NASA's New Millennium Program
(NMP) was created to test breakthrough technologies in the harsh
environment of space and validate them for use in future solar
system exploration and Earth science missions. To determine the
future capabilities needed, NMP is guided by NASA's Earth and Space
Science "roadmaps." These roadmaps, developed by scientists, lay out
the path of future scientific enquiry. They serve not only as a vital
guide for NMP's selection of technologies, but are used to conceive
and design the Program's space test projects as well.
NMP's technologists attempt to match the technical requirements
outlined in the roadmaps with technologies emerging from the national
"pipeline." This pipeline consists of current technology-development
efforts in the private sector, academia, non-profit organizations,
and other United States government and NASA centers. Utilizing this
pipeline, NMP's Space Technology 6 Project is developing two
experimental technologies in partnership with the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and various commercial technology providers: Draper
Laboratory Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Interface Control
Systems of Melbourne, Florida.
NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, of Pasadena, California, is developing the Autonomous
Sciencecraft Experiment (Sciencecraft). Sciencecraft is software
technology that allows spacecraft to process data onboard, determine
what data are scientifically important, and select interesting
science observations to pursue. The Sciencecraft team also includes
Goddard Space Flight Center, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Interface
The Draper Laboratory, Inc., is developing the Inertial Stellar
Compass (Compass). Compass is a miniature star camera and
microelectromechanical gyros system that enables a spacecraft to
determine its attitude (direction and pointing) whether spinning at a
very low rate or stable.
||Partnering accomplishes NMP's objective of reducing costs while space testing new technologies and concepts.