Ares I rocket under fire

A major engine of employment in the Top of Utah is riding on the upcoming Obama administration decisions about where to go with the nation’s space program.

ATK is a prime contractor of the Ares I rocket, which NASA has intended as the next-generation launch vehicle for crewed space flights. But there seems to be more trouble than ever facing the Ares program, including the Delta IV competitor motor, and heightened concerns about Ares costs.

The Augustine commission, a panel assigned to review the rocket programs’ status, came out recently critical of the Ares, as reported in an Orlando Sentinel story printed on page 2A of the Standard-Examiner today. This sets up an industrial and political tussle. The administration will need to decide whether to continue with the Ares program after billions have been spent, or respond to calls of future savings by killing the Ares and going with the Delta IV or something else.

This is another of those, “Well, he wanted to be president” issues for Obama, with important constituencies on all sides circling in. For the Top of Utah, the biggest concern is all the mouths fed by ATK and its many employees here. But the sticker shock often delivered by the space program, such as $50 billion more to be needed for Ares, is tough to ignore.

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6 Responses to Ares I rocket under fire

  1. flatlander100 says:

    What the Obama administration needs to do… what all administration’s should do…. is make the best call it can for the good of the nation, all things considered. That may not be the best call for northern Utah, and if it decides to abandon Ares, it will absolutely start the wing-nut right here screaming that he’s weakening the nation’s defense, ceding space to the Chinese, etc. just as they did and are doing in re: the jet the Air Force doesn’t want, but Utah Republicans do.

    Be nice to have an administration that asked first, “what’s the best thing to do for the country?” and not, first, “how will this play out politically for me?” We haven’t had one of those for a very long time. Think LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act that he knew, and said at the time, would split the Solid South from the Democratic Party and make it a stronghold of Republican backwardness for decades. As it did. And as the South still is. But LBJ pushed the legislation through Congress and signed it anyway, consequences for his party notwithstanding. That’s leadership. That’s presidential.

    Do we have it again in the White House? I don’t know. Too early to tell. The jet decision was an encouraging omen. But only an omen.

    We shall see.

  2. Neal Humphrey says:

    At least if ATK loses the Ares I contract to the Delta IV there won’t be any legitimate cries of political favoritism or retribution against Republican Utah. The Delta IV is manufactured in an area with an almost identical conservative political climate as behind the Zion Curtain. 71% of the voters in the county where the Delta IV is made voted for the McCain/Palin ticket.

  3. Carl Kove says:

    So it is wrong to cut a defense program that benefits Utah even though the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs no longer want or desire the program. I refer to the wailing and whining by Senators Hatch and Bennet and Rep. Bishop to cut F-22 funding. Not every program is necessary or needs to go on forever. Cuts are painful but unnecessary spending hurts also.

  4. John Johnson says:

    After four years — and $3 billion — the program is too far along to throw away.
    a 327-foot-tall test version with a dummy upper stage called the Ares I-X that has been assembled at Kennedy Space Center awaiting launch on Halloween. They say that a scheduled test firing of Ares’ five-segment solid-rocket first stage in Utah will prove the value of its unique design.

  5. Ed says:

    Just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.Before deciding to scrap the space program, or the Ares program for that matter, look back in time and think about whether or not it would have been a good idea to scrap it then. The space program is just as important now as it was then, it’s just not a “revolutionary” and “world changing”. As for the competing Delta IV rocket, we have to look at what exactly going with the lowest bidder has gotten us: a destroyed mars lander, and a couple of exploded space shuttles. When sending somebody (or something) out of orbit, the extra money that might have to be spent may very well be worth it in returns.

  6. geodude says:

    Assuming that because something costs more it’s a better product is a false assumption. If the Delta rocket is determined to be a better launch vehicle evaluating it’s performance to cost ratio, then Ares should be dropped. “Staying the course” is one phrase that doesn’t have much credibility, anymore. For the sake of Utah, I hope the analysis between the rockets favors the Ares.

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