This Week in Space

by Nancy Atkinson on June 20, 2010

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Expedition 24 heads to the ISS, more water on the Moon (and Mars, too), Kepler finds lots of potential planets, and Miles O’Brien has an exclusive interview with former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin about SpaceX and the space program’s new direction.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

TerryG June 21, 2010 at 7:00 AM

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin pointed out the COTS programme started during his watch saying that he was “thrilled” for SpaceX and Orbital, but immediately added “Where is it written for the need for policy to eliminate the government’s space programme?” That last statement must have referred to Ares 1 servicing the ISS.

Miles O’Brien failed to counter, “Yeah, but when you have many options, only one will be best”.

Surely it was foreseeable that the COTS missions (at least 12 for SpaceX and at least 8 for Orbital Sciences), operating at a small fraction of the cost of a government programme, would eliminate Ares 1 from servicing the ISS?

SpaceX is also competitive outside the COTS programme with plenty of other business ref 1 and ref 2 on the books, which would otherwise have gone to ESA or Dnepr

Both Orbital and SpaceX are additionally developing crew capsules so the urgency for the government’s $7 billion Orion-Lite ISS lifeboat isn’t clear either.

Whether Dr Griffin makes sense or not, this new commercial era must have some backers for government space programs, particularly the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Science and Space, wondering how to get the crap back into the Elephant. Hopefully we are hearing the mantra “more dollars for space” being phased out in favour of “more space for our dollars”.

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