The Future Of NASA

This is a little different post from usual.  The American Association for the Advancement of Science asked me to join with Dr. John Grunsfeldt and Pat Duggins to discuss the future of NASA and the achievements of the space shuttle.  The web based program aired live last Tuesday, but the AAAS has released a link and you can watch the hour long show at your leisure.  Here is the link – enjoy!

About waynehale

Wayne Hale is retired from NASA after 32 years. In his career he was the Space Shuttle Program Manager or Deputy for 5 years, a Space Shuttle Flight Director for 40 missions, and is currently a consultant and full time grandpa. He is available for speaking engagements through Special Aerospace Services.
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13 Responses to The Future Of NASA

  1. Chris C. says:

    If anybody figures out how to watch this without Silverlight, please post!

  2. P. Savio says:


    Can Soyuz be launched and dock/undock with ISS unmanned? If Yes then why not launch next Soyuz unmanned, stuffed with supplies instead of crew, take 3 crew off ISS and keep 3 crew on ISS until problem with the 3rd stage is fixed (which might only mean a few extra months for that crew of 3 to stay extra on ISS).

  3. Phil A says:

    There is some discussion with some tangible examples of how much more efficient a human explorer would be, compared to robotic efforts. That was news to me, but it makes perfect sense.

    In the years leading up to Columbus’ journey to North America, they designed his ships. They did not know where they were going or what they would find. Maybe that is where we are today, with respect to Mars.

    • waynehale says:

      Columbus, to his dying day, professed the belief that he had sailed to India or the Orient. Never once did he say that he had discovered a new world. We should be able to do better than that.

  4. Charley S McCue says:

    Just managed the time to watch this. Excellent. A very good choice of voices.

    Musings from watching this webcast. Back when the space station program was transformed from Alpha to ISS with the addition of the former Soviets, it seemed the primary reason was to create an International Welfare to keep Soviet technology from ‘leaking’ out of the former USSR. In hindsight, it seems provincial and wrong. Was the original inclusion based on fear or was there people that understood what Russia could add?

    Is it wrong that we aren’t allowing China to participate? From a tech stand point, not political. Or both if you choose.

    Also, about the budget. I have skimmed the Augustine report. My interpretation from news reports and now actually reading some of it, we cannot fund exploration without expanding NASA’s budget. That’s even if commercial space can deliver lower cost access to space. Is that a clear understanding of the report?

    The tribute at the end brought tears to my eyes.

    • waynehale says:

      The ISS was very successful in keeping Russian space experts from helping other nations develop their military rockets, in my opinion. Inclusion of China in the ISS depends on the geopolitical goals of the US and the other ISS partners, not their technical ability. My opinion is they have not demonstrated that they can be trustworthy partners.
      Norm Augustine stated in more than one open meeting that to have a space program the nation could be proud of, NASA needed about $3 billion more per year than it was getting. That did not occur and in fact significant cuts are being proposed.
      That brings a tear to my eyes.

  5. Ben Whitehouse says:

    On the future of NASA – I’m sure you’ll have something to say soon about the newly announced “Space Launch System.” Two questions:
    1) Will the thing actually fit out the doors of the current VAB? It always reminded me how big the Saturn V was when the STS stack looked relatively tiny when it rolled out of the building.
    2) What is the batting average on announced NASA spacecraft actually making it into space? Reading your blogs, it seems like any new spacecraft is more likely to end up in the scrap yard than into space? Is the Space Launch System the next project destined to be killed by the next administration?

    • waynehale says:

      In all studies of new rockets, the one limitation has been the size of the VAB doors. At just over 400 feet tall, the rocket will fit . . . barely.

      In my opinion, the SLS needs a clearly established mission, backed by the executive branch, to be successful. Does it have that?

  6. Your comments that we should have taken an evolutionary approach to reusable launch systems were, in my opinion, right on target. Jay Penn’s recent study for Aerospace Corp. shows that human spaceflight with big ELVs is not sustainable, even for the government. DOD is going aggressively into RLV development, as is SpaceX. So why is NASA abandoning reusable launch, right at the moment when we have learned so much that could make a new generation of RLVs practical and safe?

  7. NASA isn’t. Politicians are.

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