NASA/Mosquito Lagoon Orlando Sentinel Editorial

West Palm to Jacksonville
Post Reply
User avatar
BlueCrab
Posts: 2217
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:00 pm
Location: Orlando

NASA/Mosquito Lagoon Orlando Sentinel Editorial

Post by BlueCrab » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:49 pm

http://orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/orl-miket0208mar02,0,6085714.column

OrlandoSentinel.com
COMMENTARY
NASA probably won't build launchpads on the worst site imaginable
Mike Thomas

COMMENTARY

March 2, 2008

When the air is cold, the sun is warm and the horizon has no haze, Bio Lab Road is the most amazing five miles you'll ever drive on.

Up ahead you can see a shuttle launchpad and the massive Vehicle Assembly Building standing out in the flat terrain.

To the immediate right, alligators soak up solar rays to ward off the chill. To the left is Mosquito Lagoon, an undisturbed relic from the past. There are no houses, no causeways, no pollution. The dark sea grass beds are visible in the clear water. A careful eye can pick out the torpedo wakes of the bull redfish.

This is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a natural theme park where people come to fish, hunt, hike, kayak, watch birds, photograph wildlife and generally escape our world.

It would not be here were it not for NASA.

The refuge serves as a buffer around the space center. And as a good steward of the land, NASA turned it over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

As critical as I've been of NASA, it usually does the right thing when it comes to the wild things.

And so unlike others, I have no worry that NASA will now ruin what it has helped create.

The agency is under White House orders to plan for the commercialization of space. This would entail building a 200-acre launchpad for private companies.

NASA brought in engineers to scour its property for suitable locations, and they came up with two.

One is near an existing shuttle pad, an area far removed from the public but of great importance to the wildlife that use it. The other is in the heart of the refuge, on the southern shoreline of Mosquito Lagoon.

The first site is questionable, the second one absurd.

And a protest movement has started. Wildlife service biologists have discreetly joined it, posting signs around the refuge that warn, "The Kennedy Space Center is planning a new launch facility which could close this facility."

They fear a launch complex in the middle of the refuge could close off much of it to the public because of security concerns. And people need to see places like this, particularly young people. Far too many get their nature solely from the Discovery Channel.

So I do not think this will happen. And I really don't think the people at the space center want it to happen. I think they are being dutiful bureaucrats and following protocol.

If anything, it seems as if they are sabotaging the idea.

Local NASA officials had public hearings on the proposed sites last month, even though they were under no obligation to do so. The result was predictable. Opponents arrived in droves, with the media noting their objections.

To anyone in NASA's Washington headquarters, the message was loud and clear. If they mess with the wildlife refuge, there will be war.

Call it a coincidence, but the hearings did something else. They started NASA and the Air Force talking about using part of the neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for the launch facility.

Thirty abandoned launchpads from the Cold War sit out there, rotting in the salty air.

It seems to be a great spot for a commercial launch facility.

So before we waste any more time and taxpayer money studying the worst possible places to put this thing, maybe someone like U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson can get these plodding bureaucracies to first study the best possible places.


Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or mthomas@orlandosentinel.com.

Copyright © 2008, Orlando Sentinel
Old School T160

Marion Jay "JayB" Brewington
July 26, 1949 - April 16, 2009

User avatar
AndrewP
Posts: 363
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:00 pm
Location: Eastside hole-jumpin'

Post by AndrewP » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:31 pm

thanks BC.

I need to write emails or letters up to the next level (above NASA) to understand why this is even being pursued. Looks like NASA has no real interest and is being forced into this; looks like USAF doesn't want to give up it's "turf" even though it is abandoned and not used ....

If anyone has names/email/snailmail info on who to contact (state/federal elected officials preferably) please post ......


AP
Disclaimer: Do not take anything I'm about to tell you seriously .......

User avatar
BlueCrab
Posts: 2217
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 1969 7:00 pm
Location: Orlando

Post by BlueCrab » Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:47 pm

It appears that NASA knows how the political game works...let's hope so.
Old School T160

Marion Jay "JayB" Brewington
July 26, 1949 - April 16, 2009

Post Reply