NRC report: NASA hasn’t made the case for a human asteroid mission

By Jeff Foust on 2012 December 6 at 6:52 am ET

The National Research Council released on Wednesday its report on NASA’s strategic direction, as requested by Congress. The report was not an evaluation of what NASA’s goals should be, but instead an evaluation of NASA’s current strategy, as outlined in its strategic plan and related documents. And the committee found those plans lacking.

“There is no national consensus on strategic goals and objectives for NASA,” the report states. “Absent such a consensus, NASA cannot reasonably be expected to develop enduring strategic priorities for the purpose of resource allocation and planning.”

“The 2011 NASA strategic plan and associated documents do not, in our view, constitute a strategy,” study chairman Albert Carnesale, a professor and former chancellor of UCLA, said in a telecon with reporters on Wednesday. The documents list NASA’s goals and programs, he said, “but there are no sense of priorities and no guidance for resource allocation, both of which would be essential to anything that would be called a strategy.”

One of the report’s biggest findings was that one of NASA’s biggest goals, sending a human mission to an asteroid by 2025, does not have widespread acceptance, even within NASA itself. “Despite isolated pockets of support for a human asteroid mission, the committee did not detect broad support for an asteroid mission inside NASA, in the nation as a whole, or from the international community,” the report stated.

Read more: NRC report: NASA hasn’t made the case for a human asteroid mission « Space Politics.

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