Future of Human Spaceflight: The Augustine Report

(Recorded December 11, 2009.) 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." Among its recommendations: 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.

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