Feeds

No sacred cows in NASA spaceflight review, chairman says

Next-gen rockets included

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The chairman of a panel appointed by the Obama administration to take a new look a NASA's human spaceflight program said he plans to lead an independent review that will keep an open mind on the agency's long-term plans, including whether its next-generation rocket plans should be modified or scrapped.

"We're to take a fresh look and go where the facts are and basically call it the way we see it," Norman Augustine, a former chief executive of Lockheed Martin, told reporters on a conference call Friday.

Augustine, who led a major review of the space program in 1990, said the 10-person panel will review a wide range of facets of NASA's human space plan, including the architecture of the next-generation rockets that are currently planned to replace the space shuttle program. NASA has already spent more than $6.9 billion on the Ares and Orion model rockets under the so-called Constellation Program.

Without making any predictions, Augustine said the panel wouldn't hesitate to recommend making changes to those plans if the facts support it.

Other considerations under review included where in space NASA should send astronauts. Augustine said the committee will consider a wide range of missions, including those in the earth's orbit, on the moon, to mars and beyond. He also said the program should be "balanced" between sending both robotic and human cargo, but acknowledged Obama's support of human spaceflight.

The panel will balance a variety of considerations, including costs, scientific benefit, and the feasibility of different missions. It will be taking a fresh look at the contractors NASA uses, as well.

The remaining nine members of the panel have not yet been chosen, but will be people of "different perspectives" such as astronauts and engineers, Augustine said. They plan to hold open meetings and accept public comments. The goal is to have a set of recommendation on Obama's desk by August. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Vote now for LOHAN's stirring mission patch motto
Does the shed actually know no bounds, or what?
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.