Put space science first, NASA advised


  • Anonymous


The first priority of the U.S. space program should be scientific research, not manned spaceflight, according to a high-level NASA advisory committee, chaired by Martin Marietta chief executive officer Norman R. Augustine, that reported its findings in December. The committee's recommendations, which also include a 10% annual increase in NASA's budget through the 1990s and a cost-cutting redesign of Space Station Freedom, were well received January 3 on Capitol Hill during the first of a series of Congressional hearings on the committee's report.

The report identifies four content areas that make up the U.S. civil space program—space science, Earth observation missions, manned exploration of the Solar System, technology and launch systems—and states that “the civil space science program should have first priority for NASA resources.” That funding level is to be maintained at a constant level of approximately 20% of NASA's budget. The report also recommends that NASA increasingly use universities and other organizations as “prime contractors for space research instruments and projects.”