Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Obama's new space plan

NASA's new administrator, Charlie Bolden, has outlined the administration's new plan for space exploration. He has a 10 page statement, but I think a picture is worth a thousand words:

Basically, the plan is to shut down the shuttle program, which was scheduled anyway. ISS access will be provided by the Russians, and any commercial companies that manage to compete with them. Shuttle infrastructure will be discontinued. And billions will be spent on the next new transformative technology.

The last time we threw away 20 years of launch technology in favor of the next newest, most efficient transformative technology, we canned Apollo for the shuttle. The cost overruns shut down American planetary exploration for a decade, and the end product was just as expensive and dangerous as the rocket it replaced.

Now they want to do it all again. And in the mean time, the only way to get to the International Space Station will be on Russian Soyuz- a system that has been incrementally improved and tested its debut in 1962.

In the mean time, sample return from anywhere appears to be off the table- even the R&D focuses on space biology, not landing and return technology. At least we have a SHRIMP in Russia and two in China- I suspect that's the closest I'll ever get to a macroscopic planetary sample in my professional lifetime.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, not harsh at all, rather good in fact; not sure about the SHRIMP, I know Putin is short, but who are the shorties in China ;)
bottom line, feel as frustrated as you and more than powerless after the effort put in to educate Obama and his staff over the past 2 year; really thought we had gotten through;
Cheers,

cro-magnon gramps

Dr Chucky said...

Mind you, overturning the dreams and aspirations of every four to eight year old who's ever played with Lego (and GW) seems mean-spirited. Seriously, a moon base! C'mon people!

Chuck said...

Gramps, SHRIMP is a high-end scientific instrument used to analyse geologic and planetary samples. I work for the manufacturer.