Silverbird Astronautics

Technology Assessment

Propulsion link Analysis link Trajectory link Launcher link

Most of the projects we are presented with are best served by existing technologies. If a new technology is required, it is probably in an advanced state of development elsewhere. This poses a problem for anyone investing time or money in a fundamentally new technology - no matter how clever the underlying idea, and how successful the development process, the end result may be of little value. Either there is no requirement for what the proposed new technology offers, or the requirement may be more readily served by adapting existing technologies.

We can assess the real-world prospects of a wide range of new technologies, especially in the defense and aerospace fields. This is not a simple assessment of technology readiness levels, but involves three distinct elements. The probability of technical success, in light of finite available resources, must of course be assessed. Equally important, potential applications for the new technology must be found and assessed. Finally, it is necessary to identify alternative technologies that might better serve these markets.

Our work in the IHPRPT program developed a broad framework of metrics for technology assessment in the spacecraft propulsion field. While this was an impressive piece of work, we prefer the more efficient approach of offering specific guidance at the earliest possible stage of a particular technology-development project.

Defense link Awareness link Assessment link IHPRPT link