When NASA wouldn't talk to Henry Ivers of Swampscott about his revolutionary method of powering spaceships to the stars, he sued.
In a ruling this week, US District Court Judge William Young dismissed Ivers's self-filed request that he force NASA to at least acknowledge his plans. Young said Ivers had no "standing" to bring the suit, because it's the sort that would have required the government to allow itself to be sued and, as a local assistant US Attorney wrote after conferring with NASA, no such permission has been granted.
Young said he was dismissing the case based strictly on legal grounds, certainly not on any scientific review of Ivers's proposal, in which Ivers claims that the use of electricity generated by solar cells and something about revolving and rotating instead of pushing and pulling (Ed. note: Damn it, Jim, I'm a reporter, not a rocket scientist) could replace the chemical rockets NASA has largely relied on to this point to move things from Earth orbit elsewhere.
Ivers unsuccessfully argued that the 1958 act that created NASA required the agency to, if not boldly go where no one has gone before, at least contribute to "the expansion of human knowledge in the atmosphere and space," and that few things could better lead to that than a trans-stellar drive and that by not even acknowleding his plans, the agency was placing an alleged "not invented here" philosophy above its own stated reason for being.
The US Attorney's office responded:
Simply put, Plaintiff cannot sue NASA merely for declining to take actions that, in his view, might help further its mission. Although the text of NASA’s enabling statute sets forth broad and high-minded objectives, it does not remotely authorize claims against the agency for failing to fulfill those objectives.
Even if the government consented to be sued, which it hadn't, Ivers has no case because the 1958 act does not require it to accept anything that comes over its virtual transom, "let alone a clear nondiscretionary duty to evaluate [Ivers's] propulsion technology," the US Attorney's office added.
Iver's description of his revolutionary propulsion system (2.2M PDF).