The Research Directorate (RD) provides the research and technology development capabilities required by the present and future research and technology needs of the Aeronautics Research, Exploration Systems and Space Operations Technology, Science, and Systems Analysis and Advanced Concepts Product Units.

The Research Directorate functions as a core resource for Research and Technology skills and capabilities for the rest of the Center. The organization is broken into 25 branches and is highly interdependent with the Engineering Directorate, the Systems Analysis & Concepts Directorate and the Office of Strategic Analysis, Communication & Business Development to provide research and technology development to all of the business units.

RD develops and delivers high quality test data to meet the current and future needs of the Agency Aeronautics Research, Exploration Systems, Space Operations, Office of the Chief Technologist, Office of the Chief Engineer, and Science mission customers and the national research and engineering community through stewardship of ground testing capabilities.  Primary customers are the Aeronautics Evaluation and Test Capabilities (AETC) and the Center Product Units (PUDs).