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NASA Science

Neil Armstrong To NASA: You're Embarrassing 409

astroengine writes "Neil Armstrong, Apollo legend and outspoken critic of NASA's current direction for human spaceflight, was joined by three other space experts to address Congress on Thursday. It wasn't pretty. Amongst the other criticisms was Armstrong's tough statement: 'For a country that has invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space exploration and exploitation, this condition is viewed by many as lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable.' He might have a point, but Apollo 17's Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, suggested the shuttles should be brought out of retirement to fill the U.S. manned spaceflight gap — a suggestion that probably rolled some eyeballs."
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Neil Armstrong To NASA: You're Embarrassing

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  • by Maow ( 620678 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @08:30AM (#37489908) Journal

    NASA sure has its problems, but I think Congress can be blamed for most of the embarrassing things.

    I'm thinking pork barrelling, micro management, underfunding of stated goals.

    When I think of the Mars landers that were planned for 3 month mission and 1 may still be running *years* later, I am in awe of NASA.

  • Re:Manned why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ost99 ( 101831 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @08:43AM (#37490018)

    Without manned spaceflight, mankind is doomed.

  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by firex726 ( 1188453 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @09:11AM (#37490292)

    Maybe they should be run like CERN.

    Basically have a big bank account that the government(s) dump money into each year and then leave it up to NASA to decide how to spend it.
    That way if some wingnut gets in and decides to defund it, they'll just loose funding for that year or two and can live off the savings during that time.

  • THANK YOU NEIL! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 172pilot ( 913197 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @10:11AM (#37491010) Homepage
    Neil Armstrong is a true American hero and patriot, and I'm glad he had the opportunity and guts to tell Congress the very sad truth that under the current administration, our government has allowed NASA to completely fall apart. According to Wiki ( the ENTIRE 2008 BUDGET of NASA (NOT just the shuttle) was $17.3 Billion. This administration has wasted over $800 Billion in failed stimulus, all while castrating this agency which has provided America with so much technology that has been carried in to the private sector and our daily lives, as well as the non-tangible benefit of the PUBLIC PRIDE that our successes there have brought.

    These days, our government spends over $11 BILLION PER DAY and BORROWS over $4 Billion of that money.. That's right - EVERY DAY.. Although I'm not in favor of INCREASING this number, it seems that NASA did an INCREDIBLE GOOD with what amounts to about 0.004% of the annual budget of our government, especially when compared to the money we WASTE on STUPID POLITICAL PAYOFFS to companies like Solyndra, getting HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF OUR DOLLARS as payoff to political friends of Obama. If anyone thinks that $17.3 Billion can't be shaved off the top to save NASA, they're very wrong.

    I'm not an "Obama Hater" just to be an Obama hater.. I'm a GOVERNMENT WASTE HATER, and am just as against the $800 bailout that Bush initiated before he left office too. We need to stop taking partisan sides and blaming the other side, and we need to look at our priorities and fix the problems and restore pride in America. If we had any leadership in Washington today, we'd have a "Kennedy-like speech" in which we'd be challenged once again to stop looking to government for help, and be told that by the end of THIS DECADE that we would land AMERICANS on MARS, otherwise we're going to be RENTING research facilities up there from the Chinese in 20 years.

  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @11:07AM (#37491942)

    Dear Mr. Cernan,

    While I respect your contribution to the space program, you're wrong. Specifically, with respect to the Space Shuttle, it is too late. They've been pulled out of service, stripped of flight hardware, and decomissioned. Contracts have been cancelled. Staff has been layed off. Necessary support infrastructure and hardware has been mothballed. It's done.

    In addition, required airframe inspections were postponed in order to complete the final missions by the deadline. So, even if we were to renew all the contracts, re-hire all the staff, and pull the ground support harddware out of mothballs, a recertification of all three airframes would be required. This takes time; and, for the duration of the recertification process we would have no launch vehicles. Given that we did not have facilities to do more than one full tear down and inspection at a time, (or have not had the capability for a considerable period of time), the recertification would be drawn out until at least two airframes were inspected, sequentially -- flight rules require a second shuttle be available on standby in the event of an on-orbit accident.

    No, Mr. Cernan. As embarrassing as it is to have no capability, returning the Shuttle to flight, now, is not the option. Our best option for NASA designed hardware is a return to flight leveraging proven components and technology, in the form of the SLS (or whatever you choose to call it) If you want it sooner, get it funded faster. And although your past arguments make it clear you find commercial options distastefully, I feel you should review your decision. One option is the ULA Atlas V+ Boeing CST-100. Another option is to use the Lockheed Orion on either ULA vehicles (Atlas or Delta) As these contractors are the people who built and maintained the Shuttle, they're already intimately familiar with the manned space flight requirements. Frankly, they're likely to be ready before SLS.

    Finally, You should not be so quick to dismiss alternatives such as SpaceX. Yes, it is rocket science. Yes, these are the "new kids on the block", upstarts some may call them. Consider that SpaceX is hiring many experienced people from both NASA contractors and NASA itself. Consider that the work being done by SpaceX is under contract to NASA and the Air Force, and is under constant review by NASA and Air Force personnel. Consider that their designs, while new, are based on existing works. They may be the "new kid on the block" but they are clearly leveraging the industries 5 decades of experience.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.