Christopher Kraft, a veteran flight director who worked for NASA during the early days of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, had some caustic things to say about the space agency’s current direction, according to a September 1, 2013 story in the Houston Chronicle. He is not a fan of the program to build the heavy lift Space Launch System nor of President Obama’s plan to snag an asteroid and visit it with astronauts.
Kraft regards the SLS as too expensive to build with the space agency’s current budget. He suggests instead and often heard proposal to assemble space craft in smaller pieces and fuel them with orbiting depots using many launches of existing rockets. Others have contended that this approach would unnecessarily complicate space exploration, believing that the fewer the launches per space mission the fewer opportunities there will be for failure.
Kraft also agreed with many space experts inside and outside of NASA that the space agency should be directed toward returning to the moon instead of heading for an asteroid. Kraft touted an idea that has been advanced by Dr. David Criswell to build solar power farms on the lunar surface and beam power to Earth as a rationale for a lunar return. Opponents of the lunar return in the Obama administration, however, maintain that it is “unaffordable” and that the asteroid mission is the only space exploration option open with NASA’s current budget.