Top U.S. planetary scientists, several astronauts and former NASA division directors will meet privately at Stanford University on Feb. 12-13 to propose changes to the direction the Emperor is pointing us towards. They have their hands firmly on the bassinet and this baby has no seat belt.
Can you blame them? The self appointed group of renegades, seeing the error in the Emperor's ways, wants to right the course and steer on towards daylight. The only problem with any group storming the castle is that they tend to plunder the very thing they are trying to save. And this group, mostly victims of the Emperor's sword, are putting their own interests in front of the country's.
This group wants to spread our germs to Mars. The last, let's say lost, 40 years have made everyone impatient. Despite the fact that the space station, just 180 miles away, is hanging by a thread at the end of the logistics support chain, they think we can instantly build the competency to extend that chain tens of millions of miles out into space. 180,000 miles is just too close for this bunch.
The Vision was formulated to develop, in step-by-step fashion, the systems and experience required to venture deeper into space. The Vision got corrupted by the Emperor along the way. He started building "cathedrals" when we really needed a confessional. We needed to build on existing assets, develop the operational experience to support deep space operations, and learn to live off the land in hazardous environments. The Emperor gave up that Vision to build a monument to himself. Now that monument is being toppled over. But instead of righting the wrongs, the Stanford folks, Noel "Wheel Chair" Hinners, Wes "Comet Head" Huntress, Scott "Smoking Gun" Hubbard, and K.T. "I can throw" Thorton, are pursuing their own agenda born out of the chaos.
Despite the Emperor's missteps, the one thing that has kept support for the Vision high, motivating Congress, is that the message from the faithful has been spoken with one voice for the last four years. Retire the shuttle by 2010, finish the space station, develop the CEV, head out to the moon, Mars, and beyond. When noise hits this channel, Congress will get confused. Didn't you just say we needed to build the CRV, or was it OSP? No, wait, it was X-33, X-34. Nope, got that wrong too. CEV/LSAM. Might as well throw that out to. Start over.
The Stanford group is ill-advised. Like Pete Townsend and Ronnie Lane said in their 1977 album, "Rough Mix," they are walking in backwards, like they are walking out.