Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Annus Horribilis: Space in 2011


  • 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.

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