Tags: nasa | bureaucracy | cost | space | exploration | moon

WSJ: NASA Study Finds Its Costly Bureaucracy Stifles Exploration

Image: WSJ: NASA Study Finds Its Costly Bureaucracy Stifles Exploration

By    |   Monday, 01 Jan 2018 10:50 PM

A little-publicized study found NASA's plans for putting astronauts back on the moon are not affordable or likely to provide any economic payback, The Wall Street Journal reported.

And unless NASA finds a way to break a longstanding "cycle of increasing costs, human exploration, commercialization, and colonization of space will likely remain unaffordable," the study — commissioned and released last month by NASA — contends, according to the Journal.

The rebuke is a rare criticism from within the agency, the Journal reported.

The report advocates using asteroids to produce fuel outside the atmosphere for both robotic and manned missions, in what the Journal noted would be the most extensive public-private cooperation in the history of space exploration.

It also says NASA could save some $300 billion and make its plans more affordable by abandoning a "business as usual approach" and by shifting to commercial practices championed by private space-transportation companies such as Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Blue Origin LLC, run by Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos.

"NASA must dramatically change the way it works," Joel Sercel, an industry consultant and fledgling space entrepreneur who led the team that wrote the report, told the Journal. "Public-private partnerships should become the cornerstone of NASA's plans, not an adjunct to them."

President Donald Trump's administration is pushing lunar expeditions and ultimately outposts on the moon's surface as vital steppingstones to deeper space exploration, including manned voyages to Mars around the mid-2030s, the Journal noted — and White House aides for months have been considering program changes that could enhance commercial participation.

Acting NASA chief Robert Lightfoot has told lawmakers NASA's plans foresee "launching humans into lunar orbit" by 2023, but at this point the agency does not have specific funding or designs for a vehicle to land anyone on the moon, the Journal reported.

By contrast, commercial companies such as Musk's SpaceX and Blue Origin envision establishing a lunar outpost potentially as soon as the middle of the next decade — and anticipate costs to be a tiny fraction of NASA's projected price tag, the Journal reported.

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A NASA study finds its costly bureaucracy is stifling space and moon exploration, which will require an overhaul of the way the agency does its business, according to The Wall Street Journal.
nasa, bureaucracy, cost, space, exploration, moon
Monday, 01 Jan 2018 10:50 PM
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