Exploration has been enabled by innovation. It could be a new form of navigation. Or improved propulsion. Or better endurance of materials. These extend the range of human reach.
Innovation involves trial and error. Exploring the properties of the innovation itself. Understanding the solution space that it enables.
Bringing down the cost of innovation accelerates the pace of experimentation. Repeated experimentation and demonstration informs refinement of the innovation. Refinement leads to maturity.
Maturity opens the door to possible adoption in more complex systems. Like ships going to sea. Or going to space.
ASTRA defines a research architecture as a set of tools and methodologies for solving a class of problems. The tools may be reconfigured to meet the needs of a particular research problem.
The type of research one can pursue is often constrained by the available instrumentation. Or by scheduling of an instrument. Or by travel budgets.
The external constraints on a problem often drive the pace and cost of research.
ASTRA is focused on research architectures for aerospace technologies. It is focused on a few common problems that many aerospace technologies face. It designs systems which can accommodate small experiments in flight conditions. It leverages research advances in computing, MEMS, and other sensors, and marries them with innovations in flight vehicle design.
ASTRA is particularly focused on small systems which can be packaged as nanopayloads such as CubeSats. The intent is to allow innovation in these payloads at a rapid rate, and thus mature them for integration into more complex systems, or bring them closer to their target missions.