Magazine article Insight on the News

Houston, You Have a Problem -- NASA Continues to Bungle

Magazine article Insight on the News

Houston, You Have a Problem -- NASA Continues to Bungle

Article excerpt

Sorry if it seems like we're picking on NASA again this week. But it's quickly becoming a festering sore that we can't help scratching. Each month seems to bring another space-age imbroglio, followed by an investigation pointing to some preventable human error: a missing line of computer code, for instance, which turned the $165 million Mars Polar Lander into the Mars Polar (Crash) Lander; or the sophomoric math error that doomed the $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter to a fiery fall from orbit. This all too predictably gets blamed not on sloppy engineering or sloppy NASA administrators, however, but on "tight budgets" and overworked personnel, which shamelessly turns each blunder into another invitation to throw even more money down the black hole the agency is becoming.

NASA boss Dan Goldin stepped forward last week to accept "full responsibility" for last year's bungled missions to Mars (there actually were four failures in all, with losses reportedly totaling $360 million), a day after reports blamed the failures on mismanagement, miscommunication, testing shortcuts and -- you guessed it! …

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