Before I start the questions, I'd like to emphasize that I think the Committee's work is important and useful. In some cases my questions are really just that. In other cases I have opinions that contradict parts of the report, which will probably be evident from the questions themselves. However, I agree with most of the report. Just to make it clear that I think it's a good report, since we're dealing in 10's, here are 10 important ways I think the report has it right:
- The Program of Record is unsustainable, and needs major revisions or total replacement.
- A strong technology program is vital.
- Firewalls are needed to protect areas like NASA robotic missions.
- Abandoning the ISS shortly after it is finished is not viable politically, and there is a lot of useful science and engineering work that can and should be done there for many years. The NASA exploration plan needs to take this into account.
- Major commercial participation is not only important in its own right, but enables NASA's exploration mission.
- Major international participation is also a crucial enabler of NASA exploration.
- Refueling and ISRU are technologies with great potential not only for NASA exploration, but for our entire space industry.
- Long-range NASA budget plans should factor in likely cost growth.
- Although a Moon-first approach is viable and in some ways quite attractive if done the right way, a deep space focused exploration plan should be considered.
- Gap-ending alternatives to Ares can be expected to be ready before Ares 1 could be, although we should treat optimistic schedules for those alternatives with some skepticism just as we do with the Ares 1 schedule.
Now, let's get on to the questions. I plan to post these gradually, using the tag below for all of them.