First, possibly last flight of Ares
The prototype of NASA’s new moon rocket flew a test flight yesterday. And it may never fly again.
This is the result of lack of commitment, an expensive and disingenuous game played by politicians seeking credit on big visions of space exploration—which they refuse to fund. Perhaps as a way to blame NASA, people will cite a flaw detected by the test. (They’ve found a dented booster.)
But the fact remains, politicians created and grandstanded over their new visions of a return to the moon, and onto Mars. Both Bush administrations created—and underfunded—these efforts. So, Ares may be discarded and used dishonestly to blame NASA for a failure, when the failure came from Washington, D.C.
What if the Apollo project had been canceled after the first test flight of a Saturn rocket? That’s exactly what they’re trying to do here. I might note: space flight is hard. Vehicles need to be tested, altered, and worked on heavily before they are fit to fly.
The Saturn V’s first test flight shook terribly. It would have killed any astronaut had one been aboard. What did they do? Label it a failure? Discontinue the program?
No. They examined the flight data, determined the problem and developed a solution. And the rest is history. But today, we are watching profiles in cowardice and dishonesty. It’s pretty shameful.