A report by Space Lift Washington and published by NASA Watch suggests a major new space policy initiative is under consideration and may be announced by US President George Bush at celebrations planned for the centenary of flight at Kitty Hawk in North Carolina December 17th.
As the full implications sinks in of funding three decades of a space program with no serious long term policy planning, Congress has become increasingly hesitant to offer NASA a blank check anymore.
From a variety of backgrounds and constituencies, pressure is being placed on Congress and the Bush Administration to get serious about space.
Arguing that the problem is not so much any perceived threats from China, many seasoned industry professionals are pointing to the public fiscal responsibilities of Congress to oversee NASA's spending, and the mounting pressure from the commercial sector that wants a new deal for space vendors that sees the cosy big aerospace dominance of the industry - and funding - broken up.
In among all this is the assumption that the US cannot end its human spaceflight program. And if the money is to be spent, then it should be spent with specific national technology and industry goals in place - including measures to encourage new suppliers to offer services at what is hoped will be lower prices.
According to Space Lift Washington, President Bush may announce at Kitty Hawk a return to manned lunar exploration but without any specific massive new funding, forcing NASA to get serious about what it wants to do with it considerable human spaceflight assets and decades of experience.
The initiative by Bush follows a year-long review of the future directions of the American space program in the immediate decades ahead.
Space Lift's Frank Sietzen quoting Washington sources writes that a central recommendation maybe the "resumption of manned lunar flights to develop advanced technologies that can support U.S. astronauts working beyond Earth orbit to not only the Moon, but eventually to near-Earth asteroids and Mars."
The Space Lift report further added that: "in an early phase of the meetings, manned Mars expeditions were considered too expensive and risky to adopt as a central goal for the civil space program"
However, Bush was said to being "urged to factor in future interplanetary manned flight capabilities as part of the justification for a return to the moon."
Lawmakers Tells NASA To Cool Its Jets On OSP
"We are writing to express our deep concern with NASA's current approach to the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) program," said the October 21 letter to NASA chief Sean O'Keefe. It was signed by House Science Committee chairman Sherwood Boehlert and ranking Democrat Ralph Hall.
The United States has not yet decided what its space program is to look like, they said.
The White House has formed a committee to look into the space station and a possible replacement for the space shuttle, after the Columbia broke up on descent in February, killing all seven astronauts aboard.
"Therefore, neither the mission nor the benefits of the OSP are knowable at this point," said the letter, of which AFP obtained a copy.
NASA has launched an OSP website. Posted are artists' renderings of stubby-winged craft similar to the shuttle.
"NASA's Orbital Space Plane program has successfully completed its systems requirements review to evaluate the concept design of the nation's next space vehicle," the website said.
"NASA is proceeding with OSP development before we -- the Congress, the White House and NASA -- have reached any agreement either on appropriate NASA goals for human space flight beyond the International Space Station or on the extent to which OSP is an appropriate approach to support those goals," the letter said.
"It is even too soon to know whether OSP will significantly increase crew safety for missions to low Earth orbit and we believe that any crewed replacement vehicle will be judged by the extent to which it significantly improves safety."
The lawmakers also said NASA's five-year budget plan for developing the new vehicle was no longer credible.
Investigators into the Columbia disaster frequently pointed the finger at tight NASA budgets.
"Prior human space flight projects at NASA have been plagued by problems stemming from the unrealistic cost estimates put forth at their inception," the lawmakers said.
"We are not prepared to let budgetary gamesmanship damage another NASA program."
They asked O'Keefe to shelve the project until it is approved by the White House and by Congress.Lunar Ice Explorers Could Power Up With Solar Over Laser Transmission
Huntsville - May 13, 2003
NASA/MSFC has a requirement for laser-photovoltaic wireless power transmission research and development for a near term application in investigation of ice resources in dark, cold lunar polar craters. NASA/MSFC intends to purchase the items from The Boeing Company, Rocketdyne Propulsion and Power, 6633 Canoga Avenue,Canoga, Park, CA 91309-7922.
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|