8 September 2009

Augustine Commission Summary Report Posted

Posted by Ryan Anderson


I’ve posted before about the “Augustine Commission” – a panel of aerospace experts assembled to assess the status of NASA’s human spaceflight program. Well, today they released a 12 page summary of their findings. The full report is still in the works, but this 12 page summary is the short and sweet version. I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes and read the summary, but  if you don’t have time, here is a list of some of the key findings:

  • “The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory.”
  • “The Committee finds that Mars is the ultimate destination for human exploration; but it is not the best first
  • “When constrained to [the current] budget profile, Ares I and Orion are not available until after the ISS
    has been de-orbited. The heavy-lift vehicle, Ares V, is not available until the late 2020s, and worse,
    there are insufficient funds to develop the lunar lander and lunar surface systems until well into the
    2030s, if ever.”
  • “Under current conditions, the gap in U.S. ability to launch astronauts
    into space will stretch to at least seven years. The Committee did not identify any credible
    approach employing new capabilities that could shorten the gap to less than six years.”
  • “Not to extend [ISS] operation would significantly impair U.S. ability to develop and lead future international
    spaceflight partnerships.”
  • “Commercial services to deliver crew to low-Earth orbit are within reach.”
  • “Investment in a well-designed and adequately funded space technology program is critical to enable progress in exploration.”