I was contacted by the Space Studies Board of The National Academies for a survey that asked "What should be the rationale and goals for the civil space program?" My brief answer follows:
The goal for the civil space program must be to open up the solar system for development and settlement. In short, the U.S. government shall expand the economic sphere of the United States beyond Earth orbit so that America can harness extra-terrestrial scientific and natural resources. In contrast with today's approach, the civil space program shall not just approach space as a domain only for a handful of civil servants to briefly travel to. Rather, the space program shall blaze a trail with an open architecture that leverages and nurtures the key strengths of the commercial and educational space sectors so that some day soon average Americans can travel to, work in and benefit from affordable access to space.