One speaker noted that the 2006 national space policy included four items for action by NASA and NOAA,7 but that implementation of those actions had not succeeded. The speaker observed that interagency activities work well in an environment of increasing budgets, but not when resources are falling. Clear authority and direction are necessary in the latter case.


The final session on strategic issues, led by ASEB chair Raymond Colladay (Lockheed Martin Astronautics, retired), addressed questions regarding future needs and gaps in capability and infrastructure. The panelists were John Klineberg (Space Systems/Loral, retired), Thomas Zurbuchen (University of Michigan), and Ian Pryke (George Mason University).

In contrast to the concern that marked much of the earlier discussion during the workshop, some participants in this session suggested that there is reason for optimism. That is, if there are well-articulated national priorities and the resources to back them up, then market forces will ensure that industry will be able to provide the necessary capabilities and infrastructure.

A concern receiving considerable attention related to the challenge of interesting and recruiting young people who will constitute the high-technology workforce that will carry out the space exploration program. One speaker described experience with very bright university students who initially selected but then opted out of aerospace careers because there were too few opportunities for substantive hands-on work compared with more exciting and challenging alternatives in other career fields. The speaker cited three factors that contribute to this problem: the lack of a sense that space programs offer an opportunity to make an important impact, the lack of effective partnerships between universities and NASA that focus on creating talent, and the fact that the International Traffic in Arms Regulations keeps some of the best non-U.S. students out of the pipeline.

Another speaker addressed the recruitment issue by citing the results of market surveys that examined public interest in the space program.8 The number of 18- to 24-year-olds who indicated that they were excited by or interested in returning humans to the Moon (35 percent) was far smaller than the number of 45- to 64-year-olds (80 percent). Furthermore, in the 18- to 24-year-old age group there was a 3-to-1 margin of opposition to sending humans to Mars, but slightly more than half of the people sampled in that age group indicated support for more robotic missions to Mars. The latter group showed special interest in opportunities for telepresence, that is, missions that could support a remotely interactive or virtual presence on Mars. The speaker concluded that it is essential that this age group be cultivated so that it will not only be supportive of space exploration but will also create the pool of future program leaders.

In subsequent discussions some participants repeated support for the ideas that young people can become interested in space exploration in general when they see opportunities to become engaged through contemporary media that create a virtual presence, and that young people can become interested in space exploration careers when they see opportunities for real hands-on work in the program. Others noted that there is evidence of contemporary success along these lines, and they cited two institutions where turnover rates are very low—namely, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at Lockheed Martin Corporation.


Office of Science and Technology Policy, U.S. National Space Policy, National Security Presidential Directive 49, unclassified version released on October 6, 2006, available at


See P. Finarelli and I. Pryke, Building and Maintaining the Constituency for Long-term Space Exploration, Center for Aerospace Policy, George Washington University, Washington, D.C., available at

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement