The Corner

Nyt in Outer Space

Dennis Powell, occasional NRO contributor, who is at work on a space-tech book e-mails: “In today’s business section, the New York Times has a href=””>story

which questions whether NASA and the U.S. aerospace industry are in

good enough shape to undertake a trip to Mars. The story cites the

retirement of experienced engineers and the shortage of new blood to

replace them. As has been the case with just about every story dealing

with the president’s space initiative, the Times misses the

point or, in this case, multiple points: of course we’re not

ready to go to Mars. We won’t be for decades, and no one has ever

claimed otherwise. In my href=””>first

n.r.o. piece on the subject I accented the plan to return us to the

moon, as did (and do) the people I talk to in government and industry.

And the coverage that followed that article did, too. But the president

mentioned Mars when he spoke January 14, and that mention has been used

to belittle the plan ever since. The plan is to return to the moon both

for itself and to learn the things that will enable us oneday to get to

Mars. It is also to produce the kind of program which will inspire a

new generation of aerospace engineers, so that they will replace the

retirees. The space shuttle, with not much new technology over the last

25 years, failed to excite young engineers in the way that Mercury,

Gemini, and Apollo did in the 1960s.”


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