Science Agenda: Defying Pollitics; December 2010; Scientific American Magazine; by The Editors; 1 Page(s)
A crisis at NASA forces a new president to take action. A panel issues a report. The president gives a speech. He directs NASA to find a better way to get astronauts into orbit and to encourage private companies to enter the space taxi business. The plan promises to be the biggest shake-up of the space program since the glory days of the moon landings. Some embrace it; others take a dislike.
So it was with President George W. Bush’s vision for NASA in 2004, which sought to rekindle the agency’s exploratory spirit after the space shuttle Columbia disaster. The plan, though, fell apart when Bush failed to come through with the money to implement it. And so President Barack Obama came into office, found NASA in dire straits, commissioned a panel, led by aerospace veteran Norman Augustine, to work the problem, and made a big speech in April. How will the story end this time? Only strong presidential follow-through can keep NASA on course.