The "Augustine Committee" reviewing US plans for human spaceflight held its final scheduled public meeting this afternoon in DC, which I attended. While past meetings featured guest speakers highlighting various concepts and proposals, the committee used today's meeting to focus on narrowing a complex set of options for the direction and architecture of the human spaceflight program that can be sustained in difficult budget circumstances. Dr. Edward Crawly presented the Integrated Options (PPT) under consideration. Former astronaut Dr. Sally Ride presented an eye-opening presentation (PPT) on how the current plans and some of the proposed options fit into a realistic budget profile (or not, which may drive significant changes to the space plans, as explained in these articles linked by NASA Watch). Dr. Wanda Austin then presented Evaluation Measures and Criteria (PPT) which were used by the committee in an extensive and informative deliberation on the options under consideration.
I left before the meeting concluded, after Committee Chairman Norm Augustine explained to the audience that this process was required by law to be carried out in public and not be agreed upon ahead of time behind closed doors. He said that the committee would stay 'til midnight if necessary to complete their deliberations, though the audience was not required to stay (though I think they were actually going to be able to wrap up long before midnight). I think there may have been more public transparency shown today by Mr. Augustine's committee than we've seen all year from the White House and Congress as they try to push a massive health plan, stimulus package, etc.