Saturday, April 05, 2008

 

Space Cadet


In 2004 President Bush astounded the world by announcing his goal of putting a man on the moon by 2020. Since then NASA, says Bush appointee Michael Griffin, its administrator, has “spent three years reassessing the policy and codifying it. Changing it now? I think that’s just stupid.”

Dr. Griffin was reacting to a meeting last month at Stanford where 50 space experts gathered to discuss the long range space program. Louis Freidman, founder of the Planetary Society and a host of the meeting, noted that we will have a new president and Congress next year that may not be “wedded to the vision for space exploration” put forth by the current president, and that interest was high in a workshop that might offer alternatives to the Bush plan.

What Dr. Freidman was ignoring is the fact that the Bush plan already has alternatives. A NASA insider, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the program, revealed that one version envisioned a landing module which would separate from a mother ship, transferring several astronauts to the moon surface while another remained in orbit. Depending upon the circumstances, the surfaced astronauts would either return to the ship, or, in the “Katrina” alternative, remain on the moon to establish a permanent colony. Either situation would clearly be mission accomplished. “We could be there a hundred years” he noted.

President Bush is not concerned about any interim administration, since even two terms of Democrats will expire before the anticipated landing date. At that point, Laura Bush, who has been sleeping with the president throughout the planning process, and will be a shoo-in candidate by then, will be ready to go on day one.

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