The U.S. lacks a coherent integrated architecture, organization, and strategy for planning capabilities and investments in space-based environmental monitoring. In order to clarify the underlying problem, this paper contributes a new way to conceptualize the capability development process in terms of a two dimensional value stream - within project development and between project developments. Using this framework, the nature of the observed inconsistent service delivery - often attributed to a "gap" in the research to operations handoff - is investigated through an analysis of several historical projects. It is found that the issues are deeper than "poor coordination;" further, that programs do not progress, as expected, from research to operations. Even when the progression is expanded to separate science maturity from technology maturity, many programs experience maturity cycles as major new generations are initiated. By way of solution, four architectural alternatives are proposed and evaluated. However, until a coordinated vision for remote sensing is agreed to, taking steps to refine alter or clarify agency roles may be of limited value.