Four Years On

Four years ago, President Bush announced a new direction for the nation in space, perhaps the biggest space policy change since the end of Apollo, in that it forthrightly declared that there was now a national goal to send people beyond low earth orbit, where they had been stuck since 1972, a situation that was cemented with the onset of the Shuttle era, because it was our only crewed space vehicle, and it could go nowhere else.

Unfortunately, four years later, the program is bogged down with an unnecessary new launch system that will do little to improve safety and nothing to reduce costs, and for this and other reasons, it seems unlikely to survive the next administration, almost regardless of who wins. My primary hope is that at least the goal remain in place, and perhaps some fresh thought will be given to how it will be best achieved, with a lot more emphasis on the commercial sector and tying it in to national security, as the Aldridge Report advised, and NASA has completely ignored. And no, COTS doesn’t count, both because it’s inadequately funded, and because it has nothing to do with VSE–it’s simply a way to replace Shuttle logistics for ISS.

Jeff Foust has some thoughts over at The Space Review today. Here’s what I wrote as I live blogged the speech at the time, from a motel in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea.