The NASA Tower of Foolishness

The NASA tower was built and then mothballed, never used.

a3 test stand

Jesus once told a parable:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” (Luke 14:28-30 ESV).

What does this have to do with NASA? The agency decided to build a tower and finish it, even though they no longer had a reason for it!

Thus, the Washington Post: “NASA’s $349 million monument to its drift.”

In June, NASA finished work on a huge construction project here in Mississippi: a $349 million laboratory tower, designed to test a new rocket engine in a chamber that mimicked the vacuum of space.

Then, NASA did something odd.

As soon as the work was done, it shut the tower down. The project was officially “mothballed” — closed up and left empty — without ever being used.

“You lock the door, so nobody gets in and hurts themselves,” said Daniel Dumbacher, a former NASA official who oversaw the project.

The reason for the shutdown: The new tower — called the A-3 test stand — was useless. Just as expected. The rocket program it was designed for had been canceled in 2010.

But, at first, cautious NASA bureaucrats didn’t want to stop the construction on their own authority. And then Congress — at the urging of a senator from Mississippi — swooped in and ordered the agency to finish the tower, no matter what.

The result was that NASA spent four more years building something it didn’t need. Now, the agency will spend about $700,000 a year to maintain it in disuse.

As the story plainly states, Congress was involved in this insanity. It is not as if NASA wasted the money and built an unnecessary building by their own authority.

[See also, “Government Accuses Markets Of Inefficiency, While Burning Money.”]

The Washington Post story goes into great detail showing readers how insane Big Government has become. The project cost three times as much as estimated and took twice as long. And then it was mothballed. There are other NASA buildings that are similarly mothballed. And now another tower is being built to test another kind of rocket.

You can’t make this stuff up.