NEA missions; NanoSail-D unseen; Abbey

Jon Goff reports on a presentation by a Josh Hopkins of Lockheed Martin about missions to near earth asterorids: Notes from Josh Hopkins’ LM “Plymouth Rock” Presentation (8 Dec 2010) – Selenian Boondocks. === Still not clear if NanoSail-D even ejected from FASTSAT or not: NASA solar sail lost in space – Spaceflight Now. === George Abbey was notorious for running the Flight Crew Operations directorate and later JSC as his own personal fiefdoms. Which astronaut got to fly was not determined by any rational open system but by whether or not you were on his good side. And he kept secret who was on which side so he could maximize his power over the astronauts. (See George Abbey: NASA”s Most Controversial Figure – Space.com – Feb.26.10 and also here.) The Shuttle program, which kept spaceflight opportunities rare, was perfect for such a manager. It’s hardly surprising that he still discounts any alternative: Q&A: Rice expert sees limits in private spaceflight – Houston Chronicle.

The complexity of the Shuttle system that he lauds is also what makes it so incredibly expensive. The Shuttles require a huge army of people (with lots of managers and their kingdoms) to maintain and fly the vehicles. The flight rate could never grow enough to obtain any economies of scale. A NASA management interested in development of genuine spacefaring capabilities would have have seen the fatal flaws of the Shuttle by the time of the first flight of Columbia and initiated a serious program to replace it. The failure to do that arose from attitudes within NASA management that Abbey epitomized and still does to a great extent.

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