Did NASA waste our money?
Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 18, 2014
This week several national news agencies reported that NASA built the A-3 rocket engine test stand at John C. Stennis Space Center to test engines slated for the Constellation program.
The good news is the stand was completed in June of this year. The bad news is the program was scrapped four years ago.
This begs the question, why did NASA continue to build a test stand for four years after the program was scrapped?
Another mystery is that Congress mandated that NASA pay $700,000 annually to maintain a test stand that, at press time, may never be used.
Engine testing has been ongoing at the nearby facility since the Apollo program, leading Stennis to be one of the major employers of Pearl River County residents.
When the shuttle program ended, testing of commercial engines somewhat filled the void. While the maintenance of the A-3 stand will maintain jobs, it will waste resources this country could use to put humans back on track for manned deep space exploration.
Now, after spending a reported $350 million to build the A-3 test stand, its future is up in the air. For whatever reason Senator Roger Wicker was the catalyst behind completing the test stand after the program was cancelled. In news coverage on ABC this week Wicker was quoted as saying the program should not have been cut.
It’s reported the Constellation program was cancelled by the Obama administration, allegedly because the cost to continue it was more than the country’s leaders felt they could afford. After cancellation of the Constellation program, NASA adopted the Space Launch System. So that means the stand may be used under the new program, if they can find a way to modify it to suit that program’s needs.
It is our hope that NASA will find a use for this stand, even if it means modifications, which occurred in the past when the agency moved from the Apollo program to the Space Shuttle program.