« Nihilist Warthogs: A Debate | Main | Hey, Remember This? »
January 15, 2011

Report: NASA Safety Issues Prompted By Policy Disputes

A report by NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel was released on Thursday. It concluded that "lack of clarity and constancy of purpose among NASA, Congress and the White House" may endanger astronauts in the future. It includes a thinly-veiled plea for more funding.

The latest concerns about NASA's drift come amid heightened uncertainty over its budget and policy priorities, as the new House Republican leadership begins to spell out a vision for the agency. Veteran GOP lawmakers on committees overseeing NASA generally have strongly opposed White House efforts to turn over core agency functions—including transporting astronauts to and from the international space station—to commercial rocket and spacecraft suppliers and operators.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's ambitious goal of launching a manned expedition to an asteroid by 2025 hasn't gained much traction inside NASA or among lawmakers.

On Thursday, Rep. Ralph Hall (R., Texas), the chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, criticized the Obama administration for seeking to kill long-established manned projects. Instead of providing NASA with a larger budget advocated by outside experts, according to Mr. Hall, the White House "simply said it was unaffordable" and has denied NASA the resources "necessary to have a program worthy of a great nation."
. . . .
Further complicating the safety debate, earlier this week NASA officials delivered a separate report to Capitol Hill arguing that they can't build a new rocket and Apollo-like capsule on the budget and deadline established by lawmakers. None of the options analyzed so far, according to NASA, will be able to fly by 2016 unless lawmakers significantly increase the agency's appropriations.

I've shared my skepticism about taxpayer-funded, government-run space exploration several times, including on the Muslim outreach incident and NASA's covered wagon to the moon.

The argument used to be that government had to take the lead on space exploration because it was a competition that the private sector couldn't afford. Private industry (and private investment) just didn't operate on the timeframe involved; there was no company that could delay return on investment for twenty (really forty) years.

But it's not the Sixties anymore. The government can't afford it anyway and government regulatory dominance in the space industry is deterring private investment. I seriously doubt that NASA could put a man on the moon in the next five years even if our lives depended on it.

That's part of the conclusion in this report. NASA has no clear purpose. You're as likely to hear about NASA's global warming studies as you are a shuttle launch, salt evaporation projects as interplanetary probes. Congressfolk mostly want money for their districts. President Obama wants an asteroid mission, even as most of the NASA folks talk about skipping the moon and going straight to Mars. As a result, NASA loses talent and experience which is needed to "effectively reduce risk going into the future."

Exit question: I was born in 1981. Tell me about some worthy NASA projects in my lifetime. I'm thinking Hubble was worth the effort, given how much we've learned about the universe from it. GPS is a DOD project, so that doesn't count. What am I forgetting?

digg this
posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:21 PM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
My life is insanity : "Skip, I hear you. Typing on my phone, i have to r ..."

Rodrigo Borgia: "> This will be mild compared to what they'll come ..."

Nazdar: "1045 When I was a teenager, a Chicago top 40 stati ..."

My life is insanity : "Oh crap! I forgot about the muffins. But if i ge ..."

Rodrigo Borgia: "> Where are you that you're doing winter prep if y ..."

My life is insanity : "Wondering what made the comment count so high, was ..."

Skip: "I'm generally tired of older music, heard them all ..."

Skip: "Dishwasher, I swear this tablet writes what it wan ..."

Eromero: "I like some songs just as much as I did when I fir ..."

AltonJackson: " g'mornin', 'rons ..."

Skip: "Usually I hear when coffee pot starts to perk, but ..."

My life is insanity : "Me either, Skip. My summer to-do list has uncheck ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64