Regarding the Commentary “The Safe Decision, but Wise?” [Sept. 29, page 19] on NASA’s commercial crew awards to Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the “safe” decision is neither wise nor safe. It means the public will pay more money than necessary to develop inefficient rockets that will put less weight into orbit.

As a member of the public, I am tired of seeing public money wasted.

NASA should understand how to conserve energy, but seems not to.

The Sierra Nevada Corp. Dream Chaser is a vehicle that conserves energy because it uses existing orbital, potential and kinetic energy to make a landing on a selected runway. The vertical landing concept is inefficient because it uses rocket energy to eliminate the existing orbital energy and then uses more energy from inefficient rockets to make an awkward, tail-first landing. All this is done using inefficient rocket engines that make the vehicle weigh more and cost more while putting less weight into orbit.

The United States first needs to develop efficient rocket engines before building launch vehicles.

The way to make a recoverable vehicle efficient is with an aerodynamic vehicle that uses existing energy to make a wheeled landing on a runway using simple brakes to dissipate remaining energy.

Instead, we have the proverbial “cart before the horse” approach, which is known not to work. It is neither wise nor safe; it is illogical, irrational and wastes public money.

Dale L. Jensen

Lawndale, California