An interesting look at NASA and the costs involved with some of the hair brained schemes that seem to come out of the Agency and Washington.
By S. Fred Singer
Since the first Apollo landing in 1969, NASA has been looking, unsuccessfully, for an overarching goal to match this spectacular achievement: landing men on the Moon. The International Space Station (ISS) has not turned out to be what it was advertised. It has made no breakthrough scientific contributions; it has not explored the solar system further; and it has not excited a great amount of public interest since it was set up. In retrospect, many would refer to it as a white elephant. Its annual maintenance costs are a drain on the NASA budget. Even worse, its supply has to be contracted out — to Russia. The trouble is: ISS had no well-defined goal.
Yes, there have been plenty of proposals. During the first Bush administration, NASA thought it had a clear go-ahead and proposed a manned Mars mission, in addition to putting a manned base on the Moon (to do what?). But once the price tag was revealed, around 400 billion dollars (which was then real money), the NASA plan was DOA (dead on arrival).
Since then there have been proposals to establish a permanent colony on the Moon — again without any clear justification. Many have compared it to the ISS and labeled it another white elephant. In fact, it would add little to our knowledge of the Moon, and probably would not even create much public excitement: “Been there, done that” — to much of the public, just a repeat of the Apollo mission.