Tuesday, January 03, 2006

NASA Budget Gets Tighter, Congress Keeps The Faith

Florida Today is reporting the shuttle 'foam issue' may threaten future NASA missions including trips to the Moon and Mars.

It's true the foam problem has gone on far too long and needs to be resolved once and for all, but there have been many successes, including the safe launch and return of Discovery in July.

NASA engineers are only going to launch when they believe the ship is safe. Not before. That's not an endorsement of their techniques, it's simply a matter of fact.
Right now foam continues to break loose and that's unacceptable.

There is no other spacecraft capable of doing what NASA's Space Transport System can do, when it works properly.
But that's the problem: It still doesn't work properly. Hence the $4 billion a year budgeted for the program is beginning to drain from everything else. And that doesn't include the $6 billion estimated to get the program going again, or the unknown expenses they might encounter right now as they try figure out how to get the whole thing--working properly.

For its part Congress has kept the faith, pledging support of NASA administrator Mike Griffin, and the Moon/Mars mission. We'll see if that continues in the face of further launch delays or system failures.

It's tricky business, launching spaceships. But NASA has had plenty of time to learn the ropes and surely they will rebound from this....

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