In response to growing concern over the posture and long-term direction of the U.S. civilian space program, NASA Administrator Dr. James Fletcher formed a task group to define potential U.S. space initiatives, and to evaluate them in light of the current space program and the nation’s desire to regain and retain space leadership. The objectives of the study were to energize a discussion of the long-range goals of the civilian space program and to begin to investigate overall strategies to direct that program to a position of leadership.
The task group identified four candidate initiatives for study and evaluation. Each builds on NASA’s achievements in science and exploration, and each is a bold, aggressive proposal which would, if adopted, restore the United States to a position of leadership in a particular sphere of space activity. The four initiatives are: (1) Mission to Planet Earth, (2) Exploration of the Solar System, (3) Outpost on the Moon, and (4) Humans to Mars. All four initiatives were developed in detail, and the implications and requirements of each were assessed.
This process was not intended to culminate in the selection of one initiative and the elimination of the other three, but rather to provide four concrete examples which would catalyze and focus the discussion of the goals and objectives of the civilian space program and the efforts required to pursue them.
When this activity began, several studies relevant to NASA’s long-range goals and its ability to achieve those goals were already in progress. Some of these studies were being conducted by agencies external to NASA; others were internal NASA studies. This task group became familiar with those efforts, and sponsored others in areas not already covered. Additional information on all these studies is provided at the end of this report. The interested reader is referred to the published reports for detailed recommendations.
The major milestones of all relevant studies were plotted on a timeline, shown in Figure 1. This proved to be a useful summary for identifying the activities and their projected completion dates. A similar overview timeline should continue to be produced and revised, since it raises awareness of existing studies and coordinates related efforts.
This is not a final report. Rather, it is a status report describing the work accomplished to date, and how this work will continue. The report discusses long-term goals of the civilian space program, current posturing required to attain these goals, and the need for a continuing process to define, refine, and assess both the goals and the strategy to achieve them.
Figure 1. NASA Strategic/Long-Range Planning Activities
UNA-USA United Nations Association of the United States of America
SPC Strategic Planning Council
NAC NASA Advisory Council
AIA Aerospace Industries Association of America, Inc.
NCOS National Commission on Space
AIAA American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
NAS National Academy of Sciences
OSTP Office of Science and Technology Policy
NSTSS National Space Transportation and Support Study