New Mexico’s Other Space Boondoggle


Earlier this week, an “experimental rocket being tested by the U.S. Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office, based at Kirtland Air Force Base, blew up just seconds into its debut mission.”

The ORS office has been deeply troubled since its start. Politics, delays and turf battles have been the norm. The failed launch of the “Super Strypi rocket, based on designs developed by Sandia National Laboratories as part of nuclear testing programs dating back to the 1960s,” took place more than two years behind schedule. Since February 2012, the Air Force has wanted to shut ORS down, and transfer its duties to the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles.

Uh oh — that means job losses in New Mexico. And the Land of Enchantment’s fedpols can’t have that. ORS has been the congressional delegation’s baby since 2007. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman lobbied heavily to bring it to Kirtland, and more recently, Martin Heinrich has walked point on preserving ORS. Earlier this year, he called it “a program that makes perfect sense from both the monetary and military perspective.”

Please. In a battle between an executive-branch department and and reelection-minded politicians, it’s usually wise to go with the bureaucrats. ORS has an unimpressive record, and if the Pentagon wants to make a change, it should have the flexibility to do so.