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NASA’s Bridenstine Affirms Moon-Mars Program Is ‘Once in a Lifetime Opportunity’

April 1, 2019 (EIRNS)—In an agency-wide NASA Town Hall this afternoon to discuss the U.S. plans for going to Moon and then to Mars, Administrator Jim Bridenstine made a very short opening statement, saying there are a lot of questions, discussion, and excitement. The program is doable he said, “given the resources and tools.” Then he went right “to open the discussion, the dialogue, about how we’re going to achieve it.”

The agency town hall was broadcast on NASA TV, and also streamed on its website.

Most impressive was 1) Bridenstine’s understanding of the hesitation, if not pessimism, on the part of the workforce who had worked on two previous, cancelled Moon-Mars missions. He will overcome that to the extent he can assure NASA people that this administration will follow through. And 2) his ability to respond to technical questions and answers, which is not inconsequential for a science and technology agency, or to the people who have to solve such questions.

Bridenstine’s major points:

On whether the program will be backed up with funding, the Administrator addressed what is on people’s minds, as he has been reminded of “hundreds of times” about the fact that programs to go to the Moon got cancelled “because the resources didn’t materialize.” (Both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush had Moon-Mars programs, which NASA people attending the live town hall had worked on, that got cancelled.) Bridenstine assured the workforce that “the administration is committed” to carry it through. Asked again about commitment, and programmatic “whiplash,” Bridenstine, a former congressman, pointed out the consistency of support on the part of Congress, and the “level of certainty while Trump is still there.”

He affirmed later that he “believes we’re going to meet the deadline” of 2024; it is so “important to the administration” that the deadline is in “Trump’s second term,” meaning he will be held accountable if it fails.

Asked about “schedule over safety,” on the minds of NASA staffers who went through two Space Shuttle accidents, Bridenstine said “the number-one mission is schedule with safety.” We won’t go in 2024 “if it’s not safe,” he said.

To conclude, Bridenstine said this is a “big charge,” which we should “embrace, and give it full force.”

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