The Ars Technica article Former NASA administrator says Lunar Gateway is “a stupid architecture” disusses a meeting of the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group. Apparently there was not around-the-room uniform praise of the US space program's current plans beyond LEO:

However, during a meeting of the National Space Council Users' Advisory Group on Thursday, some of the criticism we've heard privately spilled into public view. One of the committee's members, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, declared that, "I'm quite opposed to the Gateway."

Other members, including the first female to command a space shuttle, Eileen Collins, worried that NASA's timeline for getting humans back to the surface of the Moon seemed really "far off." As part of its plan to develop the Gateway in the mid-2020s, NASA has acknowledged that humans won't return to the surface of the Moon until the end of the 2020s, or 2030. Furthermore, with its focus on the lunar space station, NASA has no definitive plans for how it will set humans down on the lunar surface or how much doing so will cost.

The article then continues with coverage of some thoughts on the Gateway architecture itself:

Public criticism of the proposal has been limited to date, in part because so much of the aerospace community has the potential to earn contracts by either helping to build the lunar space station or supply it with consumables once it is up and running in the mid-2020s. (We spoke to a few of the public critics for a feature published in September.)

One of the meeting's invited guests, Mike Griffin, was asked about his view of such a timeline. A former NASA administrator under President George W. Bush and the current under secretary of defense for research and engineering, Griffin did not mince words when it came to the current plan of delaying a US return to the Moon for at least another decade.

“Stupid architecture”

Prefacing his comments by saying that these were his personal beliefs, Griffin said, "I think 2028 is so late-to-need that it doesn't even need to be on the table. Such a date does not demonstrate that the United States is a leader in anything. This is 2018. It took us eight years to get to the Moon the first time, and you're going to tell me it takes 10 to 12 to 14 to do it again when we know how? I just want to drop a flag on the play."

Griffin also had harsh words for the Gateway concept, saying that it did not make sense to build a lunar station before there was actually an engineering need for such a station.

"The architecture that has been put in play, putting a Gateway before boots on the Moon is, from a space-systems engineer's standpoint, a stupid architecture," he said. "Gateway is useful when, but not before, we are manufacturing propellant on the Moon and shipping it up to a depot in lunar orbit. We should be, with all deliberate speed, returning to the Moon and learning how to utilize the resources of our nearest Earth-orbit object."

I've also speculated that putting the gateway in cis-lunar space first was putting the cart before the horse, and it's primary use would simply be to offer a location to point rockets at:

the Gateway will be a place where rockets can go.

and that the narrative seemed self referential. See the four bulleted points in this answer summarizing the longer quoted explanation by Jim Bridenstine, current director of NASA and previous member of the Rocket Racing League (1, 2, 3).

Question: Is there a more complete source for Lunar Gateway is “a stupid architecture” type comments at the recent National Space Council Users' Advisory Group meeting? Was the whole meeting public, or are these quotes from a photo-op session separate from the meeting itself?

See also What is/will be the function of the United States National Space Council?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.