Technical and programmatic prospects for human space exploration 2015-2030

John Sommerer, Arnold D. Aldrich, Douglas M. Allen, Alan Angleman, R. E. Arvidson, Richard C. Atkinson, Robert D. Braun, Elizabeth R. Cantwell, David E. Crow, Ravi B. Deo, Robert S. Dickman, Dava J. Newman, Russell R. Persinger, Torrey O. Radcliffe, John R. Rogacki, Douglas S. Stetson, Guillermo Trotti, Linda A. Williams

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


The U.S. 2010 Authorization Act for NASA required that the U.S. National Academies conduct a review of the goals, core capabilities, and direction of human space flight. The National Academies Committee on Human Space Flight was commissioned by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct this review. As part of the Committee's efforts, a Technical Panel with diverse expertise in human space exploration, space technology, cost-estimation, and program management was created to examine technical and programmatic challenges facing U.S. human spaceflight activities in the immediate and mid-term future. Both the Committee and the Panel were tasked to conduct the review in the context of the broader international framework of human exploration of space. The Panel invited and received extensive briefings from NASA, commercial entities, and international partners, and it reviewed previous U.S. and international studies and reviews of human spaceflight as part of its deliberations. As documented in the report, Pathways to Exploration-Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration,' this paper presents the major findings of the Technical Panel, including: a) the potential domain of human exploration, given currently foreseeable technology development over the study period and the currently understood limits of human physiology; b) an assessment of the critical technology developments that are required to effect human exploration beyond low Earth orbit (LEO); c) a review of the fiscal, programmatic, and operational challenges associated with such a program; d) the importance of the International Space Station in enabling humanity's advance beyond LEO; e) the implications of international collaboration in conducting operations beyond LEO, and f) a set of pathway principles that should govern development of a beyond-LEO program of exploration to maximize its cost-effectiveness and probability of success. The Panel employed data- and model-driven independent cost estimates, as well as a novel "subsystem counting" approach in order to consistently characterize the relative difficulty and risk of a set of alternative exploration pathways spanning the feasible near-term set of destinations for human space exploration. This approach provides a particularly well-supported set of cost profiles and timetables for human exploration programs to a variety of potential human space exploration targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication65th International Astronautical Congress 2014, IAC 2014
Subtitle of host publicationOur World Needs Space
PublisherInternational Astronautical Federation, IAF
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781634399869
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event65th International Astronautical Congress 2014: Our World Needs Space, IAC 2014 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: Sep 29 2014Oct 3 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
ISSN (Print)0074-1795


Other65th International Astronautical Congress 2014: Our World Needs Space, IAC 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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