Wednesday marks the first public hearing of the President’s Commission on Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy. The nine-member panel, chaired by former Secretary of the Air Force Edward “Pete” Aldridge (and hence often called simply the “Aldridge Commission”), was created last month by President Bush to study how to carry out the bold new space initiative he unveiled last month. The hearing will take place in Washington and will be broadcast (and webcast) live on NASA TV.
The commission has an interesting composition. There are, as you might expect, a number of planetary scientists and policy experts. However, the commission also includes a retired general who led the Air Force Materiel Command, as well as HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Notably, the commission has no astronauts, current or former. Aldridge himself trained to fly as a payload specialist on what would have been the first military shuttle mission to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. However, that mission (as well as all shuttle missions from Vandenberg) was canceled in the wake of the 1986 Challenger accident.