Apollo Astronauts Invoke National Security to Fight Ares Cancellation

An odd exchange from yesterday’s House hearing illustrates one of the arguments being used to oppose ending space shuttle missions and canceling Ares: national security. This is strange on just about every level:

  • Human spaceflight has gone from being an arena of national competition when Armstrong and Cernan flew to one of broad cooperation, as evidenced by ISS.

  • The space shuttle has no real national security role.
  • The U.S. is hardly retreating from spaceflight. It will be more than pulling its weight with the ISS program by providing cargo flights and working with our partners to extend station operations to 2020.
  • The decision to retire it was made five years ago.
  • A long gap in flights is inevitable whether we build Ares or use something else. This has been clear for many years which makes one wonder why Armstrong and Cernan didn’t say something sooner.
  • The costs of continuing shuttle and building Ares are very high and will drain money from other areas.
  • Canceling Ares has a trivial impact on the military in terms of solid rocket costs.
  • If an existing EELV (Atlas V or Delta IV) is used instead,  the military would benefit from lower costs and increase efficiencies.
  • Delta IV and Atlas V are both functioning well, ensuring that we can launch vital national defense assets into space.