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Trump leaves a mess behind at NASA

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Donald Trump badly wanted to be the president who sent Americans back to the moon.

Instead, his administration has presided over Artemis, a lunar-landing program plagued by “uncertain plans, unproven cost assumptions, and limited oversight,” according to a new watchdog report. Pieces of the program, including the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft, are billions of dollars over budget, years past deadline and poised to eat into NASA’s more promising projects.

As a result, the U.S. space agency will almost certainly miss its goal of landing Americans on the moon again by 2024.

President-elect Joe Biden inherits the task of deciding what to do next. He should focus on what has made the U.S. space program distinctive in recent years: the power of private competition.

As far back as 1989, presidents have been advocating for a return to Earth’s closest neighbor, partly on the theory that it could be a testing ground for the equipment and processes needed for any deeper-space mission, such as a Mars visit, and partly to spur the development of a private space industry. The most ambitious effort, known as Constellation, began under George W. Bush in 2005, with the goal of putting Americans on the moon around 2020. It was a complex initiative that required the development of new........

© The Japan Times

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