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Obama’s NASA plan: an “elaborate wake” for human spaceflight

Last month, President Obama announced proposals for restructuring the NASA space program, and a key plank of his new approach was to rely much more on commercial companies.

As I noted earlier, this sounds more like the outsourcing of leadership. And as an article in today's New York Times today finds, it turns out the private aerospace industry that is supposed to be taking on the burden isn't all that enthusiastic. "I don't think there is a business case for us," said John Karas, vice president and general manager of human spaceflight at Lockheed Martin, referring to space taxis.  John McAleese, a defense consultant, noted that for riskier enterprises like space, aerospace companies like Lockheed and Boeing seek high returns (in excess of 11-12 percent). "I don't believe there's a burning desire to get into the spacecraft piece of the business," McAleese said.

The best quote came from Loren B. Thompson, an analyst at the Lexington Institute, a policy group financed by military contractors:

I think people who have been in the launcher business for many years find it hard to take the president's plan seriously. They think it sounds like an elaborate wake for the human spaceflight program more than a plan for moving forward. 

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