Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The rebel alliance speaks

Today the Obama administration is starting its human spaceflight review with the first open meeting of the Augustine commission. In short, the successor to the space shuttle program is over budget and behind schedule. In fact, their ready date has slipped four years during the first three years of the program, equating to negative progress.

A few months back, I came across the website of the Direct proposal. This is basically a shadow launch system, designed by NASA engineers in their spare time as their “what we should be doing” project. For a while now, I’ve been applying my crackpot detectors to this, but I’m having trouble detecting anything. They seem to act and think like technical people, not deranged idealists.

Now, one wonders- if their design is better, why isn’t senior management using it? But then, during the last 7 years there were a number of US government departments with ineffective administration. Seen in this light, the current boondoggle is not terribly surprising.

The hopeful development is that the Direct team has been granted a 30 minute presentation at the Augustine commission hearing today. Whether anything further develops is something I can’t predict, but at least senior government people are now listening to alternative solutions instead of blindly staying the course and squashing dissent. I’m optimistically hopeful that America will get back to the moon before I turn 50. Since the last man left before I was born, I’d kinda like the opportunity to see someone new have a crack at that field locale.

After all, the rocks are Da Bomb.


Tom said...

Pardon my non-expert status, but wouldn't an actual technical, non-idealist prefer robots and unmanned exploration over manned spaceflight? Aren't there all sorts of useful things that little Rovers can do that don't have the risk and cost that people add? I'm all for colonization and conquering the stars, but I'm also a big fan of gradual one-step-at-a-time approaches.

ScienceWoman said...

Perhaps this might explain whythose "rebels" have been so far ignored.

C W Magee said...

Manned and unmanned programs have different positives and negatives. Many robotic sample return missions focues or micron-sized to gram sized samples. In contrast, we have hundreds of kilos of Apollo samples. For the moment at least, people are smarter than bots as well. You don't want to can all your robots to pay for human spaceflight, but flying to the moon and nearby asteroids is way better for planetary science than sitting in a space station.

EliRabett said...

Don't really know the relationship, but Mars Direct is an old proposal (even has a Wikipedia entry)