NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) currently operates over five dozen missions, with approximately two dozen additional missions in development. These missions span the scientific fields associated with SMD's four divisions—Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, and Planetary Sciences. Because a single mission can consist of multiple spacecraft, NASA-SMD is responsible for nearly 100 operational spacecraft. The most high profile of these are the large strategic missions, often referred to as "flagships."
Large strategic missions are essential to maintaining the global leadership of the United States in space exploration and in science because only the United States has the budget, technology, and trained personnel in multiple scientific fields to conduct missions that attract a range of international partners. This report examines the role of large, strategic missions within a balanced program across NASA-SMD space and Earth sciences programs. It considers the role and scientific productivity of such missions in advancing science, technology and the long-term health of the field, and provides guidance that NASA can use to help set the priority of larger missions within a properly balanced program containing a range of mission classes.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24857.
|2 Balancing Strategic Missions
|3 Risks and Realities of Cost Overruns for Large Strategic Missions
|4 Comparing Large Strategic Missions and Smaller Missions
|Appendix A: Statement of Task
|Appendix B: Astrophysics Science Division Missions
|Appendix C: Earth Science Division Missions
|Appendix D: Heliophysics Science Division Missions
|Appendix E: Planetary Science Division Missions
|Appendix F: Biographies of Committee Members and Staff
|Appendix G: Acronyms
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