Early technology assessments provide a program the necessary insight regarding the state of maturity of the elements being considered in the concept(s). A typical process used to establish a candidate technology list is shown in Figure 4. Based on the mission requirements, the system derived requirements are formulated. To satisfy the system requirements, technologies are inserted in to the candidate concepts(s) to determine their influence in accomplishing the requirements. This is an iterative process as depicted by the circular arrows in Figure 4. The results from these system analyses produce a list of potential technologies needed to enable or enhance the mission.
Figure 4. Establishing Technology Needs Utilizing this list of technologies, an assessment is conducted to establish the programmatic impacts. The assessment process is shown in Figure 5. First, the current state of these technologies are established and displayed by TRL as not started, partially completed or fully completed (blue color scale shown under TRL assessment in Figure 5). Then the degree of difficulty (technical, schedule, and cost) to mature these technologies is estimated. Based on these assessments, a prioritized list of both enabling and enhancing technologies can be developed. Typically the aggregate cost of maturing all of the technologies exceeds the available resources.
Normally the enabling technologies are funded and the enhancing technologies providing the best benefits are funded to a level commensurate with the remaining available resources. The described process’ benefits are that it provides a common understanding of the programmatic risk each element contributes to the project. This insight helps management in allocating adequate resources and margins to make the project successful.
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Technology assessments provide a status of the development maturity of specific technologies. Along with benefit analysis, the risks the project assumes can be quantified. Normally due to budget constraints, the competing technologies are prioritized and decisions are made which ones to fund. A detailed technology development plan is produced for the selected technologies to provide a roadmap to reach the desired maturity by the project’s critical design review.