The Aldridge Commission is at least singing the right tune:
In many cases, the experts found the modern space agency too wedded to the agency founded at the height of the Cold War to overtake the former Soviet Union’s technical prowess…
…The changes envisioned by the panel would transform NASA into an agency working alongside an industrial partner, academia and parts of other Cabinet-level agencies to expand the nation’s economy into space as a means of creating new wealth and strengthening national security as well as advancing science.
“Creating new wealth.” What a concept.
Let’s hope that they can stay on key. I’ll be looking forward to hearing their recommendations. I do wonder at the use of the singular, though. Why not “alongside industrial partners”? Here’s hoping it’s a misstatement–I hope they’re not intending to set up a monopoly of some kind.
[Via Mark Whittington, from his home-town paper]
[Update at 9 AM PDT]
The administrator agrees.
“Business as usual, if we simply try to overlay this [vision] on top of an existing structure, isn’t going to work,” O’Keefe said. “There is no way that the present organizational structure, and how we do business today, will be the most appropriate way to go about doing this.”
I don’t agree with him on this, though.
O’Keefe also told commissioners that the space infrastructure required to push the new space effort forward is already in place, and stressed that international cooperation will play a vital role in missions to come. The cooperation needed for the International Space Station (ISS), for example, has led to the necessary political relationships, communication networks and engineering teams – among others – to take on such a project, he added.
As I wrote yesterday, international cooperation may be useful, but it shouldn’t be a goal, and it’s certainly not essential, except perhaps from a political standpoint. But more importantly, I disagree that the “space infrastructure required to push the new space effort forward is already in place.”
It remains much too costly to get to orbit, on far too unreliable launchers. The tragedy is that the agency has given up on the goal of improving this situation (not that it was really capable of doing so–it wasted billions over the past couple decades proving that it wasn’t). But the government should be doing more in terms of policy to achieve this goal, even if NASA can’t.