Congress, NASA, Other

NASA gets blamed for everything

An editorial in the Houston Chronicle itemizes the list of problems that NASA has suffered so far this year. And while NASA might not be having an annus horribilis this year, it has suffered its share of setbacks, embarrassments, and tragedies, from allegations of intoxicated astronauts to sabotaged computers. The Chronicle, though, casts its net a little too far by including this odd item: “An explosion at a rocket motor test sight [sic] near Edwards Air Force Base in California killed two persons and critically injured four others.” Besides misspelling “site”, the editorial appears to be referring to the Scaled Composites explosion last month at Mojave Airport (which actually killed three and injured three); NASA was not involved in that project at all, of course. The editorial also notes the murder-suicide at JSC earlier this year, and tacks on this blow: “How many other NASA employees are armed and dangerous in the workplace?” Ick.

The Chronicle solicits comment from Rep. Nick Lampson (D-TX), whose district includes JSC and who serves on the House Science and Technology Committee. Lampson is supportive of the agency, but notes: “When NASA does face any internal issues, Congress expects a full, thorough review and accounting of any possible errors and mistakes.” Hopefully any such accounting will be a bit more thorough than that performed by the Chronicle’s editorial writers and copy editors.

11 comments to NASA gets blamed for everything

  • spaceguy

    In other news…

    Mistakes threaten to erode public confidence in the Houston Chronicle editorial…

  • How can you erode something that doesn’t exist?

  • Keith Cowing
    NASA JSC Center Director Mike Coats’ response to Sunday’s Houston Chronicle op/ed

    “Sunday’s Houston Chronicle (Falling Objects) presented an unbalanced and biased portrayal of NASA and the thousands of people working in our space program whose technological achievements have been a major contributor to the robust economy we enjoy and largely take for granted. I must take this opportunity to correct the misleading and inaccurate information portrayed as fact:…”

  • Chance

    NASA get blamed for something it wasn’t responsible for? Boo-freaking hoo. My agency gets blamed for more in one day than NASA gets blamed for all year. It’s hard to feel much sympathy.

  • Plus, it’s only fair, since NASA has done so many things that it should be blamed for that it’s gotten away with…

  • Keith Cowing

    “Plus, it’s only fair”? Blame NASA for things that are not its fault?

    More stupidity from Rand Simberg again

  • Gosh, Keith. Guess I have to put a smiley on for you to get the joke.

  • Adrasteia

    It’s only fair, after all they also claim to have invented everything.

  • Keith Cowing

    Gosh, Keith. Guess I have to put a smiley on for you to get the joke.

    Yes … based on all the other things you have written sans smiley face.

  • C’mon, Rand & Keith. You’re both right.

    It is NOT fair for NASA to be blamed for things the organization as a whole is not responsible for. That includes wacko employees w/ guns and/or pepper spray, as well as industrial accidents suffered by totally private ventures led by people who regularly attack NASA.

    However, the world is not fair. Popular culture enjoys the lowest common denominator, and “temporarily insane” or drunk astronauts are a much easier media story than “NASA’s approach to lunar exploration isn’t affordable/sustainable because of XYZ” or “NASA isn’t doing enough to protect the Earth’s environment by developing technologies with the Air Force to deflect Near Earth Objects” or “Kistler may go under because NASA keeps buying Russian launch services” or .

    The fact that NASA isn’t being blamed — or more importantly, punished — for really big space policy/strategy mistakes is also “unfair”, but more to the point it’s tragic.

    But mindless nitpicking isn’t justice… it just feeds the institutional defensiveness that makes REAL critical discussion almost impossible.

    P.S. Here’s an example of what I mean. 15 years ago a Houston economic development official asked me, as the then-Chairman of the Space Frontier Foundation, how, given that NASA had spent almost a decade, a full $10 billion, and had thousands of people working on SS Freedom, why I thought SFF had any right to criticize the program. My temptation, of course, was to say that the answer was contained in the question (10 years, 10 billion, a huge bureacracy, and NO HARDWARE). But this guy was so worried about the survival of the program that ANY discussion of HOW to get a space station or WHAT KIND of space station was better was just impossible.

  • Jeebus. Another reminder of how utterly pathetic some media has become these days. Sloppy space reporting particularly annoys me, but the sensationalization and “TMZ-isation” of otherwise legitimate stories is appalling.

    Edward R. Murrow has rolled over at least a thousand times in his grave since what, ten years ago?

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