NASA science administrator Ed Weiler is retiring after 33 years

Science administrator Ed Weiler is retiring after almost 33 years at NASA.

Among Weiler’s many achievements, he was crucial to getting the Hubble Space Telescope launched. Even more important, though others had conceived the idea of using the shuttle to maintain Hubble, he designed the maintenance schedule for the telescope. Seven years before it was launched, he insisted that a regular schedule of repair missions be placed on the shuttle manifest. He also insisted that a duplicate of the telescope’s main camera be built, so that if anything went wrong with the first a repaired unit could be launched quickly. It was his foresight here that made the first repair of Hubble in December 1993 go so smoothly. For this, astronomers will always be grateful.

Another look at the cost of building NASA’s heavy lift rocket

Clark Lindsey takes another look at the cost for building the Congressionally-mandated heavy lift rocket, what NASA calls the Space Launch System and I call the program-formerly-called-Constellation. Key quote:

Finally, I’ll point out that there was certainly nothing on Wednesday that refuted the findings in the Booz Allen study that NASA’s estimates beyond the 3-5 year time frame are fraught with great uncertainty. Hutchison and Nelson claimed last week that since the near term estimates were reliable, there’s no reason to delay getting the program underway. That’s the sort of good governance that explains why programs often explode “unexpectedly” in cost after 3-5 years…

In other words, this is what government insiders call a “buy-in.” Offer low-ball budget numbers to get the project off the ground, then when the project is partly finished and the much higher real costs become evident, Congress will be forced to pay for it. Not only has this been routine practice in Washington for decades, I can instantly cite two projects that prove it:
» Read more