Baker Institute Suggests that NASA Scrap Expensive Moon Project

NASA at crossroads: Study suggests it refocus priorities
The Houston Chronicle

As the National Aeronautics and Space Administration awaits the nomination of a new director by President Barack Obama and possibly a revised long-range mission, a report issued by Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy boldly recommends that the current plan to go where astronauts have gone before — the moon — be scrapped in favor of more Earthcentric goals.

It’s a radical prescription for an agency that it says has abandoned a balanced scientific approach in favor of a plan to establish manned bases on the moon and expeditions to Mars without the financial commitment for such gargantuan undertakings.

Authored by former Johnson Space Center director George Abbey, former agency flight director John Muratore and Clinton national science adviser Neal Lane, the study calls for cancellation of efforts to build a new rocket, the Ares, and to downsize the proposed Orion capsule to serve as a transport to the International Space Station rather than the Moon. Instead of Ares, existing Ariane or Delta rockets could be modified as launch vehicles for the manned craft.

Read The Chronicle’s take on the report here.

The complete report (PDF) is located here.