Letter: Buck Rogers and the FAR

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I have known Rick Tumlinson for several years and I appreciate his enthusiasm for space. However, I think he may be poorly informed in a couple of instances. For instance, in his Space News commentary, “More Bang for Our Buck Rogers Bucks” [June 6, page 19] he denigrates adherence to Federal Acquisition Regulations, FAR, and advocates for less control over contractors. Why? So the contractors can do more of what they want, and less of what the government wants? I think one purpose of FAR is to assure public money is well spent. If one doesn’t wish to abide by FAR regulations then all that is needed is to not accept public money. One can do anything one wants with his own money.

Also, he says getting to and from space is “no longer about rocket science — it is about space transportation operations.”

I take issue with that. Getting into, and traveling, in space is all about rocket technology. Rockets are what allow that to be done, and effective rockets are needed to do that. The United States does not have effective rockets for getting into orbit, let alone traveling in space. I think Mr. Tumlinson should be more concerned with the direction the Congress is giving to NASA. Lawmakers, who know little about rocket technology, are directing NASA to do activities that provide jobs for their constituents rather than what is good for the American public.

A wise Congress would direct NASA to develop advanced performance rocket engines rather than heavy-lift vehicles. Advanced performance rocket engines will put greater payload in orbit at lesser expense. That will maintain U.S. leadership in space. Conversely, a knowledgeable NASA should be telling the Congress that development of advanced performance rocket engines should be done before we return to the Moon or venture to Mars.

 

Dale L. Jenson

Lawndale , Calif.