Saving NASA's ARM and the Journey to Mars, Op Ed, Louis Friedman, Space News
"The House Appropriations Committee may have just induced such a paralysis by proposing to block funding for NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). This mission represents the first step in the Journey to Mars, advances needed technologies for Mars and gives Orion and SLS their first real exploration mission. If their action to stop ARM is allowed to stand, there will be no human space exploration earlier than 2030: a delay of at least 5, and more likely 10 years, in any journey to Mars. The space community's lack of support for NASA and ARM is a shot in our foot. Its political lesson, of undermining a presidential initiative for a human Mars goal, will not be lost. The community's fractionation, whereby the scientists are happy with their robotic missions, the industry is happy with their rocket contracts, and the technologists are happy with their flight demonstrations, leaves out only the public who would like to see a grander human venture marshalling the talents of all these communities."
"Although the House language must still go to conference with the Senate, it seems unlikely anyone in that body will fight too hard to save the asteroid mission, Capitol Hill sources told Ars. Even if the administration vetoes the bill, it doesn't really matter to Congress, because key members of Obama's leadership team, including NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, will probably be gone next year. This year's legislation effectively lays down a marker for negotiations with the new occupant of the White House in 2017."
Keith's note: C'mon Lou: the reason that so many people are against ARM is that its avowed purpose of enabling humans to go to Mars has been repeatedly demonstrated to be bogus - at best a needless detour. Friedman's own words focus on the case in point: ARM is an attempt to give SLS/Orion somewhere to go - other than Mars. The Planetary Society co-hosted the workshop that spawned this idea and helped lobby the White House to include it as a feel-good thing to do. So their disappointment is understandable. ARM's total lack of credibility in any reasonable #JourneyToMars scenario is widely accepted by robotic and human exploration communities alike.
The real reason why the Planetary Society supports ARM is that it delays sending humans to Mars. One look at their Humans Orbiting Mars report and you'll see that they want to take longer to get to Mars and only play around on Phobos when they get there. Their own staff overtly state their reluctance to send humans to the surface.
Friedman's statement that ARM cancellation would mean that "there will be no human space exploration earlier than 2030" demonstrates a certain level of cluelessness on his part. I guess he missed all of that SLS/Orion-based Deep Space Habitat goodness that was all over the news a month ago.
Lou Friedman wants us all to think that dire consequences will result if ARM is cancelled. I'd suggest the opposite: by focusing NASA's limited resources on the things that actually get humans to Mars sooner - we will actually get humans to Mars - sooner.
- The Planetary Society Is Against Human Spaceflight, earlier post
- Planetary Society's Mars Mission Takes Longer To Do Less, earlier post
- NASA's Boulder Retrieval Mission is Doomed, earlier post
- NASA Advisory Council Wants to Cancel Asteroid Redirect Mission and Send it to Phobos Instead, earlier post
- Asteroid Boulder Retrieval Mission Needs a Precursor Mission, earlier post
- Asteroid Boulder Retrieval Mission Starts To Drift Away, earlier post