Future Technology Development Steps

Future Technology Development Steps are provided here to show how innovation is driven in the private sector and with NASA who works on the American Space Program.

1. A need for the future technology is determined

This is done by several ways. For companies, marketing research strives to determine what is needed (and/or desired) in the marketplace. Think I-Phone from Apple® Computer.

For NASA this need is driven by requirements for the missions they work on.

For example, to travel to the moon an enormous number of new technologies had to be developed.

Technology had to be invented for space suits to protect the astronauts, rockets to take them there, life support systems to keep them alive, energy such as solar power to keep the systems running and much more.

2. Concepts for the future technology are created

From marketing data, or a defined need, Research and Development creates preliminary concepts (designs) to be considered.

Design decisions are based on cost, schedule, requirements, available technologies and more.

3. The concepts are down selected into one or two ideas

There are never unlimited funds. Thus, thru

comparison studies and analysis, many designs are eliminated because they won’t work, are too expensive, the technology isn’t mature enough and more.

The remaining ideas are then down selected and the company (or organization) moves to Step 4.

4. Prototypes are created and tested.

Designs are refined and prototype(s) are created.They are tested to see how well they perform per the required specifications.

5. Refinements are made, and the final product is created

Prototypes highlight issues that need to be addressed before any technology development product can be built. Prototypes also give the engineers an opportunity to find ways to refine the design. This may include cost improvements.

Organizations like NASA may only require one (or a small number) of a design (think Mars Rover). It is tough to drive out costs on low volume designs.

This is because it is difficult to streamline designs due to schedule and cost constraints of many programs.

The program management mindset may be put cost reductions at a low priority. New technology development is usually a significant enough of a challenge. Cost reduction efforts are frequently left for the next revision.

6. Costs are driven out and the product is put into mass production.

Costs have to be driven out before mass distribution is possible.

Future Technology to the US Space Program Benefits