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Restoring America’s Space Program: An Ambitious But Achievable Path

20 Dec 2016, 08:56 UTC
Restoring America’s Space Program: An Ambitious But Achievable Path
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The XEUS, United Launch Alliance’s concept for a lunar lander based on their ACES cryogenic stage. Such a vehicle could be ready for flight within a few years. From Barr (2015).
Last month’s national election results have confounded this year’s annual crop of retrospective pieces on space. Instead of a guarantee of business as usual, America has elected a President that defies normal political calculation. Hanging in the balance are questions over what President Donald Trump will do about the U.S. space program. His statements over the course of the 2016 campaign have been ambiguous, first advancing the idea that filling in America’s potholes was more important than space, then proclaiming that our civil space program was one of the things that “make America great.” So what might this ambiguity of attitude portend for the coming years?
Decisions made over the last eight years have left us with a hollowed out space program and an agency in complete disarray. So regardless of which strategic direction the new Trump administration decides to pursue, they must first repair the agency tasked with executing our national space policy. Appallingly, a programmatic decision made in conjunction with the earlier Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) ...

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