In an op-ed piece in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former Congressman Bob Barr sounds off on the current state of NASA. In short, he’s not too happy:
The glorious space dreams of the 1960s have become penny-pinching exercises in bureaucracy in the 21st century. Bureaucracy and budget cuts have held back needed funding for new programs, but something even greater has been hampering the space program – absence of vision. In the 1960s we had a clear vision to accomplish a goal, used the proper resources and did the job right. The program today appears to have become a bureaucratic stepchild on life support.
He goes on about the agency’s perceived reliance on “duct tape, Elmer’s glue and Scotchgard”:
The space program needs to be on the front end of technology as it once was. The benefits to society of an efficient space program are numerous. If the program cannot be the best, with the best technology, the best manpower and the best resources, then perhaps our country should forgo it altogether. [Emphasis added] Why should we subject ourselves to the embarrassment of repairing 35-year-old technology with pliers and a hacksaw?
Barr goes on to say he is generally supportive of the Vision for Space Exploration, but warns that the “‘culture’ of space exploration needs to be changed to prevent future projects from being employed past the point of antiquity.” Not surprisingly, Barr also advocates privatization of “a significant portion” of NASA, although he doesn’t identify which programs should be transferred to the private sector.