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posted by martyb on Thursday May 10 2018, @09:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the Lucy...in-the-sky-with-diamonds? dept.

NASA chief on Moon return: "This will not be Lucy and the football again"

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush announced the Space Exploration Initiative, a long-range commitment toward the human exploration of deep space, beginning with a return to the Moon. "Major parts of that policy went forward, but establishing permanence on the Moon was abandoned," Bridenstine said Tuesday. Then, in 2004, President George W. Bush announced a bold plan to send humans back to the Moon, where they would learn how to operate in deep space and then go on to Mars. This became the Constellation program. Again, major parts of that policy went forward, Bridenstine said. But NASA abandoned the drive back to the Moon.

Before the US Senate confirmed pilot and former congressman Bridenstine, the Trump administration announced a plan to send humans back to the Moon. "To many, this may sound similar to our previous attempts to get to the Moon," Bridenstine said Tuesday. "However, times have changed. This will not be Lucy and the football again."

How have times changed? During his brief address, Bridenstine listed several technologies that he believes have lowered the cost of a lunar return. These include the miniaturization of electronics that will allow for smaller robotic vehicles, the decreasing costs of launch, private investment in spaceflight, commercial interest in lunar resources, and new ways of government contracting. (Bridenstine did not mention the Space Launch System rocket or the Orion spacecraft).

The speech was only a few minutes long, so I wouldn't read too much into the absence of SLS/Orion. But it's no secret that BFR could deliver 150 metric tons to the Moon or Mars by using in-orbit refueling, vs. a lot less when using the expensive SLS.

Previously:

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  • (Score: 2) by ElizabethGreene on Thursday May 10 2018, @01:51PM (2 children)

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Thursday May 10 2018, @01:51PM (#677847)

    > If NASA was run by scientists, we'd be on Mars already.

    I respectfully disagree. NASA is a complex organization with 18,000 direct employees and a fleet of contractors easily 5 times that number. The person running it needs to be a leader first, a skilled supply chain manager second, and a bullshit detector third. The organization has literally thousands of people who can weigh in on the technical merits of a specific idea, but damn few who can reign in an out-of-control cost-plus billion-dollar contractor with a Senator in their pocket.

    That gap leads to lack of progress, that lack of progress leads to priority changes, and those changes feed back to the lack of progress. That's why we're not on Mars today.

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  • (Score: 2) by Taibhsear on Thursday May 10 2018, @03:00PM

    by Taibhsear (1464) on Thursday May 10 2018, @03:00PM (#677893)

    The organization has literally thousands of people who can weigh in on the technical merits of a specific idea, but damn few who can reign in an out-of-control cost-plus billion-dollar contractor with a Senator in their pocket.

    Maybe they can get help from the military industrial complex. They seem to be doing great in that...

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by ledow on Thursday May 10 2018, @03:22PM

    by ledow (5567) on Thursday May 10 2018, @03:22PM (#677910) Homepage

    I think the first thing a scientist would question is:

    "Who's best to put in charge of getting out of the contractors exactly what our specification says?"

    There's no reason at all for the organisation to be managed by a "leader", when you're talking about the engineering side conforming to the scientific specification. Sure, someone, somewhere has to kick them into line and make sure they deliver. But that person shouldn't be outranking the scientists telling you what they want to actually achieve and how.

    If anything, the reason it fails it's because it's NOT done that way and someone who doesn't understand the technicalities is bullshitted by the people doing hard sell.

    "but damn few who can reign in an out-of-control cost-plus billion-dollar contractor with a Senator in their pocket."

    Which is why you don't want senators, contractors or anyone dealing with them making the decisions.

    A scientist would actually ensure they have a contract with specifications and penalty clauses for non-delivery, for example.