Ground processing technology development prepares the agency to test, process, launch, and recover the next generation of rockets and spacecraft in support of NASA's exploration objectives by developing the necessary ground systems, infrastructure, and operational approaches for terrestrial and off-planet surface systems.
This topic seeks innovative concepts and solutions for both addressing long-term ground processing and testing complex operational challenges and driving down the cost of government and commercial access to space. Technology infusion and optimization of existing and future operational programs, while concurrently maintaining continued operations, are paramount for cost effectiveness, safety assurance, and supportability.
A key aspect of NASA's approach to long-term sustainability and affordability is to make test, processing, and launch infrastructure available to commercial and other government entities, thereby distributing the fixed cost burden among multiple users and reducing the cost of access to space for the United States.
Unlike previous work focusing on a single kind of launch vehicles such as the Saturn V rocket or the Space Shuttle, NASA is preparing common infrastructure to support several different kinds of spacecraft and rockets that are in development. Products and systems devised at a NASA center could be used at other launch sites on earth and eventually on other planets or moons.
Specific emphasis to substantially reduce the costs and improve the safety/reliability of NASA's test and launch operations includes the development of ground test and launch environment technology components, system-level ground test systems for advanced propulsion, autonomous control technologies for fault detection, isolation, and recovery, including autonomous propellant management, and advanced instrumentation technologies including Intelligent wireless sensor systems.