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Date:  July 7, 2009

Contacts:  Rebecca Alvania, Media Relations Officer

Alison Burnette, Media Relations Assistant

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail <>




U.S. Space Program Should Align With Broader National Goals


WASHINGTON -- The U.S. civil space program should be aligned with widely acknowledged national challenges, says a new report from the National Research Council.  Aligning the program with pressing issues – environmental, economic, and strategic – is a national imperative, and will continue to grow in importance.  Coordination across federal agencies, combined with a competent technical work force, effective infrastructure, and investment in technology and innovation, would lay the foundation for a purposeful, strategic U.S. space program that would serve national interests.


In aligning civil space activities with national objectives, several priorities are clear, the report says.  Earth stewardship should be an important focus of future space activities, with NASA and NOAA leading the formation of an international satellite-observing system to monitor global climate change.  In addition, NASA should cooperate with other agencies and international partners to continue scientific exploration in space, seeking knowledge of the universe and searching for life beyond Earth.  The report also recommends revitalizing NASA's advanced technology development program by establishing a DARPA-like organization within NASA to support priority civil and commercial space programs, and development of "dual-use" space technologies, with both civil and defense applications.


International cooperation on space activities should allow the U.S. to exercise global strategic leadership, support U.S. foreign policy, and expand partnerships in science and space exploration, the report says.  NASA should also be actively pursuing human spaceflight, including missions beyond low-Earth orbit, and should use these ventures as an opportunity to collaborate with emerging economic powers. 


The task of ensuring that U.S. space activities are aligned with national goals should be assigned by the president to senior executive-branch officials who can coordinate agencies and departments, identify gaps in policy coverage or resource allocation, and spot new opportunities where space endeavors may have the potential to help confront critical issues facing the nation.


The study was sponsored by the National Academies, which comprise the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council.  They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.  The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  A committee roster follows.


Copies of America's Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program With National Needs are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at  Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above). 

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Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and Space Studies Board


Committee on Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program

Lester L. Lyles (chair)
U.S. Air Force (retired)
Vienna, Va.

Raymond S. Colladay (vice chair)
Former President
Lockheed Martin Astronautics Co.  (retired)
Golden, Colo.

Lennard A. Fisk1 (vice chair)
Thomas M. Donahue Distinguished University Professor of Space Science
Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor

Jay Apt
Distinguished Service Professor
Department of Engineering and Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University

James B. Armor Jr.
Vice President of Strategy and Business Development
Spacecraft Systems and Engineering Services
ATK Space Systems
Burke, Va.

Wanda M. Austin2
President and Chief Executive Officer
Aerospace Corp.
Los Angeles

David Baltimore1, 3
President Emeritus and Robert Andrews Millikan Professor of Biology
California Institute of Technology

Robert Bednarek
President and Chief Executive Officer
Princeton, N.J.

Joseph A. Burns
Irving Porter Church Professor of Engineering, Theoretical, and Applied Mechanics, and
Professor of Astronomy
Cornell University
Ithaca, N.Y.

Pierre Chao
Managing Partner
Renaissance Strategic Advisors
Arlington, Va.

Kenneth S. Flamm 
Dean Rusk Chair in International Affairs
Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs
University of Texas

Joan Johnson-Freese
Department of National Security Decision Making
U.S. Naval War College
Newport, R.I.

Paul D. Nielsen
Chief Executive Officer and Director
Software Engineering Institute
Carnegie Mellon University

Michael S. Turner1
Rauner Distinguished Service Professor
Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics
Department of Physics
University of Chicago

Thomas H. Vonder Haar2
Director Emeritus
Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere
College of Engineering
Colorado State University
Fort Collins




Joseph Alexander

Co-study Director


Brian Dewhurst

Co-study Director



1 Member, National Academy of Sciences

2 Member, National Academy of Engineering

3 Member, Institute of Medicine