Re: What Is NASA's (Tourist) Problem?

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Thu Apr 12 2001 - 08:58:55 MDT

On Wednesday, April 11, 2001 9:26 PM John Marlow wrote:
> Anyone know what the hell their problem is with Tito? It's okay to
> send a schoolteacher--but not a NASA-trained rocket scientist..?

I've been wondering about that also, especially since they sent John Glenn
back up too.

I'm not actually sure, though it could be that Tito went to the Russians and
that makes the NASA bureaucracy feel snubbed. Perhaps this isn't on a
conscious level. After all, NASA can offer all sorts of reasons not to send
anyone into space, but applying a particular excuse to a particular person
requires only some discomfort felt against that person.

Thus, if NASA says Tito'll get in the way that could be applied to Glenn or
any political astronaut. Also, if he will get in the way, why not have him
trained to do something -- if he isn't already scheduled to do more than
just loaf around? Why opt immediately for a no go on Tito but a go on

Another reason could be that NASA wants a certain image and that image does
not include having tourists onboard. That kind of makes NASA look like
Disney. Tarnishing this image of professionalism, of a serious space agency
might be more important than actually mainstreaming space flight. Nor is it
worth it to NASA's leadership to change that in order to get new revenue
streams. (Not that Tito's $20 million is going to fund any major NASA
program, but it's not an amount to sneeze at either, considering that most
NASA programs are only an order of magnitude more expensive than that.
E.g., the Odyssey just launched has, I believe, a budget of between $250
million and $300 million.)

We must remember that NASA is a government agency, so it's incentives are
not those of maximizing profits or being economically efficient.


Daniel Ust

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