With regard to public relations and fundraising outsourcing, there are challenges and difficulties here as well. For instance, NASA's responsibility is to its shareholders -- the tax paying citizens of the America. To that regard, is it safe to outsource public relations work, as the outsource group would be responsible for selling the agency to 250,000,000 million shareholders? One misstep could undermine the public's faith in NASA.

With regard to fundraising, this process is so core to NASA's survival -- without fundraising efforts, both from private sources and in lobbying Congress for larger budgets, -- NASA does not survive -- is it safe to outsource it to a third party? Probably the answer is yes for this simple reason -- here, it is not so much a question of cost or economies of scale. Sure, volume would be an advantage of outsourcing fund raising efforts, but quality would also benefit too. There are third parties who specialize in raising funds for government agencies, and NASA could benefit strongly from utilizing their competencies.

5 NASA Failures

One failure that stands out in the country's collective memory is the Challenger disaster. The space shuttle was conposed of a crew of seven. They were Ellisons Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Judy Resnik, Mike Simth, Dick Scobee, and Ron McNair. This crew included the first civilian to join a NASA crew in space. She was a teacher, Christa McAuliffe.

The space shuttle Challenger explosion was caused by the leaking of the right solid rocket booster field joint. The flight lasted 76 seconds. There was nothing to indicate anything was amiss. The fire erupted and burned through the external tank. Then seconds after the tank ignited, the orbiter ripped apart and this was the cause of the disaster.

Later that day NASA divers located the torn crew compartment. Somehow the bodies of the astronauts were still strapped into their seats. Even though the orbiter ripped open, it was not enough to have killed the crew. Crash investigators discovered that three of the crew had used air during the two mintues and 45 seconds while the crew compartment fell toward the sea. The crew compartment hit the water with so much force that not one survived the impact. The crew of the space shuttle Challenger was flown back to Kennedy Space Center.

All 14 missions scheduled after Challenger's mission were cancelled, pending the investigation into the causes of the crash.

Another immense disaster was the huge cost and lack of value-added of the Hubble Telescope. Billed as the most important NASA project ever, it did not really produce the research and revelations that it was supposed to -- and this was framed for the most part as a management error as far as goals-setting goes.

The Columbia disaster was another that really stung NASA. After that failure, it was a huge challenge for NASA to send Discovery up and get her back down successfully -- and they accomplished this task.

A more amorphous failure was NASA's involvement in the Star Wars Missile Defense Program -- Reagan set this as one of his major goals, and although the prime responsibility for the mission lay with the Air Force, NASA contributed largely to the failure of the mission as well. Star Wars was never scientifically viable and does not today provide a practical shield to rogue states' missiles. Again, this failure was billed as one of improbably expectations.

Finally, NASA failed in ever duplicating the initial landing on the Moon. Speculation is rampant today that the entire mission was faked and staged to intimidate the Soviets. NASA of course argues that it has not duplicated the mission for independent reasons, but it stands as a failure that the public has not gotten what they would most want out of NASA today -- a successful second moonwalk.

One common thread in NASA's failures has been the failure to set goals properly, as is most evident in the Star Wars and Hubble disasters. Space shuttle crashes are bound to happen -- we are pushing science's envelope here. But, management failures on Hubble and Star Wars are inexcusable.


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