NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)

On June 14, 2019, a robot named Bumble became the first Astrobee robot to fly under its own power in space. Here, Bumble demonstrates a baby step of free flight by rotating in space. Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency watches over while flight controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center command Bumble. (credit: NASA astronaut Nick Hague / NASA)

On June 14, 2019, a robot named Bumble became the first Astrobee robot to fly under its own power in space. Here, Bumble demonstrates a baby step of free flight by rotating in space. Astronaut David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency watches over while flight controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center command Bumble. (credit: NASA astronaut Nick Hague / NASA)

The nation’s investments in space technology enable NASA to make a difference in the world around us. The Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is responsible for developing the crosscutting, pioneering, new technologies and capabilities needed by the agency to achieve its current and future missions.

STMD rapidly develops, demonstrates, and infuses revolutionary, high-payoff technologies through transparent, collaborative partnerships, expanding the boundaries of the aerospace enterprise. STMD employs a merit-based competition model with a portfolio approach, spanning a range of discipline areas and technology readiness levels. By investing in bold, broadly applicable, disruptive technology that industry cannot tackle today, STMD seeks to mature the technology required for NASA’s future missions in science and exploration while proving the capabilities and lowering the cost for other government agencies and commercial space activities.

Research and technology development take place within NASA Centers, in academia and industry, and leverage partnerships with other government agencies and international partners. STMD engages and inspires thousands of technologists and innovators creating a community of our best and brightest working on the nation’s toughest challenges.

By pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation, STMD allows NASA and our nation to remain at the cutting edge. After all, technology drives exploration. STMD:

  • Advances broadly applicable, transformational technology to infuse solutions into applications for which there are multiple customers
  • Competitively selects research by academia, industry, and the NASA Centers based on technical merit
  • Leverages the technology investments of our international, other government agency, academic and industrial partners
  • Coordinates with internal and external stakeholders, including academia, industry and other government agencies
  • Results in new inventions, new capabilities and the creation of a pipeline of innovators aimed at serving future national needs
  • Grows the nation’s innovation economy and creates high-tech jobs

Want to keep track of what private sector is doing in terms of space access and exploration?  Then check out the SMTD's Emerging Space web pages. Managed by SMTD, the Emerging Space Office was formed in recognition of the rising importance of private-sector individuals and organizations that invest their own time and money in space activities. This emerging space community is increasingly a major force in American space developments.

Want to get a glimpse of where NASA is headed in the future? Check out the NASA Technology Roadmaps. In 2010, NASA developed a set of 14 Technology Roadmaps to guide the development of space technologies. The 2015 NASA Technology Roadmaps expand and update the original 2012 roadmaps, providing extensive details about anticipated NASA mission capabilities and associated technology development needs (see roadmap links below). NASA believes sharing the roadmaps with the broader community will increase awareness, generate innovative solutions to provide the capabilities for space exploration and scientific discovery, and inspire others to become involved in America's space program.. 


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