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Monday, August 25, 2008

50th Anniversary Lunar Landing - NOT

NASA's Wendell W. Mendell, Manager, Office for Human Exploration Science at NASA Johnson Space Center responded to a question today on the Lunar Listserv asking "with just a little more effort, we could return people to the Moon by July 20, 2019, which would be *very* significant. Is there any talk of this as a goal?"

Mendell: "I have not heard any discussion of a 50th anniversary goal. At the time of the declaration of the Vision for Space Exploration at the beginning of 2004, I think it could have happened. However, the failure of the Constellation budget to meet expectations over the past couple of years and the currently projected shortfalls in the upcoming years effectively make itimpossible. Originally, the CEV was intended to go into service to the ISS in 2010, at the retirement of the Shuttle. I haven't been keeping track, but I think the gap is now five years between Shuttle retirement and CEV operation."

1 comment:

Joel Raupe said...

I think a 50th Anniversary goal would be interesting, and not as unrealistic as those at NASA believe it to be. As a first goal, we're liable to find ourselves celebrating after the arrival of the Chinese or Indians, for crying out loud. The only deterent to returning to the Moon, aside from the basic science research programs well-underway, much of it needed before "extensive human activity" on the Moon can begin, is funding. The temptation to grasp at the percentage of GDP held by Apollo in 1969 should be avoided. At the same time, the whole rendezvous and return model and production timeline runs the very real risk of being scrapped, unfortunately, the longer its fulfillment is pushed into "the out years." The reason for failure to consider redundant, faster alternatives is to pretend those engineering alternatives do not exist. This is a risky game.

Then again, if our astronaut corp remains grounded, there's little risk of any fatal accidents.

I can't help but wonder whether NASA hasn't slipped over the edge and past the point where self-continuity has become its "reason for being."

Why should the Agency be immune from a temptation common among all social institutions, particularly the revolutionary kind?