NASA Spent Millions on a Tower They'll Never Use

Dec 18, 2014 05:25 AM EST | Matt Mercuro

Six months ago, NASA completed a brand new $349 million vacuum test chamber. The problem is the space program it was built for was cancelled years ago.

The huge structure, designed and built in Mississippi, is now seen as a giant waste of government money.

"You lock the door, so nobody gets in and hurts themselves," project manager Daniel Dumbacher said to the Washington Post.

NASA was aware that the tower would go unused after its associated spaceflight program was canceled in 2010.  The Senate, spurred by Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker, voted to keep the money rolling anyway so construction on A-3 continued.

In 2004, NASA had Constellation, an initiative designed to send humans back to the moon and eventually to Mars. But Constellation was canceled in 2010, replaced by a plan that starts by sending humans to an asteroid.

 "When it comes down to their pork, they're always going to defend it," space policy expert Rand Simberg told Bloomberg

David Forshee, a pipe fitter's foreman on the project, was able to sum things up a little more simply.

 "That's a lot of people's hard-earned money," he began. Forshee had another question for anyone who would listen. "What the hell are they doing?"

The A-3 test stand, designed specifically to test a rocket engine that would ignite after leaving the Earth's atmosphere and take a spacecraft to the moon is now being wasted. There's no current plans to go to the moon, meaning there is no plans to use the rocket anytime soon, according to The Post.

The Post reported that the total cost of maintenance on the monstrosity will set tax payers back $700,000 yearly.

 "It's heartbreaking," Forshee added. "You thought you'd done something good, all you've done is go around in a damn circle, like a dog chasing his tail."

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