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Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Wednesday, September 28, 2005



The space shuttle and International Space Station — nearly the whole of the U.S. manned space program for the past three decades — were mistakes, NASA chief Michael Griffin said Tuesday.

"It is now commonly accepted that was not the right path," Griffin said. "We are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can."

Griffin has made clear in previous statements that he regards the shuttle and space station as misguided. He told the Senate earlier this year that the shuttle was "deeply flawed" and that the space station was not worth "the expense, the risk and the difficulty" of flying humans to space.

Keine Sheisse, Sherlock.

In related news, Sen Ted Kennedy today admitted, "maybe that fifth drink before heading out to the Cape with Mary Jo wasn't such a good idea." And this just in: A now-retired member of the Japanese Diet who was Mayor of Nagasaki in 1945 said today, "I think perhaps our government made a mistake by bombing Pearl Harbor."

The "NASA Administrator's" earth-shakingly brilliant and timely insight does give me an excuse to link to something I've been meaning to post on for over a month now: the dissenting opinions in the final invesitgative report on the Shuttle's return to flight.

Here's the entire report. And here is an extract from dissenting members of the investigative panel, which belies "Administrator" Griffin's "as little damage as we can" meme:

As we reviewed the return-to-flight effort, it was apparent that there were numerous instances when an opportunity was missed to implement the best solution because of this false schedule pressure. As early as September 2003 the RTF TG was told that specific technical activities were not being performed because they could not meet the schedule. Too often we heard the lament: "If only we'd known we were down for two years we would have approached this very differently..." This overall lack of integrated planning resulted in ad hoc and redundant efforts.

...What our concerns about rigor, risk, and requirements point to are a lack of focused, consistent, leadership and management. What we observed, during the return-to-flight effort, was that NASA leadership often did not set the proper tone, establish achievable expectations, or hold people accountable for meeting them. On many occasions, we observed weak understanding of basic program management and systems engineering principles, an abandonment of traditional processes, and a lack of rigor in execution.

...The CAIB [Columbia Accident Investigation Board] noted an air of "arrogance" within NASA that led leaders and managers to be dismissive of the views of others, both within the organization and, especially, from outside the Agency.

Incidentally, if we'd kept the space program the Air Force started in 1954, the US would have had an operating space shuttle, the X-20, at a hundredth the cost of the STS, by 1966. We should have kept the space program in the hands of the only organization in America that was organized, trained, and equipped at the time to properly exploit it: the military. Instead, we handed the program over to civilian "administrators." Today, we need to hand the program over to those whose imagination is still captured by space, like the folks who built the Martian Rover at JPL, and take it completely away from the arrogant Porkmeisters.

When the Chinese use their much-superior heavy spacelift capability to seize the Earth's gravity well and put an end to the "American Century," we'll finally realize that we took a wrong turn on our road to space and still haven't found our way back.


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