Cheshire Puss, Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
`I don’t much care where–’ said Alice.
`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

Direction for Space Needed

Posted on December 8, 2012 by Paul Spudis

A recently released report by a committee of the National Research Council (NRC) has examined the current activities and future strategic direction of the U.S. civil space program. The report concluded that NASA’s space program doesn’t have a direction and is unlikely to make significant progress without one. And for this impasse, the report points to the nation’s political leadership.

Congress directed the NRC to undertake this study in 2011 in response to the administration discarding the 2004 Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) – a move undertaken without consulting Congress. In place of the VSE vague notions were offered for developing new technology and the promise of future human missions to a near-Earth asteroid and possibly the moons of Mars. No rationale or mission objective was outlined for these supposed goals and it was feared that this apparent lack of strategic direction was irretrievably destroying a national capability.

The NRC study found there was little support inside or outside the agency for a human asteroid mission. They noted that over the years NASA has adopted many mission statements and objectives and that the verbiage has become increasingly vague with the passage of time. The latest “vision statement” for the agency doesn’t even mention space (or aeronautics, for that matter), a curious omission for NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Read more: Direction for Space Needed | Spudis Lunar Resources.

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