Norm Augustine Assesses the Future of the US Space Program

Norm Augustine
Norm Augustine

Everything from your cell phones, televisions, missileguidance systems and war fighter situational awareness systems depend on satellite-based networks.  So why is America’s presence in space in jeopardy?

According to Norm Augustine’s Augustine Commission report, if NASA’s current program and budgetary constraints are followed, the space shuttle will be phased out in 2011. The International Space Station will potentially be scuttled in 2015 and after spending $44 Billion and intentionally will be crashed into the Pacific ocean.  The space shuttle will be removed from service without a replacement, forcing NASA to buy seats on the Russian Soyuz vehicle for its astronauts at $50 million per seat.
Norm Augustine, who will be speaking at the Potomac Officers Club next month, (Register here) might ask WWKS? (What Would Kennedy Say?) As NASA’s budget and operational plan stands, the US would have to buy seats from the Russians to send Astronauts to repair the damage caused by natural forces or potential enemy attack.  Here are some of the Augustine Commission’s key recommendations to reverse this trend and make NASA the world leader in space exploration it was during the days of John F. Kennedy:

The right budget for the right mission: NASA’s budget should match the scope of its goals, and NASA should be allowed to shape its organization and infrastructure accordingly while maintaining terrestrial and orbital facilities of national importance.

International partnerships: The US should retake its leadership role in international efforts of human space exploration.  We should actively engage international partners in all missions, yielding benefits to international relations and more resources for space exploration.

The space shuttle and the human-spaceflight gap: Under current budgetary constraints, the US will be unable to launch astronauts into space for at least seven years.  The committee found no way to shorten the gap to less than six years other than extending the life of the Space Shuttle program.

Extending the International Space Station: The ROI to both the US and international partners would be dramatically enhanced by extending the life of the ISS.  Failure to extend its operation would detract from US ability to develop and lead future international partnership in spaceflight.

To hear Norm Augustine’s insights into the future of human space exploration, be sure to attend the Potomac Officers Club’s luncheon event on December 2nd. Click here to register.

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