Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Space: Audit Showed Major Flaws In Curiosity Mission; How I'd Fix NASA And Save Space Exploration

According to an audit, NASA’s next mission to Mars is late and over budget. Given that “late and over budget” is NASA’s middle name (middle name of just about any government body), I wonder if NASA should delegate and award space missions to the private sector on a wholesale scale.

I know that there are private contractors involved in all aspects of NASA projects but maybe there needs to be a look at just how the space agency deals with private sector guys and maybe, just maybe, they can innovate and come up with cheaper ways of accomplishing missions on time.

The Curiosity, a more advanced rover, will follow in the footsteps, or tracks, of previous successful missions, Spirit and Opportunity, and launch this November. It’s mission will be to determine if Mars is still capable of sustaining life, any life.

Originally conceived at $1.6 billion, It is now more than $2.5 billion.

Here’s my idea. In the future, NASA can contract out missions like this to a private company. First, privatize parts of NASA to create a space industry based on human exploration of near orbit and to the moon and Mars.

Second, before any company can bid on a mission, they must have funds in an escrow to help defer any budget overrun. As taxpayers, we should not be forced to dig deeper just because lobbyists and contractors.

Third, NASA will continue to train the astronauts and mission control will still be government operations.

Fourth, while research into new material and technology should continue for future exploration, only proven technology should be utilized for missions that are planned. The Curiosity mission was suppose to launch back in 2009 but heat shield failed.

Regardless, as a space buff and alien-life-hopeful, I look forward to the mission. As a kid, I thought by now, I’d be vacationing a couple of times a year on orbital habitats by now.

More at Physorg.

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