Good idea, bad idea...

I have always been a huge supporter of NASA. I think the idea of going into space is, in a word, awesome. There are countless things we can learn about our world and our place in the universe by venturing beyond the boundaries of our own atmosphere.

Take, for example, the recent NASA initiative to launch a specialized research platform into orbit -- the Orbiting Carbon Observatory was designed to monitor greenhouse effects in the atmosphere in an attempt to learn more about the process and, hopefully, how we can curb the negative properties of the greenhouse effect.

Awesome, right? Right.

Except it fell into the sea.

Yes, you read that right.

You know, I really want to give these guys a lot of rope. They're the people that put men on the moon, for goodness' sake. They've charted far-off galaxies by sticking a huge telescope in orbit; they have pushed back the boundaries of scientific exploration farther than our parents could ever have imagined. Clearly, these are some of humanity's greatest minds.

So why can't they make things work the way they're supposed to?

Challenger. Columbia. The Mars rover. And now this. Two exploded shuttles and a handful of dead astronauts, a robot that journeyed millions of miles just to smash into a planet, and a $256M orbital platform that now resides at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

Like I said, I'm all about finding new and innovative research methods to help us understand our planet better. But I can't help but think that $256M might have been better spent elsewhere. If you're going to invest that kind of money into a project it would help if the project was a success.

NASA -- get it together!

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