I found the “bait-and-switch” claim against Alan Stern, NASA associate administrator for Science, to be absurd [“Bait and Switch,” Letters, March 3, page 18].
In point of fact, the Mars science community has largely been spoiled. It sounds to me that the Mars community does in fact wish to be given whatever they want – no doubt at the expense of the shuttle-replacement launch vehicle
development. This return to [former NASA Administrator Daniel] Goldin-era stagnation must not be allowed.
It is hard to pick up a rock, throw it
not have it hit some probe or other on Mars. I suppose two rovers isn’t enough for some people
too many scientists, not enough engineers. NASA Administrator Mike Griffin,
understand that the kerosene/hydrocarbon burning crutch that is 2
is due for retirement. Sadly, both Delta 2
(and the Atlas 5
, which burns even more kerosene) have become favorites within both the Earth Science and the Mars probe community. The Ares
launch vehicle family uses no hydrocarbons for liquid fuel – only clean hydrogen and oxygen. Therefore Ares development must come first. Also, the Ares launch vehicle
family will allow larger probes in the future.
A wise father doesn’t give kids lollypops all the time; instead, he gives them a nice, safe, clean meal at the end of the day. It’s time to grow up, and support the long-term view. Constellation and Ares are the right choice after all. In a related note,
(and Lockheed-Martin) probably do have it in for Ares. Plenty of folks in NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans no doubt felt their heads on the chopping block back in the bad ol
‘ days when the shuttle-derived launch vehicle
was verboten and Atlas 5
was all the rage — no matter how much kerosene it would belch into the sky.