What is the Future of NASA?
What’s next for NASA with close of the space shuttle era?
- Duration 6:00
- Date Jul 18, 2011
What’s next for NASA with close of the space shuttle era?
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And welcome back -- foxnews.com.
Line -- I was talking about before the break what is the future of the NASA space program just last -- president Barack Obama said Friday that he's personally proud of the crew aboard the final flight of NASA space shuttle program.
And the quote amazing seats they are accomplishing in space so space shuttle program.
Comes to a close what can we expect from NASA now.
With more on that is Scott pace director of the space policy institute at George Washington University good morning Scott good morning.
Of course what what is this Space Policy Institute is a separate from the federal government is it funded from the federal government is it I mean how was this out of this thrown out.
-- were research institute get George Washington University were part of the school of international affairs.
And we work on the international military.
International cooperation issues.
And we've been around for a couple of decades.
Now look at the end of the space shuttle -- how do you feel about that he's saddened -- -- you thinking this is.
This is good because we need to -- the next phase.
Well it's a mixed feelings because I used to work in the -- shuttle orbiter division when we were building space -- many years ago.
But I was also at NASA when the and did the Columbia Accident Investigation Board I think made it very clear.
That we really needed to retire the shuttles after completing the space station so.
I'm sad but I think it's absolutely necessary.
What really was that.
The results was that the conclusion after these the explosions.
Of the space shuttle that.
You know we need to close the program because one of the things that came out from the the explosions them and the tragedy was that perhaps.
You know the outsourcing of NASA was probably the problem not so much the program itself.
What do you think.
Well well no.
The the space shuttle program.
Is a very very complex and and difficult enterprise.
And the conclusion of the -- -- investigation board was that.
Twofold one if we're going to be risking human life we should be playing.
For higher stakes we should be looking at pushing beyond the boundaries of simply staying in -- -- -- Which meant exploring beyond the war fervor and not just simply staying close to home.
And the second conclusion they reached was that we needed a new generation of safer vehicles that the shuttle.
-- was a wonderfully capable vehicle but is fundamentally is an experimental vehicle.
It was always going to be a dangerous vehicle and that we're going to be risking human life.
We should -- try to create a new generation of safer vehicles to replace it.
And an astronaut told me that the shuttle is basically like a butterfly on a bullet.
And with that in mind thinking why would you invest so much money in a butterfly on a -- where you get out of it.
Well the the shuttle actually created all -- whole new set of capabilities that we have never had before.
The ability to construct things in in earth orbit -- in the space station is about a million pounds.
And -- was created go over decades so by using the capabilities of the shuttle the space walks the robotic arm.
The ability to bring things back from space was news the creation of laboratories and space it was new so we learned a tremendous amount we we've matured.
In operating in lord Corbett in ways that I don't think we would have otherwise.
But at the same time it -- it is a very expensive and very costly vehicle.
And so after the return to flight after the Columbia accident.
The decision to complete the space station itself.
Was a very very carefully thought out one and essentially United States decided to complete the space station because we are keeping our commitments to our international partners.
But after those commitments were met.
There is a very serious effort to find a replacement.
Which is what the last administration was doing with the Constellation Program and this administration is seeking to do.
With a new generation of a commercial launch -- orders.
And -- will be the next question is important is this going do you see the privatization of the space.
-- parts of the space program have been privatized for many years we've launched satellites on private rockets.
For many years so we haven't been watching people on private rockets.
And a kind of -- bridging step was created in the last administration.
Called commercial cargo that is let's take unmanned cargo to the space station which is a man facility -- therefore you have to be very careful about it and be very safe with it.
And the first step was let's create these commercial cargo capabilities and once those are demonstrated in working we can proceed with maybe trying to flight crew.
To that to the space station and do that safely.
Of course canceled the Constellation Program the earlier fought for replacing other shuttle.
And -- onto the moon and Mars.
And instead is placed a very heavy -- On a commercial entrepreneurs both cargo and crew in the it remains to be seen as to whether that that will be successful I think it will be in the long term.
But in the short term it's hard to say.
Okay and the future of NASA is it in mothballs basically.
No there's a very strong science program which has some of its own budgetary difficulties.
-- large program such as the James Webb space telescope which will come after Hubble.
There is the Mars science so laboratory.
Which is -- essentially a Volkswagen -- -- stuff rover.
On the surface of Mars both of them are very expensive both of them are having their own difficulties.
But the science part of NASA is still very strong and very robust.
The human space flight side of NASA is very strong with the space station program.
The part that I think is most uncertain.
Is really human space -- what combination.
Of government spacecraft in private sector spacecraft.
Or going to be ready and when are they going to be ready so that Americans will be able to travel into space independently because of course in the next few years we're going to be reliant on the Russians.