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Technical Challenges for Space Exploration Missions

by John C. Mankins

January 11, 2005, 2:00 P.M. in the H.J.E. Reid Auditorium.

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Achieving a sustainable and affordable program that spans decades, not years, is a central theme of the 2004 Vision for Space Exploration. Diverse novel systems concepts and innovative technological solutions must be pursued in order to achieve sustainability and affordability in future space exploration. The Exploration Systems Research and Technology (ESR&T) program is pursuing an aggressive agenda of technology innovation, focused on the challenges of affordability, reliability/safety, effectiveness and flexibility. In addition, ESR&T is dedicated to assuring ongoing success in NASA's innovative partnership efforts and technology transfer by using non-NASA technologies in NASA's programs and transferring the best of NASA-developed technologies to benefit the U.S. Economy. This lecture will present an overview of the strategic technical challenges we seek to overcome and of the various projects within the ESR&T program.


John C. Mankins is the Manager, Exploration Systems Research and Technology, in the Office of Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. He has responsibility for analyses, planning, technology development and maturation in support of future human and robotic space exploration. He has also served as Assistant Associate Administrator for Advanced Systems (acting) in the Office of Space Flight and as the Chief Technologist for the Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) Enterprise. He was also manager of advanced concept studies for HEDS; including studies of space solar power, highly reusable space transportation and affordable human exploration approaches. He served as the Technology Team Lead for the NASA Exploration Team (NEXT). Before coming to NASA, he held a variety of positions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mr. Mankins holds undergraduate (Harvey Mudd College) and graduate (UCLA) degrees in Physics and an MBA in Public Policy Analysis (Claremont Graduate School)..

For more information, contact Ingrid Carlberg at x44174. (

Last Updated: December 22, 2004, 10:00 AM EDT.