The space shuttle and International Space Station — nearly the whole of the U.S. manned space program for the past three decades — were mistakes, NASA chief Michael Griffin said Tuesday.
In a meeting with USA TODAY's editorial board, Griffin said NASA lost its way in the 1970s, when the agency ended the Apollo moon missions in favor of developing the shuttle and space station, which can only orbit Earth.
“It is now commonly accepted that was not the right path,” Griffin said. “We are now trying to change the path while doing as little damage as we can.”
As many have argued, the right path is for the government bureaucracy to open up space to private industry, and to encourage innovation and exploration through the use of prize money. If space is worth exploring but isn't yet profitable, prizes are the most efficient form of subsidy possible because they prevent the government from picking the recipients and they allow market forces to choose the methods.