More Emphasis Needed on Aeronautics

NASA’s funding for aeronautics research has been in significant decline since the 1990s, a trend that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, said he’d like to see reversed since the agency still has a lot of expertise in this area. “This doesn’t seem to be an issue of partisan politics, it’s just that it’s been in decline,” Griffin told reporters during a Jan. 13 meeting in Washington, D.C., that the Space Foundation sponsored. While some critics have referred to aeronautics as a “sunset industry,” Griffin doesn’t agree. Despite the funding declines, NASA still is playing a significant role in advancing the state of the art of efficient wing-body air vehicle designs, hypersonics, silent propulsions systems, and advanced air traffic management, he said. A great deal of collaboration is already taking place between the Air Force and NASA in the realm of hypersonic propulsion research, he noted.