In a sure sign that even NASA officials are having a hard time articulating the reasons for the proposed asteroid snatching mission, a September 12, 2013 story in the Los Angeles Times suggested that they are trying to sell it based on how cool it is.
“Having trouble getting excited about NASA's planned mission to redirect an asteroid? Maybe William Gerstenmaier can help.
"’Turn off your logical side and turn on your touchy-feely side, the one you almost never use,’ Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, told attendees of an aeronautics and astronautics conference Wednesday in San Diego. ‘Then jump up and down and do some break-dancing. We're going to grab a space rock and we're going to move it!’”
The reduction of a complicated and expensive space mission to what amounts to a circus act had NASA Watch's Keith Cowing reacting with a special kind of snark.
“This is typical of NASA's increasingly baffling asteroid mission PR strategy. Since no one at NASA (starting with Charlie Bolden) is able to give a clear reason why NASA wants to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to go grab an asteroid and move it to lunar orbit, they just skip "the logical side" and go for "the touchy-feel side". Now they want you to just "jump up and do some break-dancing". In other words, don't worry - be happy.
“What kind of goofy approach is this? NASA wants you to just get up and dance because they want to go have fun playing catch with an asteroid - and who cares why?. To do so they intend to use a rocket they cannot afford to build - a rocket with zero funds for the payloads it is supposed to carry. Oh yes: Congress opposes this mission. Does NASA think that all Congress needs to do is just bust a few dance moves and they will be happy about this too?”
Cowing’s point that Congress is unlikely to be impressed by a dance routine certainly illustrates a problem facing this administration’s space policy. A number of times the Obama administration has come up with cool sounding space initiatives, such as the original deep space asteroid mission and the current asteroid snatching mission and has not really thought it through. They have not considered the difficulties of doing such missions nor have they even considered why they want to do them, except for just the sake of doing them.