The Future of Human Spaceflight:
The Augustine Report and its Implications
"To ensure the Nation is pursuing the best trajectory"
In June 2009, NASA created the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee and charged it with conducting "an independent review of ongoing U.S. human space flight plans and programs, as well as alternatives, to ensure the Nation is pursuing the best trajectory for the future of human space flight – one that is safe, innovative, affordable, and sustainable."
Retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine was named committee chairman. The committee presented its report in October 2009. The report found that "The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory. It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources."
Major recommendations include:
extend the life of the international space station until 2020;
look to commercial spaceflight for placing astronauts in low-Earth orbit; and
consider flights to asteroids and other locations as part of a long-term plan to get to Mars.
A full copy of the Augustine Report is available at http://www.nasa.gov/offices/hsf/home/index.html
David A. Mindell serves as moderator of the panel. Mindell is Dibner Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing, Professor of Engineering Systems, Director of the School's Program in Science, Technology, and Society, and Director of the MIT Space, Policy, and Society Research Group.
Panel Speakers are:
Norman Augustine; Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Retired, Lockheed Martin Corporation; Chairman, Review of Human Spaceflight Plans Committee | Prof. Edward F. Crawley; MIT Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Member, Review of Human Spaceflight Plans Committee | Prof. John Logsdon; Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Affairs; George Washington University; Distinguished Visiting Professor; Space, Policy and Society Research Group, MIT | Prof. Asif Siddiqi; Assistant Professor of History, Fordham University
Where do we go from here?