I have just finished reading the summary report by the HSF Committee. Although I am fully aware that none of this matters until the President picks a plan, I do have some comments on what I've read.
First, I'm not happy about their acceptance of hitching rides on other rockets, but fiscally it's still cheaper than running a shuttle launch, and the shuttle can't be extended forever if we ever plan to get to the next level. I just wish we were designed the next best shuttle/space plane and not reverting back to a capsule.
I totally agree that we need to maintain and increase the life of the ISS. We're idiots if we kill the ISS in 2015 after just finishing the blasted thing. It's like building a multi-million dollar house over a year, living in it for just 3 months, and then destroying it. Who the hell does that?!
I like how they leaned several times on the idea of having the commercial sector assume LEO operations (Crew and Cargo) while NASA focuses on all things beyond LEO. Now THAT'S a familiar concept...I wonder where I've heard that before? lol.
About time a group of people with a boat load of experience and practical knowledge make it perfectly clear that jumping to Mars right away isn't possible. Well, not possible within any realistic realm of budgeting. Throw enough money at the program...$700 billion would have been nice...and we could definitely go to Mars first, but that's not real life. Moon to test Mars stuff, maybe even a Lagrange or asteroid visit for testing, then Mars. Makes perfect sense to me.
Giving NASA full rights to shuffle money as it sees fit to accomplish the task. Why does this sound like common sense, and something that should not have to be implemented, but should already be there?
What's next to see is the full report, the numbers, but more importantly how the White House responds. Don't hold your breath too long, you'll pass out.