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Space Mission Analysis Branch

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SMAB focuses its expertise on existing and future space systems that support Human and Robotic Space Missions to inform NASA decision makers.

Serves as the premiere space concepts and system analysis organization informing NASA and inspiring the world of the art of the possible in achieving NASA’s mission.

Meet the team

Enabling customers to make thoroughly-informed decisions by conducting

  1. Pre-Phase A and Phase A studies formulating conceptual designs for robotic and human-occupied space systems.

  2. Analysis and Integration of long-term science and human exploration campaigns

  3. Independent assessments and integration of proposed, existing and future aerospace systems.

Product Lines

Vehicle Design

Mission/Flight Concept Design

Technology Assessment and Gap Analysis

Campaign Analysis

Portfolio Integration and Assessment

Strategy Development

Decision Analysis

SMAB conducts two kinds of studies

Pre-Phase A

  • Identify various feasible concepts for new space projects.
  • Identify missions consistent with charter and users involved.
  • Perform preliminary evaluations of possible missions.
  • Prepare program/project proposals, which include:

    Mission justification and objectives,
    Possible operations concepts and system architectures,
    and cost, schedule, and risk estimates.
  • Develop master plans for existing program areas.

Phase A

  • Refine conceptual designs for future space projects.
  • Prepare Mission Needs Statement and develop top-level requirements and corresponding evaluation criteria/metrics.
  • Identify alternative operations and logistic concepts along with project constraints and system boundaries.
  • Consider alternative design concepts, including: feasibility and risk studies, cost and schedule estimates and advanced technology requirements.
  • Demonstrate that credible, feasible design(s) exist and acquire systems engineering tools and models.
  • Initiate environmental impact studies and prepare Project Definition for Phase B.

How we do it

Mission, Concept, and Trade Analysis

  • We analyze space architectures and provide multi-system/concept integration and architecture design.
  • We use a variety of metrics to assess overall feasibility and mission designs.
  • We apply orbital mechanics to design and evaluate trajectories for spacecraft.

Life Cycle Analysis and Uncertainty Quantification

  • We assist with strategic planning to inform NASA decision makers.
  • We support experimental and operational flight vehicle projects through in-depth, multi discipline design and analysis.
  • We assist tactical decision-making via requirement sensitivity evaluations.

Technology Assessment and Portfolio Analysis

  • We evaluate or estimate the impacts of NASA technology on systems and missions.


Strategic Analysis for the Office of Chief Technologist

Strategic Analysis for the Office of Chief Technologist

Human Spaceflight Architecture Team (HAT)

Human Spaceflight Architecture Team

Space Communication Architecting

Space Communication Architecting

In-Space Assembly Seedling Study

In-Space Assembly Seedling Study

Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM)

Asteroid Robotic Redirect Mission (ARM)

Mars Study Capability Team

Mars Study Capability Team

Next Space Technology Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Habitat Integrated Analysis

NextSTEP Habitat Integrated Analysis

Exploration Medical Capabilities Team

Exploration Medical Capabilities Team

Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) Investigation Team and Capture System Module Team

ARM Investigation Team and Capture System Module Team

Earth Systematic Mission Program, Systems Engineering Working Group

Earth Systematic Mission Program, Systems Engineering Working Group

3D Winds

3D Winds

Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder

CLARREO Pathfinder

Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) Strategic Analysis

STMD Strategic Analysis

Independent Technical and Cost Reviews

Independent Technical and Cost Reviews