A White Paper
April 6, 1995

John C. Mankins
Advanced Concepts Office
Office of Space Access and Technology

Technology Readiness Levels Summary

TRL 1 Basic principles observed and reported
TRL 2 Technology concept and/or application formulated
TRL 3 Analytical and experimental critical function and/or characteristic proof-of-concept
TRL 4 Component and/or breadboard validation in laboratory environment
TRL 5 Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment
TRL 6 System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment (ground or space)
TRL 7 System prototype demonstration in a space environment
TRL 8 Actual system completed and “flight qualified” through test and demonstration (ground or space)
TRL 9 Actual system “flight proven” through successful mission operations

Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) is a systematic metric/measurement system that supports assessments of the maturity of a particular technology and the consistent comparison of maturity between different types of technology. The TRL approach has been used on-and-off in NASA space technology planning for many years and was recently incorporated in the NASA Management Instruction (NMI 7100) addressing integrated technology planning at NASA. However, to be most useful the general model must include:

(a) ‘basic’ research in new technologies and concepts (targeting identified goals, but not necessary specific systems),

(b) focused technology development addressing specific technologies for one or more potential identified applications,

(c) technology development and demonstration for each specific application before the beginning of full system development of that application,

(d) system development (through first unit fabrication), and

(e) system ‘launch’ and operations.

Credit Photo: NX Design

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