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Curiosity Team Grilled on NASA’s Mars Vision

12-Sep-14 11:52 am EDT Leave a comment
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esterday, we again saw numerous spending questions about the value behind #Curiosity and other endeavours by #NASA concerning space exploration.  These were prevalent amongst the media’s questions during a Curiosity Update event sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (#JPL).

Dr. Robert Zubrin speaking at NASA in 2008.

Dr. Robert Zubrin speaking at NASA in 2008.

Earlier this month, similar frustration could be heard reverberating from the Mars Society’s Dr. Robert Zubrin, who (ensconced atop his pulpit at NASA’s Ames Research Centre) aggressively critiqued the high-profile US department for vacillating on its exploration objectives throughout the solar system.  Zubrin and others see an inefficient, navel-gazing, visionless bureaucracy requiring a refocusing of goals and research to end years of wasted money and energy spent on justifying bad programs.  Instead, what seems to be happening is the very same political institutions responsible for funding US space exploration are simply cutting an inefficient image-conscious government department without addressing the real problem behind invested dollars being well-spent.

In the meantime, corporate America (and commercial interests elsewhere) have begun to step into the sacred ground once reserved for NASA.  Cancellation of the Constellation project happened in tandem with the government refocusing its spending on backing commercial exploration, no doubt because of NASA’s inability to get the job done soon enough to put America first in a second emerging space race.  But NASA still has missions all over the solar system to manage and maintain — and its not clear where the money will come from if the larger issues affecting it aren’t addressed.

In the end, maybe a few heads have to roll.  And there will be consequences; but the only alternative is continuing to stand idly by and watch an organization that once led humanity to the surface of the moon fade from relevance entirely.

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