Lovell and Kranz on Obama Space: Meh!

United Launch Alliance's configurations for launch commercial crew vehicles on Delta IV and Atlas V vehicles. (Credit: United Launch Alliance)

Spacing out – Ex-NASA officials: Agency plans off-track
Armarillo Globe-News

The country’s political leaders have lost the direction of the space program.

Jim Lovell made that comment before he and Gene Kranz were slated to deliver the keynote address for West Texas A&M University’s centennial convocation Friday night. Also before the convocation, both men spoke to science and engineering students at WT…

Lovell supports commercialization, but worries the government will waste money by investing in unproven initiatives. “I think they’ve lost the direction,” the astronaut said.

Kranz said one of NASA’s main objectives upon its creation was exploration. He said it appears the country’s leaders are “shelving” the technology and manpower available for travel. “We as a nation want to continue to explore the business of exploration,” he said. “You want to extend your life there.”

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  • JohnHunt

    Lovell is confused.

    – Commercialization is the direction that our country needs to go. This should be obvious by now. We’ve lost much of the last 30 years spending many billions on an unsustainable approach to space. The commercial path is sustainable.

    – All things are unproven until they’re proven. “Unproven” commercial ventures need adequate funding in order to get them over the hump in order for them to begin providing “proven” assets and services. Just adequately fund commercial ventures for 10 years and then let’s see if the “unproven” arguments still hold. Remember, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 was “unproven” until they made it to orbit on their first attempt.

    “Exploration” to the apparent exclusion of “Development” is the problem. If we are going to be a space-faring civilization, we need to do so sustainably. We can explore forever. At some point we need to start developing and exploiting off-Earth resources. The ISS didn’t do this. Constellation largely wouldn’t have done this. The new heavy-lift vehicle won’t do this. A flag-planting excursion to an asteroid won’t do this. But incentivizing commercial companies to begin harvesting lunar ice will. And we can start doing this for only a modest percent of NASA’s annual budget.