Large strategic science missions

  (Redirected from Flagship Program)

NASA's large strategic science missions or large strategic missions, formerly known as Flagship missions or Flagship-class missions,[1][2] are the costliest and most capable NASA science spacecraft. Flagship missions exist within all four divisions of NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD): the astrophysics, Earth science, heliophysics and planetary science divisions.

Artist's Rendering of James Webb Space Telescope
The James Webb Space Telescope launched in December 2021. By the time it launched, JWST cost about US$10 billion.

"Large" refers to the budget of each mission, typically the most expensive mission in the scientific discipline. Within the Astrophysics Division and the Planetary Science Division, the large strategic missions are usually in excess of US$1 billion. Within Earth Science Division and Heliophysics Division, the large strategic missions are usually in excess of US$500 million.[3][2] "Strategic" refers to their role advancing multiple strategic priorities set forth in plans such as the Decadal Surveys.[2] "Science" marks these missions as primarily scientific in nature, under the Science Mission Directorate (SMD), as opposed to, e.g., human exploration missions under the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD). The lines can be blurred, as when the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter began as a directed mission from the HEOMD, and was later transferred to the SMD.

Flagship missions are not under the purview of any larger "Flagship Program", unlike, e.g., Discovery-class missions that are under the purview of the Discovery Program. Unlike these competed classes that tender proposals through a competitive selection process, the development of Flagship missions is directed to a specific institution — usually a NASA center or the Jet Propulsion Laboratory — by the Science Mission Directorate.[2][1] Flagship missions are developed ad-hoc, with no predetermined launch cadence or uniform budget size. Flagship missions are always Class A missions:[4] high priority, very low risk.[2]

HistoryEdit

The Voyager probes mark the transition between the original NASA uncrewed mission programs, which were funded and organized as a series of related missions to specific targets such as the Mariner probes, Pioneer probes, Surveyor landers, Ranger probes, etc., and the modern NASA system which includes Flagships. In the early 1990s, NASA made the decision that instead of a centrally planned mission approach around pre-selected targets, mission ideas would compete for selection. The competitions would be based in cost categories, eventually turning into the Discovery and New Frontiers programs, as well as Flagship missions. While teams self-assemble to compete for Discovery and New Frontiers missions, Flagship missions are still strongly influenced by NASA Headquarters. Also, Discovery and New Frontiers missions are scheduled frequently enough that a standard process has emerged and scientists can expect that process to be followed, but Flagship missions seem to follow a different organizational and development approach every time.[citation needed]

A joint mission concept between NASA and ESA was developed to send a probe to study the icy satellites of the outer Solar System. There were two primary candidate missions under study: Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) and Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM). On 18 February 2009, NASA announced that both missions could proceed forward, but the EJSM was to be the first, departing Earth in 2020 and arriving at Jupiter in 2026.[5]

The 2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey report recommended to NASA that the highest priority Flagship mission for development was a sample-caching rover, called the Mars Astrobiology Explorer-Cacher (MAX-C), as an American contribution to the ExoMars project with the European Space Agency (ESA) and as precursor to a proposed Mars sample-return mission. The second highest priority mission was identified as the Jupiter Europa Orbiter, proposed to be part of the NASA-ESA Europa Jupiter System Mission – Laplace mission, and would have studied Europa in detail as a site of astrobiological interest.[6] Other priorities included the NASA Uranus orbiter and probe, the Enceladus Orbiter, and the Venus Climate Mission.[7]

Under the FY2013 budget that President Obama released in February 2012, NASA terminated its participation in ExoMars due to budgetary cuts,[8] in order to pay for the cost overruns of the James Webb Space Telescope.[9] At that time, all proposed NASA Flagship planetary missions were put on hold indefinitely.[10]

In December 2012, the Mars 2020 sample-caching rover, built on the same architecture as the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity rover), was announced on a proposed budget of US$1.5 billion.[11] In June 2015, the Europa Clipper was approved by NASA and entered the formulation stage.[12]

In 2016, four different space telescopes were being proposed for selection in 2020: Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR), Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx), Origins Space Telescope (OST), and the Lynx X-ray Observatory.[13] (The four teams were due by 2019 to turn their final reports over to the National Academy of Sciences, whose independent Decadal Survey committee advises NASA on which space telescope mission should take top priority. Selection would take place in the 2020s, and launch approximately in 2035.[14]) In May 2018 at least 3 of the 4 teams were given cost caps.[15]

In 2022, the Planetary Science Decadel Report recommended the Uranus Orbiter and Probe and Enceladus Orbilander as top priorities, along with continuing work on Mars Sample Return.[16]

MissionsEdit

The 2020s decade is expected to see two planetary missions, with Mars 2020, which landed on Mars in 2021, and the Europa Clipper, expected to launch in 2024.[17]

NASA Large Strategic Science Missions [2]
Mission name Mission start Mission end
Planetary Science Division
Viking 1, 2[18] 1975 1982
Voyager 1, 2[18] 1977 Operational
Galileo[18] 1989 2003
Cassini[18] 1997 2017
Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover[19] 2011 Operational
Mars 2020/Perseverance + Ingenuity helicopter[19] 2020 Operational
Europa Clipper[19] 2024 In development
Uranus Orbiter and Probe 2032 Proposed
Enceladus Orbilander 2038 Proposed
Astrophysics Division
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory[20] 1991 2000
Hubble Space Telescope[20] 1990 Operational
Chandra X-ray Observatory[20][21] 1999 Operational
James Webb Space Telescope[22][23] 2021 Operational
Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope[24][25] 2027 In development
Competing projects for the next Great Observatory:[14]
Heliophysics Division
Solar Dynamics Observatory[26] 2010 Operational
Van Allen Probes[26] 2012 2019
Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS)[27] 2015 Operational
Parker Solar Probe[28] 2018 Operational
Earth Science Division
Terra[29][30] 1999 Operational
Aqua[29][30] 2002 Operational
ICESat[31] 2003 2010
Aura[30] 2004 Operational
Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) ─ a constellation[31] 2011 Operational
Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE)[32] 2023 In development

Of the four Great Observatories, only the Spitzer Space Telescope is not a Flagship mission. Despite an initial budget of US$2 billion, Spitzer was downscoped to a medium-size US$720 million mission.[2]

Mission targets (2013)Edit

Planetary science Flagship missions will be crucial in allowing the exploration of high-priority targets. These critically important targets could help establish the limits of planetary habitability, not just for the Solar System, but for planetary systems in general. In particular, they potentially provide an opportunity to identify prebiotic organic molecules or even extant life beyond Earth, should it exist, in the Solar System. The targets of Flagship missions may include complex missions to the atmosphere and surface of Venus, the lower atmosphere and surface of Titan, the surface and subsurface of Europa, the stormy atmosphere of Jupiter, the dusty surface of Mars, the ring systems of Saturn, the deep atmospheres of the ice giants Neptune and Uranus, the surface of the moon Triton, the plumes of Enceladus, the surface and magnetosphere of Mercury, and the surface of a comet nucleus in the form of cryogenically preserved samples.[33]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "NASA's 'Large Strategic' Science Missions Under the Microscope". www.aip.org. 13 October 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (24 August 2017). Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions. The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/24857. ISBN 9780309463836.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions (2017). The National Academies Press. page 10
  4. ^ "NASA Procedural Requirements: Risk Classification for NASA Payloads: Appendix B - Classification Considerations for NASA Class A-D Payloads".   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ Lakdawalla, Emily (18 February 2009). "News flash: Jupiter flagship mission selected to launch first". The Planetary Society Blog. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  6. ^ "New approach for L-class mission candidates". ESA. 19 April 2011.
  7. ^ Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science 2013 - 2022 Archived 2009-04-13 at the Wayback Machine (Published on 19 October 2011)   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ "NASA Units Hope For 2018 Robotic Mars Mission". Aviation Week. 14 February 2012. Archived from the original on 13 April 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  9. ^ Kremr, Ken (1 February 2012). "Experts React to Obama Slash to NASA's Mars and Planetary Science Exploration". Universe Today. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  10. ^ Wall, Mike (15 February 2012). "NASA shelves ambitious — and expensive — Flagship missions". NBC News / Space.com.
  11. ^ Harwood, William (4 December 2012). "NASA announces plans for new $1.5 billion Mars rover". CNET. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
  12. ^ Howell, Elizabeth (20 June 2015). "NASA's Europa Mission Approved for Next Development Stage". Space.com. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  13. ^ NASA Considers Its Next Flagship Space Telescope. Scoles. SciAm March 2016
  14. ^ a b Scoles, Sarah (30 March 2016). "NASA Considers Its Next Flagship Space Telescope". Scientific American. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  15. ^ NASA imposes cost caps on astrophysics flagship studies May 2018
  16. ^ Foust, Jeff (19 April 2022). "Planetary science decadal endorses Mars sample return, outer planets missions". SpaceNews. Retrieved 19 April 2022.
  17. ^ Here's what we know about the 12 proposals for NASA's next New Frontiers mission. Van Kane. Published by The Planetary Society. 10 August 2017
  18. ^ a b c d Solar System Programs: Outer Planets Flagship. NASA   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  19. ^ a b c Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions (2017). The National Academies Press. page 37
  20. ^ a b c Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions (2017). The National Academies Press. page 25
  21. ^ Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions (2017). The National Academies Press. page 1
  22. ^ Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions (2017). The National Academies Press. page 27
  23. ^ Clery, Daniel (1 March 2018). "Flagship U.S. space telescope facing further delays". Science Magazine.
  24. ^ Foust, Jeff (30 September 2021). "Pandemic causes delay and cost increase for NASA's Roman Space Telescope". SpaceNews. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  25. ^ Balzer, Ashley (9 November 2021). "NASA's Roman Mission Will Help Empower a New Era of Cosmological Discovery". NASA. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  26. ^ a b Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions (2017). The National Academies Press. Page 17.
  27. ^ Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions (2017). The National Academies Press. Page 2.
  28. ^ Powering Science: NASA's Large Strategic Science Missions (2017). The National Academies Press. page 16
  29. ^ a b Terra: Earth Observing System Flagship. Space Today
  30. ^ a b c Earth Science: NASA's Mission to Our Home Planet. Edward S. Goldstein and Tabatha Thompson, NASA   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  31. ^ a b NASA Missions: From Concept to Launch (PDF) Michael Amato, NASA March 2013
  32. ^ "Timeline". NASA. May 2021. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  33. ^ "Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science 2013 - 2022". Archived from the original on 13 April 2009.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.