If you think of cancelling a NASA project is that easy, think again. A project for a mothballed space exploration program was continued despite it being canned 4 years ago. The amount spent was $349M for the completion of a test tower. Will it ever be used? Congress would like to know.
The A-3 tower is located in Stennis Space Center, Mississippi. The program was stopped in 2010 with the purpose of testing engines in conditions similar to deep space. However, it soon became apparent that NASA would not be needing it anymore.
The tower was part of the Constellation Program for the purpose of making another landing on the moon. It is a 30 stories high vacuum chamber intended to test J-2x engines. These are the engines that were designed to propel astronauts’ spacecraft once they are outside of the earth’s atmosphere to wherever their intended destination may be.
The J-2X engines are not part of any of NASA’s future plans. There’s no application for it in any of NASA’s incoming projects. It will will be a monument of useless spending just like several other NASA projects in the past.
So why was the tower completed when it had no more use? The explanation lies in the maze of NASA’s systems. NASA officials did not have the exclusive power to discontinue the programs right there and then. What happened after the cancellation was that Mississippi senator, Roger Wicker, passed a bill to continue with the project which was then approved by congress. How did it happen, Sen. Wicker has the answer.
NASA has a giant white elephant staring down on them which had no use and yet needs to be maintained to the tune of $700,000 annually. “Just talented legislating.” That was Sen. Wicker’s answer when he was interviewed by Washing Post for why the project was continued despite of its termination.