Space: The Final Folly Essay, Research Paper
Space: The Final Folly
In 1947 the world had dreams of green aliens with big eyes. In 1969 the world turned on their televisions to see man take their first steps on the surface of the moon, since then it has been all down hill from there with NASA and the space program itself even now in 1998. The space program is no longer on the minds of the American people, whether it is from lack of interest or the many blunders, both reasons are understandable.
My perception of the space program is that at this point it is pretty awful. In 1984 Reagan promised within 10 years the US. would build an orbiting space station capable of everything from servicing fatalities to providing a staging base for missions to Mars. Since then Washington has spent almost $12 billion of a projected $27.5 billion on the project (1984), but only a small part of the 500,000 lbs. of hardware has been used. “Business Week” shows that in ‘94 that the with money spent so far only half have bought something of value despite the fact that the money hasn’t been wasted. There has been problems from the start on this project though, NASA realized early on that there was no demand for a satalite-service facility and that a mission to mars at that point was just a dream, and that the station had to be changed from building the station in space to building it on the ground which cost a redesigning fee. Despite this and Regains promise here we are, now 4 years after the deadline and there is nothing close to that, we have hardly even made it to Mars. The first example of NASA’s bad track record started then, but many blunders were yet to follow.
One of the other biggest problems in NASA current and past history is the Hubble telescope. The 2 billion dollar telescope had troubles since the beginning. In a span of two months after its much hyped start NASA discovered a flaw with one of its mirrors. That trouble was nothing new for the designers though, the main aperture door threw the Hubble into shivers, with the strange procedure of opening and closing it. Also several gyroscopes failed, and the star finding systems were messed up. When a scientist by the name of Chaisson contested Hubble’s claim of being the farthest seeing telescope, which it wasn’t, NASA tried to get him fired. This was one of NASA’s most controversial machine’s ever, yet another problem.
NASA has not only had problems with its plans and machines, it has also had problems from within. NASA has admitted to long-standing problems with obsolete information systems. GAO for instance has said the agency’s “culture of autonomy and decentralization” prevents efficient and
cost-effective IT operations. These criticisms, combined with NASA’s
plan to cut IT spending by $400 million between 1997 and 2000,
led the agency to appoint a CIO in 1995. This is not how a good “business”
works under any circumstances.
Another problem with the space program is the government interference. On Sept. 30, 1996, United Space Alliance, a private company, inked an unprecedented $6.9 billion deal with the government to gradually take over the day-to-day operations of America’s space shuttle fleet. Three days later, on Oct. 3, a Kennedy Space Center technician flipped the wrong switch during a fire extinguisher system test, touching off a flood that drenched an irreplaceable shuttle component. 14 pieces of costly protective thermal covering were ruined. Was it a mere coincidence? Hardly, say NASA officials, a safety advisory panel and an outside consulting firm. Nearly all observers now agree worker anxiety over sweeping changes within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is at least partly to blame for a rising rate of similar close calls.
Even though NASA and its constant problems seems like it is not a worthwhile cause I think that the program is very important. Problems plauge this earth, from pollution and global warming to war and death and we can’t stay here forever, we will need a place to go. The eventual death of the earth is coming, and we will need