Speed Reads

Really?

NASA built a $349 million tower only to shut it down before it was ever used

The Washington Post reports that NASA finished a $349 million construction project in Mississippi this summer — but after the tower was built, it was immediately shut down.

In NASA terms, the project, officially called the A-3 test stand, was "mothballed" — a.k.a., closed permanently, without ever being used. The reason for its demise? As the Post puts it, the tower was "useless." NASA will now spend $700,000 a year to maintain the tower in disuse.

The tower was intended to test the rocket engines for NASA's Constellation program, which President Obama announced he wanted to cancel in 2010. But NASA still finished the construction, which eventually cost $349 million in all. According to the Post, the project represents NASA's failure as a "big bureaucracy" with a fading mission, and the tower is NASA's "monument to its own institutional drift."

NASA originally estimated that the tower would cost $119 million, and it would be completed in 2010. But even when the estimate increased to $163 million, and then $185 million, NASA didn't cancel the project. Read more about the failure of the A-3 test stand over at The Washington Post.