NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is widely admired for astonishing accomplishments since its formation in 1958. Looking ahead over a comparable period of time, what can the nation and the world expect of NASA? What will be the agency's goals and objectives, and what will be the strategy for achieving them? More fundamentally, how will the goals, objectives, and strategy be established and by whom? How will they be modified to reflect changes in science, technology, national priorities, and available resources?

In late 2011, the United States Congress directed the NASA Office of Inspector General to commission a "comprehensive independent assessment of NASA's strategic direction and agency management." Subsequently, NASA requested that the National Research Council (NRC) conduct this independent assessment. In the spring of 2012, the NRC Committee on NASA's Strategic Direction was formed and began work on its task. The committee determined that, only with a national consensus on the agency's future strategic direction—along the lines described in the full NRC report—can NASA continue to deliver the wonder, the knowledge, the national security and economic benefits, and the technology that have been typified by its earlier history. NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus summarizes the findings and recommendations of the committee.
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Publisher
National Academies Press
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Published on
Jan 16, 2013
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Pages
62
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ISBN
9780309313551
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
Science / Space Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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The recommendations in this book focus on changes in NASA policies that would directly reduce or eliminate the cost growth of Earth and space science missions. Large cost growth is a concern for Earth and space science missions, and it can be a concern for other missions as well. If the cost growth is large enough, it can create liquidity problems for NASA's Science Mission Directorate that in turn cause cost profile changes and development delays that amplify the overall cost growth for other concurrent and/or pending missions. Addressing cost growth through the allocation of artificially high reserves is an inefficient use of resources because it unnecessarily diminishes the portfolio of planned flights. The most efficient use of resources is to establish realistic budgets and reserves and effective management processes that maximize the likelihood that mission costs will not exceed reserves. NASA is already taking action to reduce cost growth; additional steps, as recommended herein, will help improve NASA's mission planning process and achieve the goal of ensuring frequent mission opportunities for NASA Earth and space science.
First released in the Spring of 1999, How People Learn has been expanded to show how the theories and insights from the original book can translate into actions and practice, now making a real connection between classroom activities and learning behavior. This edition includes far-reaching suggestions for research that could increase the impact that classroom teaching has on actual learning.

Like the original edition, this book offers exciting new research about the mind and the brain that provides answers to a number of compelling questions. When do infants begin to learn? How do experts learn and how is this different from non-experts? What can teachers and schools do-with curricula, classroom settings, and teaching methods--to help children learn most effectively? New evidence from many branches of science has significantly added to our understanding of what it means to know, from the neural processes that occur during learning to the influence of culture on what people see and absorb.

How People Learn examines these findings and their implications for what we teach, how we teach it, and how we assess what our children learn. The book uses exemplary teaching to illustrate how approaches based on what we now know result in in-depth learning. This new knowledge calls into question concepts and practices firmly entrenched in our current education system.

Topics include: How learning actually changes the physical structure of the brain. How existing knowledge affects what people notice and how they learn. What the thought processes of experts tell us about how to teach. The amazing learning potential of infants. The relationship of classroom learning and everyday settings of community and workplace. Learning needs and opportunities for teachers. A realistic look at the role of technology in education.

The Committee on an Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives set forth to provide an assessment of the feasibility, practicality, and affordability of U.S. boost-phase missile defense compared with that of the U.S. non-boost missile defense when countering short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missile threats from rogue states to deployed forces of the United States and its allies and defending the territory of the United States against limited ballistic missile attack.

To provide a context for this analysis of present and proposed U.S. boost-phase and non-boost missile defense concepts and systems, the committee considered the following to be the missions for ballistic missile defense (BMD): protecting of the U.S. homeland against nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD); or conventional ballistic missile attacks; protection of U.S. forces, including military bases, logistics, command and control facilities, and deployed forces, including military bases, logistics, and command and control facilities. They also considered deployed forces themselves in theaters of operation against ballistic missile attacks armed with WMD or conventional munitions, and protection of U.S. allies, partners, and host nations against ballistic-missile-delivered WMD and conventional weapons.

Consistent with U.S. policy and the congressional tasking, the committee conducted its analysis on the basis that it is not a mission of U.S. BMD systems to defend against large-scale deliberate nuclear attacks by Russia or China. Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives suggests that great care should be taken by the U.S. in ensuring that negotiations on space agreements not adversely impact missile defense effectiveness. This report also explains in further detail the findings of the committee, makes recommendations, and sets guidelines for the future of ballistic missile defense research.

Cost and schedule growth is a problem experienced by many types of projects in many fields of endeavor. Based on prior studies of cost growth in NASA and Department of Defense projects, this book identifies specific causes of cost growth associated with NASA Earth and space science missions and provides guidance on how NASA can overcome these specific problems.

The recommendations in this book focus on changes in NASA policies that would directly reduce or eliminate the cost growth of Earth and space science missions. Large cost growth is a concern for Earth and space science missions, and it can be a concern for other missions as well. If the cost growth is large enough, it can create liquidity problems for NASA's Science Mission Directorate that in turn cause cost profile changes and development delays that amplify the overall cost growth for other concurrent and/or pending missions. Addressing cost growth through the allocation of artificially high reserves is an inefficient use of resources because it unnecessarily diminishes the portfolio of planned flights. The most efficient use of resources is to establish realistic budgets and reserves and effective management processes that maximize the likelihood that mission costs will not exceed reserves. NASA is already taking action to reduce cost growth; additional steps, as recommended herein, will help improve NASA's mission planning process and achieve the goal of ensuring frequent mission opportunities for NASA Earth and space science.
Adolescence is a distinct, yet transient, period of development between childhood and adulthood characterized by increased experimentation and risk-taking, a tendency to discount long-term consequences, and heightened sensitivity to peers and other social influences. A key function of adolescence is developing an integrated sense of self, including individualization, separation from parents, and personal identity. Experimentation and novelty-seeking behavior, such as alcohol and drug use, unsafe sex, and reckless driving, are thought to serve a number of adaptive functions despite their risks.

Research indicates that for most youth, the period of risky experimentation does not extend beyond adolescence, ceasing as identity becomes settled with maturity. Much adolescent involvement in criminal activity is part of the normal developmental process of identity formation and most adolescents will mature out of these tendencies. Evidence of significant changes in brain structure and function during adolescence strongly suggests that these cognitive tendencies characteristic of adolescents are associated with biological immaturity of the brain and with an imbalance among developing brain systems. This imbalance model implies dual systems: one involved in cognitive and behavioral control and one involved in socio-emotional processes. Accordingly adolescents lack mature capacity for self-regulations because the brain system that influences pleasure-seeking and emotional reactivity develops more rapidly than the brain system that supports self-control. This knowledge of adolescent development has underscored important differences between adults and adolescents with direct bearing on the design and operation of the justice system, raising doubts about the core assumptions driving the criminalization of juvenile justice policy in the late decades of the 20th century.

It was in this context that the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) asked the National Research Council to convene a committee to conduct a study of juvenile justice reform. The goal of Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach was to review recent advances in behavioral and neuroscience research and draw out the implications of this knowledge for juvenile justice reform, to assess the new generation of reform activities occurring in the United States, and to assess the performance of OJJDP in carrying out its statutory mission as well as its potential role in supporting scientifically based reform efforts.
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