received input from nearly 800 members of the public through a Web-based questionnaire, and small groups of committee members visited each of the nine NASA field centers and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Furthermore, the committee reviewed a large number of studies conducted by the NRC and other groups over the decades that made recommendations about the conduct of NASA’s programs and the agency’s future, as well as NASA’s strategic plans back to 1986.

The committee was impressed with the quality of personnel and the level of commitment of the agency’s civil service and contractor staffs and the superb quality of the work done by the agency in general, most notably recently demonstrated by the Curiosity landing on Mars. But the committee also heard about frustration with the agency’s current path and the limitations imposed on it by the inability of the national leadership to agree on a long-term direction for the agency. Only with a national consensus on the agency’s future strategic direction, along the lines described in this report, can NASA continue to deliver the wonder, the knowledge, the national security and economic benefits, and the technology typified by its earlier history.


NRC (National Research Council). 2007. Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

NRC. 2010. New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

NRC. 2011a. Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

NRC. 2011b. Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

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