- A long established year-end tradition – for good or ill – is a review and analysis of the preceding twelve months.
- few noticed or understood that without a replacement, the country’s capability for humans to access space had been discarded.
- In other exciting developments, the agency announced their new “mission statement”...a mission statement for an agency without a mission.
- NASA finally decided that they should probably go ahead and build a new launch vehicle...Perhaps even for less than its estimated $100 billion cost.
- Robotic science missions...had their own share of difficulties this year. The Goddard-run James Webb Space Telescope... is coming in late with a price tag of more than $8.7 billion and counting
- all travel to destinations offering little scientific and exploratory benefit or variety; their main attraction seems to be the yet-to-be-explained agency imperative to cross them off some “been there” check-list.
- The year 2011 was an annus horribilis for the national space program. Here’s to the forthcoming year and hopes for a return of sanity to space policy.
This story is about the government's role in space. The private sector has not done quite so badly as that. Besides a Paul Allen's new launch platform, there's a race on to mine the moon. And if the government doesn't want to go back to the moon, they are acknowledging the strong possibility that someone else will.