It’s not an easy time to be a space agency these days, and NASA is suffering from a lack of direction compounded by a lack of funding. But Congress has a few ideas for what it should do next.
As Gizmodo reports, Congress met this week to discuss the direction of NASA and what the space agency should be focusing on. Currently, the space agency is working toward a manned Mars mission, though some legislators argued it might be more prudent to aim for a closer target (i.e. the moon), or even a space station hotel to generate some new interest in space travel as a whole.
Former NASA administrator Mike Griffin told the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology that whatever NASA’s goal is, it’s something that should be clearly defined. Griffin told the committee it serves no one to “decide every few years” what the target should be, only to change it and refocus before anything major can be accomplished.
Griffin seemed to be in favor of a moon mission to develop some new technology and test out the protocols that will eventually get us to Mars, noting, “If God wanted us to go to Mars, he’d have given us a Moon to practice on first.” He pushed for a moon base first, to work out the kinks before we head off to the Red Planet.
One proposal that could help generate some much-needed cash was a space station hotel, floated by astronaut Eileen Collins. She noted that tapping into the space tourism market could help provide attention, capital and new technology to help us eventually reach deep space.
Whatever happens, it seems obvious that NASA is at a critical juncture right now. Here’s hoping someone can figure out where to go next. Literally, and figuratively.