OS: Now, let me put something to you that has been put to me. I don’t necessarily agree with it but it is a sentiment that is out there. By not finding anything useful the U.S. can do in space for NASA’s current human space flight budget of $7 billion or $8 billion a year, the committee failed. What’s your reaction to that sentiment?
JG: It’s not failure to point out truth. The truth is the truth. And it is high time that national space policy was made on the basis of truth and not on the basis of convenience. It is not true to say that we found there is nothing NASA can do within its current budget. There are two options laid out in the report that NASA can do with its current budget. What we did not find was a way for NASA to do significant human exploration beyond low Earth orbit in the near term with this current budget. And I don’t like that answer either but that is not going to change it.
With all due respect to Jeff Greason, what the Committee found is that we can do nothing significant beyond Low Earth Orbit, while maintaining the US aerospace work force. The Committee feels it is necessary to fly out the remain shuttle payloads, maintain the station until 2020 and build a heavy lift using traditional techniques and traditional technologies. Of course there is no money to do anything else. Trying to go beyond earth orbit with all that luggage is impossible. It is like trying to fly with an elephant on your back.
When NASA decided to pursue the shuttle and station instead of lunar development they sealed their fate. NASA might someday be able to again do great things but it must stop being a jobs program to do it. Giving NASA more money now will probably only extend the jobs of the current work force, rather than speed space development.