The Augustine Report and the Mainstreaming of our Space Settlement Goal
Historians may conclude that the most important aspect of the Augustine Report is not any of the specific technical, budgetary and architectural recommendations, but rather the following conclusion: “…the ultimate goal of human exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system.”
This amounts to a paraphrase of the NSS Vision: “People living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth, and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity.”
This is the first time that our Vision has been so clearly stated as the goal in a review of the human space program at the level (in terms of stature) of the Augustine Report.
As is clear from the congressional hearings on the Augustine Report, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and commission head, Norman Augustine have profound disagreements concerning what the future of the human space program should be. However, both agree on the long range goal. According to Griffin: “…the single overarching goal of human space flight is the human settlement of the solar system …no greater purpose is possible.”
We are gaining acceptance of our vision across a broad canvas extending into key sectors of the administrations of both political parties. The fact that NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver and NASA chief of staff George Whitesides are both former executive directors of the National Space Society will certainly not be harmful to this trend.
The fundamental ideas that NSS and its precursor organizations have espoused for more than 30 years continue their inevitable drive into the mainstream of policy. Why? Because we are right!
This article was written by Mark Hopkins, Senior Vice President and Senior Operating Officer of the National Space Society. The article originally appeared in Ad Astra, Fall 2009.