In 2008, The Planetary Society recommended a vigorous new approach to space exploration in Beyond the Moon: A New Roadmap for Human Space Exploration in the 21st Century. The Society created the Roadmap for the consideration of the U.S. Administration and Congress that took power in early 2009.
The impetus for creating the Roadmap came from a workshop, co-sponsored by The Planetary Society and Stanford University, entitled "Examining the Vision: Balancing Science and Exploration." Held at Stanford in February 2008, the workshop gathered some 50 experts from a diverse range of space-related disciplines to discuss how the United States' Vision for Space Exploration and other important space and Earth science priorities. The Planetary Society gathered further input from its members and the public through a series of Town Hall meetings in the U.S. and overseas and through a Space Priorities Survey.
Key elements of the Roadmap include:
- focusing on Mars as the driving goal of human spaceflight deferring humans landing on the Moon until the costs of the interplanetary transportation system and shuttle replacement are largely paid
- accelerating research into global climate change through more comprehensive Earth observations
- achieving a step-by-step approach of new achievements in interplanetary flight, including a human mission to a near-Earth object
In short, the Roadmap called for "A new and flexible program, based on a series of important first-time achievements and an international commitment to exploration and discovery." International cooperation was strongly recommended both to reduce costs for any one nation and to increase public interest and support.
The Planetary Society offered this roadmap as a positive step toward a robust, sustainable, international human space exploration program to unite and inspire the people of America and all of planet Earth.
- James Bell, Cornell University
- Louis Friedman, The Planetary Society
- G. Scott Hubbard, Stanford University
- Wesley Huntress, Carnegie Institution of Washington
- Chris McKay, Board of Directors, The Planetary Society
- Douglas Stetson, Space Science and Exploration Consulting Group
- Kathryn Thornton, University of Virginia