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A Depressing Thought

If I thought that Gene Kranz knew what he was talking about, I'd be pretty dismayed about this comment:

"This is the best game plan that I have seen since the days of President Kennedy," Kranz said of ESAS, comparing it to the DC-3 and the B-52. "The system that Griffin's team is putting into place will be delivering for America 50 years later...

What an insane comparison. The DC-3 and B-52 have been operating for decades because they were mission effective and affordable (the latter because they were extensively reused, and not thrown away after, or during each flight).

If a century after the founding of NASA we are still sending people into space in little capsules on large expendable rockets, that will be a testimony to a tremendous failure of national will, and of private enterprise. If that's the best that we can do, I predict that we'll just give up on human spaceflight, and we should. So either way, this prediction is very unlikely.

Fortunately, he's just suffering from sixties nostalgia, and there's little basis for his belief.

[Update a few minutes later]

Apparently that was from his oral testimony, or an answer to a question. Here's the written testimony as submitted, which doesn't make the DC-3 comparison, or talk about fifty years in the future.

NASA Watch has the other witnesses' testimony as well.

[Update about 11 AM EDT]

One other point about the Kranz testimony from the Space Politics link:

Kranz stepped in and described the cost in money and schedule he experienced man-rating the Atlas and Titan for the Mercury and Gemini programs.

Comparing human rating an Atlas V to the original Atlas and Titan isn't a useful comparison. The latter were converted ballistic missiles, whereas Atlas V was designed from scratch to be a reliable launch system. All that's really required to human rate it is to add Failure On-Set Detection (FOSD), and ensure that its trajectory doesn't create any blackout zones for aborts (which it has plenty of power and performance to do).

 
 

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2 Comments

New Era wrote:

Gene Kranz is a legend. Legends should not talk about era's other than the one in legend. He is from the heroic age of spaceflight. We need fewer heros and more money makers. Beowulf left no lasting legacy other than his story. We don't want to be like Beowulf.

Kelly Starks wrote:

Big agree on Kranz's 50 years statement. He can be a jerk, and has said some real boners over the years - but "Apollo on steroids" into the later half of the 21st century?!! If thatís NASA great inspirational vision for space, we need to shut the place down fast!

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on May 8, 2008 7:10 AM.

A Robust Design? was the previous entry in this blog.

Dhimmification is the next entry in this blog.

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