Wayne Hale: SLS is Not a Viable or Sustainable Program (Update)

Keynote speaker at von Braun Symposium says NASA needs to 'try new strategies', Huntsville Times

"[Wayne] Hale outlined a mixed bag of NASA successes in wake of the Apollo moon missions, noting that the agency has languished for almost 40 years as different visions for NASA have died amid a lack of funding. The current Space Launch System - a heavy lift rocket under development at Huntsville's Marshall Flight Center intended for deep space exploration - could soon fade away like other programs, such as Constellation in 2009. "The current plan is fragile in the political and financial maelstrom that is Washington," Hale said. "Planning to fly large rockets once every three or four years does not make a viable program. It is not sustainable. "Continuing to develop programs in the same old ways, from my observations, will certainly lead to cancellation as government budgets are stretched thin. It is time to try new strategies."

Keith's note: Wayne Hale just posted this comment: "It was not my intention to imply that SLS/Orion should be cancelled. Far from it. The entire purpose of my speech was a call to action for the community - government and industry - to initiate the kind of revolutionary change in management systems and financial resources that will be necessary for any new space efforts to succeed. No program will succeed these days - large rockets or small rockets, moon or mars or asteroids - without radical improvements in management techniques. We will have to be as innovative in management and finance as we are in engineering."

I am a little confused. If Hale's comments are reported accurately in the original article, then he said "Planning to fly large rockets once every three or four years does not make a viable program. It is not sustainable." This is exactly what SLS program plans to do. If this approach is not "viable" or "sustainable" wouldn't the prudent course of action be to cancel the program? The only alternative would be to fly the SLS more often (I guess) but there is not going to be the money to do that. Not even close. So ... (again if Hale was quoted accurately) cancellation would be the only course of action to take - if one agreed with what Hale said. Or is a program that is not "viable" or "sustainable" worthy of continued funding?

As for Hale's NASAWatch posting, how is a change in management systems going to make SLS any better if it only launches "every three or four years"? Good management is not going to make a badly planned program any better -- other than to make it more efficient in being badly planned, I suppose.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on October 9, 2013 5:46 PM.

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