Four misconceptions about the new space initiative

I alluded in a posting a couple days ago that NASA comptroller Steve Isakowitz had outlined four “great misconceptions” about the new space initiative. I hadn’t had the chance until now to discuss what those misconceptions were that Isakowitz outlined during a Space Transportation Association breakfast earlier this month. In short, the four misconceptions are:

1) The program is too Moon-centric
2) It is too expensive
3) It is not expensive enough
4) It slashes science

He spent much of his talk debunking those misconceptions, noting that, for example, going to the Moon is designed primarily to demonstrate new technologies, not to establish a permanent base. He also noted that over half of the funds planned for the program (through 2020) go to robotic, rather than human, missions, and that no existing programs were canceled to pay for it (although some, like Beyond Einstein and JIMO, will be delayed.)

Isakowitz also sounded a note of caution. If we “blow it” this time, he warned, it could be decades before we get another shot at such a program. He said that while the current economic situation may not be ideal, it will likely not get better in the next decade. This seemed perhaps a little too pessimistic, but does give the impression that this plan is perceived with the agency as the last, best chance for major change for fthe foreseeable future.

3 comments to Four misconceptions about the new space initiative

  • Bill Turner

    “But scientists who see the benefits of space exploration are opposed to the timetable of the man-in-space program, and particularly the schedule set for landing men on the moon. They suggest that the objectives of space research can be realized by robot instruments, with the manned-flight program carried out at a slower pace.

    This question requires a further exploration of the motives underlying the United States space effort. Is it primarily a scientific program? Or is it motivated by a broader concern with national interests and national goals?”


    “That brings us to the point on which we take serious issue with some of our scientific colleagues, who complain, “The scientific exploration of the moon has been accorded a secondary priority in the lunar program.” This remark is based on the premise that science should have top priority in the space program. However, while science plays an important role in lunar exploration, it was never intended to be the primary objective of that project. The impetus of the lunar program is derived from its place in the long-range U.S. program for exploration of the solar system.”


    Robert Jastrow and Homer E. Newell. The Atlantic Monthly; August, 1963; Why Land on the Moon; Volume 211, No. 2; pages 41-45

  • How about:

    5) It will be a shuttle/space station/missile defense style dumb contractor-fest.

    Of course its only my fear, but it is based on recent past precedent. What I want to know is where are the brains of NASA’s operation coming from? Boeing, NASA HQ? August committees? Will they be the same people who brought us the shuttle and space station?

  • The new space race …to be or not to be…

    It looks that China is prepared to have similar space programme, even sending men to moon. They are afraid of weapons on circumlunar orbit, due to the fact that China’s Space programme is military.

    Again, S.U.A. needs to be one step in front of an supposed enemy.

    That’s why Bush hopes to paint the purpose in N.A.S.A. Style.

    Anyway, Japan wants also to have a manned programme so who knows what the future might look like…