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National Aeronautics and Space Administration2020NASATechnologyTaxonomy

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CONTENTSLetter from the Chief Technologist. . . . . . . . . . . . . iiiIntroduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vTX01: Propulsion Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1TX02: Flight Computing and Avionics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15TX03: Aerospace Power and Energy Storage. . . . . . . . . 27TX04: Robotic Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35TX05: Communications, Navigation, andOrbital Debris Tracking andCharacterization Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51TX06: Human Health, Life Support, andHabitation Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65TX07: Exploration Destination Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83TX08: Sensors and Instruments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95TX09: Entry, Descent, and Landing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105TX10: Autonomous Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115TX11: Software, Modeling, Simulation, andInformation Processing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127TX12: Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems,and Manufacturing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145TX13: Ground, Test, and Surface Systems . . . . . . . . . 157TX14: Thermal Management Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173TX15: Flight Vehicle Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185TX16: Air Traffic Management andRange Tracking Systems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195TX17: Guidance, Navigation, and Control . . . . . . . . . . 201Acronyms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222Acknowledgements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225ii

Letter from the ChiefTechnologist“And as we renew our commitment to lead in space, let’s go withconfidence and let’s go with faith. Faith in the vision and the goalthat’s articulated today: that we can achieve it; that Americans canachieve anything that we put our minds to. Faith in the extraordinaryingenuity and capability of the men and women of NASA andAmerica’s space enterprise, and their ability to meet those challengesif given the resources and the support to do it. And especially faith inthe courage of the men and women who are now, and those who willjoin, the storied ranks of American astronauts—that next generationof restless pioneers that will carry American leadership into space. It’sextraordinary to think of the heroes that will be forged in our renewedcommitment to space.” – Vice President Michael PenceAs NASA embarks on its renewed commitment to lead in space, we must overcome significanttechnical challenges to achieve the goal of a sustainable return to the surface of the Moon. We willbuild on six decades of leadership in space and our work in low-Earth orbit to pave the way to theMoon and on to Mars. The Artemis program will carry the first woman and next man to the Moon,and establish sustainable exploration with our commercial and international partners. NASA ispursuing an ambitious program to explore our solar system and beyond. Key priorities include a MarsSample Return mission, launch of the James Webb Space Telescope and a robust program of Earthobservation. In addition, our transformative aeronautics technology research is making air travel saferand more efficient, and pioneering the next generation of aircraft.American ingenuity and innovation will be critical to the development of new technologies necessaryto achieve NASA’s important missions. As NASA undertakes an integrated technology research anddevelopment effort, a common technology taxonomy is more important than ever. For this reason,the 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy was created as an important update to the Technology AreaBreakdown Structure (TABS) from the roadmaps of previous years.The 2020 Taxonomy is an update to the 2015 TABS. This new edition builds on previous releases andthe insight from subject matter experts from across the Agency. The 2020 Taxonomy has expandedthe total number of technology areas to 17 and consolidated other areas. The update reflects a shiftto a structure that aligns technology areas based on technical disciplines. The updates also includenew technologies relevant to NASA, such as cybersecurity and advancements in artificial intelligence.iii

The technology Taxonomy is key to NASA’s ability to manage and communicate its technologyportfolio by providing a structure for articulating the diverse technologies relevant to NASA’s mission.Together, NASA and its partners in other government agencies, international space agencies,academia, and industry, will pave the way to new frontiers in space and aeronautics.Douglas TerrierChief Technologistiv

IntroductionNASA engages in a multitude of technologydevelopment activities to enable NASA missions bybroadening knowledge of and capabilities in aeronautics,science, and space. To manage and communicatethis extensive and diverse technology portfolio, NASAuses a technology taxonomy. This taxonomy identifies,organizes, and communicates the technology areasthat NASA advances in order to achieve future spacemissions and aeronautics activities.The 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy is an updateto the Technology Area Breakdown Structure (TABS)of the 2015 NASA Technology Roadmaps. The TABS,now referred to as the taxonomy, is deeply ingrainedwithin NASA documentation, TechPort, solicitations,websites, and many other places domestically andinternationally. In particular, the taxonomy provides astructure for articulating NASA’s technology portfolio,which is key to NASA’s ability to manage andcommunicate its technology development efforts.The 2020 NASA TechnologyTaxonomyNASA continues to push the boundaries ofspace missions and aeronautics activities,pursuing challenging goals that require advancedtechnological capabilities. Progressively ambitiousspace exploration presents challenges such assustaining a human presence in space, efficientlynavigating to previously inaccessible locations, andcommunicating over unprecedented distances.For aeronautics, increasing air traffic presents theneed for next generation air traffic control; highfidelity, integrated, distributed simulation systems;and next generation vehicles that reduce noise andcarbon output. Solutions to these and many othertechnical challenges require innovative technologydevelopment across many areas, building on provencapabilities as well as developing new ones.vThe 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy provides astructure for articulating the technology developmentdisciplines needed to enable future space missions andsupport commercial air travel. The taxonomy identifies,categorizes, and communicates the technology areasrelevant to advancing the Agency’s mission. The2020 revision is comprised of 17 distinct technicaldiscipline based Taxonomies (TXs) that provide abreakdown structure for each technology area. Thetaxonomy uses a three-level hierarchy for groupingand organizing technology types. Level 1 representsthe technology area, which is the title of that area (e.g.TX01: Propulsion Systems). Level 2 is a list of thesubareas (e.g. TX01.1 Chemical Space Propulsion).Level 3 categorizes the types of technologies withinthe subareas (e.g. TX1.1.1 Integrated Systems andAncillary Technologies). Also included is an exampletechnologies section that provides a non-exhaustivesample of relevant technologies.The taxonomy is a foundational element of NASA’stechnology management process. NASA’s MissionDirectorates (MDs) reference the taxonomy to solicittechnology proposals and to inform decisions onNASA’s technology policy, prioritization, and strategicinvestments. These investments are tracked in TechPort,a publically available web-based software system thatserves as NASA’s integrated Agency technology datasource and decision support tool. TechPort uses thetaxonomy in organizing the numerous, varied technologyprojects that NASA supports.HistoryThe 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy is part of anevolution that began with the original roadmaps andTABS drafted in 2010, followed by updates in 2012and 2015.The effort to develop the roadmaps began in 2010when NASA identified 14 Space Technology Areas,including top technical challenges and relevant

spaceflight missions. NASA publicly distributed a setof draft roadmaps that included the original TABSin December 2010. The National Research Council(NRC) conducted a review and released a final report,NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities:Restoring NASA’s Technological Edge and Pavingthe Way for a New Era in Space, early in 2012. Thefinal versions of the roadmaps and related TABS werereleased to the public in April 2012.The 2015 Technology Roadmaps enhanced andexpanded the TABS of the 2012 Roadmaps,responding to NASA’s changing needs, advances intechnology, and recommended improvements from theNRC and other stakeholders. NASA began the effortto update the Technology Roadmaps by determininghow the development process, roadmap scope, androadmap content could be improved. NASA gatheredinput from the NASA Technology Executive Council(NTEC), a 2013 Technical Interchange Meeting, andthe NASA Center Technology Council (CTC). Using thedecisions from the NTEC, and the input from the CTCand external stakeholders, NASA made improvementsto the development process and the roadmaps contentand format.In 2014, the Technology Roadmap development teamwas formed with members from across the Agencyto create new draft TABS and roadmaps. As the draftroadmaps were developed, NASA held meetings withother government agencies to obtain insights andassess the technology candidates. The roadmapswent through an internal NASA review in the springof 2015, with a release to the public for review andcomment. These roadmaps and their TABS includedseveral improvements such as an expanded scopeand greater standardization.The 2020 revision process began in 2017 andwas led by NASA’s CTC, along with the Office ofthe Chief Technologist (OCT) and subject matterexperts (SMEs) from across the Agency with areview of the 2015 TABS. In addition, a survey ofthe 2015 Technology Roadmaps user communitywas conducted to provide insight on how the2015 Roadmaps were being used. Based on theassessment, it was decided that the 2020 revisionwould decouple the TABS from the roadmaps andincorporate a technical discipline based taxonomyapproach to align like technologies under atechnology area.The other major change in this revision is the shiftfrom emphasis on generic roadmaps to MD-ownedtechnology development strategies. This changefocused on MD-identified strategic capabilities needsand their corresponding plans to mature the enablingtechnologies required. The new approach, the StrategicTechnology Integration Framework (STIF), capturesthe capability needs of each MD and its associatedtechnology investment strategies. The STIF providestraceability of actual technology investments, offeringthe technology development community insight into thestrategic needs and technology plans of the Agency.Development ProcessDuring 2018, the CTC, working with OCT, performedthe first round of structural realignment and contentrevisions of the new taxonomy. Agency SMEs, includingTechnical Fellows, Systems Capability Leaders,Principal Technologists, and other technical Agencyexperts, participated in this early round of revision.During this phase of development, it was recognizedthat the taxonomy revision would benefit from leveragingthe SMEs’ established Agency role as advisors todevelop and maintain the NASA Technology Taxonomy.This SME presence would also provide consistency andcontinuity in subsequent revisions of the taxonomy.The draft taxonomy, resulting from the initialrealignment and revisions, underwent a broad twophase review. The first was an internal NASA-widereview that solicited comments from NASA MDs,NASA Offices, NASA Centers, and the Jet PropulsionLaboratory. That review was followed by a publicreview and comment period. This combination ofreviews further informed and refined the revision byproviding additional realignments and clarifications tovi

both the restructuring and the technical elements ofthe 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy.In addition to the taxonomy revision, a companiondocument providing a crosswalk between the 2015TAs and the updated 2020 TXs was developed. Thisdocument allows readers to identify where technologyareas have moved with the update.High-Level Changes from2015-2020The updated 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy reflectsa shift to a structure that aligns Technology Areas basedon technical disciplines. To achieve this shift the revisionretains, modifies and introduces new Level 1 andLevel 2 technology areas while dissolving others andcombining them with existing areas. The new structureexpands to 17 Technology Areas and replaces the 4thlevel “Technology Candidates” with an unnumbered subsection listing of example technologies for that section.Figure 1 shows the breakdown of the structure used inthe 2020 Technology Taxonomy. The 2020 update alsoincludes new technologies relevant to NASA, such ascybersecurity and advancements in artificial intelligence.The following are highlights of the major changes inthe new taxonomy structure: Added a Level 2 section at the end of each TX tocapture those technologies not explicitly featuredelsewhere in the TX but clearly belonging in theTX section (e.g. TX01.X, TX02.X etc.) Retained and updated a crosscutting section (TX00)with the addition of systems not explicitly featured inTX 1-17 that cross-map across the TX areas Combined TA1 Launch Propulsion Systems andTA2 In-Space Propulsion Technologies into onearea, TX01 Propulsion, and included elements ofpropulsion for atmospheric systems Created TX02 Flight Computing and Avionicsvii Split TA4 Robotics and Autonomous Systems intoseparate technology areas, TX04 Robotics andTX10 Autonomous Systems Removed TA10 Nanotechnology as an independenttechnology area; nanotechnologies are nowrepresented in other technology areas as appropriate(e.g. nanopropellants are in TX01 Propulsion) Split TA15 Aeronautics into TX15 Flight VehicleSystems and TX16 Air Traffic Management;incorporated other aeronautics technologies intoother technology areas as appropriate Created TX17 Guidance, Navigation, and Control(GN&C)Description of the TXsThe 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy includes thefollowing 17 TXs:TX01: Propulsion SystemsThis area covers technologies for chemical andnon-chemical propulsion systems or their relatedancillary systems for propulsion, space launchpropulsion, or in-space propulsion applications.TX02: Flight Computing and AvionicsThis area covers unique electronics andcomputing hardware when applied to flightsystems, whether in space or atmospheric.TX03: Aerospace Power and Energy StorageThis area covers the different components of apower system—power generation, energy storage,and power management and distribution—thatrequire technological improvements to enable orenhance NASA missions.

Figure 1. The second-level breakdown of the structure used in the 2020 Technology Taxonomy. This document containsdetails at the third level, with fourth-level technology examples provided in all cases.viii

TX04: Robotic SystemsThis area covers technologies for robotic systemsthat will be leveraged as science explorers,precursor explorers preceding crewed missions,as crew helpers, as EVA mobility aids, and ascaretakers of unattended assets.TX05: Communications, Navigation,and Orbital Debris Tracking andCharacterization SystemsThis area covers technologies for transferringcommands, spacecraft telemetry, mission data,and voice for human exploration missions, whilemaintaining accurate timing and providing navigationsupport. Orbital debris can be tracked andcharacterized by some of the same systems usedfor spacecraft communications and navigation, aswell as by other specialized systems.TX06: Human Health, Life Support, andHabitation SystemsThis area covers technologies that are specific tothe human element and those that directly affectcrew needs for survival and wellbeing, including theenvironment and interfaces that crew encounter.TX07: Exploration Destination SystemsThis area covers the broad range of technologiesassociated with enabling successful activities inspace, from mission operations to in-situ resourceutilization.TX08: Sensors and InstrumentsThis area covers technologies for instruments andsensors, including remote observation capabilities.TX09: Entry, Descent, and LandingThis area covers entry, descent, and landingtechnologies needed to enable both current andfuture missions.ixTX10: Autonomous SystemsThis new area covers technologies that (in thecontext of robotics, spacecraft, or aircraft) enablethe system to operate in a dynamic environmentindependent of external control.TX11: Software, Modeling, Simulation, andInformation ProcessingThis area covers modeling, simulation, andinformation technology as well as softwaretechnologies that increase NASA’s understandingand mastery of the physical world and are thebasis of new solution paradigms across thebreadth of NASA’s missions.TX12: Materials, Structures, MechanicalSystems, and ManufacturingThis area covers technologies for developing newmaterials with improved or combined properties,structures that use materials to meet systemperformance requirements, and innovativemanufacturing processes.TX13: Ground, Test, and Surface SystemsThis area covers technologies for preparing,assembling, validating, executing, supporting, andmaintaining aeronautics and space activities andoperations, on Earth and on other planetary surfaces.TX14: Thermal Management SystemsThis area covers technologies for acquiring,transporting, and rejecting heat, as well as insulatingand controlling the flow of heat to maintaintemperatures within specified limits.TX15: Flight Vehicle SystemsThis area covers technologies for aerosciencesand flight mechanics. Aerosciences is theprediction of vehicle and component atmosphericflight performance and flow qualities to enablerobust and efficient flight vehicle development,achieving performance requirements while

minimizing environmental impacts. Flightmechanics provides the analysis, prediction,measurement, and test of vehicle dynamics,trajectories, and performance.TX16: Air Traffic Management and RangeTracking SystemsThis area covers safety and automationtechnologies that include far reachingconcepts and technologies for future planningand operations and ones that safely extendthe capabilities and range of uses for airtransportation and commercial space integration.TX17: Guidance, Navigation, and Control(GN&C)This area covers the unique GN&C systemtechnologies that enable new missions; reducecost, schedule, mass or power while maintainingor improving GN&C performance; improve systemsafety and longevity; or reduce environmentalimpact of aerospace vehicle operations.x

TX01PropulsionSystemsOverviewThis section addresses technologies for chemical and non-chemicalpropulsion systems or their related ancillary systems. These propulsionsystems may be used for aeronautic propulsion, space launch propulsion, orin-space propulsion applications.1


TX01Propulsion SystemsTX01.1 Chemical SpacePropulsionChemical propulsion includes systems that operate through chemicalreactions that heat and expand a propellant (or use a fluid dynamicexpansion as in a cold gas) to provide thrust.TX01.1.1 Integrated Systems and AncillaryTechnologiesThis area covers systems and technologies that provide additional launchvehicle and in-space propulsion functions, other than primary ascentor propulsion. These systems include both mechanical and propulsivesystems.Example TechnologiesFor Launch Veh

to achieve NASA’s important missions. As NASA undertakes an integrated technology research and development effort, a common technology taxonomy is more important than ever . For this reason, the 2020 NASA Technology Taxonomy was created as an important update to the Technology Area Breakdown Structure (TABS) from the roadmaps of previous years .

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