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NASA's Mission: Clear as Mud

6 Sep 2009, 01:13 UTC
NASA's Mission: Clear as Mud
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

A provocative, timely article was posted on “The Space Review” site last week written by G. Ryan Faith of the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled, “Giving NASA a Clear Mission" . I generally concur with his insightful analysis of NASA’s historically vague mission definition, and I've provided a very brief summary of it below on which to base my comments. Bottom line, Faith suggests a new exploration mission for NASA that he thinks is clearer and whose goal is the open-ended “expansion of human influence” in space. We respond to this further below.
Let’s review his main points. Faith argues that currently NASA “has no mandate to explore space” and in addition Congress has tasked it with “a number of things that are related to neither space nor exploration”. He notes that the original Space Act of 1958 created NASA to “provide for research into problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere and for other purposes”. I agree that this was a rather vague and not particularly inspiring goal. It’s interesting to note that Dr. John Logsdon (former Director of the Space Policy Institute at GWU) has written a first-class historical analysis that includes documentation ...

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