Thursday, October 22, 2009

President's space panel releases full report

The Human Space Flight Plans Committee final report has been released.

Here's the link to the full report.

You can click here to open a video player broadcasting the live news conference by members of the presidential panel in Washington.

More details to come, but here are some highlights from early reading and there are some distinctions and nuances from the public hearings of the panel and the summary report released earlier:

-- The committee compressed its destination options into three categories: going to Mars first, going to the Moon first to lay the foundation for later trips to Mars and using a flexible path that allows growth in deep-space travel ability. Augustine said in his opening remarks, "We ruled that out," of a direct-to-Mars approach.

-- The committee said that while Mars is the ultimate destination of human space exploration, it is not the best first destination. The report includes a littany of reasons why focusing efforts now on landing humans on Mars is not the best option. Furthermore, the panel deemed the option not viable for funding, safety and other reasons.

-- The committee says there are reasons to extend the International Space Station but that would require increased funding for science and engineering. They do not make a recommendation to extend the space shuttle program, but they do give several options for how that might work. They said shuttle is likely to not be finished with the last six missions until midway through 2011.

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