This is not something you expect to see the big dog of a government agency say about the agency he is in charge of....guess he will be asking about how hard it is to get an HVAC job after he gets out of school.

September 28, 2005

Shuttle, station 2 big blunders, NASA chief says

Griffin says moon plan puts agency on track


Space program. NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has previously called the shuttle "deeply flawed" and remarked that the space station was not worth the investment. Craig Bailey, FLORIDA TODAY file
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The shuttle and International Space Station -- the whole of the U.S. manned space program for the past three decades -- were mistakes, NASA chief Mike Griffin said Tuesday.

In a meeting with USA Today's editorial board, Griffin said NASA lost its way in the 1970s, when the agency ended the Apollo program of moon visits in favor of developing the shuttle and space station, which can only orbit Earth.

"It is now commonly accepted that was not the right path," Griffin said. "We are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can. It cannot be done instantaneously."

The shuttle has cost the United States the lives of 14 astronauts and billions of dollars in operating costs since the spacecraft's first flight in 1982. The total cost of the space station by the time it's finished -- probably in 2010 or later -- may exceed $100 billion, though other nations will bear some of that.

Only now is the nation's space program getting back on track, Griffin said. He announced last week that NASA aims to send astronauts back to the moon in 2018 in a spacecraft that would look like the Apollo capsule and would be carried into space by a rocket built from shuttle components.

Griffin has made clear in previous statements that he regards the shuttle and space station as misguided. He told the Senate earlier this year that the shuttle was "deeply flawed" and that the space station was not worth "the expense, the risk and the difficulty" of flying humans to space.

Asked Tuesday whether the shuttle had been a mistake, Griffin said, "My opinion is that it was. It was a design which was extremely aggressive and just barely possible, especially with the amount of funding allocated to the problem."

Asked the same question about the space station, which was started in 1999 and is orbiting Earth, he said, "Had the decision been mine, we would not have built the space station we're building in the orbit we're building it in."