In response to Buzz Aldrin’s article in the Wall Street Journal Burt Rutan has circulated the following:
This sounds fine thru the lens of my friend Buzz Aldrin. However, the reality is that the new plan has no schedules, no $ and no programs to build government hardware for ANY future manned spaceflight activity.
In 1962 we contracted North American to develop the Apollo spacecraft before we had even decided that we would need to do LOR (lunar orbit rendezvous). It was another 3+ years before rendezvous was demonstrated in earth orbit! We boldly moved forward with the assumption that the technology would be there. In contrast, NASA has, for the last 2 decades shown that they can burn thru hundreds of billions of $ without flying anything new. The new plan almost guarantees another decade or two of the same behavior.
Many believe that failure of a research technology initiative is defined only by its test data or by its accident record. However, most Government ‘research’ programs fail in another way – spending all the $ and over-running the schedule before even having the courage to do the testing of the new, poorly-understood ideas.This new NASA plan will not have good optics for Americans over the next decade or two as the exploration (i.e. above low earth orbit) activity will be done by our adversaries while we look on and rerun the old films of Apollo. Buzz will continue to be our hero, but our youth may yearn to move to where the action is.Burt