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How Quickly We Forget

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
December 15, 2009
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Stage now set for grand human space flight plan, Opinion, Lou Friedman, Houston Chronicle
“We don’t know yet what the Obama administration has in mind for NASA or how it is going to handle the issue of human space flight. We are sure it will not be canceled, but how will it be advanced? We see two distinct possibilities: a great one that would have us engage the world and several generations to take the next great leap, or a mundane one that would have us locked in Earth orbit with little purpose and a level of risk that exceeds its gain. The 1970s shuttle decision produced a great vehicle and a magnificent technological accomplishment, but ultimately a poor program with no destination and little purpose. We hope this type of decision will not be repeated, and believe that the stage has been set for something much grander.”
Keith’s 14 Dec note: Lou, in your haste to wrap your arms around the as-yet unreleased Obama space plan, you apparently haven’t bothered to read up on the decades of human physiology expertise gained from these Space Shuttle (and shuttle-supported ISS) missions of “little purpose” or the immense experience gained in the assembly and operation of large complex spacecraft (the ISS was mostly carried into orbit by the Space Shuttle). Both of these things are needed in order for humans to go to Mars. So, do not be so quick to dismiss the value of the Space Shuttle program. Indeed, it may not be going away entirely (sidemount HLV).
“Flexible Path” means that we try many things Lou – not just the one particular destination that you are interested in (Mars).
Keith’s 15 Dec update: I got a short email today from Lou Friedman: “Did you have a typo in this sentence “the decades of human physiology expertise gained from these Space Shuttle” Did you mean “the decades of human physiology expertise gained from these Soyuz and Mir?”
It would seem that Lou is utterly ignorant of the long list of research projects done aboard the Space Shuttle including multiple Spacelab flights, some of which were totally dedicated to human physiology and space life science. As for the quality of Soyuz and Mir research (before the U.S. got involved during shuttle flights, that is), Lou, go talk to a few space life science experts about that and then get back to me. You will find that the quality of that Soviet/Russian research to be somewhat “lacking” to put it kindly.
Also, I find it rather bizarre that Lou would characterize the value of the Space Shuttle as he has given that NASA’s current Administrator put his life on the line 4 times to fly on it. I (guess) that Lou thinks that the risk that Bolden and his crewmates took was really done for “little purpose” as well.
Again, how quickly we forget. Indeed, as is the case in this instance, some people forget on purpose.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.