Resolving competition between researchers and the development team

Application to building a near-term spacefaring logistics infrastructure

With regard to building near-term spacefaring logistics infrastructure, the Spacefaring America Initiative’s success criteria is to establish new operational capabilities without unacceptable cost or delay.  The focus is on the use of mature technologies (TRL 6-9) and “third best” solutions. Hence, to successfully implement this plan, the chief system architect and chief system engineer responsible for establishing the systems architecture and selecting the preferred system designs must be unconstrained in selecting the technologies that will be incorporated into the infrastructure systems.     

Is this bad news for the technology development community? No, quite the opposite. Today, the American space program is largely stagnant with respect to needing new spacefaring logistics technologies. As the following essays highlight, the construction of this infrastructure will open the door to substantial and continuing opportunities for inserting new technologies. The Spacefaring America Initiative is a WIN-WIN solution for both the research community and the system development community, but only if the actual building of the infrastructure begins. Therefore, while it is important that the development community have full knowledge of the technology solutions available and embrace those that make engineering sense, it is equally important that the advocacy for specific technologies not cross the line by forcing these technologies onto the system development critical path. That decision is one to be made by the system development team.

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