A lot happening on the space front this week. For one, the STS-127 Endeavour crew returned today from their busy 16 day mission to the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, the Augustine committee considering the US human spaceflight program held public meetings this week across the South, in Houston, TX, Huntsville, AL & Cocoa Beach, FL (all near NASA centers). The events included reports from its subcommittees laying out options ranging from extending the Space Shuttle Program to in-space fuel depots and various exploration strategies (including Moon, Mars, Near Earth Objects, and deep space surveys of any or all of those). Also, a recommendation to state the obvious as to what our ultimate objective in space should be.
Here's how MIT aerospace professor Edward Crawley answered the "why" question during Thursday's hearing:"Our ultimate objective should be viewed as the exploration and eventual extension of human civilization within the solar system. We have to keep our eye on the big prize. This will take a long time, but the time has come. The political alignment is here to allow this to be a goal for our nation, and it's a goal worthy of a great nation."
XCOR's Greason added a kicker to that comment, according to Irene Klotz's account for Discovery.com: "I know this sounds terribly ambitious and dramatic, but if that is not the point of human spaceflight ... then what the hell are we doing?" Greason asked.
Finally, I'm attending this year's Mars Society convention this weekend, which is being held close by at the University of Maryland in College Park.