In a startling admission, NASA chief Michael Griffin told USA Today's editorial board that the manned space shuttle and International Space Station projects have been misguided for decades. News of the interview sparked some heated debate in the blogosphere about the state of the U.S. space program.
Space exploration has long captivated humans, especially among those in the tech set. But as the cost of manned space missions has grown to staggering levels, even some die-hard backers of space exploration have begun to question the logic behind continuing the program. Now, with even NASA's chief admitting that his organization's program has fallen woefully off-track, bloggers are asking tough questions about the real benefit of such missions. Is human fascination with exploration of uncharted territories enough to justify spending billions of dollars on manned space flight? Can we put a price tag on such large-scale scientific discovery? And, as Griffin suggests in a previous interview, how urgent is it for humans to explore the colonization of other planets?
Blog community response:
"No kidding! Mr. Griffin, if you want to see what a space program should look like, check out here and here. They will go to space and make a profit doing it. None of this $150 billion boondoggle "do it for the sciences" crap. There are much better ways to spend that kind of money...Now if only we could get him to scrap NASA entirely and save us the cash from the getgo."
--The Modern American
"Time to park this thing in the museum of bad 70's engineering right next to the ford pinto...The overwhelming concern with getting people into space is safety. The concern with getting stuff into space is cost. The shuttle was supposed to be safe and cheap. It turned out to be neither."
"Personally I don't think that the space program was a mistake. It gave people opportunity to explore further the world that surrounds us. Although many sacrifices were made, contribution of those people is priceless to humanity."
"It seems to me the whole emphasis on human exploration, while undeniably romantic, is both too dangerous and unproductive compared to robotic missions...I see space exploration as a field of science, not a field of adventurism. Let the machines blaze our paths out of orbit. We can follow when there is better reason to."
"While some might question the benefit to society of a return to the moon in a time of mounting deficits, an incredibly costly series of foreign wars, and rising social inequity, if the decision has been made to go back to the moon then using proven technology seems like the way to do it. It's plain to see that the Space Shuttle has never lived up to its hype, and with the advancement in commercial spaceflight that have been spurred by the Ansari X Prize, perhaps earth orbit will become the preserve of the corporations?"