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$350 million NASA project to be completed, then mothballed because of lack of need...

 Sky-High costs: The A-3 tower at Stennis Space Center is designed to test how rocket engines operate at altitudes of up to 100,000 feet. Although NASA is compelled to complete the $350 million project, the tower will be mothballed. (Nasa)

Sky-High costs: The A-3 tower at Stennis Space Center is designed to test how rocket engines operate at altitudes of up to 100,000 feet. Although NASA is compelled to complete the $350 million project, the tower will be mothballed. (Nasa)

(The Washington Times) -- NASA is supposed to build machines that launch into space, not structures that stay grounded on Earth and send spending into the stratosphere.

But that is exactly what is happening this year as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration completes the $350 million rocket-engine testing A-3 tower at its research facility in Mississippi. There is just one problem: The space exploration agency doesn’t want it.

Instead, NASA is forced to complete the project — which now won’t be put to use — because of legislation handed down from Congress in what critics say is a classic example of earmarking.

“Because the Constellation Program was cancelled in 2010 the A-3’s unique testing capabilities will not be needed and the stand will be mothballed upon completion,” NASA’s internal watchdog, the inspector general, said this month.

Bloomberg News, which first reported the issue this week, called the structure “an example of how U.S. lawmakers thwart efforts to cut costs and eliminate government waste, even as they criticize agencies for failing to do so.”

NASA does not expect to use the tower after construction but is compelled by legislation from Sen. Roger F. Wicker, Mississippi Republican, who wants to ensure the project is completed. Read more via The Washington Times...

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