Chris Kraft weighs in with a “common sense approach”:
NASA should essentially stay the course that has been pursued for the past several years. It makes good common sense to preserve and continue the use of the present NASA assets. Specifically, NASA should:
* Continue to operate the space shuttle until a suitable replacement is available, and initiate a study to consider a modernization program aimed primarily at reducing the operating costs.
* Operate and maintain the international space station until it ceases to be economically reasonable and scientifically productive.
* Continue to push forward with orderly haste to accomplish the goals set forth by the Constellation program.
* Initiate an aggressive research and development program aimed at the technology required to make space exploration to Mars and other deep-space objectives rational and affordable.
* Estimate a realistic set of budget requirements for the total NASA program based on the above goals and the other elements and goals of the agency.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t explain how much this would cost (it would cost billions to get the lines started again to keep Shuttle flying alone, even ignoring the orbiter-aging issues), or where the money would come from. Without doing any analysis, I’m guessing that it would require a doubling of the current HSF budget, or on the order of an additional ten billion dollars per year, for a system that will continue to cost billions per mission.
Jon Goff, on the other hand, explains why Kraft’s proposal is a non-starter, and fiscally insane:
Where I come from, we tend to think that getting a heck of a lot less while paying a heck of a lot more is usually the sign of a sucker. I just wish that a few space pundits and public figures didn’t keep enabling Senator Shelby and his ilk from hijacking NASA’s budget to enrich his campaign contributors at the rest of our expense.
Unfortunately, it’s more than a few. He also has a good question for Chris Kraft and other America bashers:
Why does Congress trust Russian commercial space more than American commercial space, btw?
Obviously, Russians are much better than American entrepreneurs and businesses. The latter can’t be entrusted with the vital duty of spending billions of dollars per flight on unsafe vehicles to protect jobs in key states and congressional districts.