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Former NASA admin wants to throw out Artemis and start over — here’s why

Published Jan 18th, 2024 4:55PM EST
illustration of Artemis missions and SLS rocket stages
Image: Vadimsadovski / Adobe

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Former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, now 73, believes he can do NASA’s return to the Moon better. While speaking to a House subcommittee this month, Griffin told the committee that he believes NASA should do an Artemis reboot and get rid of all the commercial plans that it currently involves.

Artemis is one of NASA’s biggest ongoing space programs, with several missions set to return humanity to the Moon’s surface within this decade. However, Griffin thinks that NASA’s reliance on and use of commercial companies to push the program forward is excessive and complex.

Further, Griffin says that it is unlikely that NASA’s current Artemis plans will be pulled off in a timely manner, something he may be correct about given the recent Artemis delays. However, Griffin says that he has a better plan, and that means rebooting Artemis and starting over without the help of SpaceX and other commercial entities.

Instead, Griffin wants to return to the olden days when NASA relied on Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman to handle its spacecraft construction. The problem with Griffin’s statements, though, is his plan has already been attempted, and it just didn’t work out.

As Ars Technica reports, Griffin originally used a similar plan to the one he proposed in a written testimony back when he was the NASA Administrator 15 years ago. While Griffin claims that NASA could have boots on the ground by 2029, the reality of his plan just isn’t that encouraging.

In fact, as I noted above, that plan has failed before. The rocket that Griffin wants to replace the current one with hasn’t even been constructed yet. And the previous iteration of it took 12 years to build and finalize. As such, it’s unlikely NASA could just pop one out in the next five years.

Further, Griffin slams the current Artemis program for its high costs, but his plan isn’t likely to be any cheaper. As such, an Artemis reboot probably wouldn’t solve the issues really at play here. There’s no denying that NASA’s current Artemis program is very complex and that it will be very expensive. But Artemis I has already proven a success.

If we can keep the momentum and avoid any further delays, the Artemis program may just work out the way it is. Either way, Griffin’s “reboot” isn’t going to make things any better, at least not based on what we saw from his program back in the 2000s.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.

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