Status Report

NASA Advisory Council (NAC) Recommedations from 10 July 2002 Meeting

By SpaceRef Editor
September 6, 2002
Filed under ,

NASA Advisory Council

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Washington, DC  20546

September 6, 2002

Mr. Sean O’Keefe


National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Washington, DC 20546

Dear Mr. O’Keefe:

The NASA Advisory Council (NAC) assembled in person and by telephone on July 10, 2002 to hear Dr. Rae Silver present the report of the Research Maximization and Prioritization (ReMaP) Task Force.  This formal briefing was the NAC’s first opportunity to examine and discuss the report, which we will examine in detail at our meeting on September 10-11, 2002, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  We will formally advise NASA of our findings after that meeting; in the meantime, we are pleased to transmit to you the ReMaP report, August 2002, and the minutes of the July 10, 2002, meeting.  We also identified some issues that will need to be considered during the September 11 NAC meeting.

The ReMaP Task Force was given a difficult task to accomplish in a very short time.  The NAC would like to commend the members of the Task Force for their concentrated and serious effort, which will advance the Nation’s space research agenda.  In particular, the NAC would like to thank the Task Force’s co-chairs, Dr. Rae Silver and Dr. David Shirley, for their evident leadership.  Their presentation to the NAC was a model of clarity and honesty, and the NAC believes they conveyed an accurate understanding of how the Task Force approached the difficult issues before it. 

It is important to understand what the ReMaP Task Force was and was not asked to do, and what part of its assigned tasks it was able to achieve in the time available.

The ReMaP Task Force was asked to prioritize the research programs within NASA’s Office of Biological and Physical Research (OBPR) according to scientific excellence without regard to financial or operational considerations.  The Task Force was well constituted for this task, and after much consideration, it identified 15 OBPR programs, about half of the total number, as first priority.  In addition, the Task Force recommended that OBPR reorganize the management of its scientific programs around key scientific questions, rather than disciplines as at present.

The ReMaP Task Force did not develop a focused plan for research on the International Space Station (ISS) that is consistent with the US Core Complete configuration, and from this plan, assess the scientific potential of evolution beyond that configuration.  The Task Force also did not consider candidate research programs for ISS originating outside OBPR.

It is essential that NASA continue the work initiated by the ReMaP Task Force without delay.  To that end, the NAC requests NASA be prepared to present its views on the three issues listed below at the September 11 meeting of the NAC.

(1) OBPR needs to further prioritize the research programs within the category 1 identified by the ReMaP Task Force.

(2) OBPR should identify and prioritize key scientific questions around which it can organize the management of its research portfolio

(3) NASA needs to develop a multi-year, temporally phased, plan for ISS science in the US Core Complete and the “U.S. Core Complete plus International Partners” configurations.  This plan should be developed in concert with efforts to resolve the issues identified in (1) and (2) above, as well as from consideration of potential scientific objectives originating outside OBPR.

The NAC notes that, absent even a conceptual plan for ISS science in the U.S. Core Complete configuration, statements about the relative scientific potential of ISS development beyond U.S. Core Complete are missing an important element of rigor.

In closing, more than ever the NAC perceives how essential it will be to achieve the maximum possible scientific potential of the International Space Station. It has dedicated much of its attention to that goal, and will continue to do so.  We look forward to our next meeting, and hearing how NASA intends to respond to the recommendations and challenges set forth in the ReMaP Task Force report.


Charles F. Kennel, Chair

NASA Advisory Council

PS:  The NAC also heard an excellent presentation by Paul Pastorek about its proposed reorganization.  The NAC would like to thank him for his extensive research, which goes a long way to addressing the issues raised earlier.  The NAC hopes to bring to a close its considerations of its own organization at an executive session during the September 11, meeting.

SpaceRef staff editor.