A top-level review of the nation’s space program recommended today that space shuttle flights be confined only to those that require human involvement and that the proposed space station be redesigned from top to bottom.
A committee of experts said some of the concerns expressed about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are “deserved and occasionally even self-inflicted.”
Their report was released after Vice President Dan Quayle and NASA Administrator Richard Truly were briefed on its contents.
The committee was asked whether some new form of management structure was called for, but it said “changes of such sweeping scope are inappropriate.”
“Briefly stated, the committee believes that NASA, and only NASA, realistically possesses the essential critical mass of knowledge and expertise upon which the nation’s civil space program can be sustained.”
The committee said NASA should start immediately to phase out some of its missions on the space shuttle and transfer them to a new, unmanned launch vehicle that would be developed.
The report said the civil space program is overly dependent on the shuttle for access to space and warned that statistically, “we are likely to lose another space shuttle in the next several years.”
The committee recommended that the priorities of the space program be shifted to place primary emphasis on science. It also recommended that the space station be redesigned.