Being the head of a Research and Development Department requires looking into the future to anticipate what customers’ needs will be in the years to come. Choosing to pursue a technology customers will not ultimately invest in wastes the two most precious commodities they have: time and money. What they really need is a crystal ball.
Air Force Space Command is providing that crystal ball. A recently published Long-Term Science and Technology Challenges Memo gives both industry and academia a look at what AFSPC leadership sees as top science and technology priorities in the coming decades.
“This document will give industry and academia a roadmap to what technologies we need to meet future missions,” said Dr. Merri Sanchez, Air Force Space Command’s Chief Scientist. “By capturing our needs 10 to 30 years in the future, we can ensure the enabling, disruptive and game-changing technologies are matured and available when we need them.”
Letting researchers know what the requirements are for the future allows AFSPC to guide the development of fledging or conceptual technologies to meet those requirements. Knowing which technologies to develop and mature helps industry and academia focus their research and development budgets and grants to get the most from their investment.
“Once we know the art of the possible, we can help focus on which technologies to mature,” said Dr. Sanchez.
Innovation in space and cyberspace capabilities is critical to AFSPC maintaining an edge in those domains. Dr. Sanchez said it is evident our adversaries are investing in science and technology also.
Dr. Sanchez has a unique view of industry needs due to her time in industry, in addition to her 28 years with NASA and time with AFSPC.
“In my time in industry I would have loved to have a document like this. Industry and researchers spend a lot of time figuring out where to put research and development dollars,” said Dr. Sanchez. “Those budgets can be in the tens of millions of dollars, so there is a lot of inherent risk.”
AFSPC’s goal is to open a dialogue with researchers. AFSPC science and technology representatives plan to meet with industry and academic leaders later in the year to discuss potential solutions to AFSPC’s science and technology challenges.
Source:: Air Force Space Command