I have it on fairly good authority that one of the subpanels will have an interesting announcement this morning, that some readers may find encouraging. Don’t know much more than that, and I’ll be incommunicado until this afternoon, when we get back to Boca.
I see from comments that there was a strong endorsement of propellant depots for exploration beyond LEO (which, as Jeff noted, should have been so obvious that historians will look back dumbfounded in retrospect that we remained hung up on megalaunchers for so long). I haven’t seen the presentation yet, but Clark Lindsey has a summary.
[Update a few minutes later]
Jon Goff: “The most amazing twenty-five minutes in NASA history.”
Well, that’s probably a slight exaggeration — I think an event that happened a little over forty years ago probably tops it, but I know what he means. The question is whether or not the policy establishment will pay attention. I have an email from someone in the know who notes that everyone on that subpanel gets the Frontier Enabling Test.
I’m sorry I missed the presentation live, but I assume that it will be replayable, or Youtubed. It certainly should be — I think that it probably will prove to be quite historic.
[Update about 4 PM EDT]
What is Norm Augustine thinking about ISS?
If he was not playing devil’s advocate, then Augustine’s first question indicates a belief that the American public might not be so excited about funding a lengthy and costly mission to Mars that isn’t clearly an American mission. His second question suggests he believes that when you get right down to it, there isn’t much to the space station beyond the great international coalition it has wrought.
There are many strong arguments to keep the space station — most notably that it seems ridiculous to abandon it just five years after it’s completed — but if Augustine believes deep down that it serves no real scientific or exploration purpose, that will carry a lot of weight with Obama.
I think that for current planned uses, and in its current location, it’s not worth the money of keeping it going. If “international cooperation” is so important to Sally Ride and the other politically correct astronauts, let them scrounge up the couple billion a year to do so from ESA, Japan, and others. But I’d like to see some serious proposals to move it to a more affordable location at 28 degrees (it wouldn’t take long to save the money that it would take to move it in reduced launch costs) and use it as a base facility for depot operations and research, as well as a primary base for extended-duration crew research for deep-space missions, perhaps using coorbiting Bigelow modules. With a short-distance cargo-crew tug, this would eliminate the need for a back-to-earth lifeboat, for everything short of a coronal mass ejection or alien attack.
Jon Goff has posted his white paper on propellant depots, which I would assume played at least some role in today’s results.