Here we go again. No one at this American Thinker piece, neither the author or any of the commenters, has clue one about the new policy:
Now, with the Obama administration’s new “plan” for NASA effectively ending nationally funded human spaceflight, we drop a torch others are grabbing.
Where do they come up with this nonsense? How can one sanely characterize a policy that extends ISS until at least the end of the decade, and that has billions of dollars budgeted to buy crew services, as “ending nationally funded human spaceflight”?
NASA has long been planning to cancel the Shuttle program, which is understandable, considering budget constraints and the priority of the Constellation program. But to cancel both programs leaves the U.S. with no viable human space transport. The International Space Station, which represents a $100-billion investment by U.S. taxpayers, will be unreachable by scientists and astronauts from the U.S. without hitching a ride on Russian or Chinese space transport. This is unacceptable.
Or from commercial American services, which will be available much sooner than Ares/Orion. And later, he finally gets around to discussing this:
With the ending of the Constellation program, there are no future human missions for the U.S., except those made possible in commercial spaceflight. While commercial spaceflight is tremendous in its future implications, it will progress only in areas that have demonstrated a possible fiscal return…and space operations are so expensive and difficult that it is highly unlikely that any true exploration would occur. Commercial space flight is space exploitation, not space exploration. For the foreseeable future, an entity like NASA — which is nationally funded and not constrained by profits and losses — and a project such as Constellation is the best way to extend our reach into and knowledge of space. Robotic missions are all well and good for certain applications, but one does not learn anything about putting humans in space by putting robotic vehicles in space.
Where to start?
Look. We are simply transitioning from a mode in which NASA develops and operates its own earth-to-orbit vehicles to spec, to one in which it purchases transportation services to LEO for crew from private providers, as it has been doing for years for satellites and probes. No one said that NASA was “getting out of the planetary exploration business” when it launched LRO and LCROSS on a commercial Atlas, and if they had they would have rightly been considered insane. Why is it any different for astronauts?
Exploration starts when we get into LEO, not at Cape Canaveral.
And you cannot simultaneously know anything about Constellation and state that it is “the best way to extend our reach into and knowledge of space.” Constellation was a fiscal disaster waiting to happen. It was unaffordable both in terms of its development costs, and its operational costs. There are many better ways to accomplish that goal. The new policy is one of them.