NASA’s Priorities

Appendix A: Strategic Framework for NASA 

I. NASA Mission Directorates & Office of Chief Technologist

NASA’s Mission to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research, draws support from four Mission Directorates, each with a specific responsibility.

  • · The Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)   NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) works to solve the challenges that still exist in our nation’s air transportation system: air traffic congestion, safety and environmental impacts. NASA aeronautics’ four research programs conduct fundamental, cutting-edge research into new aircraft technologies, as well as systems-level research into the integration of new operations concepts and technologies into the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). A fifth program manages a portfolio of wind tunnels and other testing facilities (icing, propulsion), flight research and support aircraft, and the evolution of test technologies at NASA centers around the country. (
  • · The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) leads the Agency in four areas of research: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics. SMD works closely with the broader scientific community, considers national initiatives, and uses the results of National Research Council studies to define a set of “Big Questions” in each of these four research areas. These questions, in turn, fuel mission priorities and the SMD research agenda. The SMD also sponsors research that both enables, and is enabled by, NASA’s exploration activities. SMD has a portfolio of Education and Public Outreach projects that are connected to its research efforts. (
  • · The Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate provides the Agency with leadership and management of NASA space operations related to human exploration in and beyond low-Earth orbit. HEO also oversees low-level requirements development, policy, and programmatic oversight. The International Space Station, currently orbiting the Earth with a crew of six, represents the NASA exploration activities in low-Earth orbit.Exploration activities beyond low Earth orbit include the management of Commercial Space Transportation, Exploration Systems Development, Human Space Flight Capabilities, Advanced Exploration Systems, and Space Life Sciences Research & Applications. The directorate is similarly responsible for Agency leadership and management of NASA space operations related to Launch Services, Space Transportation, and Space Communications in support of both human and robotic exploration programs.. (
  • 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. (

Please visit each NASA organization website to find detailed information about current projects and current areas of interest.


II. NASA Research Areas of Interest

NASA research priorities are defined by the Mission Directorates—Aeronautics Research, Science, Human Exploration and Operations, and Space Technology. Each Mission Directorate covers a major area of the Agency’s research and technology development efforts.

Information about current NASA research solicitations can be found on NSPIRES at (select “Solicitations” and then “Open Solicitations”).

Research priorities for each of the Mission Directorates can be found at the following locations:

Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD)

Researchers responding to the ARMD should propose research that is aligned with one or more

of the ARMD programs. Proposers are directed to the following:

Science Mission Directorate (SMD)

Detailed information on SMD research priorities is available at the following URLs:

Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate

For information on HEO programs, please go to and click on programs

Space Technology (OCT)

For the Space Technology programs,  please go to
















Appendix B: NASA Education Strategic Coordination Framework


I. Overview

As identified in the 2011 NASA Strategic Plan, education is one of the Agency’s cross-cutting

management strategies. High achievement in STEM education is essential to the

accomplishment of NASA’s mission. NASA contributes to national efforts for achieving

excellence in STEM education through a comprehensive education portfolio implemented by

the Office of Education, the Mission Directorates, and the NASA Centers. NASA will continue

the Agency’s tradition of investing in the Nation’s education programs and supporting the

country’s educators who play a key role in preparing, inspiring, exciting, encouraging, and

nurturing the young minds of today that will manage and lead the Nation’s laboratories and

research centers of tomorrow.



The NASA Education Strategic Coordination Framework: A Portfolio Approach describes the

alignment of NASA’s education portfolio with the 2011 NASA Strategic Plan and creates an

agency-wide strategic planning, implementation and evaluation framework for NASA’s

investments in education. This Framework establishes three educational outcomes:


  • · Outcome 1 – Higher Education: Contribute to the development of the STEM workforce

in disciplines needed to achieve NASA’s strategic goal through a portfolio of


  • · Outcome 2 – Elementary and Secondary Education: Attract and retain students in STEM

disciplines through a progression of educational opportunities for students, teachers,

and faculty.

  • · Outcome 3 – Informal Education: Build strategic partnerships and linkages between

STEM formal and informal education providers that promote STEM literacy and

awareness of NASA’s mission.


The plan encompasses all education efforts undertaken by NASA and guides the Agency’s

relationships with external education partners. Proposers are strongly encouraged to become

familiar with this document. It may be found at:

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