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NRC Kicks Off Future of Human Spaceflight Study

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 25-Aug-2012
Updated: 25-Aug-2012 03:48 PM

The National Research Council (NRC) has formally kicked off the study on the future of human spaceflight that is required by the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

Section 204 of that law (P.L. 111-267) directed NASA to contract with the NRC in FY2012 -- which ends on September 30 -- for a "review of the goals, core capabilities, and direction of human spaceflight."   By law, the review is to include --

  • a broad spectrum of representation;
  • input from NASA's international partner discussions and NASA's Human Exploration Framework Team;
  • an examination of the relationship of national goals to foundational capabilities, robotic activities, technologies, and missions authorized in the law;
  • a review and prioritization of scientific, engineering, economic and social science questions to be addressed by human space exploration to improve the overall human condition; and
  • findings and recommendations for FY2014-2023.

The statement of task for the study, negotiated between NASA and the NRC based on the law, provides more details on what the committee is being charged to do.

The NRC's website says it is now in the "committee nomination process."    NRC officials have said previously that the study is expected to take 22 months once it begins, which would put its release in mid-2014.

The NRC currently has a separate study underway in response to language included in NASA's FY2012 appropriations bill by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) on NASA's Strategic Direction.   That study covers all of NASA's activities and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.


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