Thursday, May 05, 2005

Griffin Torpedoes US Space Program

NASA's new administrator, Michael Griffin, discussed plans to radically change the design requirements for the new CEV system. In an interview with SpaceRef, Mr. Griffin is proposing increasing the launch weight requirements by 50% and mandating use of the current shuttle system for launches instead of looking to other alternatives.

"As NASA administrator, I already own a heavy lifter [in] the space shuttle stack," said Griffin. "I will not give that up lightly and in fact can't responsibly do so because any other solution for getting 100 tons into orbit is going to be more expensive than efficiently utilizing what we already own."

The whole point of the CEV was to reduce launch costs and improve safety by moving away from the Shuttle system. Additionally, modules would be launched from unmanned rockets and assembled in space, rather the with a single monolithic launch. This retrograde movement will not only set program back a year or more as the different bidding teams return to the drawing board, it will also eliminate the entire point of the effort and likely doom it to failure as with NASA last few Shuttle replacement programs.