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February 26, 2010

Burt Rutan on NASA, bis

Poor Burt was spun by the MSM as it often happens, so he attempted to fight back with an open letter. The Burt vs. Paparazzi angle to this story was widely reported, but I would like to concentrate on actual point he is trying to make wrt the now-being-cancelled Constellation (via Flight Global):

In short, it is a good idea indeed for the commercial community to compete to re-supply the ISS and to bring about space access for the public to enjoy. I applaud the efforts of SpaceX, Virgin and Orbital in that regard and feel these activities should have been done at least two decades ago. However, I do not see the commercial companies taking Americans to Mars or to the moons of Saturn within my lifetime and I doubt if they will take the true Research risks (technical and financial) to fly new concepts that have low confidence of return on investment. Even NASA, regarded as our prime Research agency has not recently shown a willingness to fly true Research concepts.

For years I have stated that a NASA return-to-moon effort must include true Research content, i.e. testing new concepts needed to enable forefront Exploration beyond the moon. The current Ares/Orion does not do that. While I have been critical of Constellation for that reason, I do not think that NASA should 'give up' on manned spaceflight, just that they should be doing it while meeting the 1) or 2) criteria above.

The way Griffin toys ate the rest of NASA was perhaps not widely enough reported (e.g. the closure of NIAC).

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at 07:48 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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