Released in 2012: PIONEERING Report

The result of more than a year of in-depth research and analysis, the Space Foundation's report, PIONEERING: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space, makes recommendations for revitalizing NASA and creating a stronger U.S. civil space program.

Released at a high-level event in Washington, D.C., in December, the report was distributed to policymakers, corporate members and the media. It has sparked dialog that we hope will, ultimately, reinvigorate U.S. commitment and accomplishment in the space arena.


Among the bold changes recommended by the Space Foundation are:

  • Establishing pioneering as NASA's singular, compelling purpose and transitioning other activities to other government and private sector organizations.
  • Realigning the national civil space enterprise so NASA is no longer perceived as being responsible for "all things space" and instead concentrates on expanding the national civil space enterprise.
  • Stabilizing NASA leadership and increasing the agency's autonomy by appointing the NASA Administrator for fixed, five-year terms.
  • Stabilizing NASA planning with an objectives-based 10-year plan and a broad 30-year strategic plan, to be reviewed by Congress every five years.
  • Expanding options available to Congress for funding NASA.
  • Carrying out an array of tasks to make NASA more effective, leveraging a new culture of pioneering.

The 70-page report is based on historical research and interviews with nearly 100 space leaders.

Pioneering Doctrine

Pioneering - the proposed purpose for NASA - is defined as being among those who first enter a region to open it for use and development by others. If followed, the proposed "Pioneering Doctrine" will bring a greater portion of space within the sphere of regular human activity, including commercial endeavors, research or travel.

The doctrine sets forth four phases for expanding the human sphere of influence:

  • Access - developing the ability to get to and from targeted destinations.
  • Exploration - learning about destinations in order to plan for subsequent missions.
  • Utilization - turning theoretical knowledge into technology that justifies continued, longer-term activity at the destinations.
  • Transition - handing off the knowledge and capabilities developed through pioneering to other government organizations or the private sector for further long-term engagement.


Aerojet +++ ATK +++ Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. +++ The Boeing Company +++ EADS North America +++ Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast +++ Holland & Hart LLP +++ The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory +++ Lockheed Martin +++ Moog Inc. +++ Northrop Grumman +++ Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne +++ Raytheon +++ SAIC +++ Space Florida +++ Toffler Associates +++ U.S. Space LLC

No underwriters were involved in creating the recommendations, nor did any review the report before publication. 

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