Banishing fear from NASA’s vocabulary

As the launch of the James Webb Telescope nears, the November 2021 issue you devoted to the mission shows how much has changed in the years since Apollo. We began the adventure into space with the vision of President John Kennedy who urged us on with a drive to do things  “not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept … ” These are not words of caution and timidity. Yet your excellent graphic of the Webb mission has “A fortnight of fear…” as its headline. If the mission team is gripped by fear over this mission, how will they react when we send humans back to the moon and beyond? Should the team be alert, a bit nervous and intently watching to ensure mission success — sure! But fear has no place in this venture — or at least it should not. Let’s restore the NASA culture of preparation, agile thinking and resolve and banish fear from the mix.

Gary O’Neill

AIAA senior member

Marietta, Georgia


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Banishing fear from NASA’s vocabulary