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NASA's Hypocritical Christmas Present for Life Science Researchers

By Keith Cowing
December 20, 2005

Editor’s note: The following letter is being sent out in December 2005 by Carl Walz at ESMD to hundreds of NASA life science researchers informing them that NASA no longer wants to fund their previously solicited, peer-reviewed, approved, and funded research. The reason given for this action is as follows:

“In the area of Human Systems Research and Technology (HSRT), whose budget funds your project, only that research and technology development absolutely required. The research and technology capabilities required for longer duration stays on the moon and Mars must be deferred, and NASA has assessed the HSRT protfolio identifying those capabilities that can be deferred to accommodate a reduced HSRT budget.”

Curiously, just as NASA HQ sends out these cancellation letters – with this rationale that “The research and technology capabilities required for longer duration stays on the moon and Mars must be deferred” – NASA JSC issued this press release today “NASA Seeks Volunteers for Spaceflight Simulation Studies” which explictly describes NEW studies of the very sort of research NASA Headquarters says it will no longer be funding: “NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston is recruiting volunteers to participate in spaceflight simulation studies to help prepare the agency to send astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars and beyond. These studies will use long-term bed rest to simulate the effects of weightlessness on the human body.”

An image of one of these cancellation letters – edited to remove identifiers – appears below.

Either NASA HQ and JSC are not communicating effectively (it happens) or NASA has decided to apply two totally different sets of criteria for the selection of internal and external space life science research.

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