This is not so different from a Brain Storming Session or Ideation. The difference is the PCs have a plan and the GM brings up the major barriers. The PCs decide how they deploy their resources, and then the GM makes them roll for what works. The science can be wrong - as wrong as a Holywood movie or a Game Session but its the BEST science and problem-solving the Players can do.
Perfect is the enemy of Good in both a Problem Solving and Ethical Sense (as Perfect is the excuse to let evil prevail and no action to be taken*). Hard science RPG is wanting to learn new science stuff in the course of the game. I guess if we try (and most likely fail) to add more science in the game in the story I should count it as a HARD SCIFI GAME. Science has to be APPROACHABLE.
Like ISO 9001 - Controlled Progress in understanding more about science is the definition. Controlled progress - doing what we can to progress - of course to accept that we will fail, stumble, and encounter rare success - but what that doesn't measure is the CHANGE that happens. In a Controlled Progress you are actively changing - you may not change to be more successful quite immediately but you are putting in the work.
Learning Hard Scifi