Mars Society Leader Flip Flops

The debate over ESAS, Space Review (comments delivered 21 Oct 2005)

"Zubrin argued that this complexity is a result of the compromise nature of the Vision, one that puts off development of the heavy-lift launcher until 2011, after the shuttle is retired, as well as use of shuttle-derived components to support the shuttle's existing industrial base. "The policy is irrational because it is a compromise," he said. "In other words, this policy sucks."

Letter from Mars Society President Bob Zubrin to members of Congress (26 Oct 2005) [Full text below]

"The plan, called the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), reflects lessons learned during both the Apollo Program and the Space Shuttle Program, and is a rational and affordable plan to move beyond the Space Shuttle to an exciting new era of exploration and discovery. While some aspects of the plan should be accelerated (such as development of a Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle, which should be started immediately) or improved, the overall plan is sound and should be supported by Congress."

Editor's note:Mars Society President Bob Zubrin wants to have it both ways. He tells one audience that Mike Griffin's exploration plans are "irrational" and that they "suck" and only a few days later tells Congress that the plans are "sound". C'mon Bob, Which is it? Why should anyone in Congress take your statements (and thus your organization's membership) seriously when you reverse the polarity of your views - days apart - depending on what audience you want to try and influence?

Full text:

October 26, 2005

Honorable Ted Stevens
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-0201
Honorable Ted Stevens:

Last month, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration released its plan to replace the Space Shuttle with a safer, simpler, and in many ways more capable new Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and unmanned Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle that will allow humans to finally return to the Moon and then on to Mars. The plan, called the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS), reflects lessons learned during both the Apollo Program and the Space Shuttle Program, and is a rational and affordable plan to move beyond the Space Shuttle to an exciting new era of exploration and discovery.

While some aspects of the plan should be accelerated (such as development of a Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle, which should be started immediately) or improved, the overall plan is sound and should be supported by Congress. With a modest increase in funding or early retirement of the Shuttle (before 2010), an accelerated version of this plan could allow humans to return to the Moon by 2012 and reach Mars by 2016. Significantly, early retirement of the Shuttle does not mean that we will not be able to complete construction of the International Space Station. The new Shuttle-derived heavy lift vehicle which NASA plans to develop will be more than capable of launching the remaining Station elements, at much lower cost.

The successful mission by a Chinese crew aboard their Shenzhou-6 spacecraft earlier this month shows that other nations understand how important human space exploration is to the future of world technology and economy. Several reports now indicate that China may be planning a manned flight around the Moon before the end of this decade, with even bolder steps to follow soon after. Should we fail to proceed, this could cause a debacle for American world leadership. It does matter which nation is the leader in space technology and exploration. It does matter which nation puts its stamp upon the future as humanity expands into space.

With your support, after nearly half a century the United States will finally continue the voyage that began with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's footsteps in 1969. If, as a nation, we embrace these goals and don't waver, we will help begin a process that will make all previous exploration endeavors pale by comparison. This will help to guarantee our technological leadership and inspire our younger generations, just as Apollo did.

Sincerely,

Robert Zubrin
President, Mars Society

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 26, 2005 1:29 PM.

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