NASA faces a quandary with its audacious lunar cargo program

Intuitive Machines released this photo of its Odysseus lander in space after launch.

Enlarge / Intuitive Machines launched this photograph of its Odysseus lander in area after launch. (credit score: Intuitive Machines)

Most of NASA is a reasonably buttoned-down place as of late. Practically 70 years previous, the area company is now not the rambunctious adolescent it was in the course of the race to the Moon within the 1960s. In case you go to a NASA subject heart immediately, you are more likely to get dragged into a gathering or a assessment than witness a rocket engine take a look at.

One technique to describe the area company immediately is “danger averse.” A few of this, actually, is comprehensible. NASA is the place flight director Gene Kranz famously stated in the course of the Apollo 13 rescue, “Failure will not be an possibility.” Furthermore, after three main accidents that resulted within the loss of life of 17 astronauts—Apollo 1 and area shuttles Challenger and Columbia—NASA takes each conceivable precaution to keep away from related tragedies sooner or later.

However there does come a degree the place NASA turns into so danger averse that it now not takes daring and large steps, succumbing to paralysis by evaluation. As one long-time NASA engineer informed me a number of years in the past, solely partly tongue-in-cheek, it took a minor miracle for engineers designing the Orion spacecraft to get a small window on the car by means of the rigorous security assessment course of.

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