America's Space Futures
America's Space Futures is an important contribution to the ongoing debate about space policy, the American space program, and the human destiny in space. Despite broad, popular, bipartisan support for NASA and the importance of America's efforts in space, the American space program is adrift, uncertain about the future and unclear about the purposes it serves. Policymakers in the White House and Congress have papered over the uncertainty with compromises that sometimes leave NASA working against itself and no one satisfied. A rising chorus has expressed concern about the lack of vision. In 2012, after the adoption and abandonment of the Vision for Space Exploration to take people the moon and Mars, the National Academy of Science's National Research Council became the latest in a long line of expert panels to conclude, 'there is no strong, compelling national vision for the human spaceflight program, which is arguably the centerpiece of NASA's spectrum of mission areas.' The Space Foundation insists 'NASA needs to embrace a singular, unambiguous purpose that leverages its core strengths and provides a clear direction for prioritizing tasks and assigning resources.' America's Space Futures responds by considering the costs, benefits, and risks of different visions for the American space program. Contributors, who all have years of experience working on space issues from a variety of perspectives-civil, commercial, military, intelligence, academic, and advocacy-offer out-of-the-box thinking and analyses that lays out a space future that sets priorities to achieve a specific national goal. These include space commerce and commercialization, maximizing American soft power through international space cooperation, settling the solar system, and advancing the frontiers of technology. Their goal is to raise new ideas, sharpen differences rather than confuse them, and establish better foundations for setting the space program on a path for a brighter future.
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