There is little cause for cheer over NASA’s plan to build the launch vehicles of the future out of cobbled up space shuttle parts and retro fitting to capsules for personnel transfer. It is hard to reconcile the yawning gap between the NASA that so brilliantly executes the design, construction and operation of exploratory spacecraft with the plodding mentality at Houston’s Johnson Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., that never seems to get it right with launch vehicles. Maybe it is time to start all over with a new agency, sparked with the talent to tackle the problem of economical space transportation with imagination. Like the space shuttle, the NASA plans that were recently presented to the White House will remain a very costly system.
La Jolla, Calif.