Letter: U.S. Needs Rational Space Policy Instead of Mike Griffin’s ‘Games’


I am dismayed by Michael Griffin’s commentary “Let the Games Begin” [Aug. 29, page 19]. Various syndromes come to mind, such as, “Can’t see the forest for the trees” and “Fiddling while Rome burns.” 

A previous administration prematurely, and irresponsibly, terminated the space shuttle. That was premature and irresponsible because we now have no access to space.

A previous administration also prematurely, and irresponsibly, directed NASA to develop not one but two space vehicles: Ares 1, a replacement for the space shuttle, and Ares 5, a space exploration lifting vehicle. That was premature and irresponsible because we do not have efficient, advanced-performance rocket engines with which to power either Earth orbiting or space venturing vehicles. Consequently, both Ares 1 and Ares 5 were a waste of public money.

As NASA administrator, Mr. Griffin acquiesced in these endeavors.

The present administration terminated the Ares vehicle projects because they were a waste of public money. Now, Mr. Griffin is advocating for the Space Launch System (SLS) that Congress has mandated for NASA. SLS is a premature and irresponsible resurrection of the Ares 5 concept because it still uses existing, inefficient rocket engines. The result will be an overweight and exorbitantly expensive vehicle that should not be publicly funded.

It is another common syndrome, “As clear as the nose on our faces,” that the United States needs to develop efficient, advanced-performance rocket engines before we return to the Moon or venture to Mars. Such engines will put a greater payload in orbit at lesser expense. That will maintain the U.S. leadership in space. I would hope that rather than “letting the games begin,” Mr. Griffin would join me in advocating for a rational space policy.


Dale Lawrence Jensen

Lawndale , Calif.