Welcome To Aerovations
This is an exciting time within NASA for innovation and technology. With the creation of the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist, and the selection of its chief, Bobby Braun, a new agency champion has emerged to revitalize NASA as a preeminent research and development organization. Expanding on initiatives of the former Innovative Partnerships Program, new opportunities are nurturing innovations inside and outside of NASA. In fact, as part of the OCT, all of the IPP – now called the Innovative Partnerships office – has been adopted and its work continued.
Competitive partnership opportunities such as the successful Small Business Innovative Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs continue as part of the OCT Space Technology programs. Ten such programs are organized under three divisions: early-stage innovations, game-changing technologies and crosscutting technology demonstrations. The individual programs are detailed elsewhere in this publication.
The Innovative Partnerships office is managing all former IPP responsibilities for the Space Technology programs. David Voracek, Dryden center chief technologist, provides oversight and serves as a representative to Braun’s office. Center chief technologists guide their respective center’s participation in the Space Technology programs, and will provide each center’s “bottom-up” input to the agency’s innovation and technology strategies and goals.
Selecting and investing in a large number of highly creative activities with potential for disruptive, or game-changing, technology breakthroughs will generate excitement about NASA’s work. Drawing from private industry, colleges and universities, a wave of creative ideas will foster innovations that will engage a new generation of researchers and technologists. Partnerships such as those available through SBIR and STTR are models for other collaborations aimed at reinvigorating technology for NASA as well as at stimulating commercial applications, market expansion and investment in future technologies.
Dryden also was selected to manage the Space Technology’s Flight Opportunities program under NASA Headquarters program executive Laguduva Kubendran, a former member of Dryden’s technical management staff. Dryden’s John Kelly is the Flight Opportunities program manager. The Flight Opportunities office is formulated from two previous projects. The Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research, or CRuSR, was established by the former IPP office. It is located at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. and is now a part of the Flight Opportunities program. A second project is the Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology, or FAST, which also originated in the former IPP office. Flight Opportunities officials will seek and foster capabilities and services from the commercial sector, initially for suborbital flight services.
As with all change, some has been seamless and some has been challenging. At Dryden, a valued member of the IPO staff, Russ Barber, recently passed away. Barber participated in analyzing and assessing emerging commercial space markets that would foster a viable commercial industry, bringing these data into NASA’s Space Technology strategy and selection process. Additionally, in work with a nascent commercial flight-service community, Barber’s many years of NASA project management experience and insights were greatly respected on Flight Opportunities programmatic challenges. Russ will be sorely missed in a number of ways.
It also is expected to be a year of achievement. The Xaero launch of the first NASA payload by Masten Flight Systems of Mojave, Calif., for the Flight Opportunities program will be a major step toward demonstrating reliable flight services for additional technology demonstrations and scientific payloads. The flight also marks a new era of cooperation with our commercial partners.
Although the name of the office has changed, its mission has not. Partnerships are still part of the office name and a key part of what we do. We seek out partnerships with industry, academia and other NASA and government entities to continue raising the readiness level of emerging technologies, identifying new sources of innovation to address NASA’s technology needs that will not only resolve the agency’s technical challenges, but also benefit the nation and the general public through technology transfer for new commercial applications.
Ron Young, Dryden Innovative Partnerships office