mentorship and mission-related training opportunities; improving data collection, monitoring, and reporting; and investing in STEM pathways, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

NASA identifies critical scientific needs for a mission by releasing a public announcement of opportunity. Members of the scientific community can apply to these competitively selected opportunities, with teams led by a principal investigator (PI). The mission PI role requires a wide array of experience in the scientific research field, including mission design and operation knowledge and team leadership and management skills.

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‘New Space Ecosystem’ Should Be Leveraged to Provide Transformative Science Advancements, Says New Report

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — Commercial advances in launch capability and the ability to build spacecraft more rapidly and affordably has led to a paradigm shift in the space industry that U.S. government agencies should leverage to support a wide range of science missions, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 

In the last decade, the emergence of small satellites weighing less than 600 kilograms — known as SmallSats — has helped bring about a “New Space ecosystem,” according to the report. This ecosystem is marked by lower barriers of entry along with agile commercial organizations with higher risk tolerance and a focus on increased, rapid, and affordable access to space. Forty percent of all SmallSats launched in the past 10 years were launched in 2020, dominated by SpaceX, Starlink and OneWeb satellites.

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National Academies Report Identifies New Approach for Some NASA Missions to Prevent Contaminating Mars with Earth-Based Microbes

Séítah From the Air: This image looking west toward the Séítah geologic unit on Mars was taken from the height of 33 feet (10 meters) by NASA’s Ingenuity Mars helicopter during its sixth flight, on May 22, 2021. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies criteria that could allow robotic missions to certain locations on Mars to be carried out with less restrictive “bioburden” requirements, which are designed to prevent the unintentional transport of Earth-based microbes to Mars.

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Executive Summary, Findings & Recommendations from National Academies Report on Space Nuclear Propulsion

FIGURE 2.1 Photo of a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system from the Rover/NERVA programs (left) and a cutaway schematic with labels (right). SOURCE: M. Houts et. al., NASA’s Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Project, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, August 2018, ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/20180006514.

Space Nuclear Propulsion for Human Mars Exploration
National Academics of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
National Academies Press
2021

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate requested the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to convene an ad hoc committee to identify primary technical and programmatic challenges, merits, and risks for developing and demonstrating space nuclear propulsion technologies of interest to future exploration missions. The particular systems of interest were specified as nuclear thermal propulsion and nuclear electric propulsion systems. The committee was also tasked with determining the key milestones, a top-level development and demonstration roadmap, and other missions that could be enabled by successful development of these systems.

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For Humans to Reach Mars, Advances Are Needed in Space Nuclear Propulsion Technologies

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — Using nuclear propulsion technologies to support a human mission to Mars in 2039 will require NASA to pursue an aggressive and urgent technology development program, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

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