Friday, August 14, 2009
The Moon Is Off The Table
According to THIS linked article in the Miami Herald, the presidential panel reviewing NASA's manned space flight program has concluded that sending astronauts back to the moon by 2020--or even by 2028--is simply not doable with the space agency's current budget. One of the panel's members, former astronaut Sally Ride, said that in order to accomplish more Apollo style landings, NASA would need at least another $50 billion, money that is very unlikely to be freed up anytime in the near future.
Given the recent financial meltdown, which wasn't anticipated when the manned space program was 're-envisioned' in 2004, this wasn't really much of a surprise. Also of no surprise is the public's desire to extend the ISS's operations beyond the Bush administration's deadline of 2016, which will take a great deal of money away from other manned space endeavors.
I talked about the "Deep Space Flight" option in an earlier Blog, and its just as worthy a goal as Returning to the Moon. But the bad part is we're once again shifting focus for what should be a long-term ongoing endeavor. It is somewhat like Christopher Columbus shifting direction every few hundred miles during his first voyage across the Atlantic. As I've said a number of times before, space is too vast and too dangerous to keep frivolously wasting our time and resources finagling about what direction we should go. If we want to get anywhere beyond Low Earth Orbit, we need to pick a strategy and stick to it, no matter which political party is in power or what the financial situation is.