The Vision for Space Exploration:
A Brief History (Part 4)


Posted on November 8, 2012 by Paul Spudis

In the last installment, I described NASA’s development of Project Constellation, the architecture chosen during the Bush Administration to implement the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). When President Barack Obama assumed the nation’s helm in 2009, his attitude toward the VSE and the U.S. civil space program in general was ambiguous. As a senator, Obama was not noted for any particular interest in space and suggested during his 2008 Presidential campaign that money spent on space would be better spent on education. This suggestion raised eyebrows among long-time, space supporting Democrats and a “recalibration” must have occurred, as Obama subsequently expressed strong support for Project Constellation as the follow-on program to replace the retiring Space Shuttle in a later Florida space coast campaign appearance.

Once elected, Obama decided the strategic direction of the civil space program needed to be re-evaluated. In time-honored Washington tradition, a committee was convened to study program direction and make recommendations. Norman Augustine, the former CEO for Lockheed-Martin, chaired a blue-ribbon committee made up of members tapped from government, industry and academia. Their charter was to evaluate NASA’s progress on the VSE and to make suggestions on possible changes in program emphasis and approach. The committee began their six-month study in the spring of 2009, holding meetings in several cities, including those adjacent to major NASA centers.

Read more: The Vision for Space Exploration: A Brief History (Part 4) | Spudis Lunar Resources.

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