The Vision for Space Exploration: A Progress Report
Administrator O'Keefe's Corner
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
- Obtained strong congressional backing for our exploration and
- Engaged the international space community, academia, the
traditional aerospace industry and other innovative technology
firms in planning for Vision implementing missions and
- 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.