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Strategic Framework

Charting the horizon of NASA technology development

Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)

STMD rapidly develops, demonstrates, and transfers revolutionary, high pay-off space technologies, driven by diverse ideas.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) organizes the agency’s technology investments into the Strategic Framework, with the goal of addressing its desired outcomes through technology development. The framework is comprised of 18 Capability Areas, grouped into four categories of investment called Thrusts: Go, Land, Live, and Explore.
Each strategic outcome includes an Envisioned Future that further describes possible futures enabled by achieving the outcome. NASA is engaging the community to validate and improve the end state described in these Envisioned Futures, and update the framework as appropriate. STMD will use these updates to collect technology gaps, prioritize, and plan future content and investments.


Rapid, Safe, and Efficient Space Transportation

Space Nuclear Propulsion

Develop nuclear technologies enabling fast in-space transits.

Cryogenic Fluid Management

Develop cryogenic storage, transport, and fluid management technologies for surface and in-space applications.

Advanced Propulsion

Produce advanced propulsion technologies that enable future science/commercial/exploration missions.


Expanded Access to Diverse Surface Destinations

Precision Landing and Hazard Avoidance

Develop capabilities to enable lighting-independent precise landing on any terrain.

Entry, Descent, and Landing to Enable Science Missions

Develop capabilities enabling small to large missions to efficiently enter any atmospheres within our solar system.

20t and Lunar/Mars Global Access

Develop capabilities to support global access to the moon and Mars including accurate prediction of plume surface interaction.


Sustainable Living and Working Farther from Earth

Advanced Habitation Systems (AHS)

Keep astronauts healthy and productive while living in space and planetary vehicles.

In-Situ Resource Utilization

Develop scalable ISRU production/utilization capabilities including sustainable commodities on the lunar and Mars surface.

Power and Energy Storage Systems

Develop sustainable power sources and other surface utilities to enable continuous lunar and Mars surface operations.

Thermal Management Systems

Develop thermal management technologies that enable surviving the extreme lunar and Mars environments.

Excavation, Construction, and Outfitting (ECO)

Develop methodologies for moving regolith for in-situ purposes such as commodities extraction and constructing infrastructure like landing pads and other structures using in-situ resources.


Transformative Missions and Discoveries

Advanced Avionics

Develop advanced avionics to meet agency objectives, including radiation-hardened spaceflight computing technologies.

Advanced Manufacturing

Develop both terrestrial and in-space manufacturing technologies to make commercial and exploration missions more capable and affordable.

Autonomous Systems and Robotics

Develop autonomy and robotics technologies that enable and enhance the full range of science and exploration missions (both with and without crew).

Communications and Navigation

Develop communication, navigation, and timing approaches to support diverse asset (human or robotic) needs including establishing asset location in-space.

In-space Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM) and Rendezvous, Proximity Operations, and Capture (RPOC)

Develop technologies for in-space creation, maintenance, and evolution of space assets leveraging expanding in-space infrastructure.

Small Spacecraft Technologies

Develop technologies for small spacecraft and responsive launch to rapidly expand space capabilities at dramatically lower costs.