Wanted! Your Views On America's Space Program Goals
Space shuttle Endeavour stands poised for space soon after being moved to Launch Pad 39A for the launch of STS-126 on Nov. 14, 2008.
Credit: NASA/Troy Cryder

It?s time to put your 21st century thinking cap because you?ve been invited to take part in a new study into why the U.S. has a space program.

The new study ?Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program? is looking for the public?s view on the following questions:

What?s the future of human, robotic, commercial, and personal spaceflight? Is your life impacted in a meaningful way by the space program? What kind of emphasis should the space program represent in going forward? How can the country?s civil, or non-military, space program address key national issues?

Views - positive or negative - of the general public are welcomed.

This study is sponsored exclusively by The National Academies, and it is not receiving any funds from government agencies or any other external sources. The assessment is a joint effort of the Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board.

?Specifically, we are anxious to hear a broad range of views from the public, including people from outside and inside traditional space interest sectors,? said Joe Alexander, study director for the appraisal. The effort is geared to explore the long-range rationale and goals of the civil space program, he told SPACE.com.

Best objective judgment

The ad hoc committee will prepare a report to advise the nation on key goals and critical issues in 21st century U.S. space policy. Furthermore, the committee?s to-do list includes:

  • Identifying overarching goals that are important for our national interest.

  • Identifying issues that are critically important to achieving these goals and ensuring the future progress of the U.S. space activities.

  • Discussing options to address unresolved issues.

  • Using its best objective judgment and recognizing other national priorities, the committee will explore a possible long term future for U.S. space activities that is built upon lessons learned and past successes; is based on realistic expectations of future resources; and is credible scientifically, technically, and politically.

What to do next?

First of all, visit the study?s Web site.

Once there, you?ll find a summary of the study charge, the committee roster, and also a questionnaire that can be completed and returned to the study group.

Note: Those wishing to take part are asked to provide their input by January 30, 2009!

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Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than four decades. He is past editor-in-chief of the National Space Society's Ad Astra and Space World magazines and has written for SPACE.com since 1999.