NASA ESAS - Free the Appendices

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Dennis Wingo, Commentary

In 2005 when the NASA Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) came out there was considerable controversy concerning how the numbers came out that favored the implementation of what is now known as the Ares 1 launch vehicle.

The original study was produced and made available to the public but not the set of 12 appendices that had the background technical trades and justifications related to the launch vehicle choices. Apparently this past weekend, a pay for view space interest website is providing these documents (reportedly 11 out of 12 of the appendices) to people that have paid for access to this website. While I am not opposed to having websites charge for access to content that they generate, the ESAS appendices are public property and must be provided to the taxpayer who paid for them. NASA has, to my knowledge, not released these documents to the public, but at this time must do so, as some blogger sites are making claims about rigging the ESAS study to support the Ares 1 over using the EELV vehicles. The former NASA administrator, Dr. Mike Griffin has vociferously denied that anything like this ever happened and that the Ares 1 configuration was chosen based upon it being the best technical and financial solution for the launch vehicle as successor to the Space Shuttle. While I am not known to be a supporter of the current ESAS architecture, it is not right that these documents are being provided on a pay per view site that then are filtered to the public and are used as an attack on the integrity of the previous administrator and his technical teams.

Therefore I would ask that NASA provide these appendices on the NASA Exploration website so that the larger internet audience be given the opportunity to view these documents so that the integrity of the Agency is not damaged by filtered opinions no matter the source. If there is bad news, far better for it to come out in public from the current leadership of the agency rather than be released to those that pay from American taxpayer funded documents that are only available to pay per view audiences from a foreign hosted website run by non U.S. nationals.


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