Panel: Nation Needs Consensus on Space Exploration Goal

By Heilman, Wayne | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), April 9, 2013 | Go to article overview

Panel: Nation Needs Consensus on Space Exploration Goal


Heilman, Wayne, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)


Congress and the Obama administration need to agree on a long- term goal for space exploration, such as sending a human crew to Mars, for the U.S. space program to get the most out of limited budgets, according to panelists at a discussion Tuesday during the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

Jim Maser, president of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, said the nation's space program is "caught in the middle" between competing visions for space exploration from Congress and the administration that has led to a prolonged debate and argument about what direction the program should take. Maser was among three panelists discussing "Pioneering Leadership and Economic Competitiveness," which mostly focused on a December report by the National Research Council that recommended the nation develop a consensus on a long-term direction of the space program.

"We need to push the boundaries of the frontier," Maser said. "We are not there yet. Part of the overall model is to build infrastructure for further (space) exploration that can be used for commercial purposes. The goal is going beyond Earth's orbit with an eye toward Mars, but we still face a lot of uncertainties without a real path or roadmap."

The panel, moderated by former U.S. Rep. Robert Walker, R-Pa., also included Frank Morring Jr., senior editor for space of Aviation Week magazine, and Ron Sega, vice president and enterprise executive for energy and the environment at both Colorado State University and Ohio State University and vice chairman of the committee that completed the council's study. …

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