Editor’s note: On August 17, NASA released the long-awaited report by former astronaut Sally K Ride, the first American woman in space and a member of the Rogers commission that investigated the crash of the Space Shuttle Challenger in January 1986. EntitIed “Leadership and America’s Future in Space,” the 63-page report urges on NASA an “orderly expansion outward from Earth,” rather than a program to “rush headlong toward Mars” advocated by some NASA staff including its administrator, James C. Fletcher. The following excerpts from the report outline some recommended strategics and give some of the reasoning behind the recommendations.

Examining the programs of the spacefaring nations shows the basic character of each. The U.S. space program has historically been composed of pioneering efforts—significant first and complex second efforts, which emphasized advanced research, technology, and exploration. The general trend can be characterized as revolutionary, producing spectacular events, rather than moderate, evolutionary...

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