Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Fight Over NASA Continues

The fight in Washington over NASA’s future has gotten complicated and ugly, like any other legislative battle. I can’t keep up with the details, but the latest development is noteworthy.

The voices of reason have just sent an open letter to the chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, pleading for more support for new technology, commercial spaceflight, robotic precursor missions, and student research. These are some of the programs that our government has been scaling back in recent years, and may continue to scale back, in order to divert every available dollar to the entrenched Constellation Program contractors.

The letter is signed by 14 Nobel laureates and a list of eminent former NASA officials and astronauts. Will anyone listen to them? I have no idea.

Meanwhile, our local entrenched contractor test-fired a rocket motor yesterday, resulting in yet another article (and yet another cool photo) in the local paper. Of course, the article reminds us yet again of how many local jobs hang in the balance as Congress debates NASA’s future. And what is the purpose of this new rocket motor? All we’re told is this: “ATK hopes its motor will boost a rocket into low Earth orbit, or maybe space.”