Status Report

The Vision for Space Exploration: A Progress Report

By SpaceRef Editor
January 14, 2005
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The Vision for Space Exploration: A Progress Report

One year after President Bush visited NASA Headquarters on January 14, 2004 and proposed with the Vision for Space Exploration bold new goals for our nation’s space program, I’m pleased to report that our journey to the cosmos is well underway. Indeed, two centuries after the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the men and women of NASA are the true “Corps of Discovery” of our time. The entire NASA Family should take great pride in our involvement in an epic quest that will have profound implications for humanity.

As we are engaged in a marathon activity, not a sprint, our long-term exploration objectives are still far beyond the horizon. On the other hand, we’ve made so much progress in one year of focused effort that the starting point of our journey is now receding in the distance.

In the course of the past 12 months, NASA has:

– Transformed our entire organization so that we will be “wired for success.”

– Obtained strong congressional backing for our exploration and discovery focus.

– Engaged the international space community, academia, the traditional aerospace industry and other innovative technology firms in planning for Vision implementing missions and activities.

– Received over 17.5 billion hits on our Web site, representing over 150 million users, a clear indication of renewed public interest in space exploration.

– Reoriented scientific research on the International Space Station to maximize the Station’s potential as a vital test-bed for technologies, processes and partnerships that will enable human missions back to the moon and then onward to Mars.

– Reached a number of key milestones in our Return to Flight work and are now preparing for the launch of the STS-114 mission.

– Been honored for the “scientific breakthrough” of the year by the editors of Science Magazine in recognition of the extraordinary work of our Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and of the team that controls them.

– Demonstrated the potential of scramjet technology for enabling ground to space transportation with the record breaking experimental flights of the X-43A scramjet aircraft.

– Launched the Deep Impact probe toward its Fourth of July rendezvous with the comet Tempel 1, the Messenger mission on its seven-year journey to Mercury, the Aura mission to measure Earth’s atmospheric chemistry, and the Swift mission to study the origin of gamma-ray bursts.

I commend everyone involved in these and other impressive NASA accomplishments for your hard work and dedication.

Fittingly, today’s anniversary of the Vision takes place on a day when the benefits of international cooperation in space exploration are highlighted with the dramatic entry of the Huygens probe into the atmosphere of Saturn’s mysterious moon Titan, and Huygens’ subsequent landing on Titan’s surface. The science results from this morning’s first-ever spacecraft landing on a moon other than our own should be fascinating.

It is with great satisfaction that I prepare to leave NASA for a new path in my life’s journey, knowing that the foundation is set for an incredibly productive era of exploration and discovery.

Sean O’Keefe
NASA Administrator

SpaceRef staff editor.