Reinventing America's Purpose in Space

Future missions to space should concentrate on eliminating threats to Earth, expanding civilization beyond our planet and harvesting extraterrestrial energy resources. 

What's the Latest Development?

Due in part to tightening budgets, the nation has lost its sense of unity around our presence in outer space, says space advocate Robert Lancaster. To secure funding for future missions and to renew our collective fascination with the final frontier, he recommends developing missions in these three areas: Eliminating threats to the planet, such as asteroids; extending civilization beyond Earth; and discovering and using resources which do not exist at home such as space-based solar power and Helium-3.

What's the Big Idea?

NASA may have been an effective political organization when its purpose (let's face it) was capturing the world's imagination before the Soviet Union could. But Lancaster says its bureaucracy was not built to innovate boldly or achieve the three objectives he outlines. Curiously, he puts no faith in the budding private space industry. Instead, he sees the military as the most capable actor when it comes to achieving mission objectives, exploring and colonizing new territory, and exploiting natural resources.

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