The Great Space Debate: What Should Be the Strategic Goal for Astronautics over the Next 25 Years?
Talk presented at the British Interplanetary Society, London, 1 May 2014
The eleven years since the Columbia disaster have seen increasing confusion and controversy over the future direction of human spaceflight. At different times and places the goals of a manned return to the Moon, the exploration of Mars or of a near-Earth asteroid have been prioritised, with other voices calling for an end to manned space missions altogether and robotic exploration to take centre stage. Meanwhile the prospects for companies seeking to commercialise human spaceflight have been highly controversial, as has the role of public subsidies in getting their vehicles ready for flight.
Is it possible to identify a key strategic priority for astronautics in the near term that will resolve the confusion? And does there exist general agreement within the BIS as to the way forward, or is the BIS as divided as opinion more generally?