We Need More Rocket Boys (And Girls)

NASA doesn't have monopoly on ingenuity, spunk in 21st century space race, Opinion, Waco Tribune

"Capitol Hill would do well to listen to retired aerospace engineer Homer Hickam, 66, author of the bestselling memoir Rocket Boys, who wants to see our nation return to the moon. And he's also of Alabama. "I'm not certain how NASA is going to evolve, but I can tell you how I wish it would evolve," the celebrated engineer said after visiting the lean SpaceX rocket-testing site near McGregor. "I would prefer to see NASA get out of the space operations business -- that is, operating spacecraft to go from Point A to Point B, as it did with Apollo and now the shuttle. "I want commercial companies like SpaceX to take care of that, either independently or under contract with the federal government," Hickam told me. "I want NASA to instead develop new propulsion capabilities such as nuclear rockets to truly open up space to all." Hickam noted the drive and dedication of the mostly young engineers he and I met while touring the small SpaceX site last spring, during his One Book One Waco visit to town. He was given several choices of places to tour during his visit to Waco. He immediately selected SpaceX. I wasn't surprised. And from what I could tell, he quickly bonded with the "rocket boys" among the 80 or so SpaceX personnel there. "I think the best engineers are naturally going to be attracted to eager, young, startup companies like SpaceX, L-3 Communications and others," he told me. "It's where the action is and where an engineer can have some fun. It's what I'd do if I was just starting out."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on July 24, 2009 8:54 AM.

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