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Perry, Lunine to Co-Chair NRC Human Spaceflight Study Committee

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 15-Oct-2012
Updated: 16-Oct-2012 03:43 PM

Former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and space scientist Jonathan Lunine will co-chair the National Research Council's new study on the future of the human spaceflight program.

Perry currently is a professor at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation.  Lunine is a professor at Cornell University and Director of its Center for Radiophysics and Space Research.

The study was requested by Congress in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, which directed NASA to contract with the NRC in FY2012 (which ended last month).   The study officially got under way in August, but the co-chairs were named just today; other committee members have not been announced yet.   NRC officials have previously indicated that the study would take about 22 months to complete.

According to its Statement of Task, the committee will "provide findings, rationale, prioritized recommendations, and decision rules that could enable and guide future planning for U.S. human space exploration" for the FY2014-FY2023 time period "while considering the program's likely evolution in 2015-2030."

Perry was Secretary of Defense from 1994-1997 after other stints at DOD -- including under secretary of defense for research and engineering --- and a long business career in high-tech companies.    HIs doctorate is in mathematics and he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Lunine is a highly respected space scientist whose work spans planetary science, theoretical astrophysics and astrobiology.  He is involved in planetary exploration missions like Cassini-Huygens and Juno, and is also a member of the science team for the James Webb Space Telescope.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The pairing of two individuals from the often disparate fields of science and engineering parallels NASA's current effort through the Mars Program Planning Group to develop a Mars exploration strategy that responds both to the agency's science goals and the President's directive to send humans to orbit Mars in the 2030s.  NASA's science programs are closely tied to priorities identified by NRC "decadal surveys" conducted about every 10 years (a decade) for the next 10 years of research.   Lunine was a member of the steering committee for the most recent (2010) decadal survey for astronomy and astrophysics.

Correction:  The spelling of Dr. Lunine's first name in the first sentence has been corrected, adding the "t" in Jonathan.


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