Today's Gratuitous Dump on NASA By A Journalism Professor

What Is NASA for?, Slate

"This isn't to say that all of NASA's research is worthless. Far from it. But NASA's need to find a justification for its existence has damaged its integrity. The agency reeks of desperation as it gropes for some rationale for human spaceflight beyond the weirdly circular we-need-to-put-humans-in-space-to-study-what-happens-to-humans-when-we-put-them-in-space logic it's used for the past four decades. As NASA attempts to peg its future to will-o-the-wisp projects to the moon, to Mars, to a local asteroid, each of which has a less-than-even odds chance of coming to fruition, NASA's science slowly deteriorates."

"The ISS cost upward of $100 billion and probably more than $200 billion--so huge that I'm not sure anyone has a valid accounting."

Keith's note: This article by Charles Seife is full of claims of a far smaller magnitude wherein specific papers or sources are semi-quoted. But none is mentioned for the largest claim of all - the $100 billion ISS cost claim. Saying that it might cost $200 billion is sheer unsubstantiated fantasy on the part of the author. But hey, this was a slam piece from its very first sentence, so why bother checking facts, eh?

This article by Slate is a classic example of how a whole imaginary history of HSF and the ISS can be allowed to circulate - as if it was fact.  The more it circulates the more successive authors cite the previous faux history. NASA never challenges this stuff - it just lets millions of people read or hear things like this hoping that it will go away. If this article and others like it are inaccurate then it behooves NASA (as the public's funded space agency) to set the record straight. If they do not then they forfeit the right to whine and complain when subsequent inaccuracies are published. If NASA can't/won't refute these points, then maybe these authors are right - why do we need a space station if we cannot explain what it does?

Slate's Misleading Hit Piece on the Future of NASA, Planetary Society

"Seife's logic is fuzzy and his solutions non-existent. He wraps his screed in a veneer of respectability by saying that he wants to have a conversation about why we have humans exploring space, but the tone of his writing and the quality of his arguments would barely pass muster in the comment threads on space policy forums. After reading this article, I have no idea what Seife wants NASA to do, what he wants us to think, or what his solution would be, beyond that "NASA must adapt or die."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on February 6, 2014 10:02 PM.

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