Friday, May 25, 2007

What is up with the Lunar Robotic Program? - Update

Well, it looks like Marshall is keeping it's Lunar Robotic Program office. According to an article in today's Huntsville Times (via NASAwatch), "The 32-employee Lunar Precursor Robotic Program office will be included in the NASA budget at $20 million a year for the next six years. Also, the office will continue to manage two planned NASA lunar probe missions and begin a new assignment: mapping the moon to find sites of scientific value, Shelby's office said."

I don't always agree with Keith Cowing, but he's right on the money here:

Reversing the decision could become a problem for Griffin and his successors, and "it opens up their decisions for further second-guessing," said Keith Cowing, who runs

"It makes a joke of any leadership on Mike Griffin's part if he makes a decision and then he reverses it because Senator Shelby or (Rep. Bud) Cramer tell him to back off," Cowing said. "How can NASA administrators actually manage if they constantly have Congress reversing decisions they don't like?"

It's hard to blame Mr. Griffin though, it's not like he had a lot of options here, when Congress tells you to do something, you can't just say no. And it wasn't just one congressman, Senator Shelby convinced Senator Mikulski and Representative Mollohan, the chairs of the respective appropriations committees which oversee NASA's budget (i.e. people you don't want to piss off). I don't think Mr. Griffin had any choice here, I think the blame lies with Congress who shouldn't have made the request in the first place. Congress' job is not to micromanage. Does Sen. Shelby really think that he knows better how to get us back to the Moon than NASA does?


Fred T. Cat said...

Hi Sarah,

When I first the read title of you post I understood it to say, "What is up with the Lunatic Robot Program?" What is up with that indeed! Now that's a program to capture the imagination! I suggest that Dr Griffin switch the name of the program and ask for an additional $20 million a year.

IntrplnetSarah said...

What we really need are some self replicating lunatic robots, then we'll have ourselves a space program. LOL