Augustine Commission Report: Key Points

Ares I-X rolls out to the launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
Ares I-X on the pad awaiting its October 27 launch. Ares may have the shortest lifespan of any rocket in history.

There were a number of key takeaways from the Augustine Commission’s press conference today:

  • The Ares I can be built, but it will take so long (until 2017) that it makes no sense to build it;
  • Extending space shuttle operations beyond next year would delay the debut of a successor vehicle by years;
  • The commercial sector is sufficiently advanced that it can handle orbital operations, leaving NASA to concentrate on missions beyond Earth orbit;
  • Moon landings are not the only option for human mission;
  • Going to Mars directly makes no sense financially or technically;
  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden needs the authority to be able to restructure the agency to maximize efficiency and to be held accountable in the same way as a CEO of a company would be for results.

This last point is interesting. Key Congressmen would raise holy hell over any sort of large layoffs beyond those already planned for shuttle. Any attempt to shut down field centers would be resisted to the last filibuster. The Alabama delegation is already screaming about the Augustine Commission’s conclusions about Ares.

And the whole idea of corporate style accountability is an interesting idea. The meltdown in the economy was caused by a distinct lack of accountability – in both the boardroom and the Cabinet room.All sorts of nonsense occur in the private sector for which there are little or no consensus to those who are responsible for them.

George W. Bush brought a corporate style management to the public sector. He was more focused on increasing Republican market share (voters) than running the government as a public trust. The results were ugly.