NASA is considering a maintenance flight to the Hubble Space Telescope with an estimated cost of $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion. A debate rages as to whether this mission should be robotic or manned. Nobody, however, seems to be asking the blindingly obvious question: could a new telescope with roughly the same capabilities as the Hubble be built and launched for less?
Taking it one step further, could the development of a new telescope be cast as a contest or a government guaranteed purchase? In this case the taxpayer takes no risks, since only success is paid for, and the private sector is unleashed, which sometimes leads to huge cost/performance gains.
Plenty To Blame
Brent Andberg’s commentary “Space Control: What Is Driving National Policy,” [Jan. 10, page 19], paints a strong picture of a weakness that has existed for 30 years.
The U.S. missile defense system and the Cold War clashed in the 1970 s, and the U.S. backed down [from missile defense]. I am willing to b et that few people read and understood the message Brent tried to bring .
“What is driving national policy?” There are members in the Democratic Party who advocate the same policy put fo rth in 1970: if the United States disarms, the rest of the world will disarm.
Yes Brent, anti-satellite type programs are on the drawing board around the world, but congressmen who support an expensive missile defense system and those who benefit from the billions of dollars the United States is spending on a system that is questionable, will not be the ones that read your message [that] it will be difficult, if not impossible, to sell another program.
The answer to your question is misguided Democrats, high-spending Republicans and “No One In Charge” of the U.S. space program.
Read the Rumsfeld report that followed the National Academy of Science February 2000 findings on the subject. The National Academy of Sciences report was presented to the U.S. Air Force and went in a file. The Rumsfeld report was not followed, because Iraq took center stage before it could be put in place.
Those who worked on the U.S. missile program in the 1970 s wish the United States had taken another direction.
The Cold War is over and antiquated non-proliferation treaties no longer bind the United States.