NASA Letter of Request

National Aeronautics and Space Administration


Washington, DC 20546-0001

September 30, 2005

Program Analysis and Evaluation

Dr. Lennard Fisk


Space Studies Board

National Research Council

500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Dr. Fisk:

The national Vision for Space Exploration calls for “a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond … starting with a human return to the Moon in preparation for human exploration of Mars and other destinations.” The Vision projects a robust scientific program and the development and utilization of the space systems to enable substantial progress towards the lunar goals within ten years and the possibility of human Mars missions within 30 years. The implications for the future U.S. aerospace and scientific workforce to carry out such a sustained effort are every bit as urgent and challenging as the technological aspects.

The task of meeting NASA’s workforce needs is daunting in view of the fact that the U.S. aerospace sector has been facing growing recruitment and retention problems for a number of years. In its 2004 report, the President’s Commission on Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy stated that “there is perhaps no greater imperative for ensuring successful and sustainable space exploration by this nation … [than to] … aggressively educate and train a new generation of explorers.”

Central to the workforce problems are the capabilities of the nation’s research universities, which will have the responsibility both to encourage students to pursue careers in space and to provide the required training. This issue was

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