Norman Augustine is an American businessman of immense influence in aerospace as well as related industries. On top of that, he has even held the position of the Under Secretary of the Army, which is the second-highest-ranking civilian office of the Department of the Army.
1. Studied Aeronautical Engineering
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Augustine studied aeronautical engineering when he was in school. For those who are curious, aerospace engineering has two main branches, with one being aeronautical engineering and the other being astronautical engineering. Aeronautical engineering was the term that first saw use, which makes sense because astronautical engineering is the branch that covers equipment that is supposed to operate beyond our planet's atmosphere.
2. Started Out At the Douglas Aircraft Company
Career-wise, Augustine started out at the Douglas Aircraft Company. Said aerospace manufacturer no longer exists in the present time, but it can claim a number of important honors such as one of its airplanes having been used for the first aerial circumnavigation of the world. As for how the Douglas Aircraft Company became defunct, it merged with McDonnell Aircraft to form McDonnell Douglas in 1967, which merged with Boeing in 1997.
3. First President of Lockheed Martin
In 1995, Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta merged to form Lockheed Martin. Before that, Augustine had been the CEO of Martin Marietta, meaning that he went on to become the first President of the resulting corporation. However, it wasn't too long before Augustine became the new CEO of Lockheed Martin, which was a position that he held until July of 1999.
4. Believes in the Importance of Non-Scientific Fields
There are some people who hold the sciences in high regard while showing no such respect for other academic disciplines. However, Augustine isn't one of them because he has voiced a belief in the importance of ethics as well as the humanities. As far as Augustine is concerned, engineering covers whether something can and can't be done, whereas the humanities cover whether something should or shouldn't be done.
5. Has Commented on the Fundamental Issue with Manned Spaceflight Programs in Recent Times
It isn't uncommon for the U.S. presidential administrations of recent decades to make bold promises about manned spaceflight programs. However, these bold promises have been undermined by the fact that none of them have been willing to put in the kind of resources needed to fund a mission to the moon. Never mind something more ambitious such as a mission to Mars. Given Augustine's involvement in such matters, it should come as no surprise to learn that he has commented on this mismatch between NASA's goals and NASA's resources.
6. Has Stated that NASA Can't Get the Necessary Funding Via Cost-Cutting
On a related note, Augustine has stated that NASA can't get the necessary funding for a manned spaceflight program by cutting costs in other regards. Apparently, NASA has a lot of fixed costs, meaning that it isn't very flexible in this regard. As Augustine stated, there might be substantial funds that can be freed up by fixing inefficiencies in its operations. However, even substantial funds aren't enough when the necessary funding for a manned spaceflight program would have to be in the billions. In other words, unless NASA gets more funding, the dream of a new manned spaceflight program is just that - a dream and nothing more than a dream.
7. Interested in an Asteroid Mission
Augustine has expressed interest in an asteroid mission, which would involve either landing on an asteroid or entering the orbit of an asteroid. He suspects that the costs of such a mission wouldn't be worthwhile from a scientific perspective, seeing as how there are other more convenient ways for scientists to study asteroids. However, Augustine believes that such a mission would provide important learning opportunities for engineers, which would be critical for any further efforts involving any other celestial objects in our solar system.
8. Interested in Mars
Of course, Augustine is very interested in Mars as well. After all, Mars is a step that must be taken if humans ever want to become a true space-faring species, which is why there is so much interest in the Red Planet from such a wide range of parties. With that said, Augustine is also interested in each of the steps needed to get to Mars, which include practicing with an asteroid, getting into the orbit of Mars, landing on a Martian moon, and landing on Mars itself. Suffice to say that each step would come with plenty of challenges as well as plenty of opportunities.
9. Isn't Bothered By Russia Charging More For Soyuz Rides to the International Space Station
On the whole, Augustine has expressed an opinion that Russia has been a reliable partner when it comes to the International Space Station, though he also added that he was very much an outsider looking in, meaning that his understanding of the situation was by no means comprehensive. In any case, Augustine isn't particularly bothered by the fact that the Russians have been charging NASA more and more for Soyuz rides to the International Space Station because as far as he is concerned, that was just the inevitable outcome of scraping a shuttle program in preference for focusing elsewhere.
10. Hopes that There Will Be Some Cooperation with Chinese Space Efforts in the Future
In recent times, China has been very interested in space as well, which has stirred up a sense of competition in its U.S. counterparts. It is interesting to note that Augustine has stated that he hopes that there will be some cooperation between China and the United States in this regard in the future, which could produce the same kind of benefits as U.S. and U.S.S.R. cooperation in this regard in the Cold War period.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker