Principal Recommendations

This report offers specific recommendations pertaining to civil space goals and program content as well as suggestions relating to internal NASA management. These are summarized below in four primary groupings. In order to implement fully these recommendations and suggestions, the support of both the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch will be needed, and of NASA itself.

Principal Recommendations Concerning Space Goals

It is recommended that the United States' future civil space program consist of a balanced set of five principal elements:

Principal Recommendations Concerning Programs

With regard to program content, it is recommended that:

Principal Recommendations Concerning Affordability

It is recommended that the NASA program be structured in scope so as not to exceed a funding profile containing approximately 10 percent real growth per year throughout the remainder of the decade and then remaining at that level, including but not limited to the following actions:

Principal Recommendations Concerning Management

With regard to management of the civil space program, it is recommended that:

It is considered by the Committee that the internal organization of any institution should be the province of, and at the discretion of, those bearing ultimate responsibility for the performance of that institution. Hence, the following possible internal structural changes are offered for the consideration of the NASA Administrator:

In summary, we recommend:

  1. Establishing the science program as the hightest priority element of the civil space program, to be maintained at or above the current fraction of the budget.
  2. Obtaining exclusions for a portion of NASA's employees from existing civil service rules or, failing that, beginning a gradual conversion of selected centers to Federally Funded Research and Development Centers affiliated with universities, using as a model the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  3. Redesigning the Space Station Freedom to lessen complexity and reduce cost, taking whatever time may be required to do this thoroughly and innovatively.
  4. Pursuing a Mission from Planet Earth as a complement to the Mission to Planet Earth, with the former having Mars as its very long-term goal but relieved of schedule pressures and progressing according to the availability of funding.
  5. Reducing our dependence on the Space Shuttle by phasing over to a new unmanned heavy lift launch vehicle for all but missions requiring human presence.

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The Committee would be pleased to meet again in perhaps six months should the NASA Administrator so desire, in order to assist on the implementation process. In the meantime, NASA may wish to seek the assistance of its regular outside advisory group, the NASA Advisory Council, to provide independent and ongoing advice for implementing these findings.

Each of the recommendations herein is supported unanimously by the members of the Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program (see Appendix III).