Friday, January 22, 2010

The Future of NASA: Space Policy Issues Facing Congress

Summary

For the past several years, the priorities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) have been governed by the Vision for Space Exploration. The Vision was announced by
President Bush in January 2004 and endorsed by Congress in the 2005 and 2008 NASA
authorization acts (P.L. 109-155 and P.L. 110-422). It directed NASA to focus its efforts on
returning humans to the Moon by 2020 and some day sending them to Mars and “worlds
beyond.” The resulting efforts are now approaching major milestones, such as the end of the
space shuttle program, design review decisions for the new spacecraft intended to replace the
shuttle, and decisions about whether to extend the operation of the International Space Station. At
the same time, concerns have grown about whether NASA can accomplish the planned program
of human exploration of space without significant growth in its budget.
A high-level independent review of the future of human space flight, chaired by Norman R.
Augustine, issued its final report in October 2009. It presented several options as alternatives to
the Vision and concluded that for human exploration to continue “in any meaningful way,” NASA
would require an additional $3 billion per year above current plans. Committees in the House and
Senate have held hearings to consider the proposals. The Administration has not yet announced
its response.



The Future of NASA Space Policy Issues Facing Congress -