Says Current Low Earth Orbit Era A Mistake
Michael Griffin believes the US space program's change of focus
from the Moon to low earth orbit operations was a mistake.
Griffin told the New York Times, "Viewed from the point of
history several decades out, the period where the United States
retreated from the Moon and quite deliberately focused only on low
Earth orbit will be seen, to me, a mistake."
This is not the first time Griffin has made such comments.
Indeed, his oft-stated beliefs may have led to his appointment as
the space agency's head -- it came just as President Bush announced
his "vision for space exploration" calling for a return to the Moon
Griffin's latest comments to the Times are seen as justification
for his recent controversial budget decisions. His cut backs for
certain science activities and the change of focus to manned
Moon missions has some NASA and other scientists up in arms.
After his negative remarks about the wisdom of continuing the
Shuttle program of nearly a year ago were taken as a stab by those
working on it, Griffin publicly apologized to the agency's
But, while he lauds all those involved in its development,
Griffin still maintains NASA should never have embarked on the
shuttle program. "The space shuttle is a response to a policy
mistake — it isn't the mistake. The mistake was tearing up
all the infrastructure that we built for Apollo and saying,
‘let’s just focus on low Earth orbit,'"
NASA revealed its latest plans for manned Moon missions to
establish a permanent lunar presence just last week to much media
criticism. Many wonder if the agency can make it happen within the
confines of its $17 billion annual budget.
Griffin says he understands the skeptics while acknowledging the
agency has lost its Apollo-era reputation for getting things done
on time and on budget.
Griffin said, "I’m trying to restore that."