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January 30, 2009 Vol. 2, Issue 1


NASA should demonstrate its relevance in the post-Cold War world while restructuring its human spaceflight objectives, according to a new report by two retired senior NASA officials and a former director of the National Science Foundation.

The report’s authors include George Abbey (former Johnson Space Center Director), Neal Lane (former Director of the National Science Foundation), and John Muratore (former Senior Systems Engineer in the Space Shuttle Program at Johnson Space Center). Abbey and Lane are both currently Senior Fellows at the James Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and Muratore is a professor at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. The Baker Institute published the report.

The authors recommend a new five-point plan for NASA:

  1. Restructure the human space initiative and keep the space shuttle flying until 2015.
  2. Deliver short-term (within four years) payoffs in energy and the environment, especially climate change.
  3. Deliver longer-term payoffs (within four to eight years) for energy and the environment.
  4. Ensure an ongoing and effective robotic space science program.
  5. Implement a reinvigorated and effective aeronautical research program, with particular attention to low-carbon fuels and efficiency, to help ensure the future well-being of the nation’s aviation industry.

The recommendations call for a dramatic restructuring of the Constellation program, including the cancellation and redesign of key systems.

Read the full report. (PDF)

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