19 Jan 2008
Aviation Week & Space Technology
To the Editor:
The opening paragraphs of "Moon Stuck," by Craig Covault and Frank Morning (AWST, Jan 18, 2008) create the misperception that the workshop we are organizing at Stanford University has already decided upon a new path for the human and robotic exploration of space. We wish to make it clear that the purpose of the workshop is to examine critically the Vision for Space Exploration in order to prepare for future space policy considerations in a new Administration and new Congress.
The article states that our purpose is "to offer the next U.S. president an alternative to President Bush's 'vision for space exploration'--one that would delete a lunar base and move instead toward manned missions to asteroids along with a renewed emphasis on Earth environmental spacecraft." This point of view is undoubtedly the personal opinion of some participants - but such an opinion is neither a premise nor a presumed outcome of the workshop. As stated toward the end of the AWST article, the workshop will address a broad range of issues touching on many elements of space exploration and the workshop has no predetermined conclusions.
We have deliberately included a wide range of participants with disparate views, including those who would maintain the status quo. We personally do not know what the conclusions of the workshop will be - or even if there will be a definitive consensus.
A new Administration with different political priorities will certainly consider the Vision for Space Exploration and NASA's spaceflight goals in light of those priorities. In organizing the workshop we hope to provide a valuable examination of the Vision so that whatever the outcome is, it will include consideration of both human and robotic exploration beyond Earth orbit.
Scott Hubbard, Stanford University
Louis Friedman, The Planetary Society