— A blue-ribbon panel charged with reviewing
human spaceflight plans will hold its inaugural meeting here June 17.
President BarackObama’s science adviser, John Holdren, ordered the review, announcing May 7 that the panel would be led by former Lockheed Martin Chief Executive Norman Augustine and given an August deadline for identifying a range of options for continuing manned spaceflight beyond the retirement of the space shuttle.
Topics on the meeting agenda, which is open to the public, include previous studies on
human spaceflight, international cooperation, commercial human spaceflight capabilities, current
space policy and a discussion of the rockets developed under the U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, according to a May 29 NASA release. The June 17 meeting will be held at the Carnegie Institution for Science here.
Augustine is expected to convene as many as four public meetings involving the full panel. At least some portion of the panel and its NASA support staff is expected to meet weekly for non-public working sessions, according to a source close to the planning effort.
In addition, sources familiar with the planning said the 10-member commission is under some pressure to produce interim recommendations in time to allow the White House to amend NASA’s 2010 budget request before lawmakers finish drafting spending bills. While Obama requested nearly $6.2 billion for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate – the part of the agency in charge of building a shuttle replacement – NASA and the White House characterized the request as a placeholder amount that could change once the Augustine panel reports back.
As of press time May 29, NASA had not yet announced the panel’s membership beyond Augustine. NASA officials attributed the delay to the bureaucratic hurdles that go along with establishing blue-ribbon panels that comply with Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) rules and regulations.
Several sources, however, said that Aerospace Corp. President and Chief Executive Wanda Austin, engineer and Boeing executive Bo Bejmuk, MIT professor and NASA consulting engineer Edward F. Crawley, engineer and former NASA astronaut LeRoyChiao, professor of astrophysical sciences Christopher Chyba and physicist and former NASA astronaut Sally Ride were among those likely to be named.
One name not on the list, according to sources, is former House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), who was asked to join the panel. One source indicated that Boehlert turned it down, while another said Boehlert’s lobbyist status disqualified him from serving on the panel.
In chartering the panel – formally known as the Review of U.S. Space Flight Plans Committee – the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy called for Augustine to work closely with NASA and seek input from Congress, the White House, the public, industry and international partners as he and the rest of the panel members review NASA’s human spaceflight plans and ponder alternatives.