Moon or Mars: What Is the Next Logical Step for NASA?

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Moon or Mars: What Is the Next Logical Step for NASA?

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Title: Moon or Mars: What Is the Next Logical Step for NASA?
Author: Reneau, Allyson
Citation: Reneau, Allyson. 2016. Moon or Mars: What Is the Next Logical Step for NASA?. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
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Abstract: ​This thesis examines the United States Space Program from its inception in 1958 with the formation of NASA, its rich history of space exploration, and its current status under the space policy of President Barack Obama’s administration. With the cancellation of Constellation’s human spaceflight program in 2010, the termination of the Space Shuttle in 2011, and the future expiration of the International Space Station in 2024, the morale at NASA is at an all-time low. NASA has become steeped in bureaucracy and is the victim of political chess games.

​My research included the perusal of relevant articles from the historical literature and current periodicals, reviews of current Congressional hearings, personal interviews with high-ranking aerospace insiders and government officials, and an internship at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The information gathered from these sources has been categorized into six evaluative categories and then synthesized into this document with the hope of a fair assessment of the strategy and direction of one of the most respected institutions in the world.

​What is the next step for NASA? Is it returning to the Moon, or is it a journey to Mars? With shrinking space budgets, the lack of political will, and shortages of technological and medical knowledge, the compass points to NASA’s next logical step of possibly going back to the Moon. NASA is at a critical juncture. The decisions made by the next president and Congress will determine the future of human exploration in our solar system and vast universe for decades to come.
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