Space Foundation Press Releases

Space Foundation Recommends NASA Adopt Pioneering Purpose

Written by: developer

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 4, 2012) – In a report released today, the Space Foundation made a number of recommendations for strengthening the focus, oversight and funding of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and strengthening the U.S. civil space program.

Among the major changes recommended in PIONEERING: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space, which was unveiled today in Washington, D.C., are:

  • Returning NASA to its roots by establishing pioneering as its singular, compelling purpose and transitioning non-pioneering 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 its primary purpose.
  • Stabilizing NASA leadership by dissociating appointment of the NASA administrator from the presidential election cycle.
  • Stabilizing NASA planning by requiring both an objectives-based 10-year plan and a broad 30-year strategic plan.
  • Expanding options available to Congress for funding NASA.
  • Conducting and acting upon a series of assessments of NASA’s practices to redefine its culture, make it more effective and rekindle its spirit.

The 70-page report and a separate executive summary are now being distributed to policymakers, industry leaders and media by the Space Foundation, an independent non-profit advocacy and education organization committed to advancing space exploration and utilization.

Based on in-depth historical research and interviews with nearly 100 space leaders, PIONEERING: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space addresses issues within the agency and makes recommendations on its governance and funding.

Commenting on the report findings, the Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham said, “Our research revealed that NASA is struggling to find its way as a result of years of circumstance and mixed signals from political leadership. But, the fundamental issue is the muddled — or non-existent — understanding of why NASA exists and what it should be doing.”

Pioneering Doctrine Lays Out Framework
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.

The report lays out a “Pioneering Doctrine” that will enable NASA to bring a greater portion of space within the sphere of regular human activity, such as commercial endeavors, research or travel. It stipulates the four phases of space activity in which the agency should engage:

  • Access — developing the ability to get to and from targeted destinations.
  • Exploration — learning about those 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 NASA has developed to other government organizations or the private sector for further long-term engagement.

Recommendations for NASA Focus and Sustainability
“NASA is an exceptional agency in a tremendous predicament,” said Pulham. “The agency’s accomplishments have fundamentally changed how the human species interacts with our universe. But, sadly, because of many factors, NASA has too many mandates and too little political and financial stability.

“Our intent is to spark a well-informed conversation on how best to put NASA on a sustainable, long-term course to restore the U.S. role as a leading space nation,” he said. “Although some of our recommendations go against the status quo, they are reasonable and straightforward.”

Research Includes Expert Interviews, Historical Analysis
The Space Foundation spent more than a year researching a broad array of reports and analyses of NASA’s performance, reviewing historical information and interviewing nearly 100 senior leaders representing a variety of perspectives on management, space exploration and public administration.

PIONEERING: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space was underwritten by generous support from 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 and U.S. Space LLC. None of the underwriters were involved in creating the recommendations, nor did any review the report before publication; support should not be construed as endorsement.

How to Get More Information
To download a copy of the full PIONEERING: Sustaining U.S. Leadership in Space report or the executive summary, go to Inquiries should be directed to [email protected].

About the Space Foundation
The foremost advocate for all sectors of the space industry and an expert in all aspects of space, the Space Foundation is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs that bring space into the classroom and major industry events, including the National Space Symposium, all in support of its mission “to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity.” The Space Foundation publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity and provides three indexes that track daily U.S. stock market performance of the space industry. Through its Space Certification™ and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, the Space Foundation recognizes space-based technologies and innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. The Space Foundation was founded in 1983 and is based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Its world headquarters features a public Visitors Center with two main areas – the El Pomar Space Gallery and the Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere®. The Space Foundation also conducts research and analysis and government affairs activities from its Washington, D.C., office and has a field office in Houston, Texas. For more information, visit Follow us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter, and read about the latest space news and Space Foundation activities in Space Watch.

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