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What Rutan Can Teach Griffin

By Keith Cowing
September 20, 2007

NASA pundits launch debate over space flight, CNET

“Taxpayer-funded NASA should only fund research and not development,” Rutan said. “When you spend hundreds of billions of dollars to build a manned spacecraft, you’re…dumbing down a generation of new, young engineers (by telling them) “No, you can’t take new approaches, you have to use this old technology.”

“I think it’s absurd they’re doing Orion development at all. It should be done commercially,” he said, referring to the name of the lunar spacecraft. Rutan and other panelists also question the importance of space flight at a time when environmental concerns are paramount.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin responded to Rutan’s vision in a speech following his panel. “Unlike Rutan, I will continue to think space programs are important,” Griffin said.

Of course, Rutan has a big stake in commercial development of spacecraft. As founder and president of Scaled Composites, he develops rockets for future commercial space tourism.”

Editor’s note: Hey Burt – you are a genius when it comes to design – and an inspiration when it comes to bursting through the envelope – but you cashed in and sold your company to Northrop Grumman. Smart move? Yes. They appreciate your talents and potential. But you are part of the very thing you just dumped on since your owner sees business potential in Orion and Ares. Deal with it. Give Mike Griffin a solution to work with – not a complaint.

As for your comments about the next generation – yes, under Mike Griffin, NASA has indeed let them down. A solution in that regard would be most welcome as well.

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