Academy Member Heads Panel Studying Human Space Flight Options

Expert committee to recommend whether NASA can afford to look beyond the international space station given budget constraints.

Published August 13, 2009

Academy member Norman Augustine, who chaired a National Academy of Sciences committee on strengthening research and education in science and technology, has another critical assignment. He’s chairing an expert panel investigating options for the future of the U.S. space program.

NASA convened the committee in response to a request by President Obama and the Office of Science and Technology Policy in May. The panel, which heard from former astronaut Sally Ride and others during a Washington, DC, held its last scheduled public hearing August 12. It has until the end of the month to deliver its report.

Ride told the committee that the U.S. can’t afford to send humans on any missions beyond those to the international space station – such as to Mars – without boosting NASA’s budget. Augustine, former chief executive of Lockheed Martin, acknowledged that, “If we do want a strong space program, we might have to face up to investing more,” according to the New York Times.

Augustine has had a long and illustrious career in the worlds of science and engineering.In addition to his long-standing Academy membership and tenure at Lockheed Martin Corp., he serves on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Advisory Council. He also is a former undersecretary of the Army and served as chairman and principal officer of the American Red Cross

He has been honored with numerous awards, including the National Medal of Technology and the U.S. Department of Defense's highest civilian award, the Distinguished Service Medal, given to him five times. He also received the 2005 AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Prize and the 2006 Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

Augustine was among several experts who testified before Congress in 2007 on the NAS report Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. The report, released in 2005, was requested by Congress as a way to address concerns that the U.S. was falling behind other nations in assuring the adequacy of its scientific and technical infrastructure and pipeline of young investigators.