Status Report

One NASA Idea Continues at JPL

By SpaceRef Editor
April 25, 2003
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Murphy points out four framed documents hanging on the
wall of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory director’s conference
room. “The goal is to have JPL and the other centers
interact as one NASA,” he states. “Where we used to
compete with each other we are now working together.”

manages Intercenter Alliance Development at JPL, Pasadena,
Calif. He has been working in the spirit of One NASA
for the last few years, forging collaborative alliances
that proactively look for new initiatives in space research
and development. The four documents on the conference
room wall illustrate the collaborative agreements he
helped develop between JPL and Langley Research Center
in Hampton, Va.; Ames Research Center in Moffett Field,
Calif.; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio; and
Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

in 2000, specific technology leadership within NASA
was consolidated at various centers, with little overlap.
Murphy was managing Space Mission Technology Development
at the time at JPL. Looking at the changes going on
within the agency he realized that it would be very
difficult to develop mission-needed technology in this
new environment. There were also more pressures on JPL
to not do everything itself. In addition, revolutionary
technology infusion was being demanded in JPL missions
at no greater overall risk or cost. He saw a need to
start collaborating with other centers in order to develop
the needed complete technology package for JPL missions.

identified LaRC, ARC, GRC and MSFC as the centers with
the best immediate potential for joint activities with
JPL. His idea was to build an interdependent relationship
with each of these centers to use their research and
technology development capabilities in JPL’s space and
Earth science flight missions. He put together a proposal
and, on January 24, 2001, he met with the JPL Executive
Council. If JPL more actively collaborated with these
centers to do research and development for technology
it would enable JPL to do better science. The EC was

was asked to establish these four collaborative alliances.
LaRC signed the first alliance agreement on February
21, 2002. The other agreements were finalized by the
end of that year. These alliances require minimal formal
reporting. “This is a center grass roots up effort to
show that centers have the right ideas and attitude,”
Murphy said.

joint center review is held approximately every six
months for each alliance. The last one was held at JPL
with Ames on January 23, 2003.

relationship with Ames has improved an order of magnitude!”
Murphy remarked. “Our relationships are also much
better with Langley, Glenn and Marshall. We are working
together like we didn’t always do in the past. In some
ways the only time we saw another center then was when
we competed for technology work against them. The center
directors have been magnificent, very positive about
working together.”

Ames is funding approximately 80 JPL engineers and scientists
on various technical tasks that compliment ARC’s expertise
in the engineering of complex systems, mission autonomy
systems, information technology and bio-nanotechnology.
ARC will have planning and visualization software technology
on both JPL’s Mars Exploration Rover ground operations
activities. ARC gets to use its technology on JPL missions
and receives strong advocacy for its new technology
initiatives. Its technology, in turn, saves JPL the
cost of many ground mission engineers.

alliances are paving the way for future missions such
as Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter by providing technology
for them. They will continue to pay off in developing
research and development technology for future missions
that are about five to 15, or more, years out. Murphy
reflects, “The future is enabled by the present.
The future of space is complicated. One center can’t
be all things to all people like it used to be. We have
to be able to depend on other organizations, work with
them, nourish them and treat them as we do ourselves.
JPL can’t maintain the core technology competencies
for everything so we have to go to other centers for
them. We need to have strong relations with them so
we can count on them as team members and work with them
to do our missions.”

director, Charles Elachi, summed up the importance of
these efforts. “I believe we owe it to American taxpayers
to be as efficient as possible in developing these potentially
high-payoff, bold missions, by using the best technologies
from all NASA centers to generate the most exciting
and productive science possible,” Elachi said.
“I’m pleased that our alliances contribute to the
One NASA initiative, and I’m grateful to Art Murphy
and his colleagues at our partner centers for being
so persistent and effective in constructing these alliances.”

SpaceRef staff editor.