but incentives need to be put in place that will make companies eager to invest in particular areas. She added that more private enterprise needs to be introduced to the space business, noting that many wealthy individuals had become interested in space launch. Shirley specifically named Paul Allen of Scaled Composites, Elon Musk of SpaceX, Dennis Tito, and the investors in Armadillo Aerospace. She noted that Federal Aviation Administration licensing of human spaceflight is an enormous hurdle for private companies, and the regulations are arcane.
Returning to government space programs, Shirley said, that the truth must be told about costs. The new national space exploration vision should not be treated as a jobs program. Observing that this is the approach NASA has often used to sell its programs to Congress, she contended it is not the best way to develop an exploration program. She was also concerned that the problem of how cargo will be returned from orbit after the shuttle’s retirement is not being considered, but it should be.
Shirley opined that the congressional habit of earmarking programs is “killing us," taking needed program funding to pay for politically motivated local projects. She also commented on the NASA organization, pointing out that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory succeeds because it is a contractor, not a government entity. She thought that NASA should look into privatizing its centers in order to motivate them to be more efficient and competitive.
Shirley asked for the public to be made part of the process. The public must feel ownership before it can advocate space exploration. She referred to Mark Craig, of NASA Johnson Space Center, as having attempted to get feedback from the public on space exploration. NASA has not really worked at this, she said, calling its public affairs approach an attempt to sell the public on what NASA wants rather than engaging it in formulating the programs. Finally, she told the workshop that the Moon as a destination is a diversion from Mars, not a stepping-stone on the way. If it is to be a goal, it should be sold as one separate from the goal of reaching Mars.
The panel discussion began with Molly Macauley suggesting that the dividing line between humans and robotics is not as clear as the panel members had just made it out to be. She asked how one determines what the discrete role of each is—what are the trade-offs? Wes Huntress replied that first each case must be studied and that the answer will always be relative. David Goldston responded that this was the right question to be asking, and that from a policy perspective neither NASA nor the White House had been clear in answering it so far. The NASA budget request, he said, muddles things by merging human and robotic programs. According to Goldston, the question we need to be asking is, When are humans absolutely necessary, and for what? Gary Martin stated that NASA is looking at what goals the science enterprises are setting as their highest priorities and is then determining what technologies are needed to accomplish those goals. Once the technologies are determined, they will be developed.
In a follow-up question to panel members, Charles Trimble wanted to know what they thought of having a set ratio of human to robotics efforts in program budgets, with the human efforts including physiological studies. Donna Shirley did not think much of having such a ratio. Set a goal—where we want to go and what we want to do there—then decide on the costs and the allocation of budget, she said. Asked if robots could do everything, she responded no: there is science that can be done most cost effectively by robots, but robotics can't do it all. How, then, is a budget to be set for the human