"Having trouble getting excited about NASA's planned mission to redirect an asteroid? Maybe William Gerstenmaier can help. "Turn off your logical side and turn on your touchy-feely side, the one you almost never use," Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, told attendees of an aeronautics and astronautics conference Wednesday in San Diego. "Then jump up and down and do some break-dancing. We're going to grab a space rock and we're going to move it!"
Keith's update: Response from HEOMD AA Bill Gerstenmaier to NASAWatch: "We provided an hour on technical details, reasons and logic for the asteroid mission. The mission fits well with expanding experience in beyond low earth orbit. We showed charts that show how this mission supports Mars. We also had discussions on this mission supporting commercial asteroid activities. The logic, rational, and feasibility were covered in a detailed manner. I added a flip comment at the end. This is predominately what the LA times picked up. They might have understood the humor intended. The web cast and briefing show the thoughts and work that the teams have put into a very creditable mission. Other articles capture the technical discussions and logical points well."
Keith's 12 Sep note: This is typical of NASA's increasingly baffling asteroid mission PR strategy. Since no one at NASA (starting with Charlie Bolden) is able to give a clear reason why NASA wants to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to go grab an asteroid and move it to lunar orbit, they just skip "the logical side" and go for "the touchy-feel side". Now they want you to just "jump up and do some break-dancing". In other words, don't worry - be happy.
What kind of goofy approach is this? NASA wants you to just get up and dance because they want to go have fun playing catch with an asteroid - and who cares why?. To do so they intend to use a rocket they cannot afford to build - a rocket with zero funds for the payloads it is supposed to carry. Oh yes: Congress opposes this mission. Does NASA think that all Congress needs to do is just bust a few dance moves and they will be happy about this too?
These comments speak to a larger, more troubling problem looming at NASA: No one is in charge - so anything goes - no matter how silly it may be.
- NASA Selects Ideas For Asteroid Mission It Can't Explain, earlier post
- Bolden's Confusing Asteroid Mission Rationale (Revised), earlier post
- NASA Selects Top 96 Asteroid Initiative Ideas, earlier post