Frank's note: Readers have spoken-and the overwhelming majority of you want to see Ares 1/and V scrapped in favor of either some variant of Direct, or an EELV derivative. The most popular names suggested for the panel are:
Heres my input: Elon is a great rocket scientist, but with a vested interest in COTS D, his appointment is unlikely. While some readers mentioned academics and politicians, keep in mind Mr. Augustines statement that the panel would seek out astronauts, engineers, and others capable of evaluating the technical merits of human space flight. I dont profess to have the technical smarts to know whether or not Ares or EELV should lift Orion, but having written a book on the birth of the VSE (along with Keith) I still think it makes sense as the next step in human spaceflight-perhaps with a bit more emphasis on Mars over lunar outposts. The original VSE called for use of the moon only as a technology test bed to develop the systems that can take us further into the solar system. Since the departure of Admiral Steidle, that seems to have been deemphasized-a big mistake, in my view. I think my friend Buzz Aldrin is spot on in his missive to keep our eyes on the prize and not get locked into another moon race with the moon as the primary destination.
Many readers called for extending the life of the Shuttle and ISS as well. But in todays constrained environment, many more Shuttle flights much beyond 2011 and theyll be little left to pay for any new launch vehicle.
Readers, thanks for your comments. Lets see what happens next!
BTW, now that you've had a say-anybody change their minds?