NASA boss insists US returning to the Moon after Peanuts to show for past four decades

Plus: Russia's space head honcho launched out of his job

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has strangely compared previous attempts to return to the Moon to an old Peanuts cartoon.

The new Administrator yesterday told companies keen to cash in provide lunar payload services that while attempts to return to the Moon over the last 40 years or so may have ended in failure, President Donald Trump's Space Policy Directive 1 won't be "Lucy and the football again".

For those unfamiliar with the output of the late Charles Schulz, the line is a reference to a strip where a character called Lucy holds a football, only to whip it away when Charlie Brown attempts to kick it. The unfortunate boy is then left winded on the ground.

There are probably better metaphors out there for a succession of US administrations continually changing the goals of the space agency while also cutting its budget. The Register invites suggestions in the comments section below.

Fresh from axing NASA's lunar prospector, Bridenstine is hoping that commercial involvement in initiatives such as the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) will lead to a more permanent presence on the Moon.

He told potential vendors: "We are going to draw on your interests and your capabilities as American innovators to build capacity that will take American astronauts eventually back to the Moon and to destinations further into the solar system, including Mars."

Russia space boss sacked

Shortly before NASA announced yet another plan to return to the Moon, Dmitry Rogozin, who memorably suggested that the US use a trampoline to get its astronauts to the International Space Station, was bounced out of his own job as Deputy Prime Minister of Russia for Defense and Space Industry.

Dmitry Rogozin in typical robust form

Rogozin, who has a reputation for bluntness - as even a cursory glance at his Twitter feed will confirm - had overseen Space and Defense since 2011 and took over following a succession of Russian launch failures.

Russia has continued to suffer from quality control issues with its rockets and has acknowledged difficulties in competing with the likes of SpaceX and other low-cost options such as India's PSLV. Last month Rogozin appeared to suggest that Russia might step out of the commercial launch business altogether.

As well as the consolidation of the Russian space industry under Roscosmos, Rogozin oversaw the construction and activation of Russia's Vostochny Cosmodrome in a move to reduce dependence on the historic Baikonur site, which is awkwardly (from a political perspective) located in Kazakhstan.

Less than a month ago Rogozin was proudly trumpeting the two-year anniversary of the inaugural launch from the site. Oddly, he omitted to mention the second launch in November 2017, which failed after a programming error left the rocket thinking it had launched from somewhere else.

Russian media reported that Yuri Borisov will take over the Deputy Prime Minister role. ®




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