Spacecraft Life Support System Process Technology Maturation using Stage Gate Methodology 2007-01-3045
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) faces significant challenges to evolve and mature life support system process technologies for insertion into the Orion and Constellation programs. The challenge is not a lack of experience with crewed spacecraft design and development but the varied mission operational concepts and rapid developmental schedules that compress the time allotted to identifying, selecting, and maturing the best mix of technologies to meet flight program needs. Reducing risks associated with flight equipment design, deployment, and operation is mandatory. An important factor to realizing success is NASA's knowledge and experience with a wide range of crewed space exploration mission objectives beginning with Project Mercury and continuing through the International Space Station (ISS) program. Tapping NASA's experience base will pay dividends to the next generation of crewed vehicles and surface outposts. Also key is a disciplined technology maturation program that employs a progressive framework and good tools to manage the process. The stage gate method provides structure and rigor to process technology maturation activities. Characteristics of the stage gate method are described and the relationship to technology readiness level (TRL) is discussed.