Budget Cuts Open The Door For Other Nations
combination of a concerted, well-staffed effort by China
-- along with recent budget cuts and the resulting delays at
NASA -- may very well mean the Chinese will beat the US back to the
Moon, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told Congress this
Citing the current status of the Chinese manned space program
and its project growth, Griffin told the House Committee on Science
and Technology Thursday China could conceivably land a man on the
moon within the next 10 years. Current projections indicate NASA
won't make it back there until 2019... at the earliest.
"I cannot speculate and won't speculate on what China's
intentions are. I just don't know that," said Griffin, in response
to questioning from California Rep. Ken Calvert. "As a matter of
technical capability and political will, if the Chinese choose to
do so, they can mount a lunar mission within a reasonable number of
years, say a decade."
Griffin equated the current state of China's space program, as
roughly equivalent to NASA's expertise following the Gemini
missions of the mid- 1960s -- helped along by better
China also has a lot more people working to put a red flag on
the moon, than NASA. The Chinese space program employs around
200,000 people, according to the Houston Chronicle. NASA's
workforce totals about 75,000.
The NASA Administrator found several sympathetic ears in
Congress, as Republicans and Democrats alike complained about the
lack of funding for NASA, given its ambitious goals -- many of
which, like the moon mission, were spelled out by the Bush
"I'm afraid NASA is headed for a train wreck if things don't
change," said committee chairman Rep. Bart Gordon.