A couple of exploration policy items from Space News: NASA administrator Charles Bolden told the publication that the so-called “flexible path” option of the Augustine report is “attractive to everybody”. That option defers a human return to the lunar surface in favor of missions to lunar orbit, Lagrange points, and near Earth asteroids in the near term, gradually building up experience for eventual human missions to Mars. “If you were to follow a Flexible Path, it affords you the opportunity to do things in one- and two-year centers that would keep the American public interested and keep things inspired,” Bolden told Space News, although he stopped short of formally endorsing the option.
Meanwhile, in another article about the budget, sources “close to the administration” claim that a decision on choosing the flexible path or another option isn’t expected before Christmas. This would seem to contradict Sen. Bill Nelson, who claimed earlier this week that the president would make a decision around Thanksgiving. Waiting until Christmas would also seem to complicate the development of the proposed FY2011 budget, due out in early February—especially if that decision also includes how much additional money, if any, to include for NASA.