Au natural: Earth’s Moon as seen from the International Space Station.
Credit: NASA/ESA

NASA and the Departments of State and Commerce have submitted a report to the National Space Council outlining future opportunities and challenges for human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit (LEO), and its potential economic contributions to the broader field of exploration.

The National Space Council requested NASA lead an interagency effort to produce the report, entitled ‘A Strategy for Human Spaceflight in Low Earth Orbit and Economic Growth in Space,’ during its February meeting.

The first U.S. astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station, wave after being announced, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The astronauts are, from left to right: Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Suni Williams. The agency assigned the nine astronauts to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Overarching goals

The report details four overarching goals for human spaceflight in LEO that were developed in collaboration with NASA’s interagency partners:

To achieve a continuous U.S. presence in LEO – both NASA astronauts and private citizens – in order to support the use of space by U.S. citizens, companies, academia, and international partners and to maintain a permanent American foothold on the nearest part of the space frontier.

To create a regulatory environment in LEO that enables American commercial activities to thrive.

To conduct human spaceflight research in LEO that will advance the technology and systems required for long-duration spaceflight systems, including systems for interplanetary travel and permanent space habitation.

U.S. President Trump signing bring back the National Space Council.
Credit: White House

To expand and extend commercial opportunity though international partnerships and engagement.

Executive summary available

These goals are among the priorities of NASA’s exploration plans for the coming years. NASA will continue to work with its interagency partners to achieve these objectives and milestones with commercial crew and advancement of long-duration human spaceflight systems.

The report itself is for intra-governmental use only, due to the inclusion of sensitive information.

However, a one-page executive summary is available online at:

https://go.nasa.gov/2TdKjpN

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