By Senior science writer
updated 2/10/2004 7:15:58 PM ET 2004-02-11T00:15:58

President Bush's new space advisory commission for getting humans to the moon and Mars has launched a Web site seeking public input with the promise of reading all comments.

Meanwhile, the nine-member panel of scientists and business leaders will hold its first public hearing Wednesday in Washington, and other public meetings will be announced shortly, has learned.

The Web site,, solicits input via a "contact us" menu item. The Web site will also communicate information directly to the public.

"We view public feedback as an important part of our deliberations," panel member and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said via e-mail Tuesday during a break in the panel's first meeting, a private affair. "Every submitted comment to our new commission Web site will be read by one or more of us on the commission and supporting staff."

Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City, said public hearings will soon be scheduled for "different locations across the country to ensure that we come as close to the voices of the public as is reasonable, given our short timetable. That being said, the assembled talent and life experience of the commissioners is quite high, and so we will be no less guided by the sum of this expertise."

The team is supposed to map out a plan to achieve Bush's goal of putting astronauts back on the moon between 2015 and 2020, with an eye toward a manned Mars mission sometime thereafter. It is to report to the White House within four months.

Analysts say Bush's vision faces many hurdles. Increases to NASA's budget must be approved by Congress, and the torch will have to be carried by future presidents.

"The vision must sustain public support longer than a presidential election cycle or political cycles in general, as well as economic cycles," Tyson said in an interview last week.

The panel's lengthy formal name is Presidential Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. On the new Web site, it calls itself the President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond, more directly reflecting its charge.

The first public hearing will be held Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET at the National Transportation Safety Board Conference Center, 429 L' Enfant Plaza, SW. The meeting is open to the public so long as seats are available.

Among the topics will be an overview of the commission's goals and testimony by federal agencies involved in space exploration. A discussion period is planned. The event will be carried live on NASA TV.

The commission members:

Edward C. "Pete" Aldridge, Jr., Chairman
Pete Aldridge is a 42-year veteran of aerospace technology leadership, serving for more than 18 years in the Department of Defense, most recently as the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. His DoD career began as an operations research analyst. Later he became Under Secretary and then Secretary of the Air Force under President Reagan. Aldridge gained experience in the private sector as chief executive officer of The Aerospace Corporation, a non-profit organization dedicated to solving critical national problems through science and technology, and as president of McDonnell Douglas Electronic Systems Company. He was born in Houston, Texas. He earned his bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from Texas A&M University and a master's degree in aeronautical engineering from Georgia Tech.

Carleton S. Fiorina
Carly Fiorina serves as chairwoman and chief executive officer of Hewlett Packard. She joined HP in July 1999. She previously served in senior executive leadership positions at AT&T and Lucent Technologies. She holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy and history from Stanford; a master's degree in business administration from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland as well as a master's of science degree from MIT's Sloan School.

Michael P. Jackson
Michael Jackson is senior vice president for AECOM Technology Corporation responsible for international business development for this Virginia-based firm. Jackson is the former U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary, responsible for the department's day-to-day operations in 2002. He also played a lead role for DOT in the launch of the Transportation Security Administration in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Before coming to DOT, Jackson was chief operating officer of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s intelligent-transportation systems unit. From 1993 to 1997 he was senior vice president with the American Trucking Associations. He had been chief of staff to then-DOT Secretary Andrew Card from 1992 to 1993. Jackson graduated with honors from the University of Houston and received a Ph.D. in political science from Georgetown.

Laurie Ann Leshin
Laurie Leshin is the director of Arizona State University's Center for Meteorite Studies and the Dee and John Whiteman Dean's Distinguished Professor of geological sciences at the University. Her research is focuses on understanding the formation and evolution of our solar system and its planets. She currently leads a team that is designing a potential mission to Mars for collection of mars soil samples. Her Ph.D. is from California Institute of Technology.

General Lester L. Lyles, (Retired)
General Lyles spent more than 35 years in the US Air Force and was a 4-star general, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command. The command conducts research, development, test and evaluation, and provides acquisition management and logistics support necessary to keep Air Force weapon systems at-the-ready. Lyles holds a bachelor of science degree from Howard University, Washington, D.C., and a master of science degree in mathematics and nuclear engineering from New Mexico State University.

Paul D. Spudis
Paul Spudis is a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. His specialty is the geology of the Moon. He has also studied the geology of Mars, Mercury, and many other worlds. He was the deputy leader of the science team for the Clementine lunar mission in 1994. Spudis remains active with NASA and national Academy of Sciences committees, helping shape the future of space exploration. His undergraduate degree in geology is from Arizona State University; a master's degree from Brown University and his Ph.D. is from Arizona State University.

Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil Tyson is an astrophysicist and the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. His professional research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of The Milky Way. Tyson is also an author and educator. He served on the Future of the US Aerospace Industry Commission in 2001. He earned a bachelor of arts from Harvard and his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Columbia University.

Robert S. Walker
Robert Walker, is chairman and chief executive officer of The Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, a firm specializing in telecommunications and technology issues. Walker served in the Congress of the United States from 1977 to 1997, representing his home state of Pennsylvania. While in Congress he served as the Chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, with NASA oversight and a key influence in the development of technology, including the Internet. Walker is a frequent public speaker and served as the Chair of the US Commission on the Future of US Aerospace Industry in 2001. He holds a bachelor of science from Millersville University, a master of arts from University of Delaware. A veteran of the National Guard, Walker also taught school in Pennsylvania before launching his Washington career.

Maria Zuber
Maria Zuber is the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and leads the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Zuber has been involved in more than half a dozen NASA planetary missions aimed at mapping the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and several asteroids. Her MIT research focuses on the structure and evolution of the Earth and terrestrial planets and combines implementation of spacecraft laser and radio tracking with theoretical modeling of geophysical processes that shape planetary surfaces. She received her bachelor of arts in astrophysics from the University of Pennsylvania and her Sc. M and Ph.D. in geophysics from Brown University. She has taught at Johns Hopkins University and served as a research scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

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