Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA's declining research facilities could prevent agency from meeting important mission goals, report finds

Date:
May 12, 2010
Source:
National Academies
Summary:
NASA's abilities to meet major mission goals such as advancing aeronautics, exploring the outer planets, and understanding the beginnings of the universe are being seriously jeopardized by a steady and significant decrease in the agency's basic research capabilities, says a new report from the National Research Council. Congress and NASA should provide the support necessary for needed equipment and services to conduct fundamental high-quality research.

NASA's abilities to meet major mission goals such as advancing aeronautics, exploring the outer planets, and understanding the beginnings of the universe are being seriously jeopardized by a steady and significant decrease in the agency's basic research capabilities, says a new report from the National Research Council. Congress and NASA should provide the support necessary for needed equipment and services to conduct fundamental high-quality research.

Related Articles


"Solid basic research has always been a critical component for advancing NASA's missions," said John T. Best, co-chair of the committee that wrote the report and technical director of the Plans and Programs Directorate at Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee. "To ensure future success, it's imperative that NASA restore and maintain its basic research laboratories."

The report examines laboratories at Goddard Space Flight Center, Glenn Research Center, Langley Research Center, Ames Research Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. With the exception of a new science building at Goddard, over 80 percent of the research laboratories at these facilities are more than 40 years old and need significant annual maintenance and upgrades. Laboratory equipment and services are inadequate to address immediate and long-term research needs, and the agency is increasingly relying on contractors to support the labs and facilities.

"These research capabilities have taken years to develop and depend on highly competent and experienced personnel and infrastructure," said Joseph B. Reagan, co-chair of the committee and retired corporate vice president, Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md. "Without adequate resources, laboratories can deteriorate very quickly and will not be easily reconstituted. Yet despite all the challenges, we found the majority of researchers remained dedicated to their work and focused on NASA's future."

NASA's deferred maintenance budget has grown from $1.77 billion in 2004 to $2.46 billion in 2009, presenting a "staggering" repair and maintenance bill for the future, the report says. Facilities typically require more maintenance than current funding permits, and NASA is spending well below accepted industry guidelines on annual maintenance, repairs, and upgrades. The lack of timely maintenance presents safety issues, particularly with large, high-powered equipment. NASA should find a solution to these issues before any catastrophic failures occur that could seriously impact missions and research operations, the report says.

To restore these laboratories, NASA should strike a better balance of funding and leadership between long-term research and development and short-term mission programs, the report says. These areas would be improved if they were managed separately. In recent years, administrative and budgeting changes have led to a substantial reduction of long-term investment in fundamental technology.

NASA should improve the quality and equipment of its basic research laboratories to make them at least comparable with those at the U.S. departments of Energy and Defense, top-tier universities, and corporate laboratories, the report says. A strategy to ensure continuity and retention of technical knowledge is also needed, especially if the agency continues to rely on contractors to support the labs and facilities. In particular, NASA should increase resources to its aeronautics labs and facilities. Funding for NASA's aeronautics programs has been reduced by 48 percent from fiscal years 2005 to 2009, impeding NASA's ability to advance U.S. technological leadership in this area.

The report -- "Capabilities for the Future -- An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research" -- can be found at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12903


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Academies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Academies. "NASA's declining research facilities could prevent agency from meeting important mission goals, report finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100512073609.htm>.
National Academies. (2010, May 12). NASA's declining research facilities could prevent agency from meeting important mission goals, report finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100512073609.htm
National Academies. "NASA's declining research facilities could prevent agency from meeting important mission goals, report finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100512073609.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) China launched an experimental spacecraft Friday to fly around the moon and back to Earth in preparation for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins