credit: NASA/ caption: STS-61
Beyond these words NASA should continue to support commercial and European
development of crew and cargo alternatives, particularly for cargo return, during and after the gap the report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology space, policy and society
research group is pretty unimaginative and if I were a member of George W. Bush’s administration or NASA’s current leadership I’d be thanking the New England based-institute for the free positive PRRather like this Obama campaign space policy and this report from the Obama linked Center for American Progress Action Fund New Democracy Project, the gravity free zone normally found in US Congressional authorisation acts for NASA that seem to think that a $25 billion plus (my guestimate) wish list can be done for $17 billion seems to have expanded to cover a major academic institution
The one shining light in the report is that commercial and European cargo reference. In ESA you have an organisation whose industrial partners have proven ability. Sadly at the moment Europe’s governments can’t, or won’t, invest enough to deliver additional upmass and down-mass capability in the near term. Obama could change that. Funding the crew transrpotation option of NASA’s commercial orbital transportation services demonstration programme would be a good idea too
As for the rest of the MIT report. I guess the university makes more money from human spaceflight projects than robotic space science as the recommendations in its report demonstrate a mindset that thinks that you can carry on as normal and have your human spaceflight cake and eat it while the scientific community (now looking for a big climate change dividend from the Obama administration after eight lean years) and aeronautics research base just rolls over
How can I make this clear enough for people even with multiple degrees to understand?
YOU CAN’T FUND ALL OF THE SPACE SCIENCE AND AERONAUTICS RESEARCH COMMITMENTS AND GO TO THE MOON ON A FLAT NASA BUDGET
Even if you opt for the “dump Constellation, worship at the EELV altar” crowd’s approach you are going to have to develop heavier lift EELVs, extremely reliable automatic in-orbit rendezvous and docking, an Earth departure stage, crewed and robotic cargo lunar landers, a cislunar navigation and telecomms network, lunar surface systems, lunar rovers, new spacesuits, in-situ resource utilisation technology and I choke while I say it, orbital propellant depots…
Can someone in American academia please get real [add whatever florid language you wish too] and draw up a realistic plan for the US space programme?