Sustainability Is Not An Option

Sustainability Is Not An Option

Space Frontier Foundation Laments $1.2 Billion J-2X Dead End

j-2x_featuredNyack, NY – The Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) is distressed by the announcement that the J-2X Engine will never fly. NASA has numerous projects running on tight budgets that could have used the now-vaporized resources spent on J-2X.

The engine was developed under NASA’s now-defunct Constellation program in 2004, and cost in excess of $1.2 billion, before being repurposed into the Space Launch System (SLS) in 2010. Due to budgetary constraints, the engine will not finish testing until 2014. Now, after nearly ten years of development, NASA has come to the realization that it has no need for the J-2X, and will be put on hold for at least ten years, if the Senate Launch System (SLS) isn’t canceled by then.

“We find situations like this completely unacceptable,” said Foundation President, James Pura. “Why does NASA continue unsustainable programs, wasting time and treasure? Programs that were derived from the canceled Constellation Program, like J-2X, have well documented problems. Like its brethren, J-2X proved to be unsustainable and of low value. In a time when budgets are tight, and other programs are suffering from a lack of resources, the United States recklessly wasted valuable time and money.”

J-2X is one of many troubled programs NASA is maintaining while having a very limited budget. The resources allocated to the J-2X program have not brought the United States any closer to exploration or settlement. Unfortunately, this is a symptom of a much larger problem – programs that grew out of Constellation have always been unsustainable, and are not settlement-enabling, which the Space Frontier Foundation believes is the largest reason to have a space program in the first place. Another of these programs is the Advanced Booster program, which is intended to replace the Shuttle-derived solid rocket boosters on the Space Launch System. The Foundation fears that this program will soon follow in the footsteps of the J-2X program.

“Our policy advisors and decision makers need to break away from the sunk cost fallacy that is crippling NASA,” stated Pura. “Funding an engine that will never see zero gravity is just one example of this. America has a long and proud history in human spaceflight, but we will have difficulty building on that success when we waste billions of dollars on dead-end programs. The engineers, shop workers, scientists, and every citizen involved deserve viable programs that open up space settlement. NASA and Congress need to do a better job communicating wants and needs so we can explore and settle the space frontier.”