Dec. 16, 2014

NASA’s Monumental Waste

NASA once put a man on the moon just seven years after setting out to do so. The space agency enjoyed glorious triumphs and persevered through tragic disasters over the years, but we’ve never seen anything quite like this. The Washington Post reports, “In June, NASA finished work on a huge construction project here in Mississippi: a $349 million laboratory tower, designed to test a new rocket engine in a chamber that mimicked the vacuum of space. Then, NASA did something odd. As soon as the work was done, it shut the tower down. The project was officially ‘mothballed’ – closed up and left empty – without ever being used. … The reason for the shutdown: The new tower – called the A-3 test stand – was useless. Just as expected. The rocket program it was designed for had been canceled in 2010.” So how did this happen? “[A]t first, cautious NASA bureaucrats didn’t want to stop the construction on their own authority. And then Congress – at the urging of a senator from Mississippi – swooped in and ordered the agency to finish the tower, no matter what. The result was that NASA spent four more years building something it didn’t need. Now, the agency will spend about $700,000 a year to maintain it in disuse.” A grossly over-budget monument to nothing now stands in Mississippi as a sad reminder that money without proper vision is a terrible waste. More…

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