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The Once and Future Moon

Failure to Launch, Failure to Lead

2 Jul 2012, 14:47 UTC
Failure to Launch, Failure to Lead
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The Space Exploration Initiative and the Vision for Space Exploration -- two proposals, two failures. Why?

Two Presidential announcements on space
In the aftermath of a major Space Shuttle accident, an incumbent President decides that our civil space program needs a bold new strategic direction. In a major public speech, he outlines a path to return to the Moon and go to Mars. The space agency responds with full-color sales brochures, committee meetings, community workshops, and a thousand charts outlining the steps they will take to carry out the new direction. A couple of years pass, a new President takes office, and then – promptly cancels the initiative of the previous administration.
Sound familiar? This has happened in our space history – twice.
In 1989, after much agency soul-searching following the loss of seven crew members aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger, President George H. W. Bush took to the steps of the National Air and Space Museum and announced what was soon dubbed the “Space Exploration Initiative (SEI),” a long-range program to send people beyond low Earth orbit, first to the Moon and then to Mars. NASA responded to this challenge by outlining an architecture imaginatively named the “90-Day Study.” ...

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