U.S. Civilian Space Policy Priorities: Reflections 50 Years After Sputnik [February 2, 2009]   [open pdf - 1MB]

"This report describes Sputnik and its influence on today's U.S. civilian space policy, the actions other nations and commercial organizations are taking in space exploration, and why the nation invests in space exploration and the public's attitude toward it. The report concludes with a discussion of possible options for future U.S. civilian space policy priorities and the implication of those priorities. [...]. If policymakers identify priorities for U.S. civil space exploration, this might help Congress determine the most appropriate balance of funding for NASA's programs during its authorization and appropriation process. For example, if Congress believes that national prestige should be the highest priority, they may choose to emphasize NASA's human exploration activities, such as establishing a Moon base and landing a human on Mars. If they consider scientific knowledge the highest priority, Congress may emphasize unmanned missions and other science-related activities as NASA's major goal. If international relations are a high priority, Congress might encourage other nations to become equal partners in actions related to the International Space Station. If spinoff effects, including the creation of new jobs and markets and its catalytic effect on math and science education, are Congress' priorities, then they may focus NASA's activities on technological development and linking to the needs of business and industry, and expanding its role in science and mathematics education." This report also includes three figures, two tables and one appendix.

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34263
Public Domain
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