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Augustine Committee’s Final Report Delivered to President Obama October 24, 2009

Posted by Nick Azer in Augustine Panel, Norm Augustine, Obama, U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee.
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The Review of Human Space Flight Plans committee (led by Norm Augustine) delivered its final report to President Obama on Thursday (The same day I suddenly didn’t have electricity…couple days of chaos there, but I’m back ;) ), and while there weren’t a lot of surprises per se (a draft version was available before, etc.), it’s still sparked plenty of fresh debate.

“‘The premier finding is that the human spaceflight program that the United States is currently pursuing is on an unsustainable trajectory.” -Norm Augustine, as reported by the Houston Chronicle

The panel found that NASA would need at least $3 billion more a year to complete it’s current slate of missions—an increase that seems unlikely in this economic climate. As a result, this landmark panel should result in big changes in NASA’s plans, especially regarding launch methods (namely scrapping the Ares rockets) and the scope/destinations of missions.

A notable suggestion from the panel is regarding having private companies assist NASA by launching astronauts for them—“space taxis“. This is right in step with Obama’s campaign space plan (which suggested “amplifying NASA’s reach” with the private sector and “unleashing the genius” of private enterprise—see my full analysis), and something I believe Obama may have had in mind all along (and just needed the panel to confirm).

I’ll have a more detailed look at the plan and the reaction up here at Luna C/I soon :)

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