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NASA's Missions suffer from their high political profile, long timelines

Accepted submission by JoeMerchant at 2018-01-10 16:04:53 from the My button is bigger than your button dept.

International Business Times [] reports: of the biggest challenges Nasa has faced in recent years is not in terms of technological development, but rather dealing with the orders of politicians and flat budgets. This major shift in focus of the human spaceflight programme is happening for the third time in as many government changes.

"We're always asked to change directions every time we get a new president, and that just causes you to do negative work, work that doesn't matter," Scott Kelly, the astronaut who spent nearly a year in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS), told the Post. "I just hope someday we'll have a president that will say, 'You know what, we'll just leave Nasa on the course they are on, and see what Nasa can achieve if we untie their hands,'" he added.

The space agency's change in direction has upset many in the space community, said Scott Hubbard, former director of the Nasa Ames Research Center. "Please don't push the reset button again, because you're just going to waste billions of dollars of previous investment,"

Maybe NASA should plan an array of projects with less than 4 year "point of no return" dates? Then, when directed to change course, change to the closest plan matching the new course and actually get it done. If politicians want longer projects, they need to start guaranteeing the funding to complete them, and accepting realistic estimates about actual time and cost to deliver instead of demanding short schedule bargain budget promises before signing off.

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