Here’s the problem: Ignoring the politics that have driven much of the architecture decisions, NASA is trying to do Apollo again, without the budget or schedule driver. When he cites the document “What Made Apollo A Success,” it begs the question of what the definition of success is. Obviously, it was successful in terms of the program objectives: to get a man (or men) to the Moon and return them safely to the Earth within a decade. But it was a complete failure in terms of opening space to humanity, which is why we haven’t been back in over half a century.
He says to remain mission focused, but that’s the problem. We have to end the “mission” mentality. We have to create a transportation infrastructure that makes getting back to the Moon, to other points in cislunar space, and beyond, routine. The fact that we’re not attempting to do so is why Artemis, as currently conceived, will prove as unsustainable as Apollo was.
I would also disagree with his recommendation that we train “pilots” on a simulator where their ass is on the line, as Neil did. We are in an age in which humans cannot fly these machines as well as they can fly themselves, and we’re going to have to test them and build in resiliency and redundancy to the point at which we can trust them to get us where we want to go with an acceptable level of risk.
I’m a few years older, but I view things similarly. I, too, have noticed more of my cohorts shuffling off this mortal coil (e.g., Chuck Lauer two or three years ago, and Mark Hopkins a year or so ago, though he had clearly been in poor health for a while).
I hope I have more than another twenty healthy years, but I obviously can’t count on it. And I don’t really know what “retirement” means, other than being able to do what I want to do, as opposed to what I wouldn’t voluntarily do if someone else wasn’t paying me to do it. I don’t golf, or have any hobbies, really, and I want to stay involved in space in what (despite my having lived through Apollo) is rapidly becoming the most exciting period of my life for that industry. I am still trying to make interesting things happen, and generate enough income from it for us to travel and enjoy life more while we have our health.