Listen to Lester


The National Academies’ Space Studies Board’s objectives were to…

  • review the history of U.S. space policy and propose a broad policy basis for 21st century leadership in space;
  • examine the balance and interfaces between fundamental scientific research in space, human space exploration, robotic exploration, earth observations, and applications of space technology and civil space systems for societal benefits;
  • assess the role that commercial space companies could play in fulfilling national space goals and the role of the government in facilitating the emergence and success of commercial space companies; and
  • highlight options for government attention to address and potentially resolve problems that might prevent achieving key national goals.

The Board, led by Lester Lyles, published their recommendations, seven in all:

  1. Emphasis should be placed on aligning space program capabilities with current high-priority national imperatives, including those where space is not traditionally considered. The U.S. civil space program has long demonstrated a capacity to effectively serve U.S. national interests.
  2. NASA and NOAA should lead the formation of an international satellite-observing architecture capable of monitoring global climate change and its consequences and support the research needed to interpret and understand the data in time for meaningful policy decisions.
  3. NASA, in cooperation with other agencies and international partners, should continue to lead a program of scientific exploration and discovery.
  4. NASA should revitalize its advanced technology development program by establishing a DARPA-like organization within NASA as a priority mission area to support preeminent civil, national security (if dual-use), and commercial space programs.
  5. The government, under White House leadership, should pursue international cooperation in space proactively as a means to advance U.S. strategic leadership and meet national and mutual international goals.
  6. NASA should be on the leading edge of actively pursuing human spaceflight, to extend the human experience into new frontiers, challenge technology, bring global prestige, and excite the public’s imagination.
  7. The President of the United States should task senior executive-branch officials to align agency and department strategies; identify gaps or shortfalls in policy coverage, policy implementation, and in resource allocation; and identify new opportunities for space-based endeavors that will help to address the goals of both the U.S. civil and national security space programs.


Mr. Lyles is also on the U.S. Human Space Flight Plans committee, so this report will surely influence their direction. My friend Leroy Chiao is on that committee, too. How cool is that?