A Technology Plan for Enabling Commercial Space BusinessThe National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Advanced Space Transportation Program is a customer driven, focused technology program that supports the NASA Strategic Plan and considers future commercial space business projections. The initial cycle of the Advanced Space Transportation Program implementation planning was conducted from December 1995 through February 1996 and represented increased NASA emphasis on broad base technology development with the goal of dramatic reductions in the cost of space transportation. The second planning cycle, conducted in January and February 1997, updated the program implementation plan based on changes in the external environment, increased maturity of advanced concept studies, and current technology assessments. The program has taken a business-like approach to technology development with a balanced portfolio of near, medium, and long-term strategic targets. Strategic targets are influenced by Earth science, space science, and exploration objectives as well as commercial space markets. Commercial space markets include those that would be enhanced by lower cost transportation as well as potential markets resulting in major increases in space business induced by reductions in transportation cost. The program plan addresses earth-to-orbit space launch, earth orbit operations and deep space systems. It also addresses all critical transportation system elements; including structures, thermal protection systems, propulsion, avionics, and operations. As these technologies are matured, integrated technology flight experiments such as the X-33 and X-34 flight demonstrator programs support near-term (one to five years) development or operational decisions. The Advanced Space Transportation Program and the flight demonstrator programs combine business planning, ground-based technology demonstrations and flight demonstrations that will permit industry and NASA to commit to revolutionary new space transportation systems beginning at the turn of the century and continuing far into the future.
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Lyles, Garry M. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL United States)