Monday, August 10, 2009

Augustine Committee to scientist Robert Zubrin re case for Mars: “We’ll read your book”

In what is the latest sign that the Obama adminstration is cool to the idea of NASA bypassing the moon for a human expedition direct to Mars, the presidential Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee -- known as the Augustine Committee after its head, Norman Augustine
-- was less than receptive to testimony from Robert Zubrin, scientist, author, and president of the Mars Society, at a hearing regarding the future of NASA. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle:
But the panel, led by retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine, appeared to brush off the Mars proposal and focused instead on generating a far more modest road map to send to Obama by Aug. 31.

“Your enthusiasm is certainly not lacking,” Augustine told Zubrin, author of The Case for Mars. “We appreciate that. We'll read your book.”

Neither Augustine nor any member of the panel questioned Zubrin after a fast-moving briefing where the witness belittled rival proposals to return astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972. [...]

But Augustine made it clear that ignoring costs to quickly reach Mars would not be an option presented to the president.

“There's no sense proposing things that are dead on arrival,” said Augustine, a former head of Lockheed Martin and a veteran of past presidential study commissions.

“If something is plausible, we ought to include it. If it's not, we should move on.”
Dr. Robert Zubrin is the author of the nonfiction book The Case for Mars (1996), the science fiction novel First Landing (2001), and the hybrid book How to Live on Mars: A Trusty Guidebook to Surviving and Thriving on the Red Planet (2008).

Norman Augustine is the author of Augustine’s Laws (6th edition, 1997). Law XXXI: “The optimum committee has no members.”

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