Heppenheimer's article (Jan. 31,) "The Shuttle Is a Model T," is almost shocking in its inept statements concerning the present and future of America's space program. The author has accumulated the latest buzzwords but fails to use them in a rational context. Replies to some of his statements are listed below:
1. Statement: "A host of new technologies are evolving . . . Yet NASA (resolutely pursues) the old-fashioned technology of rockets."
Reply: If Heppenheimer will read the numerous available aerospace publications and periodicals, he cannot escape the fact that NASA is always on the leading edge of the state of the art in all pertinent technology and has an unusually high consistency of safety in the field of rocketry. NASA has conducted research on ramjets for "jet-propelled aircraft that can fly to orbit" and on "nuclear propulsion." However, these concepts are decades down the road.
2. Statement: "NASA is staffed mostly by old-timers who have been there for decades. It attracts few young people with fresh ideas."