Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NASA Goes Back to the Future

So NASA has revealed its plans to return to the Moon. My problem is, why will it take 13+ years? In the 1960s, we went from literally nothing to the Moon in 6 years. No computer-aided design and manufacturing, no previous experience. Why, then, when NASA plans to use mostly Shuttle-derived hardware, should it take more than twice as long to do something we've already done?

Don't get me wrong -- I desperately want America to get back to the Moon, any which way. I want to get there! So why -- after 35 years of wasted opportunity -- do we need to take another decade and a half? Why can't we do it in 3 years? Have we made no progress in rapid design between the Second Millennium and the Third?

I know, I know -- NASA's budget is 1/8th what it was during the Apollo years (.5% of the federal budget instead of 4%), but that's scant excuse -- lean manufacturing concepts weren't well-defined back then, either!

I sincerely hope that when NASA finally returns men to the Moon, they will be greeted by the residents of Luna City and taken via Virgin Moonline to the Heinlein Bar and Grill, where I'll offer them a tall one (six times taller than on Earth) and ask, "What took you so long?"