Feeds

John Glenn blasts Moonbase-to-Mars NASA roadmap

First then oldest in Earth orbit says start from there

High performance access to file storage

Famed US astronaut and politician John Glenn has said that that NASA's planned return to the Moon will be of no use to a future manned Mars mission.

"It seems to me the Moon is questionable as a way station," the former space ace and Senator told congressmen on Wednesday.

"If that's what we're doing - which I don't believe it is - but if that's what we're thinking about doing, that is enormously expensive," he added. The House Science and Technology Committee were debating NASA's first 50 years and the future challenges faced by the space agency.

In recent years NASA has laid out plans to return to manned space exploration with a vengeance, following general direction from President George Bush. In outline, America is expected to establish some form of permanently manned Moonbase, and then to send a manned mission to Mars. Spaceplane Shuttles will be replaced by Orion rocket stacks and capsules like those of Glenn's early spacefaring days.

However, the veteran spaceman said that there was no advantage to be gained by moving the personnel and equipment for a Mars mission down and then up again through the lunar gravity well. Glenn contended that it would be better and easier to assemble an interplanetary craft above Earth.

"That to me would be the cheapest way to go," he said.

Glenn himself was the first American in Earth orbit. After an early career as a Marine fighter pilot, he joined NASA's original "Mercury Seven" astronaut group (stigmatised as "spam in a can" living freight by legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager), and was first to orbit aboard a Mercury capsule in 1962.

Retiring from NASA and the Marines afterwards, Glenn became a US Senator. At the age of 77, he returned to space aboard the shuttle Discovery in 1998. This was said to have provided valuable information on the effects of microgravity on the elderly.

Glenn later criticised the Russian space agency for allowing paying space tourists to visit the International Space Station, saying that Roskosmos had done the equivalent of putting "a Greyhound station or hot dog stand on one end".

As it happens, Russia also has plans for manned travel to the Moon and Mars, so the debate over which types of people should be allowed to go - and whether or not they go to the Red Planet via the Moon - may continue.

Glenn's remarks were reported in Aviation Week. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.