View Full Version : Discussion: Senate Inquiry Comes Down Hard on ...

2003-Sep-04, 06:23 PM
SUMMARY: With the Columbia accident report complete, US senators began a series of inquiries into how NASA has responded to the challenges that its culture and lack of safety concerns ultimately contributed to the shuttle's destruction. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe received stinging criticism from the Senate committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that NASA hadn't fired enough people after the accident - O'Keefe felt it was pointless to name people responsible for the accident if they hadn't acted maliciously. The committee then demanded that NASA prepare a report to analyze the cost and benefits of space flight. (Source: AP)

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2003-Sep-05, 02:41 AM
I find the demand of the Senate for a Cost/Benefit analysis to be done for NASA very interesting. There are so many programs in so many areas of the government that are not put to that test. In the interest of one of man's largest frontiers, can we really afford to try and make it work on a balance sheet? Have those members of the Senate considered the fact that the long term pressures of cost control and budget constraints have already contributed to the loss of life in the space program where safety measures have been designed but never implemented?

Based on several different benefits, consider this: The US gives up the high country. Yes, that means that other, perhaps non-Western worlds put better space programs together and invest in technology and capability that gives "space" away from our dominance. Where does that put the US if the theatre of war moves from air to space?

Or, we give up the technology improvements in medicine, physics, biology and other fields related to exploration in zero-gravity. Again, new techniques and businesses will belong to someone else.

Or, we simply hand the keys over to the rest of the world who can simply take our 30+ years of experience, build the next generation of vehicles cheaper, stronger, lighter and safer at a fraction of the cost. After all, our cost benefit is based on designs done 30 years ago. Theirs won't be. The information and telecommunication capabilities of the world will outstrip the US and we'll find ourselves controlled by their information and their business drivers.

It's time to re-invest, maintain our leadership role and the benefits from that. NASA may need some hand slapping for things getting out of hand. I've read the report, the embedded emails, the comments, the causes, and the conclusions. If the Senate wants NASA to be run like a business, then the business must succeed by doing the right thing without having conflicting goals. If flight safety is truly first, then delays and costs must be accepted and allowed in the proper balance.

I'd like to see NASA allowed to fix these so-called problems themselves. Individuals and teams thrive best when they have complete understanding of the goals and the empowerment to achieve them through their own actions and decisions.

2003-Sep-05, 02:52 AM
Analyze the cost/benefits of space flight huh......that's like analyzing the cost/benefits of sex.

Whatever the costs, the benefits are pre-ordained, man WILL explore the universe.

The only questionable benefits that are too costly are Congressional Committees.

2003-Sep-05, 06:18 AM
Are there any people fired? High educated specialists? Leaving the US to move to China or Russia? The only thing I recognized was, that there a changes, but no firings. Does anyone know more about this? In Europe we are not informed in these details.