The NESDIS Center for Satellite Applications and Research (STAR), formerly ORA, Office of Research and Applications, consists of three research and applications divisions that encompass satellite meteorology, oceanography, climatology, and cooperative research with academic institutions. With such a wide background of talent, and a charter to develop operational algorithms and applications, STAR scientists develop satellite-derived land, ice, ocean, and atmospheric environmental data products in support of all of NOAA’s mission goals. In addition, in close association with the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation, STAR scientists actively work with the numerical modeling communities of NOAA, NASA, and DOD to support the development of new methods for assimilation of satellite data. In this new era of observations from many new satellite instruments, STAR aims to effectively integrate these data into multi-platform data products for utilization by the forecast and applications communities. Much of our work is conducted in close partnerships with other agencies, academic institutes, and industry. In order to support the nearly 400 current satellite-derived products for various users on a routine basis from our sister operations office, and to evolve to future systems requires an ongoing strategic planning approach that maps research and development activities from NOAA goals to user requirements. Since R&D accomplishments are not necessarily amenable to precise schedules, appropriate motivators and measures of scientific progress must be developed to assure that the product development cycle remains aligned with the other engineering segments of a satellite program. This article presents the status and results of this comprehensive effort to chart a course from the present set of operational satellites to the future.