The National Research Council determines that commitment from politicians, money and national and international co-operation is necessary if human space exploration is to be continued.
On Wednesday, a collaboration of scientists and researchers organized by the National Research Council released a highly-anticipated report, regarding the United States human spaceflight program and the pragmatic implications of sending astronauts to other areas of the solar system.
In the video “Pathways to Exploration: Summary of a Report on Human Spaceflight,” Cornell professor Jonathan Lunine explains why the report was given in the first place. “There are pragmatic rationales, and there are aspirational ones. Pragmatic rationales alone are inadequate to justify human spaceflight,” he said, but added, “Aspirational and pragmatic rationales in combination argue for a continuation of our nation’s human spaceflight program.”
The proposed areas of human spaceflight are the moon, an asteroid, the surface of Mars and Mars’ two moons: Phobos and Deimos (which are thought to be captured asteroids).
The report shows there is not enough money to continue human space exploration. Lunine says that people support space exploration, but support wavers when it comes to spending more money on space exploration. The committee co-chair, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, Jr., said, “We found that a sustainable program will require a budget that increases somewhat faster than inflation.”
Daniels and Lunine went on to say that the only way human space exploration can continue is if the parenting figures of the project, the president and Congress, make a sustained commitment, lasting longer than their terms in office.
Popular Mechanics writes that President Obama shot down the Constellation plan, which devised to send humans back to the moon and was first proposed by President Bush, when the project failed to meet its deadlines. Obama then vied to send astronauts to an asteroid or Mars instead, which the National Research Council determined lacks in funds. The life of a human exploration project lasts much longer than a politician’s time in office. Projects will be continually scrapped if a commitment cannot be made.
The two co-chairs conclude that if a visit to Mars is decided on by the country, co-operation with countries dawning in space exploration, like India and China, will be extremely helpful, if not wholly necessary. The most likely way to gain another giant leap for mankind will come from the collaboration of multiple nations, not merely the small step of one individual country.