After Hours

Wired: What's wrong with NASA

Gregg Easterbrook writes for Wired:

Here is a set of rational priorities for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in descending order of importance:

  1. Conduct research, particularly environmental research, on Earth, the sun, and Venus, the most Earth-like planet.
  2. Locate asteroids and comets that might strike Earth, and devise a practical means of deflecting them.
  3. Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe.
  4. Figure out a way to replace today's chemical rockets with a much cheaper way to reach Earth orbit.

Here are NASA's apparent current priorities:

  1. Maintain a pointless space station.
  2. Build a pointless Motel 6 on the moon.
  3. Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe.
  4. Keep money flowing to favored aerospace contractors and congressional districts.

I've written in this space before about what I feel is gravely wrong with the U.S. space agency (desperation for new ideas and funding, dependence on outdated and/or politically driven technology, pure lack of pragmatism). Easterbrook is more cogent, concise, and scathing than I could ever hope to be. If ever there was an argument for privatization, this is it.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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