Exploration Research and Technology

Exploration Research & Development is comprised of five programs: the Human Landing System, Advanced Cislunar Surface Capabilities, Gateway, Advanced Exploration Systems, and the Human Research Program.

The Exploration Research and Technology segment request is $4,719.4 million in the FY2021 budget. Highlights include: [1]

  • The major initiative in the FY 2021 President's Budget is the Human Landing System program ($3,369.8 million), which is utilizing commercial partnerships to develop and deploy the integrated landing system that will transport crew to and from the lunar surface and establish a series of lunar missions that build on that capability.

Exploration Technology 

Exploration Technology ($1,578.3 million) funds the Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative, which accelerates the creation of novel technologies needed for lunar surface exploration, targeting: [1]

  • In Situ Resource Utilization, Sustainable Surface Power, Surface Excavation/Construction, Lunar Dust Mitigation and other Extreme Environments and access capabilities to operate through lunar surface and subsurface conditions.
  • Exploration Technology supports exploration-related technology and research activities that have relevance to other lunar exploration activities and Mars, including:
    • Solar Electric Propulsion and public-private partnerships to flight demonstrate in-space manufacturing and robotic assembly technologies used to build large structures in a space environment
    • Space Nuclear Technologies to support the near-term need of surface power as well as the longer-term interest in space propulsion advancement
    • Cryogenic Fluid Management through Tipping Point partnerships with industry
    • Laser Communications Relay Demonstration which launches in January 2021 to demonstrate optical communications for near Earth application.

The Exploration Technology account includes the following programs: [1]

  • Early Stage Innovation and Partnerships support research and early technology development to spur innovations that transform future capabilities ($169.2 million).
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, which support early-stage research and development in support of NASA's mission in human exploration, science and aeronautics ($402.8 million).
  • Technology Maturation advances cutting edge exploration technologies that may eventually support exploration and potentially other missions from proof of concept to flight demonstration ($469.1 million).
  • Technology Demonstration conducts system level ground-based testing as well as space flight demonstrations of technologies and systems to transition technologies and new capabilities for NASA exploration missions ($537.2 million).
  • million).

Updated October 2020, by Kevine Lidoro