Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Dawn Not Dead Yet

Ralph reported here last week that NASA had killed the Dawn Mission to the largest asteroid CERES and asteroid VESTA. The Dawn folks were said to be over budget and plagued with technical issues.

But wait! Not so fast… Just when those of us who longed to see Ceres and Vesta with our own eyes thought it was all over, this week, NASA changed its mind. Now, Dawn is up for yet another review. Experts say it is serious, that Dawn is “on life support”, but the last rites have still not been given – the bold mission to the huge future outposts using ion propulsion is still alive for the moment.

Of course, this whole process is rife with politics. Like a iceberg, most of it is hidden below the public’s radar. There is a great deal of international anguish because the project was hinged to a number of partner agreements, not to mention a significant congressional interest in seeing a re-run of the death penalty phase of the hearings.

The Dawn mission is one of the most exciting and essential missions in the cue. I would hope that sanity would somehow prevail here. Instead of spending the $10 million it would take to shut it down, let us hope that the decision would be made to invest that $10 million into the program and let’s go! After all – we need to map these future outposts and get on about the business of planting our colonies out there.