Augustine panel cuts safety as criterion for next-gen rocket

The presidential panel assessing NASA's post-shuttle options for human spaceflight has decided to treat all the alternatives equally on the question of launch risk. The Augustine committee said it would treat astronauts' safety as a "sine qua non" because any of the companies developing the next-generation rocket would have to account for the same safety issues. But Jeff Hanley, NASA's Constellation project manager, says such an approach "is a cop-out ... plain and simple."

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