Friday, March 19, 2004

NASA, military to work closely on space effort: "NASA and military officials told Congress on Thursday that they expect to work closely on President Bush's moon and Mars exploration strategy, but without crossing their traditional divide.

"That means NASA might elect to launch space hardware and explorers on the powerful new Lockheed Martin Atlas V and Boeing Delta IV rockets developed by the Pentagon to lift spy, navigation and communications satellites.

"It also means the military will not be establishing bases on the moon. 'It's NASA's job to go to Mars and go to the moon,' Robert Dickman, the deputy for military space for the Pentagon's Secretary of the Air Force, told the House Science Committee's space panel. 'So, while we will assist as best we can from the launch end, there will be no military base on the moon.'"

"While eager to save money through a closer relationship between NASA and the Department of Defense, panel members warned of pitfalls.

"During the 1980s and early 1990s, NASA and the military failed to follow through on collaborations to develop the technically challenging National Aerospace Plane and the proposed Advanced Launch System. The aerospace plane was to be a high-speed transport that could fly passengers from New York City to Tokyo in two hours. The launch system was to be a new family of rockets.

"'Let's face it, both agencies' approach to developing space transportation is derived from very different cultures and philosophies,' said committee chairman Dana Rohrabacher, R-Cal. 'Bridging the gap between them is going to take strong leadership and a lot of congressional involvement.'"

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