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Bold Steps: Financial Team Awardee Strengthens NASA’s Moon to Mars Mission

Caleb L. Lovejoy |
August 20, 2019

When Arden Robertson took the initiative to submit an idea for using software to track critical spaceflight items that need to be purchased on a fast track, she was pleasantly surprised that a financial support team pitch would be taken seriously at a center full of scientist and engineers.

Now, Robertson is one of the latest Innovation Charge Accounts (ICA) awardees, whose project received $10,000 that will be invested to help NASA save time and resources as the agency prepares for its next giant leap with the Artemis program. Robertson’s software is in the prototype phase but could soon become an agency-wide initiative.

 “With NASA’s bold target to have boots on the lunar surface by 2024, groundbreaking ideas -- both big and small -- will be required to make it a reality. JSC has innovators across all directorates working in every organization at the center,” said JSC Deputy Chief Technologist Ronald Clayton.

“Everyone can innovate and the JSC Chief Technologist Office and the JSC Technology Working Group (JTWG) works diligently to review and select projects to invest in that show high potential for enhancing or enabling both human space exploration missions and JSC’s Center Operations,”  Clayton added.

Individuals from anywhere within the center can earn ICA funding for creative ideas that have the potential to solve problems or respond to challenges in the Artemis program. If selected, awardees must implement their ideas within a short 16-week timeframe to test their effectiveness. 

“I’m thankful the ICA decided to invest in someone in the business sector,” Robertson said. “In the past, most awardees originate from engineering or medical backgrounds. I was granted an opportunity, and I ran with it. It is very rewarding to know that NASA sees this software as having an agency-wide reach and supporting the Moon to Mars initiative.”

Managing multi-million dollar budgets relies heavily on analytics to provide the best quality service to every NASA directorate customer. Highly complex budgets can be understood in detail with a modern dashboard interface using Robertson’s innovative approach with this sophisticated database. Another major benefit of the technology is the ability to efficiently track funds at a more detailed level.

“The system produces on-demand quick analysis using the latest cutting edge statistics,” Robertson said. “As a result, mission-critical items can be procured using the taxpayers’ dollar to its fullest extent each budget cycle, which is vital to achieving the Moon to Mars mission.”

Funding innovative ideas is one of many bold steps that push the boundaries of human exploration. The Artemis program represents the determined men and women working to establish sustainable life on the Moon while paving the way to Mars.