Rocket to Nowhere

Rocket to Nowhere

Forget about the Bridge to Nowhere. Congress just funded a dud NASA rocket for half a billion dollars.

That’s the Ares I rocket. It was supposed to launch humans into space. Many of those scarce taxpayer dollars will go to Alliant Techsystems for a solid fuel rocket engine. But NASA cancelled the Ares I, and future manned missions will probably use liquid-fueled vehicles.

Congress just passed a Continuing Resolution with specific language funding the cancelled rocket. Why?The Aries I project is run out of Huntsville Alabama, and Senator Richard Shelby of that state is on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Why didn’t other senators vote the measure down? “Courtesy,” of course — which is what logrolling is called by the legislators who practice it — and fear of the powerful Shelby. But there’s more. Aries I contractor Alliant practices Advanced Constituency Engineering: it has plants in 24 states. Local paychecks will keep coming until April even though Aries I will never leave the ground.



“Why NASA Is Spending Half a Billion Dollars on a Canceled Rocket,” Fox News.

Image (“Ares I, Space Boondoggle”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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