Space weenies are scratching their heads trying to figure out why NASA spent a bundle this week on a test of a new solid-rocket motor that is part of a program that will likely be canceled.
Is the space agency trying to keep alive its canceled Constellation moon-rocket program? Or perhaps it staged the high-profile static test in Utah so that at least parts of the Constellation program will be salvaged and used in a new U.S. heavy-lift rocket?
All NASA managers and motor builder Alliant Techsystems Inc. are saying is that the approximately 6-minute test that generated 3.6 million pounds of thrust and a helluva lot of toxic gases was a success.
Proponents of solid-rocket motor technology correctly argue that they are reliable. But it's an old, expensive technology. The U.S. needs to be looking a new concepts for leaving Earth orbit, not tweaking existing technologies.
Here's a video of the solid-rocket motor test.