Monday, February 1, 2010


It looks like Obama is taking the ax to NASA's Constellation program and thus killing the chances of returning to the Moon in the next decade. I've blogged about the nightmare the Ares rocket program has become so this decision is bittersweet for me. I had hoped that Obama would task NASA with rethinking Constellation and finding a cheaper manned flight system but it looks like that's just not in the budget of these trying times.

What this article doesn't mention is that when the Space Shuttle stops flying (there are only five flights left) there will be no manned space flight in this country. NASA has been flying continuous manned space flight with the Space Shuttle since 1981. Think about that, the Shuttle will have flown for nearly 30 years which is nothing short of amazing considering the Apollo program "only" ran for a total of 14 years. There was a six year gap between Apollo and the Shuttle (1975-1981) which were considered pretty dark days for NASA due to the development issues the Shuttle had. The entire Shuttle program up to 2005 was estimated to have cost $145 billion....that's for the entire program from 1981 to 2005. That number shocked me because it is about 10% of what we've spent so far on the Iraq/Afghanistan war.

While it is admirable to think that private enterprise may fill the gap; these industries are still very much in their infancy. Considering how difficult it is to raise venture capital in this economy there's little chance that a high risk investment like privatized space exploration is going to be attractive to many investors. There are going to be a lot of Aerospace and Mechanical engineers looking for jobs once NASA realizes they have no projects for them to work on. The ones that can't find jobs in the private sector may be ripe for the picking of other up and coming space faring nations like China and India.

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