The Future of NASA - A Congressional Research Service Report

The Future of NASA: Space Policy Issues Facing Congress, Congressional Research Service (PDF)

"Summary of Major Issues for Congress

- Is there a national consensus for human exploration beyond Earth orbit, despite the inherent risks and the substantial cost?

- If so, what destination or destinations should NASA's human exploration program explore? Should the Moon remain the target, as under current plans? Should there be a graduated sequence of targets as in the Augustine committee's "flexible path" option?

- If human exploration beyond Earth orbit is too costly or too dangerous, should NASA focus its efforts on human missions in Earth orbit, robotic exploration, technology development, other activities such as science and aeronautics, or some combination of these?

- Should the space shuttle program be terminated at the end of 2010 (or in early 2011) as currently planned? If so, how should the transition of the shuttle workforce and facilities be managed? If the shuttle program is to be extended, what actions are needed to ensure the safety of its crews after 2010, and what impact will its continuing cost have on the availability of funds for other NASA programs?

- Should U.S. use of the International Space Station continue past its currently planned termination at the end of 2015? If so, what impact will the additional cost have on the availability of funds for other NASA programs? If not, when and how should the International Space Station be deorbited?

- Are the currently planned Orion and Ares vehicles the best choices for delivering astronauts and cargo into space? Could commercial services take the place of Orion and Ares I for launching humans into low Earth orbit? If so, what steps should NASA take to develop that capability? Is Ares V the best heavy-lift launch option? If not, which of the alternatives is preferable?

- How should NASA's multiple objectives be prioritized? What is the proper balance between human spaceflight, science, aeronautics, and education programs, and how can the balance be maintained if the cost of the larger, more prominent programs grows?"

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This page contains a single entry by Marc Boucher published on January 22, 2010 2:56 PM.

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