Tuesday, October 11, 2005

NASA Self-Delusion

Michael Griffin, current head of a toothless NASA, calls the project "Apollo on Steroids". Leonard David of Space.com notes that the new moon mission will require continuing political will, not to mention gobs of money. He quotes Gregg Easterbrook, comparing the plans unfavorably to a do-over of the Wright brother's efforts 49 years later in 1952.

It's difficult to muster any enthusiasm for a repeat mission that breaks no new ground. We need to admit that this redundant mission is not going to happen. Why bother starting it? Within ten years we will be confronted with an energetic Chinese initiative in space. If we still find China threatening at that point, we will need to compete with them. Everything that we have on the books now will be thrown out. Let's throw it out now! Why not make a plan instead that incorporates a challenging future. We have the time now to create a decisive advantage. It will require revitalizing our decrepit economy, ending wasteful economic practices, revamping the tax structure, funding research and development and aiming for breathtaking feats.

I have written about my NASA opinions previously here and here.

UPDATE: Science News has a recent article explaining that the Hubble has been reprieved due to public pressure. This is great news to me. In order to make the mission feasible an ingenious method for extending the Hubble's operational lifetime has been devised. Normally operating on three energy-sucking gyroscopes, equivalent orientation control has been established using two gyroscopes and input from the instruments on board. I couldn't find the SciNews reference online, but I found an equivalent article on the Coffeehouse blog. NASA is claiming that it will close out the Shuttle after completing 19 more missions between now and 2010. I have my doubts, but I'll be happy if Hubble is extended.

UPDATE: Here's an article about China's manned flight yesterday. 10/12/2005 1:07PM

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