The Final Frontier: Renewing America’s Space Program

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman (R),
Chairman, Atlantic Council;
Nazzic Keene,
Sector President, Global Markets and Missions Sector, SAIC

Damon Wilson,
Executive Vice President, Atlantic Council

Keynote Address:
Jill Tarter,
Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI Research, SETI Institute
Panel Discussion: Sustaining Human Space Exploration

Jeff Foust,
Senior Staff Writer, Space News

Jeff Bingham, Former Senior Adviser on Space and Aeronautics,
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee;
Mary Lynne Dittmar, Member, Committee on Human Spaceflight,
U.S. National Research Council;
Hannah Kerner, Board Chair,
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space;
Valerie Olson, Professor of Anthropology, School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine;
Scott Pace, Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and Director, Space Policy Institute, George Washington University;
Asif Siddiqi, Member, Committee on Human Spaceflight,
U.S. National Research Council
Location: Newseum, Washington, D.C.
Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

JON HUNTSMAN: Good morning, everybody. On behalf of the Atlantic Council, I want to thank you all for joining us to discuss an exciting new endeavor that we’re undertaking with one of our long-time partners, SAIC.

This conference, “Renewing America’s Space Program,” continues as an Atlantic Council tradition of bringing together different communities of influence to shed light on issues that must be addressed today in order to positively shape the future and limit potential negative consequences.

We’re so pleased to be working once again with an organization like SAIC that is as dedicated as we are to addressing and finding solutions to global challenges in new and highly innovative ways. Much like today’s event, SAIC and the Council have collaborated in the past to better understand the evolving and often volatile international security environment.

Last year, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, along with SAIC, organized the groundbreaking Cyber 9/12 event that challenged experts from multiple arenas to respond to a cybersecurity crisis. From cybersecurity to the space above us, these new domains require forward-thinking policies, an ability to understand the role of new actors and emerging technologies, and clear strategies to reach our desired future scenarios.

In that sense, the space exploration program is critical to our shared future. Our fascination with space is one of our great equalizers in this country. It enables all countries, even beyond ours, and even individuals, to contribute to humanity’s grander mission of understanding the great unknown of our final frontier together.

I sat last night at the U.S. Naval Academy, at Alumni Hall, where 4,000 members of the brigade were listening to one of our aerospace leaders from a country that – from a company that will go unnamed. His speech was great, and he went on and on about new technologies. And then, when he hit space, I noticed that the half of the brigade that was sleeping during most of the speech came to life, and they were in rapt attention as he talked about the potential of a mission to Mars.

Space exploration is a cause worth protecting and pursuing to ensure we reap the benefits of its positive outcomes and honor the legacy of a field built on human inventiveness.

Now, we have gathered a stellar group of experts to discuss critical issues for this endeavor moving forward, especially those of sustainability and collaboration. And it’s a privilege to have all of you with us today as part of this effort.

With that, I’ll turn the podium over to Nazzic Keene, SAIC’s sector president for global markets. Thank you all once again for being here. (Applause.)

NAZZIC KEENE: Good morning. Thank you, Governor Huntsman, and thank you to the Atlantic Council for hosting this important event today. I’m honored to be in the company of such provocative thinkers as we discuss the future of human space exploration.

The idea for this event came about from the release of a report by the National Research Council that looked at the way forward in space. While the United States has a rich history in spaceflight, the future of space exploration is a bit unclear.

The committee was tasked with looking at the pursuit of long-term stability for human exploration. Committee members tackled some difficult problems, and the report proposes some illuminating solutions.

To begin with, the committee looked at the question of should we pursue space exploration. A key finding of the report was yes, we should continue on a path forward to the horizon goal of Mars.

Then the question of why should we pursue space exploration had to be asked. The committee’s answer to that question was a combination of both the aspirational and the pragmatic.

I grew up stargazing in the beautiful clear skies of Tucson, Arizona, and I remember feeling so small in our universe. It’s in our nature to wonder what is beyond our known world. But these dreams of going beyond our earth need to be coupled with practical reasons to invest the vast amount of resources that will be required to get there.

Now, once you’ve answered those two questions, you need to tackle the question of how should we pursue this goal. And that is where the true value of the report comes out. It’s about sustainability and collaboration.

The report emphasizes that these are the two concepts that are imperative for a successful space program. And they’re also the ideas we’ll be talking about much of today.

Now, we realize that old rules and conventions may no longer apply. There are more actors on the stage today. But with that come more resources and more capability. Tackling this challenge and achieving this goal will require both government and private resources, and it will cross national boundaries. And one of the most important factors is that it will be multigenerational. Not only do we need to build on the history and the knowledge of the great minds in the field today, but we also need a new breed of talent that will solve the challenges that inevitably face us in the future.

We benefit every day from innovation that space exploration has generated. A hundred years ago, our ancestors had no concept of the technology that would exist in our world today. And like our ancestors, we will be amazed at what exists a hundred years from now.

On behalf of SAIC, I’m thrilled to be here today to support an illuminating discussion on the future of human space exploration and the critical questions surrounding the path forward. We have a great partnership with the Atlantic Council, and I would like to thank them for putting this great event together today. I would also like to thank our amazing team of panel participants and speakers here with us as well.

Today’s project came about by collaboration, and that is exactly what we’ll need to do to move forward with human space exploration. Events like this one will direct attention to the decision-making processes that surround humankind’s future in space. By working together in collaboration, we will succeed in reaching our goals, however we ultimately define them.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

DAMON WILSON: Thank you so much, Nazzic. And thank you for your continued support of the Council and its work. And many thanks to our chairman, Governor Huntsman, who kicked off with his remarks earlier today.

I’m Damon Wilson. I’m executive vice president at the Atlantic Council, and I’m just delighted to be with you today. I want to welcome all of you who are here in the studio. I want to welcome all of you online that are following this as well for what I think will be a fascinating discussion on a topic that, although it sometimes fails to make the headlines, especially in these tumultuous times, should raise very important questions about who we are as a nation, but more importantly, where humanity is headed in the decades to come.

Before we get too far in the program, I just want to remind and encourage all of you to join the conversation and the debate that will be taking place on Twitter throughout the course of the day, using our hashtag #RenewingSpace. That’s #RenewingSpace.

So to echo Nazzic, the event couldn’t be timelier. Given ongoing geopolitical turmoil, space exploration perhaps could be one of the few areas the international community can start building long-term consensus on. But we know it won’t be easy. And the last 25 years, just here at home alone, over 20 NASA human space exploration programs of various kinds have been terminated and two presidential strategic initiatives have been abandoned, resulting in wasted opportunities, resources and time.

So what – I want to just provide a little bit of context for our conversation today. About a year ago, I sat down with two of our colleagues who are here with us from SAIC, Kim Roberts and Mark Craig. And I was almost giddy to meet Mark, if you will, for someone who had spent his career in space exploration industry, to discuss what actually turned out to be and began to imagine today’s event.

And if I’m honest with you, I’m certainly not a space expert – I’m a policy guy – but I certainly was obsessed with the intersection of global politics and space as a kid. I had stashed in my room growing up pamphlets advertising commercial flights into space. This was, of course, all pre-Challenger era. And I aspired as a kid to become the actual first diplomat to Mars.

Well, that didn’t work out so well. That didn’t work out quite as expected. But it does mean that I’m ecstatic that the Atlantic Council is now partnering with SAIC on this effort, this project, The Final Frontier: Renewing America’s Space Program.

At the Atlantic Council, our product is ideas. And that’s what we’re going to focus on today. Our role has been one of a nonpartisan problem-solving organization that’s committed to finding sustainable solutions to tough problems, all animated by the central idea of the United States leading and engaging in the world, with its allies and partners, where the Atlantic Council focuses in on how to develop long-term strategies and presenting the content in ways that engage a diverse range of communities as we have with us here today.

So hence our partnership, hence today’s event, our partnership with SAIC, bringing the technical and entrepreneurial acumen to this effort.

So if our product is ideas, that’s what we want to do today is animate a conversation. We’re here for a purpose, a purpose to help forge a strategy to ensure the United States human space exploration is a permanent feature of our national fabric and to assess the future of commercial and international collaboration, which is critical to developing a viable path forward.

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 mandated the National Research Council to make recommendations for human space exploration sustainability moving forward. The landmark report with which many of you are familiar, Pathways to Exploration, released just this past June, it finally offers us a framework through which we can discuss the future of this endeavor.

But if we don’t act quickly as a nation and as leaders of a much broader international effort that brings together our partners and our allies to keep reaching for the stars, to transcend earth, to understand and harness what is now unknown, our window of opportunity may close pretty soon. We owe it to the next generation to keep trying.

Space is still today our final frontier. But our purpose today is to not let this become a permanent one. Humans have gazed at the sky for millennia, awestruck by the unknown. Curiosity has propelled our civilizations forward and built the world we know. Keeping that curiosity alive is a critical component of sustaining human space exploration.

Venturing deeper into space has also been the means to showcase our ingenuity, to push ourselves to develop new technologies, to cooperate with partners to construct magnificent engineering marvels. It’s been about excellence, but also about racing to be the first and conquering that final frontier. And though we know missions will fail, that we will struggle to secure political will and sustain resources, we must persevere. This nation, but also humans as a species, need a challenge, a purpose. And space is one that keeps paying off.

We have already achieved so much thanks to space exploration. In 1903, the Wright brothers flew their first airplane, and 58 years later, in 1961, man defied gravity once again. Aboard the Vostok 1, Yuri Gagarin traveled into space for the first time. And then we landed on the moon on July 20th, 45 years ago.

In 1998, the first module of the International Space Station was launched into space, and 13 years later the station was complete. Three days from today, SpaceX will deliver two instruments to the station so that we can begin recording vital data on global warming from a unique vantage point.

The Mars Rover missions have brought the Pathfinder, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity, which is still rolling today, to the surface of the red planet to search for ancient life and water, and has pushed space technology to new heights, thus preparing us for future human exploration.

We have achieved a great amount in a short time. As President Obama has said, space exploration is not a luxury. It’s not an afterthought in America’s quest for a brighter future. It’s an essential part of that quest. And without that quest, we wouldn’t be living our lives the way we are today. Technologies and products that emerge from the space program range from artificial limbs to tires and parachutes, solar panels and memory foam, to enriched baby food and water purification. Our presence in space through satellites allows for cars, planes, the Internet, cell phones, computers, TVs and radios to communicate with each other better and faster.

So what’s next? Can we make NASA’s human space exploration program sustainable? How do we bring together our partners to make the next quality jump possible? And how do we spur the imagination of a new generation to keep pursuing that final frontier?

In 2018, the James Webb telescope will launch and give us unprecedented access to the universe’s past, an amazing tool to better understand our present and to build a future in space. Polls show that more than 50 percent of Americans expect the United States to land people on Mars by 2050. But will we do it? And what’s beyond the red planet? Are we alone in the universe?

To answer this question and some other fascinating challenges, I want to welcome shortly to the stage Dr. Jill Tarter, the Bernard Oliver chair and former director of SETI research at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, the SETI Institute.

She was the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in the iconic 1997 film “Contact,” adapted from Carl Sagan’s novel of the same title. Her long and illustrious career has propelled our search for distant neighbors and motivated generations to continue the pursuit of exploring into the deep unknown.

Following her keynote, we will transition directly into our first panel on sustaining NASA human space exploration, nominated by our analyst and writer, Dr. Jeff Foust.

So let me turn the floor over to Dr. Tarter. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

JILL TARTER: Well, it’s really my pleasure to be here this morning to discuss the motivations for space exploration, or at least my own personal reasons. I’ve spent my career trying to answer that very old question, are we alone? And I explore space to understand the context of humanity. I’m curious about where we came from and where we might go from here. But above all, I think it’s really important that all of us become engaged in this exploration. We need to stretch ourselves and to internalize the deep time and the enormity of space. And in so doing, we can reimagine how we see ourselves and secure our own very long future.

So in a very real sense, we are all the children of the universe. Our story began billions of years ago. The universe was created about 13.8 billion years ago, and our Milky Way galaxy was born 10 billion years ago. And you and I are intimately connected to those faraway times and places.

Humans trace their lineage not just back through the centuries of our families, not just back through the millennia of human civilizations, with its buildings, its art and its many experiments with governance, not just back the millions of years since we diverged from the apes, not just back the 2.4 billion years over which the atmosphere of earth has been profused with oxygen, thanks to the prodigious labors of cyanobacteria, not just back to the formation of our solar system and the sun about 5 billion years ago, but all the way back to a supernova explosion, the death of a massive star, about 8 billion years ago.

The iron atoms in the hemoglobin molecules of your blood were fused deep within a massive star that ended its life in a catastrophic convulsion, leaving behind remnants of stardust, remnants like this recent example, that are waiting to be incorporated into new generations of stars and planets, and perhaps life.

It’s taken us millennia to piece together our story. And there’s so much more to learn. Our pathway to extend our understanding continues, and the exploration leads us to space.

And as we and our robots move off the surface of this planet, we have to avoid a tragedy of the commons in space. Once we thought that our continental territories were inexhaustible. We thought that the oceans were far too vast to be polluted. And we were wrong. And we need to avoid a similar degradation of the space environment.

There are now hundreds of thousands of working spacecraft and derelict pieces of debris orbiting the earth. In the sun-synchronous region of altitudes between 800 and 1,000 kilometers, we may have already passed beyond the Kessler threshold, the point where, if we don’t ever launch another satellite, the debris-debris collision will exponentiate and producing an impossible situation.

We need to be vigilant with our end-of-life protocols for spacecraft, and we must strive to clean up the trash that we’ve already left there if we don’t wish to lose the opportunity of launching safely off the earth and onward on our exploratory path.

I think very quickly that exploration could garner precious natural resources, and it could profoundly change the planet. Just imagine the geopolitical revolutions that will transpire as we begin to procure scarce minerals from asteroids rather than from the labors of oppressed miners. Imagine a future world safeguarded from civilization-ending impacts.

Will there be a place for humans in the future exploration of space? Well, yeah, of course there will. Think about it. A robot took this image, and this image has thrilled and humbled every human who has ever been informed about its scientific meaning. But it took a human with a Hasselblad to compose this image, and this image grips the human psyche without any need for explanation or interpretation at all. This image connects directly with our emotions.

So yeah, sure, robots can be cute. They can have their own Facebook pages. But they really cannot tell a good story. And actually, they’re a bit slow. So it’s pretty obvious that a human and robot partnership is the ideal mode of exploration, at least for our nearest world.

Now, in 2012 we lost a very singular human space explorer. And shortly before his death, Neil Armstrong reflected on the enduring impacts of the Apollo program. And these are his words: “But I would say that it will enlighten the human race and help us all to comprehend that we are an important part of a much bigger universe than we can normally see from the front porch.”

This is an all-important context for humanity. It’s the context within which my colleagues and I search for life beyond earth. Most people in this room probably have their own reasons for exploring our solar system. My reason is to search for biomarkers of a second genesis, another form of biology, extant or extinct, that’s unrelated to us, another example of what the laws of physics and chemistry can create, an opportunity to tease apart what is necessary and what was contingent in our own origins. And Mars is an excellent place to search for biomarkers.

But so, too, are the watery oceans beneath the icy outer shelves of Europa, Callisto, Ganymede, the large moons of Jupiter, or even in the ethane lakes on the surface of Saturn’s large moon Titan; even perhaps on Saturn’s tiny little moon, Enceladus.

So there’s actually really no free lunch. But, you know, the cryovolcanoes on the south polar regions of both Enceladus and Europe come pretty darn close – straightforward fly-throughs of these geysers could capture samples of their buried oceans and any biology that they might contain, for return to earth, or earth orbit or the moon, for detailed laboratory analyses. This would be a relatively easy mission.

And if terrestrial life turns out to be the singular form of life in our solar system, we can then think about seeking out biosignatures in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets. Now, that ruddy glow away from the bright crescent of the moon, that’s actually earthshine. And the spectrum of earthshine demonstrates how dissimilar the atmosphere of our planet is from any other body that we’ve studied in the solar system.

The absorption fingerprints of oxygen, ozone and methane reveal the extraordinarily disequilibrium chemistry that is sustained by methanogens and photosynthesizers that flourish on the surface of our planet.

When we talk about biosignatures, as yet there’s really no smoking-gun biosignature, not one particular thing that unambiguously says biologic rather than abiotic. And life as we don’t yet know it could have different biosignatures altogether. And the dominant biosignature will probably change over the time history of any distant world.

But biosignatures are indeed a worthy goal. The robotic search for biosignature is not going to be easy or cheap. It’ll require large apertures in space. And it won’t be accomplished quickly. But the search for life is one of those motivations for space exploration that can be sustained by the interest and the curiosity of the vast majority of people on this planet.

And while we wait for the technology development that will enable the search for biosignatures, we can and we do search for technosignatures – evidence of intelligent technological species that modify their environments in ways that can be remotely sensed across the vast distances between the stars.

SETI searches today are ground-based. For example, there’s the Allen telescope array on the left and the Harvard optical sky survey on the right. And they’ll probably remain ground-based. But without doubt, they should be pursued collaboratively all around the globe. This is not something that we should be doing on our own.

Our exploration will grow in power as collecting area increases and computational capacity improves. We’ll develop new ways to mine data collected for other purposes. And we’ll deploy new situations based on technologies that we haven’t even invented yet.

Phil Morrison, a very famous professor at MIT, called SETI the archaeology of the future. Any information-bearing signal that’s received would tell us about their past. But the fact of a successful reception of that signal tells us that we humans can have a long future.

So even if none of the searches succeed in the near future, SETI, I think, will still be one of the most extraordinary and profound endeavors of humankind. SETI and the process of orchestrating a global exploration of space for signs of life beyond earth serve as a mirror, a mirror to show us ourselves from a new perspective in a larger context, a mirror that trivializes the differences among us.

Helping us to see ourselves in this context of deep time and vast space is why the exploratory science of SETI is important to the long future of humanity. That’s why I explore. That’s what space exploration has to offer to all of us.

Thank you. (Applause.)

JEFF FOUST: Good morning, and welcome to a panel on sustaining NASA’s human space exploration. The idea of – the question of what NASA’s long-term future in space is not a new question. For decades, the space community has really struggled to try and develop a compelling long-term rationale, strategy, for human spaceflight.

For example, 45 years ago, even as NASA was celebrating one of its greatest accomplishments, the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, the space task group was at work here on earth trying to develop strategies and rationales for the future of human spaceflight after the Apollo program.

For decades afterward, a number of panels, committees, reports have come out trying to come up with ways to keep the human spaceflight program, human space exploration program, going over the long term. Many reports have been issued. Many studies have come out. But often the results have gone – of those reports have gone unheeded.

The latest effort, as you heard earlier in this program, developing a plan for the future of human spaceflight, finished up earlier this year with the release of a report by the National Research Council’s Committee on Human Space Flight, a committee chartered by Congress and in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. It’s a report titled “Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration.” The report offered a particular emphasis on ways to guide human spaceflight program in a sustainable manner.

So what’s to keep this latest report from going up on the shelf with all those other reports from the past, its recommendations largely unheeded? This panel is going to explore what it means to have a sustainable human spaceflight program, whether such a program is possible, and how do we get there from here, in essence.

My name is Jeff Foust. I am the moderator of the panel. I am a senior staff writer at Space News, as of just earlier this month. I’m going to briefly introduce the panels here, and then we’re going to go right into some questions and answers and hopefully get some stimulating discussion over the next hour or so.

We’re going to start with – we’re just going to work our way down here across the panel here – Jeff Bingham. He is a former senior adviser on space and aeronautics in the Committee of Commerce, Science and Transportation in the U.S. Senate. He’s a veteran of space policy up here on Capitol Hill, so he’s got a lot of great insights there.

Valerie Olson is professor of anthropology at the School of Social Sciences, University of California-Irvine. She’s the author of “NEOspace: The Solar System’s Emerging Environmental History and Politics.”

Scott Pace is the director of the Center for International Science and Technology Policy and the director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University here in D.C. He is also a veteran of space policy here. He has a lot of insights in that respect.

Hannah Kerner is the chair of the board of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, a student-based organization founded nearly 35 years ago, and is a student – I believe recent graduate of the University of North Carolina.

Asif Siddiqi is professor of history at Fordham University. He’s author of “Rockets’ Red (sic/means Red Rockets’) Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857 to 1957.” He served on the Committee on Human Space Flight. He was also the Charles Lindbergh chair of aerospace history at the National Air & Space Museum in 2013-2014.

And finally, Mary Lynne Dittmar is former president and CEO of Dittmar Associates, and she also served on the Committee on Human Space Flight.

So the first question – and I’d like to start first with the members of the committee and then get other insights here – is we’re talking about sustainable human space exploration and a lot of emphasis on sustainability. What does sustainable mean in the context of human space exploration?

MARY LYNN DITTMAR: I want to preface my comments by sort of saying I’m going to speak for myself. I don’t think it’s reasonable for me to try to represent the entirety of the NRC committee. I know Asif and I spoke about this earlier and had the same opinion on that.

So with regard to sustainability, the way it’s generally discussed, it’s talked about in terms of technical capability. So do you have the technical wherewithal, the industrial wherewithal, to develop the technical capability to do sustainable spaceflight over a period of decades?

Secondly, do you have the capability to fund it? So affordability is one term that’s often used for that. But is there the technical and – sorry – is there the financial sort of capability to be able to manage it? Which largely comes down to the last point, which is political. At least in the United States, do you have the political will to sustain a sufficient level of funding, OK, over a period of time? And then last would be the approach that you’re taking.

More broadly, however, sustainability, in my opinion, also has to do with how space exploration is aligned with larger issues. And those issues include things like sustainability in the large in terms of the planet; sustainability having to do with finding energy sources, clean water capability, all things which we need here and we will also need there. So sustainability can be thought about both in terms of technical and programmatics, financials, politics, but also cultural aspects, which Valerie will talk about a little bit, and then larger sustainability issues.

ASIF SIDDIQI: Yeah, like Mary Lynne, I’m speaking for myself and not for the committee. But my feeling is you need to parse out some of these issues. Really you have to sort of start to think about what it means – what kind of a space program would be called, at a certain level, sustainable? What are the things we might see in that space program that tells us, oh, it’s now sustainable? And that’s a little bit different from what are the conditions or requirements to make it sustainable. They’re, of course, interrelated. But I think we have to sort of understand it in those terms.

And as a historian, of course, my first sort of thought is have we ever had a sustainable space program in the human spaceflight arena, of course? And it seems like we haven’t really had one, especially if you think about, you know, there are magnificent accomplishments, of course – Apollo and Skylab and the shuttle and so forth – but they’re not sustainable.

Now, there’s one aspect of it, which is the aspect of continuity, I think, which is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for having a sustainable space program. And ISS, we have some sort of continuity, but it’s not necessarily what you want in a sustainable program. You want to build on that and have a kind of program that feeds forward into a number of different aspects. And, of course, Mary Lynne talked about that.

And, of course, there’s a cultural aspect, which I think others might go into. But my impression is we haven’t had one yet. And so in one sense we’re going to have to create one. It’s going to be a new kind of phenomenon, a new kind of feature of the space program in terms of human spaceflight.

MR. FOUST: Hannah, what does sustainable mean to you?

HANNAH KERNER: So I think the question should not be what is a sustainable program, I think we should be asking the question, what does sustainability mean in terms of humanity’s presence in space? And I think the only way for us to have a sustainable future for humans in space is to target settlement now.

MR. FOUST: All right. Scott?

SCOTT PACE: I think sustainability is two aspects. One is, what do you get out of it? And then, two, what does it cost you? And I think there’s been a lot of attention to sustainability in terms of reducing cost. But a sustainable business is not something that can cut its way to sustainability, because unless you’re doing something that provides value back to some mixture of stakeholders and supporters, it’s not really going to be sustainable.

So we’re emphasizing human spaceflight today. And it’s interesting, because we don’t talk about unmanned spaceflight, because scientifically, militarily, intelligence, commercial, there’s no question that we’re going to continue to be a spacefaring nation because we just can’t imagine not being it.

So the focus on human spaceflight as a kind of an existential question, are we going to have it, means we’re still confused about what’s the value that we intend to get out of it. And I think the debates over the last several years of the many different viewpoints that people have is there is going to be no one answer. So it’s going to be what mixture of answers are going to be sustainable, and how might those mixture of rationales change over time. And so that’s part of, I think, what we should be talking about is what that portfolio of reasons is going to be.

MR. FOUST: Valerie.

VALERIE OLSON: I think the diversity in the understanding of the concept of sustainability is a great, productive thing here, actually. As an environmental social scientist, I can say that environmental scientists and social scientists debate all the time what is the meaning of sustainability in our terms.

But as Dr. Tarter’s talk introduced in a really effective way, outer space – one of the great contributions of NASA culturally, I think, to the way that we think today is to think in terms of systems at scale. And so, as a result, we now have outer space, which is not really outer space anymore in a really kind of interesting cultural way. It’s our outer environment. It’s the largest environment at scale that humans have a relationship with.

So if sustainability, thinking about how we can bridge the idea of enterprise sustainability but also environmental sustainability, if we think about sustainability as signifying sort of a better way of understanding and improving the human-environment relationship, if we think about this at scale, space presents a different way of thinking about how we extend not from – not away from earth but into the larger human environment.

And so I’m interested in how we might be able to extend those opportunities in new ways.

MR. FOUST: All right. And Jeff.

JEFF BINGHAM: Yeah. You’d think I’d have time to come up with a good answer after being last. (Laughter.) But bottom line for me, coming from where I’ve lived the last 35 years, is how many votes can it get? What can get the most votes?

In a fundamental way, you know, the reality is in this country we have a government-supported exploration activity. That may change. There are signs of interest sufficient to suggest it may not have to be a purely government effort; in fact, should not be a purely government effort. But in the end, the largest risk taker in terms of investment of capital is going to be the government. And that means it’s going to be a presidential request of the Congress, and the Congress is going to have to dispose of that request.

And so that’s kind of fundamentally the question that I need to see answered in terms of a sustainable program, and believe we have an answer. You know, I have to always say, in any kind of forum, that I have a chance – that we do have on the books, in the law, what I consider a program of exploration, one that’s been endorsed by the Congress for the past eight years, consistently, and by all appearances will be endorsed by the current Congress in terms of at least the language of legislation they’re now looking at.

Now, a lot of the details are still lacking, and we’ve had a lot of discussion and debate over that. But fundamentally, that’s been based on resources and limited resources. And that’s forced this sort of them and us, either-or kind of issue that kind of has been a distortion of the real debate that we have to have, which is everything that’s been said. All of these points are exactly right on, because they translate directly into those votes. So they’re all interconnected.

MR. FOUST: Some of you touched on this in your comments, but I wanted to throw this out for anyone else who wanted to come in. Is the program that we have today, the program of record that is on the books for human space exploration at NASA, sustainable today in its current plan and implementation? And if not, why not?

MR. BINGHAM: I’ll jump back in –

MR. FOUST: Sure.

MR. BINGHAM: – and say what the report said and what the – (inaudible) – committee predicted too, that if you don’t have additional resources beyond what have been projected and provided by both the Bush administration and the Obama administration, then no. I think the answer is that you can’t expect to do all of what NASA wants to do with the budget numbers they have.

Now, everybody believes that those are – that’s a finite proposition. NASA won’t get any more money. NASA’s budget level is going to be flat for the future. And, you know, as a practical matter, I’d have to say, looking at recent history, that’s going to be the case. But it doesn’t need to be the case is my point. And the fact is we can, as a nation, and with partners, resource exploration in the way it should be, not in an adequate way, but in an appropriate way. We just need to make the case.

The fact is the wealth is there. The money is there. The fact that NASA has a flat budget is a basis of – is a choice that’s been made, primarily at OMB, because the Congress has consistently authorized, at least, more money than OMB has requested for the past eight years for NASA generally and exploration in particular. The issue is a choice. Somebody is making a choice that NASA only gets this amount of money. And I can – I won’t go into details, but the history will show that those decisions have not always been made on the basis of merit. They’ve been made on the basis of a green-eyeshade approach; you know, green-armband approach to policy. And that can change.

MR. FOUST: Scott.

MR. PACE: So I think one of the things – so Jeff is, of course, absolutely right. And part of what contributes to this also is the how and why you do human space exploration. Certainly human space exploration can be done in a more efficient manner, in a more productive manner, with existing resources, I think both from the commercial and international communities. So just because we did it a certain way in the past doesn’t mean we have to do it the same way in the future.

But the other thing that’s really important is to have really a sense of direction. The Congress, of course, I think, has been very good about exploration activities. But I think one of the primary problems we have today is the conceptualization as to, well, why are we doing human space exploration? And we don’t really come up with an answer. We have something we call capability-driven evolution.

There’s a whole separate discussion, longer discussion, about why we’ve done exploration in the past. Exploration in the past has been done for various geopolitical reasons, various international reasons. And really the current situation today, this kind of capability-driven evolution where we’re not really sure where we’re going but we’ll make something up along the way, I think, is a great handicap to the program. And in many ways, it is an echo and a continuation of policy decisions that were made many decades ago in the Nixon administration.

My colleague, John Longson (sp), has a new book coming out. This is a plug, John, for your book on Nixon and the space program. But in many ways, the decision about the space shuttle in 1972, which was to turn away from exploration, for whatever set of reasons, and to say, well, we’re going to build the capability, and then we’ll figure out what to do with it, we are living with the echoes of that decision today, many decades later.

And so this is not the first time we’ve had a capability-driven evolution policy. I would submit the Nixon administration did that. And while that was fine to have a bridge, if you will, from the Apollo era to a new reusable era and we learned how to work in space, we learned – we were able to build a space station and so forth – it really avoided the more fundamental question about where are you going and why.

And so I think one of the things that has been, I think, very crippling to sustainability today in human exploration is we haven’t been able to put together a coalition of reasons as to why, other than, well, we don’t – we want to have that option and we don’t want to foreclose options, so let’s keep funding at past flat levels till we make a decision sometime later.

MR. FOUST: Yeah, that brings up a very good point. And I think, you know, since – actually, since Apollo I think the space community has really struggled to find some sort of compelling rationale or series of rationales to try and recapture what it was able to do with Apollo, because Apollo had a very clear geopolitically driven goal. And I know the committee addressed that to some degree.

You know, is there really a killer app for human space exploration or killer rationale that can really justify finding those increased resources that we all believe we need is possible to do this?

MR. BINGHAM: Can I just say again that if you look at the study, why was the study done? The Congress required the study to be done. Ann Zulkosky couldn’t be here because she’s working on the next legislation, but she asked me to speak on her behalf, so I will, and speak for both of us who were at the committee at the time. That language – and initiated that language that required the study.

Why did we require this kind of a study to say where are we going when we’ve already, in the same legislation, created a requirement for a heavy-lift vehicle? And their specific reason was we had looked at the whole history in our experience and said we need to have – when we talk to experts in all fields, and the conclusion was that we needed a government-led program for the fundamental capability of having a launch capacity to go beyond low-earth orbit and that any mission to any place, virtually any place beyond low-earth orbit, needs a heavy lift. That was a decision we made based on inputs we had from those professionals. Now, you can argue – there are arguments, clearly, about that. But that was a choice.

We chose not to go beyond that, beyond – there are statements in the language going back to the 2005 act stating Mars is the ultimate destination. Human population, permanent settlement of the solar system, is a goal, an overriding objective, as this report also endorsed. But we weren’t going to go express in a single legislative effort that whole path forward, because we knew, based on SEI back in the ’90s, that if you put the whole package on the table and added it all together – vehicle, landers, on-orbit activity, the in situ resource – that’s all going to end up totaling $500-plus billion and it’s going to die, because the Congress tends to see long-term – even long-term proposals, even over 20 years, like the SEI was 500 billion (dollars), as money they’re spending now. They don’t break it down. And so we knew that if we added the two together, we’d have – the whole package – we’d lose everything. So we went with the capability.

That didn’t mean we thought we should stay with the capability. That’s why the study was required to take the next step, to lay the foundation for discussing the next step, which is the basis for articulating supporting the missions that this vehicle enables us to do. And so that was – it was a very specifically thought-out – I think I would argue well thought-out – plan for moving forward. But I think that’s kind of forgotten in the debate.

MR. FOUST: You want to talk about what the committee had to say on that?

MS. DITTMAR: I want to just jump – yeah, real quickly. So the committee looked for a long period of time for the killer app, right – I love that phrase – looked for a while for the killer app. And the conclusion that we came to was that there was no killer app. I mean, there – but that’s not to say there isn’t value.

And what the committee determined was that if you look across a large number of domains – so scientific, economic, cultural, political, lots of different domains, international, geopolitical, which is not necessarily saying international cooperation, but geopolitical sort of positioning – if you look at a lot of those different things and then you add to that sort of cultural value and aspirational value, that these things sum together to essentially create a rationale for continuing to do space exploration.

And if you look back through history, not to steal your thunder, but if you look back through history, you know, human beings have always sort of broken into a couple of different groups. And this is obviously a wild generalization, but there’s the groups that want to settle down and have babies and do some farming and build communities where they are, and then there’s those groups of people that want to go over the next hill.

And going over the next hill, it’s a high-risk proposition, and it doesn’t make any difference if that proposition is in 1492 or if that proposition is in 2014, it’s a high-risk proposition, because the next hill always represents the unknown. But culturally we celebrate those people who have gone over those hills, whether they’ve been looking for gold or they’ve been looking for resources or they’ve been looking for free passage, they’ve been looking for trade. Whatever it is that they’ve been looking for, there has always been value that has accrued to exploration, always.

This is no different than that. And the fact that we continue to have this discussion about what’s the value associated with space exploration seems to me to be a function of the fact that we just don’t want to look at our own history, let alone look at the future.

So it’s essentially a future orientation. It has always returned value across culturals, across human history. And there’s no reason to believe, based on history or based on future orientation, that it won’t do the same thing now.

So is there a single killer app? Wrong question. Love the phrase, OK, but wrong question.

MR. PACE: You know, in talking about history, I think, and bringing up Apollo, I think one of the things about Apollo is that it’s highly inspirational, but it’s also highly demoralizing in terms of the memory, the shadow it cast. So it’s, oh, yes, you know, we did this amazing thing in such a short period of time, but we can’t do it anymore. And so it’s like this kind of double bind.

And I think one of the things that historians – and this isn’t something that I came up with, but others have done work on it – Apollo, first of all, was an anomaly. And Apollo, in the sense that it just was a complete throwing lots of money at a problem and trying to solve it, is not the real – it’s not the appropriate way to have a space program. It’s not – it’s not a model for anything. It’s a model for how not to do something, in one sense.

But I think that kind of a – if you might consider kind of a normal space program is something that we’ve never really defined in human space. We’ve sort of trudged along. And that’s the post-Nixon early ’70s moment. We sort of had one because we didn’t want to give up one. And whatever that meant has manifested itself for 40 or 50 years.

MS. OLSON: And I think if we’re going to talk about culture, you know, as a motivating factor, I think it’s important, if we’re going to open up this conversation and think about being more inclusive about what constitutes the value of human spaceflight, I think we have an opportunity to do perhaps a little bit different and maybe some other kinds of social-science research to figure out how to understand how people in our society value human spaceflight or value however we want to frame space exploration as a form of environmental field work or however we want to think about it, rather than – you know, I think we have some assumptions we can make, but I think we also have an opportunity to find out a little bit more about what’s going on with that.

I’ve reviewed a lot of polls over the years, and I think there’s some great foundational information we can get from them. But I think there are some other social-science methodologies that might be used to get a better sense of that.

MR. FOUST: Is – we’re talking about human space exploration. Is exploration really the – is that the right word about what we want to be talking about? Do we talk about human spaceflight in general in terms of both government programs and commercial programs and how they can work together? Should we – should we be talking about exploration itself, or should we be talking about the future of humanity in space? Hannah.

MS. KERNER: I think if we talk about the future of humanity in space, then the other components will follow, because, you know, if humans have applications to be in space, then we will develop the spaceflight capabilities, we will develop the exploration capabilities.

MR. FOUST: Scott.

MR. PACE: I would say – I would agree with that. I would say a little bit deeper – maybe we’ll get into a cultural discussion – is really what values do we take into space? I mean, why is it we’re doing that, and what do those values represent of our society?

I mean, a lot of times with, you know, my space enthusiast, you know, colleagues, you know, the answer is human spaceflight; what was the question? (Laughter.) And so stepping back from that – and I think that stance actually makes total sense to us, and I put myself in that tribe. It doesn’t really – it’s not really a way for engaging with other people who maybe feel more neutral about it or even hostile about it.

And I think a better way to phrase it is really one of a question, which is, you know, does humanity have a future in space? And the answer is profound. It’s either yes or no. And either answer is actually quite significant. And if humanity does have a future in space, that future can take many different forms. It may not be necessarily the space colonies pictured by O’Neill. It may be more like an Antarctic base or it may be more like a remote oil platform. There are many different possible futures.

But if there’s going to be a human future in space – and we don’t really know what it might be – then the next question is, well, what values are going to be on that future? And this is where I get down to a first postulate, which is I want the values of basically western society and my own culture to be part of that. We may not be able to exclude anybody else, but I want democracy, human rights, a liberal, pluralistic culture, a free-market economy, to be part of that future, notwithstanding how the role of the government might then evolve and change over time.

So then if I say what I’m doing here is I’m trying to answer a really big question – is there a human future in space? – I’m exploring to figure out what that future might actually be in reality, what physics and economy allow. And then I want – as part of that future, I want the values of my society as kind of a base postulate to be part of it. That doesn’t exclude other people, but I want myself to be out there.

MR. FOUST: Jeff.

MR. BINGHAM: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And the key is that we seem to have forgotten that low-earth orbit is still space, you know, and the space station is still in space. And frankly, now that we have a lot of new players, one of the values that drives space exploration is utilization, space utilization, space exploitation.

And again, that was something that the Congress has consistently felt is very important. And that’s why you have now the space station as a fully operating capability that has been divided in half by the Congress, in a sense; that NASA has one half to operate and then the other half is managed by an independent, nonprofit entity. And the whole idea of that is to begin to create an opportunity for the commercial utilization of that government-provided resource, in partnership.

And so the CASIS organization has been – is the entity set up to handle that management. And, you know, SpaceX, Orbital, are now providing logistical support to the space station. That’s a new commercial entity. They’re getting a profit – they have a profit motive out of that as a company. We now have, one of these days, an announcement on commercial crew that, you know, will point to another set of value judgments made about the commercial use of the space environment, starting with space station, but not limited to that. You know, space station can be the beginning of and the core element of a community. You know, you’ve got other people who could build space station-like items. You know, the big (oil ?) corporations will have a module next year attached to the space station. We’ll get to see what that looks like. We can see what their module looks like now.

So there’s a whole new sort of construct in terms of space, quote, “exploration” that has to now include the fact that, you know, there’s a private-sector element – commercial, capital, investment, free enterprise-driven aspect of space that hasn’t been there at this level ever before. And that makes a huge difference in the prospects for continuing and expanding access to and use of space.

MS. DITTMAR: And picking up on what Jeff and Scott just said, these issues, in terms of commercial development, for example, these are non-trivial. And I just did an article – I’ll plug myself here, and Jeff – for the Space Review where what I was starting to do was just take a look at the kinds of structures that need to be put in place to make sure that the sorts of values that, Scott, you were talking about with regard to, for example, free enterprise, democratic ideals, get carried into space, because we’re making this assumption, somehow, that low-earth orbit is something that we, the United States – specifically perhaps NASA and other commercial entities – are going to commercialize.

But, you know, there’s a lot of players there and they all have a lot of different interests, and for us to be certain that we’re going to move out into space and carry those things with us we need to be thinking about what government can do to actually facilitate and protect free economic ideas and free markets and how those are going to develop in space.

We need to do that thinking now and we need to be pretty vigilant about that because it’s pretty easy to slide into some – back your way into some things that all of a sudden you don’t mean to really be there but you end up being there. So that requires some real thinking about how we’re going to integrate that as we go forward including to settlement, right, because you want to carry those things all the way forward if that’s what you’re going to – if that’s where you’re going to go.

MR. FEIGE: Now, the NRC report talked about some pathways, how do we – basically, how do we get there from here. The report basically said that Mars is the ultimate – the horizon goal, I believe, is the terminology that it used but there are different pathways to get there. How do we choose the best pathway? What is the best pathway to get to Mars from where we are today? Hannah.

MS. KERNER: I think in order to get to Mars and not just get to Mars and say OK, done, let’s go back and but, like, to sustain space flight to Mars we need to stop thinking of Earth as our only base. We need to not always, like, rely on, you know, making the majority of the mass of our spacecraft dedicated to fuel for getting off of the Earth and getting – like, escaping from the Earth’s gravity. I think that’s the only way that we’ll be able to sustain a space flight program to Mars is if we have some other outposts that we can depart from and not just Earth every time.

MR. FEIGE: Scott.

MR. PACE: I would say that to maybe channel for Jeff a little bit the best pathway to Mars is the one that gets you the votes in the next Congress. You know, it’s fine to have that long-term vision and I think that’s appropriate because that helps you give you some context but you need to put together a coalition of people who will vote for you that way, and that’s not simply a domestic political issue. It’s also one that involves industry. It involves government organizations, stakeholders. It involves our international partners, and I think a lot of times when putting together architectures and so forth or mission concepts we, of course, quickly want to focus on the technical aspects of the mission and the efficiencies of it and how much mass, what’s the throw-weight ratio and all kinds of wonderful things. But we forget to say what roles do various stakeholders have in this and how are they incentivized to come together for their own separate reasons for it.

And so I think one of the mistakes that’s been made in the last several years and not just from not following the bill that Jeff has talked about, among some of those mistakes is we’ve really lost sight of the need to include other people and we’ve talked a bit about now about the commercial side – I would say the international side. In the last – the last several years I have had people come up to me and say is the U.S. really – foreign space agencies really serious about international cooperation and I say, well, yes, that’s what the policy says, and they say to me, frankly, we don’t believe that’s true and I say, well, why do you say that. And he says, well, because you chose these goals of Mars and asteroids that we can’t do – it’s wonderful and I personally may like it but I don’t see how I go to my finance ministry and be part of that. So therefore we find ourselves alone, and particularly the world today it’s unlike Apollo in that going alone is actually quite a negative, not a positive as it was in Apollo.

And so finding a way to put together a coalition between industry, international community that gets you into those next votes is the surest way to Mars. I can design the most brilliant efficient architecture for landing on Mars and it will be an utter failure because it will not get out the next fiscal year.

MR. BINGHAM: And I would absolutely underscore that and agree and, again, Ann Zukolsky was going to be on this panel is not – is not here because she’s working on a bill that will be marked up tomorrow by the committee that would be a 2014 authorization act and it’s going to follow on with what was done in the 2010 act.

But one of the key things it does is it requires – it would require NASA To develop the rationale for selection of an architecture and what is the basis for evaluating a given architecture and how does it take into account things like international participation, you know, and broader participation of the general public and private – or wider participation of the corporate and private-sector side.

Those are all things that are required and that’s sort of the next logical step, to use an old phrase that we heard in the ’80s and ’90s but still applies. It needs to be – there’s a logical progression of these events that we’ve been taking. You know, I look at all the stuff that’s being done now in the different parts of the space community, and I was at the AIAA conference in August and I heard – I saw all these charts and I thought, you know, if we had a stated specific goal for going someplace – moon, Mars, you know, whatever – those charts would all be the same. We’re doing the spadework now necessary to be able to enable all those missions. The idea of going to the moon, as far as I’m concerned and as far as the Congress is concerned, I believe, not off the table. I mean, they’re looking at the flexible path. They’re looking at any destination that makes sense. And so that’s where I think you’re right. The one that comes in and shows, you know, the most return on and bang for the buck is going to get the more votes and is going to get supported. And so but that’s where we are.

We’re on the threshold if this legislation passes – even if it doesn’t NASA is going to start doing that as the next phase of moving beyond the capability because it’s time. It’s time to do that. It’s past time to do that, in some people’s mind. So I think we’re in the – I think we’re in the right place and doing the right thing, frankly.

MR. FEIGE: So since it came up in some of the discussions I’ll ask directly. As I think many people in the audience know, one of NASA’s, you know, major human space exploration projects right now is the asteroid redirect mission to shift a small near-Earth asteroid into an orbit around the moon and then send astronauts to go visit that. That proposal has gotten a lot of criticism in Washington and elsewhere. So to the panel, is the asteroid redirect mission on the path to Mars? Is it on the best path to Mars or is it a detour? All at once.

MR. SIDDIQI (?): I’ll speak for myself. But my – it is on some pathway to Mars but it is not the best pathway to Mars. And so I guess that’s my personal opinion anyway, and I think the committee report actually lays out in sort of a persuasive manner the possible ways in which to have – to get to the horizon goal of Mars and I think it’s – you know, we just need to have a broader conversation about which one – what are the set of pathways and, you know, which one to essentially adopt.

But I think that right now there is no such strategy, no such sort of policy belief that we think of these things. There’s a lot of institutional inertia. We did – somebody adopted this thing and we’re just moving forward and it’s just sort of stumbling forward and I think we need to sort of really step back and stop and I think the opinions of the international partners are extremely important in this perspective, ARM especially. I think – but nobody – I don’t – you know, my sense is that there’s so much inertia behind this that it’s taking a long time to even rethink this despite all the criticism. So –

MR. FEIGE: Scott.

MR. PACE: I think part of the way to answer the question about the, you know, ARM mission, which I don’t think technically is a bad mission but I think it is missing a larger context as to why are we doing it and that’s really the flaw. So it’s not the mission itself. It’s really what’s the rationale for it and that gets you to the question about thinking about destinations and I think we very quickly think of destinations as physical places. You know, the destination I want to be is at Mars or I want to see an astronaut on the moon or I want to see a base here or going to an asteroid – a literal sense of a destination. And I think we should be thinking more about destinations as – in broader terms – that we want to have someplace that we can scientifically exploit repeatedly.

We want a destination where we can be inclusive of international partners of varying levels of capability. We want something that, to use former science advisor John Marburger’s phrase, where the solar system is within the economic sphere. OK, that’s a destination to get to. It is not a physical place at a particular time but it is a policy destination. And so what’s lacking, I think, in the – in the ARM mission is nothing wrong with the mission per se but it lacks a context of what destination are we trying to get to.

Are we trying to get to one where there is an inclusive international community, there’s an inclusive commercial community, where there’s one that we are demonstrating capabilities that allow us to live indefinitely beyond the surface of the Earth and that all is, really, sort of silent, you know, at this point.

MS. DITTMAR: One of the points that the committee made, actually one of the strongest things in the report, is that it put forward the pathway principles and decision rules and the idea was that if you want to construct a sustainable program you need to take a look, a good look, at applying these pathway principles and decision rules and the very first pathway principle picks up – I mean essentially says what Scott just said.

It says pick your pathway based on maximizing value, essentially, and then it trips over the values, right. So scientific value, economic value, diplomatic value, international value – it lists a number of different benefits that might accrue from making decisions about this pathway versus that pathway, and if you take that seriously because another thing that happened in the report and no one’s talking about this because everybody got wrapped around ARM or not to ARM or not to ARM is that the third pathway that we actually exercise – and another thing about the pathway is those pathways are representative pathways, right.

We exercise the pathway principles in the decision rules and this is what we came up with but there’s nothing to say that as the situation changes, as times change, as perspectives change, that there couldn’t be another pathway. So that’s something that needs to be sort of brought out. The very last pathway that we exercise was something we called the exploration pathway which essentially stopped off at all of the available destinations sort of between here and Mars, and it’s a very, very long pathway. It’s a very high cost pathway. It’s actually the lowest risk pathway, OK, because you’re developing things as you move along through the solar system and move between here and Mars.

But the idea is that whatever pathway you choose you’re developing that pathway based on maximizing these returns and if you do that and you look at ARM relative to some other ones then you have to start asking yourself some questions about why you’re doing ARM and then going to the moon and the answer is we know, OK, is that essentially it was being driven by budget considerations. I mean, that’s a large part of why ARM was developed and we simply need to say so.

So if that’s the case, all right, then perhaps that is in line with maybe some of the economic aspect of that first pathway principle but does it address the other ones and is this really the best way to go. And so if you take those pathway principles seriously then I think you come back to needing to really do some trades and some value judgments, OK, on what destinations, and I really don’t want to get into this whole argument about destinations. Again, I think what we really need to be talking about is what do we get from whatever pathway it is that we move forward and how do we make those decisions.

MR. FEIGE: Jeff.

MR. BINGHAM: Yeah, I’d just add that the – I think the reason ARM became controversial is because there were expectations that we were going to get an announcement about the new vision for space exploration, you know, and from this administration and then ARM came out and it was, like, what – that’s it? You want to do what? Like, that was NASA’s new vision and, you know, I don’t think they meant it to be that at all but, again, I think it was – they were getting the cart before the horse.

They weren’t doing the kind of groundwork that needed to be done as we required in the study to begin to lay the foundation for the discussion of the kind of pathway approach that an ARM mission may fit into. And so it was more just – it was launched poorly and described inadequately, I think.

MR. PACE: Let me – let me just jump on that and add one more, which was the analysis wasn’t done before the political decision was made.


MR. PACE: There is always politics in any of these decisions and it is foolish to pretend otherwise. But it’s really crucial that politics happens at the end of a process, not at the beginning of a process, so that when you make a political choice, whether for budget reasons or foreign policy reasons, you know what you’re trading off and, you know, what has happened fairly continuously, not just in the ARM case but in the earlier case of announcing an asteroid mission – we’re going to send a human to an asteroid – well, we had multiple series of workshops, sometimes with some, I would say, resistance from agencies where people realized oh, that was actually technically not a good thing and therefore the ARM mission comes out as something that was actually more doable not only from a budgetary standpoint but actually from a technical and a safety standpoint. Well, why wasn’t that analysis done first before making a policy decision? So not only does a policy need to be communicated well, it needs to be based on analysis. Doesn’t mean it’s apolitical. It means that the politics happens in the right sequence.

MR. FEIGE: Valerie.

MS. OLSON: Yeah, it seems like the power of this report was, again, to not let a destination pull us but to develop principles – these pathway principles that have enough cultural capital to sustain a pathway that may not be a straight arrow shot somewhere but so that when something like this gets announced it doesn’t sound like it’s literally out of the blue. I think that’s one of the difficult problems about this is that it becomes pulled apart from the principles. The public doesn’t understand this set of principles. There isn’t a, you know, a message that’s clear enough so that when something like this gets announced it seems to fit within a larger program that way, and so I just want to echo what’s been said here.

MR. FEIGE: I’m starting to get some questions in from Twitter. As a reminder, if you’re in the audience or watching on the Web you can submit your questions via Twitter – the renewing space hashtag. Question is how do you make this, this human space exploration, more interesting, more compelling to the average person. You’re talking a lot about sort of the insider space community here and the industry and commercial entities. How do we make this case to the broader public? Hannah.

MS. KERNER: I think for it to be interesting to the broader public it needs to be relevant to the broader public. It needs to be relevant to, you know, every single person who is thinking about this and I think we also need to see that it’s not just, you know, engineers and billionaires that can participate in this.

I think there’s – I mean, looking at students especially there’s this huge misconception that space and the space industry and jobs in the space industry are only for engineers, aerospace engineers too because computer scientists say the say thing, like, oh, that’s not for me. But, you know, space is a software problem now. But, you know, we need to change this conception that it’s not for them and find something that’s relevant to them as our mission.

MR. FEIGE: Does – just to follow up on that, does the – sort of this emerging commercial space industry, space tourism, companies like Virgin Galactic and XCOR that are planning to start flying people in space suborbitally in a manner, in some cases ,of months, help that in any way in terms of making space more accessible to the public?

MS. KERNER: Yeah, definitely, and so that not only makes it more accessible to the public in America but I think more accessible to the public internationally. I’ve seen that, like, you know, these private space industries allow people from any background to participate more so than government ones have since I’ve seen at Planet Labs, for example. You know, we don’t just say – my day job is Planet Labs – but, you know, it’s not just, you know, ITAR allowed people who are allowed to work there.

You know, it’s, like, opening up to everybody and it’s creating applications that are relevant to people commercially because, you know, not everybody identifies with the cosmic microwave background, even though they should. (Laughter.) But, you know, they just don’t and now we have, like, all these other applications that they can not only identify with but participate in and I think we need to be more transparent about that and create more opportunities like this for the public to be interested and stay interested and participate.

MR. PACE: You know, I would – I would add to that. This represents, I think, the cultural shift from sort of Apollo to where we are today. In Apollo, we took pride in, you know, American citizens flying in space, you know, competing against the Soviet Union in this new realm and so the astronauts were representatives of us and we, you know, sort of identified with that and that was our way of participation.

We don’t have a Cold War environment – at least, I hope we’re not returning to one – and so I don’t think we would want to return to a world where that situation actually was appropriate. We’d like to have a situation that is more participatory and so the thing today that people ask is not only what is the space program doing for me but how do I participate in it – how do I relate to it – and this is why the prospects of space tourism, if it can be done safely and at right price points and a whole bunch of other caveats, space tourism is a very powerful pull because of that sense of personal participation.

This is why some of the small satellite issues are very important because it’s more hands-on actual tangible experience versus being done by somebody else and this is why space as an information technology is very important because things like GPS and GIS of which Planet Labs and Digital Globe and other companies are increasingly a part allows them to participate in using space in a very tangible way here on the ground.

So software engineers, you know, get involved, geographers get involved, people planning truck routes and aviation. There is many, many different parts of the economy that space permeates. So this realization of how space itself is changing and increasing the amount of participatory possibilities for people, I think, is sort of very exciting. The danger, of course, it gets to the point where people go, I don’t do space – I do X, and even though X may be critically reliant on space there’s not a realization of that linkage.

MR. SIDDIQI: I just want to add something. Maybe it’s a little bit of a downer but, I mean, if you look at historically in terms of polls, support for the space program has been generally sort of static at a certain level. It’s been lukewarm. I mean, that’s over 50, 60 years. Even at the height of Apollo, you know, we found that, you know, basically people were kind of supportive.

Maybe things changed in July 1969 but generally there was sort of lukewarm support for it and so it hasn’t changed over such a long period of time over so many little programs, so many things happening and, you know, not to be a cynic but it’s – I don’t see that fundamental shift happening, you know, in the near future either and, you know, but it’s a – you know, I think it’s a – sort of a – as Scott mentioned, there’s something happening now that’s different now.

So I think there has to be other questions, maybe the questions that Valerie’s posted about the environment and other questions that really draw people into thinking that this is – this is something that I’m invested in not as somebody involved in the space program. This is just as a personal citizen of the Earth, a citizen of the U.S. This is important to me. But those questions, I think, may come up now, I think.

MR. PACE: Well, I think part of that is we need to get away from a situation where we’re dependent upon sustained emotion. You know, sustaining a program on emotion I don’t think – and Apollo in many respects was created by, you know, emotion whereas today the idea of space as part of the information economy is basic and it’s sustained by the value it provides there. I think space as an exploration and human involvement exploration as contributing to being consistent with American values is something that can be sustainable because those values don’t change over a long period of time.

We can argue about how much to fund it and what we’re going to do any particular year. But, you know, my goal would be to get to a point where we have a space program in the same way we have the Navy. You know, we don’t – we argue about what – how much money the Navy’s going to get each year. We can argue if they’re going to get another carrier. We can argue about manning levels or where they’re deployed. But we don’t have a discussion about well, whether or not we ought to have a Navy or not. We’re not there, but that would be my aspirational goal.

MR. FEIGE: Jeff.

MR. BINGHAM: Yeah. I just – I think we’re at a threshold period in terms of this whole new environment of expansion of relevancy. I got an email last night from a friend with a link to a – I think it was Land Rover – having a contest where you do a movie about you and three friends’ idea of what adventure is and you put all together this packet and you compete for what would be four seats on a Virgin Galactic flight and, you know, but that’s one example of all these different things where they’re starting to see this movement and this sort of swirling of energy, and going back to the very first point I made was on the votes.

You know, when you’re trying to develop votes what you’re trying to do is create that kind of stirring of energy and then directing it. Well, now I think those in the future we’re going to have – it’s going to be a challenge of all this stuff coming at us – how do we – how do we have – organize it and then marshal it. It’s a different requirement, one that’s going to be a lot easier, I think, to garner broader support for space exploration. I’m not actually very optimistic about the potential for us being able to resource exploration the way it needs.

MR. FEIGE: We talked about – well, earlier we talked about the role of international cooperation. You know, NASA has done a lot of international partnerships. Some have been stunningly successful, like the International Space Station, but NASA, in other cases, has had a reputation as a bad partner, pulling out of particular ventures. How does – how does NASA make the most use of international partnerships in any sort of human space exploration program? Do we build upon the ISS – use that as a model for the future? Do we take a different approach or do we do something else? Jeff.

MR. BINGHAM: I think ISS is a great model and I think it’s referred to often as a great model for the future, even in the current context of a potential Cold War re-ignition, if you can ignite something cold. Anyway, you don’t see any impact on the relationship between the U.S., the Europeans and Russia in terms of the space station. I mean, I almost kind of want to say it quietly because you don’t want to bring attention to it, maybe get it out there on the front screen.

But, you know, there’s absolutely been no hint of there being a problem. There’s been – there’s no linkage between what’s been going on in the broader context and the station. I think it’s – I think it’s because there’s mutual value among international partners. It’s as important to Russia to be continuing as a part of the station as it is for us and the Europeans and the Japanese and the Canadians. So I think that’s – you know, that shows that there’s a basis for developing partnerships that can really succeed in the long term.

MR. PACE: I think one of the things that we have to adapt in our partnerships is to recognize we need ways of participation for countries at many, many different levels of capability. So and I’m known for, of course, being an advocate of the moon as the next step but one of the reasons I’m an advocate of that is because I believe it has what we might call many different price points. That is, you can enter with a billion-dollar Lander. You can enter with a habitation module. You can enter with a small Rover on the surface. You can enter with a hosted payload, you know, on another vehicle. So there are many different places at which you can – you can enter and I think creating an actual cooperation not just among the major space-faring countries, you know, like ourselves and Europe and Japan but also with being able to expand, you know, to newer countries that we have less history of experience with, although in the case of India it kind of goes up and down over the years, depending on when you’re looking at it.

China – we’re still trying to figure out how to do that and when to do that and why. But there are many developing countries in Latin America and Asia and Africa and so forth that are they going to be equivalent to the European Space Agency or JAXA or ROSCOSMOS? No. But do they need a place at the table? Do they need to find a way for them to participate? And so I think we need to have an exploration path forward that allows for that. So thinking that through in the architectures, I think, should be one of our criteria.

MS. DITTMAR: One of the things we talked about in the report also was maximizing the opportunities for collaboration, which is not to simply say that here’s an opportunity, here’s an opportunity, but think really strategically about how it is that you want to set up the program so that you are – you are leaving as open as much space as you can for collaborators to come in. And one of the things that’s interesting about the lunar pathway there’s actually going to be a conference in Hawaii I believe in November which is specifically focused on lunar collaboration and cooperation and they’re looking at it from a commercial point of view. But there’s a lot of room for intersection between sort of this new commercial entrepreneurial approach and the international approach together, right.

So people are looking at partnerships and collaborations that are commercial or government to government or government to business or, you know, sort of that entire collection of things, and the lunar development that’s going on right now in terms of how people are thinking about it seems to be rife with those sorts of possibilities. And so that’s another really good reason to kind of look at that pathway and be thinking about the price points. I really like that phrase because that’s true for governments as well as for – as well as for industry.

MR. PACE: Let me add to that – that in that situation U.S. leadership is absolutely indispensable –

MS. DITTMAR: Agreed.

MR. PACE: – OK? So the idea sometimes that I’ve heard is saying, well, if somebody wants to go back to the moon, great – that’s great and we’ll cheer them on completely misses the politics that’s happening in the other countries and they have their own internal politics just as much as we do. In the case of Japan, there’s great pressures for more attention to space for national security reasons – fairly obvious.

There’s great attention among both ruling parties for attention to economic factors and so continuing the space station is actually a major geopolitical decision by Japan because the natural tendencies, given other economic and national security interests, would be from – away from that. Long history with Europe – strong interest in a Mars sample return of which, of course, our behavior with ExoMars was not exemplary and so if – again, if left to their own devices that’s probably what they would do.

Now, if there was U.S. leadership would they want to be a part of that? Yes, they would. But if the U.S. says it will not lead or will only lead from behind then you will not get that result. So having the technical options is one thing. But then recognize the indispensible role the United States plays, I think, is another and if we do not play that role then over time that role will be filled by others and we will not necessarily be happy with the result.

MS. DITTMAR: And we heard that explicitly on the committee. I mean, when we talked to international space agencies and to other entities internationally we heard that explicitly, that they looked to the United States to lead and that that was critical for many of them with regard to dealing with their own governments and continuing to encourage their own governments to play was – play meaning pay to play – OK, was that U.S. leadership was absolutely imperative. So that’s not – that’s not something we should underestimate.

MR. BINGHAM: I have – I have to observe the insightfulness of the organizers of the conference that Mary Lynne talked about, you know, in expanding the base for participation by having it in Hawaii in November. (Laughter.) Very good.

MS. DITTMAR: Wasn’t my idea but it’s a great idea.

MR. FEIGE: Good idea. You know, when we look back to Apollo we had, you know, a specific, you know, time – you know, destination and goal – moon by the end of the decade. With the, for example, the pathways report there are multiple pathways with some of the goals up to 40 years in the future, up into the – into the 2050s, which is really getting through pretty much the entire professional career of even people like Hannah in terms of where we can go. Is that sort of long destination time frames useful in a sustainable program? Do we need – do we need a more concrete sort of terms, series of goals and destinations? Is the idea of a “destination,” quote-unquote, like an asteroid or the moon, you know, even the right approach?

MR. SIDDIQI: Well, it’s a tradeoff, right? I mean, the longer you have – you stretch out a program there’s more risk in interruption, but if that’s the only feasible way you can do it then maybe that’s a better way. The shorter you have a program you have to have much more commitment – political, financial, et cetera – and you reduce the risk of interruption. But that’s – it may not be the program you get so it’s a kind of tradeoff, I think.

MR. PACE: You know, I would say that, one, is that a major program result – major programmatic decision such as a station or a lunar base or a major mission or a major Mars commitment, I think it needs to happen within about a four- to eight-year period and the administration has to see that there is a possibility that they will get credit even if something happens maybe in the successor administration right after them. But if you get too far away from that then it becomes, I think, really irrelevant in terms of a political time horizon.

But the second thing is is that every decision should be subject, I think, to continual peer review. I mean, conditions change and one of the reasons that I’d think I’d be allergic to long-term master plans, much as I find them entertaining and fun to look at and a good intellectual exercise, but, you know, really technologies change, commercial markets change, international partners, you know, can change and so there really has to be a continual sort of peer review process saying, OK, is there a new opportunity.

So I’d like the pathways argument if it is something that says we’re going to be continually relooking at these options. What I would prefer, however, is a policy then foundation that says the pathways exist to achieve some set of national goals, a set of national interests and I think the NRC report talked about what some combination of those might be but they really haven’t still been locked down I think either by the Congress or the administration. The framework is there but we still haven’t gotten that – sort of that consensus that we’re going to be expanding into space. We’re trying to answer some questions. We’re going to be flexible when it happens. But that general sense of direction, I think, is still missing.

MR. BINGHAM: Yeah, and anything that long term it just opened itself up to mischief in Congress, frankly, to people who want to redefine, you know, the next big thing in the term that they can see on their horizon and so it’s even more – driven more than the administration, which at least has four to eight years. You know, some of these congressional views are two to six, you know, and so I think – I think you need to have incremental near-term objectives that are real and tangible and exciting and – as part of the process. And I think, you know, you look at flexible path – I mean, almost everything out there is on the table. Any piece of that can be made very exciting.

You know, any piece of that can be turned into – I mean, we had a lot of excitement about shuttle launches. We get excitement about SpaceX and orbital launches. We’ll get excited about, you know, the next generation of individual launches. You can certainly generate excitement about real tangible missions.

MR. FEIGE: Hannah, are college students excited about the prospect of human missions to Mars maybe in the 2040s or 2050s? Or do they want to go sooner?

MS. KERNER: I mean, like, it needs to happen soon in order for these – so like, you know, college students right now are thinking, you know, what am I going to major in – where am I going to work after, and when NASA’s over here, like, oh, maybe Mars by 2050, you know, you need something tangible now if you want students to participate and, specifically, NASA needs something that will excite the students now if they want the students to go to NASA because these other commercial companies, you know, have all these exciting opportunities and have work that the students can participate in right now whereas, you know, it doesn’t seem that the brightest students are looking to NASA anymore because it’s kind of become clear to them that you’ll spend at least eight years on a project and by the time it flies the technology is completely obsolete.

And so in order for these four to eight programs to be effective we need to – the government needs to streamline the way they do things into a more agile approach and work more with commercial industries to make these things happen in shorter time frames and to get students to actually participate in it now.

MR. FEIGE: Are they – are they more interested in working for some of the commercial space companies like SpaceX or Virgin or are they just saying, you know, space is too slow – I’m going to go build the next Instagram and make a billion dollars?

MS. KERNER: I think those are different issues. (Laughter.) I mean, yeah, certainly, it is tempting to go build the next Instagram and make, like, a lot of billions of dollars. But there’s something about space that, like, you know, is – it really means something to people and people will – like, students will sacrifice lots of money from, you know, Facebook to go work at a space start-up, like, I can tell you from my own experience.

But, you know, I think – I think they’re not necessarily excited about particular companies. They’re excited about participating and they need something that they can participate in that will happen in their lifetime and not just in their lifetime but, like, you know, in the next 10 years. Like, they want to do things and, you know, these long pathways are not super compelling in that respect.

MR. FEIGE: Scott.

MR. PACE: So I see a lot of students, of course, who come through – graduate students and some undergraduates – and, you know, what they’re looking for, you know, in jobs. First of all, they’re looking for jobs and they’re going, you know, this economy is still really tough. And the next thing is that they’re looking for ways that they, as Hannah says, make a difference – that they have a hands-on impact – that they own this result.

They’re not interested in, you know, contributing to the latest monthly staff briefing. They want to see something that they – that they own and can identify with and that they really make a difference in, and I think it’s – that happens in the private sector and a lot of the new space companies, of course, are very exciting for those hands-on opportunities. But I think it’s really critical we also look at the way we do business inside of the government because if all of the expertise and all the younger people and all that energy is outside of the government yet the bulk of the funding and oversight and direction and policy rationale is inside the government, I think you have a very, very dangerous result.

No one goes to NASA to be the world’s best, you know, contract officer or technical representative. They go there because they want to make a difference. So to the extent that we’ve made it hard for NASA people and DOD people and NOAA people to really have a hands-on impact that leads to less intelligent government, which leads to, you know, further problems. So I think we need to think about what’s that balance between what we want to have done inside the government versus what we want to have outside.

Historically, over time about 85 cents out of every dollar in NASA has tended to go out to industry. You could raise that to 90 percent. You could raise it to 95 percent. But the question is is you still want to have something done in-house with hands-on technical expertise so that you attract bright young people because if you don’t do that and don’t attract those people then you have essentially an ungovernable situation. And until the private sector completely drives and dominates space, which it may, but until that day comes you’re going to want to have a smart government.

And so I think part of the lesson that I see from these public-private partnerships and the COTS programs and things that have been done by DARPA and things that were done in years past by the SDIO organization is that we need to work really hard and to be innovative we need to work around the very acquisition systems that we’ve created. And so when you find yourself having to escape and evade the very acquisition systems you’ve created maybe something is wrong with that. So and in thinking about attracting the next generation I would say I want to free up government employees to be smart and innovative and accountable just as their private sector colleagues are.

MR. SIDDIQI: Just a brief comment about the long time to – you know, long pathways time to, like, the 2050s. I mean, that doesn’t imply that nothing’s going to happen between now and then. There’s going to be a lot of stuff that’s going to happen including, I think, in robotic exploration. So I think there are many other ways to get people involved. Just because the horizon goal might be very far out doesn’t meant that there aren’t other things to engage young people.

MR. FEIGE: You know, it’s pretty remarkable. We’ve talked about space – human space exploration here for a little over an hour and we really haven’t dived into some of the technical issues about preferable heavy-lift launch vehicles and spacecraft technologies and so on. I did want a sort of a general technology question, though. You know, I’m not going to dive into what’s the right – you know, propulsion architecture for a heavy-lift launch vehicle but, you know, does the exploration plans drive the technology development or do – does technology development drive the exploration plans? Which is – which is the push, which is the pull?

MR. PACE: I think there’s always – that question changes over time. The frontier for innovation is continually moving and so you can easily undershoot that frontier and do something really conservative that, you know, has been done before. You can also just as easily overshoot that and go for something that, you know, as the joke goes, unobtainium. You know, I’ve been through past experiences with things like the National Aero-Space Plane Program and X-33 and so forth and so technology programs are great in their right context when you’re pushing it.

But it’s a mistake to then rely on them because new technology often doesn’t go into the next generation. It tends to go into the generation after. It’s kind of a – they’re very sequential and leapfrogging type of activity when technology becomes normalized. And so picking where your frontier is at any particular moment is really an art form and I think a lot of times in our enthusiasm we want to believe that we have the technology in hand.

We tend to be overoptimistic about that technology rather than doing a lot of work to get that experience. One of the things that I’ve said about SpaceX is that it’s continually innovating. Each flight is somewhat different. Now, this, of course, you know, makes some of my traditional mission assurance colleagues kind of crazy because, you know, configurations change. It’s hard to get a handle on it. But on the other hand, what they’re doing is they’re doing test flights every time. They’re innovating every time. They’re gaining that experience and, you know, NASA used to do things like that, too.

So are we building an organization that’s continually testing itself and demonstrating new technical capabilities? That produces a smarter, more competent, more realistic organization and I don’t think we spend enough time on prototype and flight test and other things to making sure we have a really technically competent organization to be able to make decisions about when is the next step really ready.

MR. FEIGE: Jeff.

MR. BINGHAM: And if you follow recent history too that really goes – was the crux of the issue back in 2010 when the administration – the Obama administration first came in they asked for the Augustine Committee to go look at human space flight and so they sort of had an asterisk by the money in the budget that they submitted in 2009 for exploration and said we’ll get back to you on that after this – the Augustine Committee.

So that went through and then they didn’t – they decided then to wait until the next budget cycle. So then they came in and basically they made the choice to go with the technology development. They cancelled the development of an actual program – the Constellation program that was in place at the time – and spend five years looking at technologies. And the Congress said no, and part of the reason for that was what the Congress was looking at was, you know, the realities of the closing of the shuttle program and the workforce and the capability that had been developed over years that we didn’t want to see just disappear.

And so we wanted to see a transition over to the new program and that’s why we required the development of a shuttle-based – not shuttle drive directly but a system that would make the maximum use of existing technology, which we just, you know, made that choice. We said we’re not going to let technology drive this thing. We’re going to decide that we – because as a practical matter we want to transition this workforce into something that they already know how to do pretty well and, you know, and not have too much of a disruption.

So subsequent budgets came in trying to expand the technology area and every time they did in the succeeding three years the Congress took it out or reduced it, you know, to the minimum and so that push and pull has still been there. Ideally, you know, you would want to do both. In a perfect world, you’d want NASA to be able to be – have the money to do technology development and sort of do the leading edge high-risk technology that businesses aren’t likely to do.

But when you have a cap on resources and a demand to, you know, build a vehicle in a short period of time to be ready to go do a mission, you can’t do that. So it argues, again, for let’s establish the value of the space program to this society and this country and, you know, then articulate that to the policymakers, and so – and then it becomes a political necessity to provide those resources to do it right. That’s the challenge that we need to find an answer to, in my view, is how do we make that case that says we need, as the Augustine Committee subtitled its report, a space program worthy of a great nation.

MR. FEIGE: Valerie.

MS. OLSON: Yeah, and just as a kind of way to come at that just a little more orthogonally, Mark Craig is fond of saying that that kind of management, that kind of communication with the public, translation of value is a technology – needs to be invested in at the same level as other kinds of technologies.

MR. FEIGE: (Inaudible) – in the last few minutes of the panel here before we go to break I wanted to give each of the panelists an opportunity to provide some concluding remarks, what you think is the biggest obstacle or the biggest issue associated with creating sustainable human space exploration going forward. Just work our way down the panel here.

MS. DITTMAR: OK. Start with me – (inaudible). I guess – I guess the biggest obstacle is, again, is – I mean, just to pick up on what Valerie said actually was sort of what everybody was just talking about here is I’m not sure that as a nation we lay in – when we’re thinking about development of space exploration programs or continuing space exploration or investing in space exploration, I don’t think we lay into our thinking about that or the way we talk about it the need to sort of create linkages in the minds of politicians and financiers and the public, et cetera.

When we talk about value, which is where we always end up coming back to for good reason, we don’t talk very well about those linkages. I mean, the question you just asked, for example, about technology is – you know, is there a push, is there a pull, a different way of looking at it is what technologies do we know we’re going to need if we’re going to continue to stay in space, and I’m coming back to the water one just because of a recent conversation I had, which I’ll just do very quickly.

One of the top 10 technology accelerators in the United States is located in Houston and it’s called Surge and its focus is actually in energy and in clean water, and I had a recent meeting with them where I was talking about the problems that NASA has, OK, and that anyone has if they want to do space exploration, with regard to water. Water recycling, water reclamation, OK, water creation – you’re going to, you know, use regalift (ph) and try to extract. I mean, how it – how are you doing to do that?

There are companies that are being founded right now and their entire focus on is how are they going to mine water, OK, from bodies out there to use for rocket fuel. But it’s not just rocket fuel. We have to have it to sustain human life. We have to have it sustain human life here, too, and clean water and the availability of clean water is rapidly becoming a huge economic constraint. I live in Texas.

The city of San Antonio has a lot of plans for expansion which it cannot put into play specifically because of water. So was into Surge talking to them about this whole issue. They were completely unaware of it. You know, it had never occurred to them that here were billions of dollars going into space exploration in the United States, OK – that water is a huge issue, OK, both for propellant and for sustaining human life off world, and they went immediately where I wanted them to go, OK, which is what are we putting money into right now, OK, that is synergistic with those sorts of needs. That discussion, OK, which is alignment of space exploration with larger global issues with national initiatives, is one that we don’t have seriously.

We don’t create those linkages seriously. A previous NRC report 2009, the last commission, basically was about aligning the civil space program with national goals and national initiatives and yet baking that in to how we think about planning and space exploration is something that we have not done. So I see that as a huge obstacle, OK. I also see it as a huge opportunity.

MR. SIDDIQI: I would say in terms of human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, the principal impediment or one of the many but I think probably the most important is the political election cycle and the changing of the guard every few years. It’s highly disruptive. There’s no continuity, and so I think that’s the major thing here and I think that relates to a larger issue about goals but also a larger issue of how we’re doing this thing, and I think that requires some sort of expansion of our vision in terms of public-private but also international partnerships. So I think in a way, I think, to me sustainability and expanding the vision of what we do as a nation beyond, you know, into public-private and international partnerships is sort of the way – one way forward, I think.

MR. FEIGE: Hannah.

MS. KERNER: I would say two things – that, one, in order to sustain a program and sustain a human future in space we need to have a goal that is both relevant to the average person and that the average person can participate in, and I think the only thing that truly fits that goal or as a goal is settlement. And I would also say that in order to get our nation’s students and not just our nation’s students but, like, you know, the best and the brightest of them, the ones that want to change the world, like, literally change it, we need to change the way we think about things as a nation and our space program.

We need to change the way we do things and make it more agile and give these students a place to participate and give them what they want, which is they want jobs and they want to actually do things. And so, you know, we not only need to have projects that require people and will be sustained but we need to have ones that they will be able to make a difference in their lifetimes and, hopefully, multiple in their lifetimes.

MR. FEIGE: Scott.

MR. PACE: A little bit maybe more parochial but I’m at an international affairs school and some of the most important foreign policy and international affairs issues, I think, today are areas that are beyond traditional sovereignty so talking about the high seas, the air above the high seas, Antarctic-Arctic regions, cyberspace and space. So shaping rules, norms of behavior for these regions, I think, is one of the big, you know, global challenges for the United States going into the 21st century and areas of conflict as well as potential cooperation.

So space is part of that and space – and the rules and how they are shaped for that regime are among the more critical foreign relations issues that the United States is going to face and therefore geopolitically and for the health of the nation. So we should be engaged for those reasons.

The second thing relative to practical problems and education is space has a lot to offer than I don’t think really are terribly appreciated. Space is one of the most interdisciplinary of activities you can engage in. Human space – in order for a human space flight to be successful and safe you have to master every field of technology – system engineering, every discipline you can think of, and so by doing that space is a great teaching tool and as a teaching tool that I think can have benefits, really, across the economy for the next generation and so a realization that by going to a literally alien place you will learn more than if you stay at home and that that will be to the advantage of the United States as a nation in the centuries ahead.

MR. FEIGE: Valerie.

MS. OLSON: So I’m going to just echo Ms. Dittmar here. I live in southern California. I may as well live on the space station when it comes to getting water. We’ve developed in – at my university a lot of really interesting ways to think about water sustainability. So I just want to bring it back to this question. We have grand challenges as human beings and as Americans when it comes to human sustainability on Earth and I think drawing a closer tighter connection between what it means to be – have a sustainable human space flight program to sustain life in space and to sustain life on Earth I think those – I think those links are there. I just think they need to be more explicit, stronger, clearly articulated and that we synergize those grand challenges.

MR. FEIGE: Jeff, you have the last word.

MR. BINGHAM: All of the above. I think it’s – I mean, clearly, my goal would be to see the full aggressive appropriate funding and support of the space program – the entire space program – be a matter of political necessity and the way to do that is to identify these linkages and values fully and completely and then articulate them and then take that message out there and get it, and that’s what’s not happening now.

MR. FEIGE: Great. Well, on behalf of the panel, thank you very much. I hope this was an enlightening panel. We’re going to be going to a break and we’ll be back in about 15 minutes. Thank you. (Applause.)