HOUSTON, Texas (The Dissociated Press) - NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 are "unrealistic," according to a report, released Friday, by a presidential commission appointed to review the agency’s human space exploration program. "Although," the report said, "it is possible they could make it as far as Bermuda."
Led by Norman R. Augustine, a former CEO of the Lockheed Martin Company (corporate motto: "If we weren't so firmly attached to the government's tit, we'd be asking Chrysler to save us!") the ten-member Human Space Flight Plans Committee (HSFPC) --- so named, according to Mr. Augustine, to enable the catchy and very futuristic acronym "hisfippick" --- determined that, among other things, such as better office-building vending machines and a plausible rocket design, NASA needed approximately $3 billion more per year (or, roughly one quarter's worth of Goldman-Sachs executive bonuses) in order to make its 2020 lunar-return target date viable.
"We have tremendous respect for NASA," the Augustine report says. "But, since the end of the cold war and the Apollo Program, the agency has consistently been forced to operate with funding that didn't measure up to the Herculean technical challenges it faced. This has led to undesirable and, in the present case, unworkable compromises."
The report says that while NASA has "made the best" of the budget-driven 1970s decision to use problematic solid-rocket boosters on the Space Shuttle --- which resulted in the loss of the Challenger and its crew in 1986 --- its current plan to employ stomp-rocket technology on its next-generation "Ares-I" Crew Launch Vehicle is "bound to yield disappointing results."
Committee members were expected to meet with the Obama administration officials on Friday to inform them that the current level of funding will not work, and that NASA's hope to reach the moon again by 2020 could only be realized if it de-orbited the "immensely expensive and marginally useful" International Space Station by crashing it into the Pacific Ocean --- an event, which, according to the report, "if properly promoted and broadcast worldwide, live, on Pay Per View, in high definition, could probably finance a dozen NASA missions, to Pluto!"