Tuesday, June 15, 2004

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Who's going to the moon?

Victoria Griffith reports in the Financial Times that NASA proper won't be responding to President Bush's call for a manned mission to the moon or Mars anytime soon. That doesn't mean it won't happen:

The future role of Nasa has been thrown into question by a high-profile report that concludes the agency is not able to send crewed missions to the Moon and Mars on its own.

The study - published officially on Wednesday - comes out just days before a private rocket in the California desert is poised to perform the first manned commercial space flight. Nasa has not launched people into space since the Columbia shuttle disaster last year.....

A commission appointed by George W. Bush, US president, and headed by Edward Aldridge, a former US air force secretary, will recommend an overhaul of Nasa that would force it to rely more on the private sector and expertise from foreign space agencies.

The 60-page study supports the use of cash prizes and tax incentives to encourage innovation by small companies. It names 17 technologies that are lacking in order to send men to the far side of the Moon and on to Mars, including better space suits and affordable heavy lift capability.

The commission also calls for Nasa to be streamlined - a process that has already begun - and for greater oversight of space budgets by the White House and Congress.

Mr Bush asked the group to provide a blueprint for Nasa after he called in January for further human exploration of the solar system. The president set out a goal of returning humans to the moon by 2020 and then going on to Mars....

"It could be that by 2020, private enterprise could be reaching the Moon, which is about the same as Nasa's timetable," says Eric Anderson, president of Space Adventures, a space tourism group.

posted by Dan on 06.15.04 at 05:44 PM


It is clear that people in the Bush administration support private space flights. Why else would one publish such an important report just days before the first commercial (suborbital) space flight? If i were a topmanager of NASA, i would be worried about my long-term budget.

posted by: Harmen Breedeveld on 06.15.04 at 05:44 PM [permalink]

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