When the White House releases his budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was supposed to return humans to the moon by 2020. The troubled and expensive Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for its bigger brother, the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to take humans back to the moon.NASA, as a major player in the worldwide space effort is finished. They cannot complete with what is being developed and used by other nations. Their upsized Apollo capsule attached to the top of quarter-century old modified shuttle boosters as America's future in space - a stopgap effort at best - cannot cut the mustard, and this administration - hostile to the space effort from the beginning - knows it.
It's a sad story... About an agency that started with real goals, focused on them, and got he job done... To an agency that has lost it's way and is now paying the price.
The first generation of NASA's people were incredibly focused and dedicated people. We all know of them and admire them for what they accomplished. NASA's people today don't even belong on the same page. For the most part, they are a huge network of PC bureaucrats generating vast amounts of paperwork... Guidelines, restrictions, a sea of non-mission oriented goals... All squandering away the money and time - and goodwill - needed by the designers, the engineers and the builders to stay ahead of the world and keep NASA viable.
While they still had support from both the public and the federal government, instead of sharply focusing on forging ahead with the engineering, design and construction for the next generation of state-of-the-art equipment needed after the now-obsolete space shuttle, they diverted irreplaceable money and effort with stuff like "teachers in space" and a long and useless list of "ladies first" publicity gimmicks. Good grief, they even had school kids orbiting spiders.
Maybe the NASA publicity crew thought all this was good stuff - to gin up public interest. Maybe it was science in a broad definition, but it was bad science. It was not, and is not, NASA's mission to sell itself to the public anymore than it is the mission of Fort Knox to worry about selling itself to the public.
In an PC era where we hire women to be firemen who cannot lift a firehose, women to be SWAT officers whose legs cannot reach the pedals of a SWAT vehicle, it is understandable that we train women to be soldiers... And then not allow them to be soldiers. Such a mindset is what puts women in space for no other reason than that they are females.
At a time when we already had a highly trained and incredibly expensive pool of astronauts, NASA chose to this balloon this cost by adding a women's auxiliary to the astronaut pool. Can a woman twist a wrench in space as good as a man? Yes, but at what additional cost? We already had the men trained to do the job.
A lot of "NASA forever" fans will not like this post, but it's the sad truth. The "teacher in space" disaster did more than any Washington politician could ever have done do to ruin NASA. An entire generation of American schoolkids learned - in one risky nationwide TV extravaganza - that space is dangerous and should be avoided.
NASA's mission was - at one time - space exploration, not what it has devolved into today, a place for social experimentation.
And just as we have forever lost so many manufacturing jobs given away to foreign competitors, we are losing space in the same manner. Foreigners are doing it cheaper, with newer and less exotic equipment, funded by governments that truly understand what's at stake.
But by golly, we'll have those photos of spiderwebs spun in space to look at and fondly remember when... And those now-widely denied and almost forgotten footprints on the moon.