MIT Technology Review - The Space Shuttle program's benefits weren't worth the cost—and now the U.S. is in jeopardy of repeating the same mistake, says a leading space policy expert.
John M. Logsdon is professor emeritus at the Space Policy Institute, George Washington University, and author of John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon. In 2003, he was a member of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
When you consider that NASA already had heavy lift with the Saturn V, and almost had a nuclear thermal rocket ready to go before being canceled, it seems an almost incredible mistake now. The Saturn V nuclear thermal had an astounding 170 ton LEO capability. This was in the early seventies. If it had been built, a trip to Mars would have been feasible. Not only feasible, but likely, because that was why it was built. Here we are, 40 years later, having to reinvent the wheel that already had been invented. This shows, if nothing else can, the failure of government. Even when they do something right, they still screw it up.