ExplorNova Working Group is a research team, supported by ISSI Bern, that aims to capture and analyse the process of innovation in space technologies based on the history, the design and the realisation of “key space science instruments”. In this study, the Working Group intends to address the following issues:
- How do new technologies emerge and diffuse in space science?
- How do science goals, technology and management interact in the design of space mission and act on innovation?
- Is there any common pattern in the innovation processes that once identified could be used for future space instruments?
Space science missions are prototypes composed of novel and well-known technologies. These spacecrafts contain the most advanced technology at the time of their launch. Their developments pull up new technological concepts, which rest on advanced technologies, and are conditions for the success of a mission. The space machines are built to survive in hostile environments with a limited amount of energy on-board power. They are not supposed to be repaired in orbit. Their design and construction span over decades, which provides enough data to reconstruct their technical heritage and lineages. They are both visionary and ambitious industrial projects, and present big challenges for R&D laboratories. The motivation behind their production is mainly scientific and does not suffer strongly from market pressure. For these reasons, space missions represent powerful tools to analyse the process of incremental and breakthrough innovations.