In a very well-written article for The New Atlantis, Robert Zubrin (President of the Mars Society) expresses his concerns that we are Going Nowhere in human space exploration with the path put forth by the President’s proposed NASA budget. We at AmericaSpace consider the article a good read for anyone unfamiliar with the President’s budget proposal or for anyone seeking further confirmation of the growing breadth of scientists and engineers against the proposed path to nowhere.
Dr. Zubrin goes over three key decisions of the proposal: the cancellation of Constellation which he views as “very harmful to America’s long-term interests in space”, the additional funding for commercial spaceflight that he argues is not too critical long-term “since NASA has been buying launches from private space firms for the past half century”, and the flexible path that he views as a path to “guarantee that the U.S. human spaceflight program accomplishes nothing for the foreseeable future”.
The article also directly questions the “technical reality” of some of the “game-changing” technologies from the proposal, along with contrasting two past NASA operational modes: “Apollo” and “Shuttle” modes. “In the Apollo Mode, NASA’s efforts are focused and directed; in the Shuttle Mode, the space agency’s efforts are random and entropic, shuffling along without a purpose, always buffeted by political winds…” Dr. Zubrin singles out the Jet Propulsion Lab as the only NASA center still operating in the “Apollo” mode and attributes their success in robotic spaceflight primarily from the selection of missions and goals that drive subsequent design and technology development.
“Without the guidance supplied by a driving mission, under the new Obama space policy, another ten years and more than a hundred billion dollars will be spent by NASA’s human spaceflight program without achieving anything significant.”