Around the same time, the idea of a Lunar Science Institute (LSI) that would encompass academic as well as public-sector space research was discussed between NASA and the NAS. To develop the LSI concept, NAS created a committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Kenneth Pitzer to study NASA-university relations. In 1967, the Pitzer Committee recommended the establishment of the LSI - the first public-private space science research program - which initially would be operated by Rice University under a subcontract with NAS. The Committee's vision was that the LSI would eventually be operated by a consortium of universities with research departments in space-related disciplines, a plan which could help foster a stronger and broader relationship between NASA and the academic community.
In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson announced the creation of the LSI. The NAS and NASA continued to hope that URA would broaden its activities to include space sciences and would agree to manage the LSI. The URA Board of Directors, however, again rejected NAS's request.
By late 1968, with the receipt of lunar samples from the Apollo 11 mission anticipated in only a few months, NAS President Dr. Frederick Seitz invited the presidents of URA member universities, along with a few other universities involved in space science, to join a new academic consortium as recommended by the Pitzer Committee. The consortium's primary responsibility would be the management of the LSI, but it would also be tasked with exploring additional opportunities for university collaboration with NASA.