Editor's note: Have a look at this FY 06 IRAD (Independent Research and Development Program) document developed internally at MSFC. MSFC is clearly trying to get itself at the head of the line when it comes to exploration technology. MFSC is also (clearly) trying to find work for people whose current tasks may be disappearing.
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"What is particularly disturbing about your post related to MSFC IRAD is the fact that the very NASA centers charged with doing "research" for the agency do not generally have an IRAD budget. The only reason that MSFC (or any of the flight centers) has such a budget is because they have the big money programs (Shuttle External Tank, Solid Rocket Boosters, etc.) from which they can siphon money to support such spurious activity. Looking at the posted document, it is clear that several of the technologies MSFC is looking at via IRAD are the same or very similar to technologies that are being funded under ongoing Exploration Technology Development programs. Thus, we have the unbelievable situation where one center can use so-called IRAD money to internally fund start-ups for work which at the same time is being cancelled (after being deemed not critical by the 60-day architecture studies) at other centers to fund exploration. Unfortunately, all IRAD money is still "NASA" money, and one MUST ask how it can make sense to fund seed activities for research which in some cases is ongoing at other centers but is about to be cancelled. If a technology is affordable to NASA under MSFC IRAD, why is it not affordable in its existing locations. Unfortunately this is probably not an isolated document!"