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November 19, 2002

THE WALKER COMMISSION is urging the U.S. to do more in space:

But the report still warns that unless aerospace companies can boost their commercial profits, their role as defence contractors could be imperilled. The response, the commission said, should be to develop new military programmes, overhaul commercial barriers such as antiquated export control rules, and create a White House policy council to ensure these receive high priority.

The commission notes that Europe has already developed plans to establish its leadership in civil aviation and commercial satellite technologies by 2020 through close co-operation between government and industry.

The most controversial recommendations are likely to be those involving space travel, which has largely disappeared from the US agenda since the end of the moon launches in the 1970s and the unmanned Voyager missions that ended in the 1980s.

Mr Walker said the "US has to boldly pioneer new frontiers" in space, and that the first step is government-backed research into new propulsion technologies that could allow spacecraft to travel through the solar system in weeks or months rather than years.

Well, I've got one suggestion . . . .

UPDATE: Here's a much more in-depth treatment from Leonard David at Space.Com.