Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rohrabacher: SLS Design a "Real Tragedy"

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) is one of the few members of Congress to openly disavow the Space Launch System design.

Rohrabacher issued this press release:

“Today, NASA announced its new design for a deep space exploration system, including a new ‘monster rocket’ based on 40-year-old Space Shuttle technology in an attempt to recapture the glory days of the Apollo Saturn V,” said Rohrabacher. “To meet the challenges of the 21st century we need bold, creative thinking and new technology development, like on-orbit fuel depots.”

“Nostalgic rocketry is not how great nations invent their future,” proclaimed Rohrabacher.

“There’s nothing new or innovative in this approach, especially its astronomical price tag, and that’s the real tragedy. Unfortunately, after a number of years, perhaps during development or after just a few flights like Saturn, budget pressures will bring this program to an end. Jobs that some politicians are bragging today about saving will be gone, while the new jobs based on new technologies and new enterprises will remain uncreated, because we chose repeating the past over inventing the future.

“I share the same goals as Administrator Bolden and my congressional colleagues. But I have heard today's claims before — ‘We can build a new spacecraft and huge rocket, we can explore the solar system, we can meet the budget, and we can meet the schedule.’ It simply has not come to pass. Every time we come to this decision point, we take the same wrong path — an expensive heavy-lift launch vehicle that cannot be developed, built and flown in a financially sustainable manner.

“I hope that I am wrong about this heavy lift program, and ten years from now we are celebrating the first launch of this system to send humans beyond Earth's orbit on time and on budget. Otherwise this plan will suffer the same fate as Constellation — overpromised, under-delivered, and cancelled. Where will we be then?”

UPDATE September 15, 2011 7:45 PM EDTThe Space Frontier Foundation issued a press release condemning the SLS design:

The Space Frontier Foundation called Wednesday’s announcement by NASA that it will attempt to build Congress’s giant monster rocket a disaster that will devour our dreams for moving humanity into space. Rather than breathing life into a dying space program, it may well kill new initiatives to greatly expand US space exploration and settlement efforts.

“It is a sad day for our space program,” said Rick Tumlinson, co-founder of the Foundation. “The amazing possibilities offered by engaging commercial space to lower costs and develop a sustainable long term infrastructure to support NASA space exploration, settlement and a new space industry have been trumped by the greed, parochialism, and lack of vision of a few congressional pork barrelers intent once again on building a government super rocket. We’ve been to this party before, it was a bust then, and it will be this time as well.”

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