Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Measuring Return on Investment for Government Programs and Agencies

Is it worth it? Where is my Return On Investment?
- LRK -

Program/Project Management Resource List #68

Revised May 2009

"The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys." - Thomas Jefferson

Government agencies are among the major drivers in the American economy. It behooves them to demonstrate that their programs will benefit the citizens. However, some programs will have it easier than others: A program to fix storm-damaged lighthouses will have an easier time demonstrating its usefulness than a program for installing sculptures in city parks. Often, the intangible benefit to society from programs such as the latter is termed social return on investment. This webpage is a list of resources that will help the reader to measure the return of investment in government programs.

For more information on how NASA's inventions and discoveries flow into America's economy as profitable products, please see Benefits of Space Exploration and Diffusion of Innovations. For some information on how the return on investment in NASA programs has improved NASA's
image, please see Public Opinion of the American Space Program. You may also find useful material in our webpages on The Government Performance and Results Act and Measuring Organizational Effectiveness in Research and Development Organizations.

All items are available at the Headquarters Library, except as noted.
NASA Headquarters employees and contractors: call x0172 or email for information on borrowing or in-library use of any of these items. Members of the public, contact your local library for the availability of these items. NASA Headquarters employees can request additional materials or research on this topic. The Library welcomes your comments or suggestions about this webpage.
Benefits of Space Exploration

Revised: May 2009

One of the familiar complaints that NASA receives when its budget comes up for approval is that "...the money really ought to be spent down here instead of up there". Leaving aside the fact that NASA's civil servants and contractors all live here on Earth, and thus the money is spent here, NASA's fifty years of research and development have resulted in a wide range of inventions and processes, ranging from the complexity of image processing through the simplicity of fire-resistant kid's pyjamas.

What good for me? Is it good for you?
- LRK -

Diffusion of Innovations

Revised June 2009

Provided by the NASA Headquarters Library

Technology transfer is the process by which inventions and practices that were developed at an organization flow into the American economy at large. NASA is required by law to share its discoveries and inventions as widely as possible. For instance, devices that were designed to keep track of the astronauts' health while in space are now used in hospitals to monitor patients. Also, NASA will adopt products developed elsewhere to fit its needs, sometimes to such a degree that the product is identified with NASA. Tang is the classic example. This bibliography covers how technology transfer works within America. For the rules and regulations covering technology transfer with other countries, please see International Cooperation in Space. For resources on NASA's contributions to America's economy, please see Benefits of Space Exploration. If you are a NASA HQ employee, please consider subscribing to our news alert on commercialization and technology transfer to get the latest news.

I have heard it said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
So what do you see?
- LRK -

Public Opinion of the American Space Program

Revised: Sept. 2007

"With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed." - A. Lincoln

NASA depends on the will of the people, as expressed through their senators and representatives and the president, for its funding and direction. NASA has to take the pulse of the American people and obtain its good will. This has not been easy.

NASA had to play "catch-up" through much of its first five years, as the Soviets launched one space spectacular after another. It has had to recover America's trust after several fatal accidents and other misfortunes, such as the losses of the Mars Climate Orbiter in 1998 and the Mars Polar Lander in 1999. However, NASA does not work alone. Several space advocacy organizations work at the grassroots level to get people interested in space exploration and to write to Washington to ask for better finding for NASA. This pathfinder covers how the American people's opinion of NASA is shaped. For additional perspectives on this subject, please see the library's pathfinders on scientific literacy and communicating science. Note: The grassroots space advocacy organizations listed in the Internet resources section in this pathfinder are intended to be a guide to researchers and not to be seen as an endorsement by NASA.

Get the facts man, get the facts.
- LRK -

Scientific Literacy
Revised: June 2009

Provided by the NASA Headquarters Library

"The trouble with people is not that they don’t know but that they know so much that ain’t so." - Josh Billings.

Scientific literacy is a familiarity with the concepts and processes of science. Since the Industrial Revolution, scientific literacy has been as much a goal of a well rounded education as a familiarity with the events and currents of American history. Recently, several questions have arisen about scientific literacy:

* Which of these concepts and processes should be taught in American primary and secondary schools?
* How scientifically literate are Americans, compared to people from other nations?
* How many Americans are willing and able to enter technically oriented jobs, especially as more and more jobs in our economy depend on workers' high-tech skills?
* Will there be enough young scientists, engineers, and technicians to fill the vacant jobs that will be left after Baby Boomers retire?

This bibliography covers the state of American scientific literacy.
You may also find some interesting resources at our webpages on Human Capital Management in the Technical Fields and Science Education.

What can I say, what would you like to hear, how can I be of service?
- LRK -

Communicating Science

Revised: March 2009

"If you don't toot your own horn, who'll do it for you?"

In its founding statutes, NASA is expected to tell the public about its inventions and discoveries. Although daring exploits, strange sights, and exotic places have an attraction that predates NASA by thousands of years, the wonders that NASA can tell are often hard to understand. This bibliography is designed to help people who normally talk about what they do only with other specialists to spread the word to members of the general public. The NASA HQ library also has
resources on methods of teaching science and on scientific literacy, the general public's level of familiarity with scientific concepts.

All items are available at the Headquarters Library, except as noted.
NASA Headquarters employees and contractors: call (358-0172) or email for information on borrowing or in-library use of any of these items. Members of the public, contact your Local Library for the availibilty of these items. NASA Headquarters employees can
request additional materials or research on this topic. The Library welcomes your comments or suggestions about this webpage.

Ever want to read more about what has happened?
Take a look at these on-line publications.
- LRK -
NASA History Series Publications

Thanks for looking up with me.

Larry Kellogg

Web Site:
RSS link:
The print issue of Space News this week has an interesting article about a proposal that Bigelow Aerospace has presented to the Augustine panel. They propose that a simplified "stripped down" version of the Orion capsule could be developed and flown on an Atlas V by 2013. This would reduce the "Gap" in US human spaceflight capability by at least 2 years (unless the Falcon/Dragon reaches crew capability before 2015).

Bigelow and ULA have been studying a human rated version of the Atlas V for a couple of years (e.g. see this BA press release from Feb.5.08). The Orion Lite concept was unveiled to the panel in a private briefing in July.

Lockheed-Martin is a prime contractor to NASA for the Orion project.
Neither Gold nor L-M would say whether L-M is directly involved in the Orion Lite design. Sources said that L-M does have several preflight Orion capsules in the planning stage that could be converted to the lightweight Orion flight vehicles. The article has a picture of a full-scale mock-up that Bigelow has built of the Orion Lite. From the outside it looks similar to the standard NASA Orion except for the Bigelow emblem on the side.
NASA Steps Closer to Nuclear Power for Moon Base
By Tariq Malik
Managing Editor
posted: 06 August 2009
06:37 pm ET

NASA has made a series of critical strides in developing new nuclear reactors the size of a trash can that could power a human outpost on the moon or Mars.

Three recent tests at different NASA centers and a national lab have successfully demonstrated key technologies required for compact fission-based nuclear power plants for human settlements on other worlds.

"This recent string of technology development successes confirms that the fission surface power project is on the right path," said Don Palac, NASA's fission surface power project manager at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, in a statement.

Power on the moon

NASA's current plan for human space exploration is to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 on sortie missions that could lead to a permanent outpost for exploring the lunar surface and testing technologies that could aid a manned mission to Mars.

The space agency has been studying the feasibility of using nuclear fission power plants to support future moon bases. Engineers performed tests in recent weeks as part of a joint effort by NASA and the Department of Energy.

Nuclear fission power plants work by splitting the nuclei of atoms in a sustainable, controllable reaction that releases heat, which can then be funneled through a power converter to transfer that energy into usable electricity.

A small fission-based nuclear reactor coupled with a Stirling engine could provide up to 40 kilowatts of usable energy, enough to support a moon base or Mars outpost, project scientists said. That's about the same amount of power needed to supply eight houses on Earth, NASA
officials have said.




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