Augustine Committee To Release Final Report Oct. 22

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WASHINGTON — Members of a White House-appointed panel tasked with reviewing options for U.S. human spaceflight will hold a press conference Oct. 22 at the National Press Club here to announce the release of their final report, according to a NASA official.

Former Lockheed Martin chief Norm Augustine, who chairs the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, will be joined during the conference by fellow panelist Edward Crawley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who led the Augustine panel’s assessment of possible destinations for NASA’s human spaceflight program.

In a summary report delivered Sept. 8, the White House-appointed panel concluded that unless the United States is prepared to eventually add up to $3 billion a year to NASA’s budget, the agency has little hope of sending astronauts beyond low Earth orbit for decades to come. NASA’scurrent plans call for retiring the space shuttle in 2010, fielding the Ares 1 rocket and Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2015 and building the Ares 5 heavy-lift rocket and Altair lunar lander before embarking for the Moon around 2020. The Augustine committee, however, concluded that the only way for the United States to come close to achieving those goals would be to give NASA a sizable budget boost and commit now to abandoning the international space station in 2016.

Print copies of the committee’s final report will be available during the media event, scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT, and an electronic copy of the final report will be posted to the committee’s Web site at the same time.