Monday, July 19, 2010

Hard to keep up with NASA changes

First President Obama called for a radical restructuring of NASA, especially the human spaceflight segment, and killed the Constellation vision of a return to the Moon and a lunar base in favor of a decades-off mission to Mars (which had actually been part of Constellation from the beginning, though everyone seemed to have forgotten this). Then a near-violent storm of support vs. opposition, which of course had nothign to do with whose jobs were at risk in which state or Congressional district) broke out. Then Obama backed off a little on points like completing a form of the Orion capsule. Then both sides trotted out the astronauts, scientists, Congresspersons, Hollywood personalities, and random citizens who favored their positions. (Surprisingly, no one has claimed to have held a seance with Wernher von Braun.) Then NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made the statement on live TV that the "foremost" mission he had been charged with by the President was to make Muslim nations "feel good about" their contributions to science and technology. Then the White House said no one had ever told Bolden any such thing and the ex-Marine, straight-arrow Administrator was somehow making up a new mission on his own. Then the White House version was endorsed as believable by an all-star panel including space luminaries Luke Skywalker, James Kirk, and Marvin the Martian. Then a Senate committee laboring on the FY11 NASA budget produced a draft bill closer to the old Constellation program than to the President's vision. Now former astronaut and Senator John Glenn, who favor extension of the Shuttle, is meeting with the President. The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that a new heavy-lift rocket - to be paid for in the future, of course, - is important. (Oh, and now someone claims they did try to explain it all to von Braun via a seance, but they say all the great rocketeer's spirit did was utter a string of oaths in German and then break the connection.)

The real version of events - to the extent anyone can figure it out - is not much saner than this one. It may, arguably, be even stranger. The bottom line: no one knows yet what is going to happen with American spaceflight. All I can say is, whatever your position, make it heard, because the times they are a-changing.

AS ALWAYS, only more so than always, this blog is purely the author's personal expression as a citizen.


楊儀卉 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
芳瑜佩如 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.