NASA & the Future of Human Space Flight

Image credit:  NASA

Image credit: NASA

The White House panel of independent space experts released their recommendations this week.  According to the panel, NASA’s plans for returning to the moon as a means of preparing for journeying to Mars simply will not work.  The reason is simple:  money.  NASA needs to spend approximately $3 billion more per year to achieve human spaceflight.

The panel gave President Obama several options concerning a variety of issues for NASA.  In 2004, President George W. Bush proposed returning to the moon by 2020.  To pay for returning to the moon, he planned on retiring the shuttle in 2010 and shutting down the International Space Station in 2015.  These deadlines are unworkable, according to the panel

All those deadlines have to change, the panel said. It proposed continuing to use the shuttle until 2011.  It also termed shutting down the ISS “unwise” and argued its life should be extended.  The panel also strongly encouraged including other countries and private for-profit firms in further space exploration.  The panel also emphasized exploring easier to reach near-Earth objects such as asteroids or the moons of Mars before returning to the moon.  For more information on the panel’s report, see ScienceNews.

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