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Obama's Impending NASA Decisions

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the in-space-no-one-can-hear-you-run-out-of-money dept.

NASA 405

eldavojohn writes "From delaying Project Constellation to an additional $2 billion in funding, Space.com looks at some immediate decisions the President Elect will have to make once he takes office in January. The biggest one will be the shuttle plan: do we retire the shuttle fleet or keep it on for more missions? If it is retired, we would have to rely on another country to bring our astronauts into space between 2010 and 2015 as a new fleet is built. Will Obama hold true on his $2 billion pledge to NASA?"

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First (5, Insightful)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761035)

I hope Obama holds up to his $2 billion offer. I know there are other problems facing the USA but space exploration is not something we should ever stop.

Re:First (5, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761223)

Someone else made a good point about this Obama thing, that you can't just "push back" the date 5 years when you cut funding. Because after those 5 years, you can't just call up all the guys you laid off and say "hey we want you back!" and expect them to drop their job and reform the exact development team you had going before you did the budget cuts. These teams take 5-10 years to form and get on the ground running. You either keep up the funding or push the moon plans back 15 years. There is no 5.

Re:First (-1, Troll)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761653)

This happens all the time in the private sector -- you know, that part of the economy that actually creates value.

Enough with the state run crap. Take your plans for 5-10 years of white collar welfare and go fertilize a tree.

Murphy's Choice (1)

locster (1140121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761055)

Mr President, the rock or the hard place?

Re:Murphy's Choice (-1, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761463)

This President [wikipedia.org] is between a rock [wikipedia.org] and a hard place [wikipedia.org] .

For those of you who don't trust wikipedia, here are alternate links:

This President [wikia.com] is between a rock [wikia.com] and a hard place [wikia.com] .

I love the space program but ... (3, Insightful)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761057)

we are flat broke. Kill the shuttle already.

Re:I love the space program but ... (2)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761125)

Is it that hard to ask the russians or a private company to get your astronauts down?

What do the astronauts do anyway? I mean I'm all for space exploration, probes, etc, but do the astronauts do anything that cant be automated or done on earth?

Re:I love the space program but ... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761149)

but do the astronauts do anything that cant be automated or done on earth?

I'm sure the same can be said of your job...

:-)

Re:I love the space program but ... (1)

2short (466733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761895)

Don't know about him, but my job can definitely be done on Earth, which means there is not much need to automate it.

Do the astronauts do anything that can't be done better and cheaper by staying on Earth operating a remote device? No.

Re:I love the space program but ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761227)

somebody has to monitor the ants, while we determine if they can be trained to sort screws in a zero gravity environment.

Re:I love the space program but ... (5, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761391)

Is it that hard to ask the russians or a private company to get your astronauts down?

To get them down, as in from a crippled Shuttle? Yes, it is.

A Shuttle crew is typically seven astronauts. Soyuz carries three. Launching with only a pilot, that's room for two rescued astronauts. To evacuate a Shuttle would need four Soyuz launches, in quick succession. And that's if and only if the Shuttle is in an orbit that the Russians can reach; Florida is a better launch site than Kazakhstan, receiving more of a boost from the Earth's rotation. And if the Russians can arrange for four rockets and four capsules to be ready to go before the Shuttle's air runs out. That's one hell of a tall order. Given a blank cheque, they might try to do it, but it would be such a rush job you'd likely end up with even more crippled spacecraft in orbit.

As for private enterprise? No chance. No private enterprise has ever launched a person into orbit. SpaceShip One was a major achievement for them, but didn't even reach Alan Shepard levels of spaceflight; a Gagarin is far beyond them.

This is why the last Hubble repair mission was a worry, and why a second orbiter was readied for launch if rescue were needed. If that Shuttle had taken Columbia-style damage on launch, it wouldn't have been safe to return to Earth, and it wouldn't have been able (from that orbit) to reach the space station either. The astronauts would have been be in deep trouble.

If you mean could the government write a cheque to a private firm to build them a spacecraft, yes, they could. I'm not convinced, however, that a private contractor would be much better than NASA - the same political demands would be placed upon them, and the chief advantage of a free market, competition leading to efficiency gains and low cost, is lost in a market consisting of one customer who makes one colossal order every few decades. NASA contracts out the actual building to private enterprise anyway, firms like Boeing and Lockheed Martin and Morton Thiokol.

And yes, they could buy Soyuz capsules as needed, and even engage the Russians to develop them an entire spaceflight system. That's what they did post-Columbia when the Shuttles were grounded. They'd probably get entirely acceptable results at a very low cost. US governments don't like to buy foreign hardware if they can avoid it, though - taxpayers don't like to see their money leaving the country. They prefer to distribute the pork to firms in crucial swing states.

What about Falcon? (1)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761531)

Then the money would be going to a US firm

Re:I love the space program but ... (3, Informative)

Robocoastie (777066) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761583)

speaking as a veteran military supply officer you'd be amazed at how many parts come from overseas in the military - especially from France.

Re:I love the space program but ... (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761851)

When I served in the Navy, I was often amused at how everything we got in boot camp was "Made in USA", but often produced in Saipan where minimum wage laws didn't apply. Not exactly helping the home economy.

Re:I love the space program but ... (2, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761625)

Except for the Hubble, I think that all future Shuttle missions will be in the ISS orbit. Then there are possibilities, since all you have to do is get them to the ISS, not down, during the emergency. The Soyuz TMA attached to the ISS might have enough delta-v to do that.

Of course, if we really ever wanted to have a space station that was a help for deep space travel, we need one in an equatorial orbit or at least a Florida inclination orbit. The ISS is just in the wrong orbit to serve as a way station to the Moon or Mars or anywhere else outbound.

Re:I love the space program but ... (5, Informative)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761729)

As for private enterprise? No chance. No private enterprise has ever launched a person into orbit. SpaceShip One was a major achievement for them, but didn't even reach Alan Shepard levels of spaceflight; a Gagarin is far beyond them.

Is there a reason you're mentioning SpaceShip One (which was never designed for orbital capability) while ignoring Falcon (which was)? Granted, Falcon didn't carry any people, but a claim that this capability "is far beyond them" is ridiculously false. Dragon [spacex.com] should be ready to go by the time the shuttle retires.

If you mean could the government write a cheque to a private firm to build them a spacecraft, yes, they could.

And they already did. You seem to be treating an ongoing program, started years ago, as if it's a hypothetical...

Re:I love the space program but ... (2, Insightful)

pentalive (449155) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761747)

What is the point of sending robots if we are never going to go ourselves.

The point of the shuttle and ISS and all other maned space is to prove, and improve systems for taking people places in space.

A better idea (-1, Troll)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761573)

Stop spending money on invading other countries and blowing up brown people.

Re:I love the space program but ... (4, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761599)

This year's NASA budget [wikipedia.org] was $17.318 billion. Meanwhile, the military got $515.4 Billion. [wikipedia.org]

One year's military budget would fund NASA for three decades. I think your priorities are as badly misplaced as our government's.

Meanwhile, we could do a lot of other things to balance the budget - like ending corporate welfare.

Space is the place, but no money honey (0)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761605)

I've been saying this every time that this topic comes up on here on Slashdot. America is broke and has been borrowing tons of money from other countries to give itself the illusion that it is rich. Meanwhile, the people have been pissing away all the money that they have been able to weasel out of the banks on dumbshit, feel-good things like BFTs (built for towing, big f**king trucks), SUVs, trips to Disneyland, and liberal-arts college degrees.

    When Americans went to the moon to play golf, they owned the world. Now the world owns them.

    I'm not saying that the Spam-In-A-Can manned space program is finished, I'm saying that it will be suspended for about 100 years or so until the problems of over-population, oil-depletion (energy type conversion), and the aftermath of the Bretton Woods financial system collapse have been addressed.

Re:I love the space program but ... (2, Funny)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761707)

Bullshit! We can still go to the moon if we outsource the work.

Re:I love the space program but ... (2, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761805)

If you're nearly broke, which is going to be more effective, returning the $10,000 HDTV, or returning the $50 clock radio? Obviously cutting back on the big ticket items is going to be most effective. So why not cut your big ticket military spending instead? America has the largest military budget on the planet. It is larger than the next fifteen largest combined (twelve of which are US allies). Cutting back the military by a mere 1% would pretty much pay for NASA.

The bigger question... (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761065)

...and one which is related to, but transcends, politics, is:

How can any grand initiative that takes longer than eight -- or four -- years to implement ever again be achieved?

Re:The bigger question... (5, Funny)

WatersOfOblivion (1215490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761103)

Barack Obama '08 Barack Obama '12 Michelle Obama '16 Michelle Obama '20

Re:The bigger question... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761333)

Your an idiot!

Re:The bigger question... (5, Funny)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761455)

and evidently you have no comprehension of contractions.

Re:The bigger question... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761467)

Your an idiot! Wow. Touché.

Re:The bigger question... (3, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761445)

Barack Obama '08 Barack Obama '12 Michelle Obama '16 Michelle Obama '20

I think you've mistaken the Obama family for the Clinton and/or Bush family ;)

Re:The bigger question... (1)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761491)

Too bad the kids wouldn't be eligible yet after 2020, I'd like to start a whole dynasty going.

Re:The bigger question... (2, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761215)

How can any grand initiative that takes longer than eight -- or four -- years to implement ever again be achieved?

By the Chinese. Or, as happened last time around, by the Americans, spurred into action by the idea that if they didn't, somebody else might.

Re:The bigger question... (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761295)

The ISS was started under Reagan, went "I" (International) under Clinton, and has largely been finished under Bush II. That's a lot longer than 8 years.

Going international really helps keep large science projects going, once you get over the initial barrier of getting a bunch of countries on-board. In my own personal connection to this, I actually said as much to the then Vice President when I had a chance to talk to him about the Space Station in 1993. I have no idea if my pitch influenced government policy, but I would make basically the same pitch today.

Re:The bigger question... (1, Funny)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761329)

Free Market Economy!

Re:The bigger question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761357)

...and one which is related to, but transcends, politics, is:

How can any grand initiative that takes longer than eight -- or four -- years to implement ever again be achieved?

You mean, like a war in Iraq?

Well, one man's "grand initiative" is another man's "hilarious debacle."

Re:The bigger question... (1)

sckeener (137243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761381)

It has been pioneered for decades that if you don't like an agency just cut the funding. The politicians even can say they are for the agency and then cut the funding or increasing the paper work...that is what needs to stop.

What I would do is judge certain agencies vital to the country

and

Guarantee a baseline budget that is adjusted for inflation for each agency. Basically let it be known that we are not going to go below X amount, but you may not get more. Give possible ways they can earn more such as the CDC reducing infections of X STD. Let the agencies manage their business.

otherwise they will just cut funding or increase the needed paperwork to make it unworkable. When Bush was Governor he increased the paperwork to get medicare for kids. Basically it required that the parents go to two places and fill out forms to get the benefits for their kids. Needless to say not everyone did it and kids that should have had health coverage didn't. Bush's 5 billion for AIDS in Africa didn't work because it was a shell game with strings attached. There was already money going to Africa that was just diverted for AIDS...however the new wording for the money said that family planning could not happen at the same clinic...Places in Africa were lucky to even have one clinic and Bush wanted them to build two just to receive money.

NASA is currently operating at 1/16 the budget of the Apollo mission days. How much leaner can it get and still do any meaningful research? Personally I think the Mars missions sound great, but it was another shell game that was played where science had to take a hit for it. Cut many projects just to put someone on Mars decades hence is bad for science now.

Re:The bigger question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761701)

...and one which is related to, but transcends, politics, is:

How can any grand initiative that takes longer than eight -- or four -- years to implement ever again be achieved?

That's modded insightful? Name one thing that was planned to last longer than 4 or 8 years that was cut short by an opposing party becoming president.

How long has Social Security lasted?

You're a fool if you think that when a president of differing opinion gets into office, they simply cut everything the prior president had going.

Just NASA? (3, Insightful)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761073)

NASA decisions are a very small part of the issue. The question should be, will the new president choose to continue deficit spending at a time when tax revenues will be shrinking and the number of national debt dollars exceeds the number of stars in the known universe?

Re:Just NASA? (2, Interesting)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761109)

....or instead will he kill of entitlement programs and force government agencies to justify their budgets and FINALLY kill the asinine concept of FORCING an agency to spend all of their current year budget in order to justify their next years budget.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Just NASA? (4, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761539)

There is a problem with not expecting a budget to be spent. First is that under the current law, the government has to spend the money or give it back to the people. This mean that outside of some rainy day fund that the Feds have never bothers creating but states do, that excess revenue will have to be spent.

The second problem is in accounting. If they can't justify using less of their budget then their budget should be less. It really is that simple. If you ask for 10 million dollars and only spend 5, you have wasted the ability to either use that other 5 million or for some other department to effectivly use it. Then there is the issue of public trust, if agencies are purposely over funded to a point of surplus revenue, how do you expect to justify tax rates and collections?

The problem isn't with the laws, it is with the greedy department heads who think that wasting 20% of a budget that wasn't needed is appropriate just so they can hoard the same amounts the next year. My local school system used to have this problem of budget burning and we actually made a law declaring it a felony. All this did was cause the schools to waste money in other ways and now they claim they need levies and so on but the people don't trust them enough to pass them. Now I don't want to seem like I'm picking on schools, it's just that in my area, we actually attempted to address the budget problem with less then desirable results. Now there is some screwed up scheme where the state takes the property taxes that would go to schools normally and then gives it back at the end of the year in order to redistribute it to poorer districts where people moved away from for various reasons.

Unless you can say X happened that won't happen next year, then if you have a surplus in the budget, your budget is too big. It needs to be cut next year. X could be a number of things like some stage of something failed so the later portions of development wasn't spent or maybe something like, Y had a closeout sale and parts or supplies were obtained at 25% of normal costs but they are out of business now. There are a number of things like falling gas prices during on quarter or the lack of snow one year or whatever. The costs need to be justified and burning budgets should be a felony that disqualifies people from positions of public trust ever again. The people deserve a fair accounting of their money and a sense of it not being wasted because some department head is greedy or too ignorant to justify why they had a surplus that won't be the same case next year.

Re:Just NASA? (2, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761655)

Yeah, good luck getting funding for NASA after you tell people they're not going to ever see their social security money, because they make too much--or after you tell them that grandma's medicare funding is going to be cut off. The voters will be breaking out the pitchforks and torches long before you ever get to the NASA part.

Re:Just NASA? (2, Informative)

locster (1140121) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761175)

I don't think US national debt is anywhere near $10^22 just yet.

Re:Just NASA? (1)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761263)

Wait for the inflation adjustment.

Re:Just NASA? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761417)

Inflation, by shrinking the nominal cost of labor, lowers debt burden.

This is why central banks scheme to cause low levels of inflation.

Re:Just NASA? (-1, Offtopic)

Facetious (710885) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761585)

Let's examine this conversation. Facetious (me) makes a little joke about the size of the national debt. Humor challenged individual 1 points out fallacy of said joke. Facetious makes second joke to justify first joke. Humor challenged individual 2 (you) points out fallacy of second joke. By induction, I declare all little jokes to be followed by humor challenged replies.

Re:Just NASA? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761641)

Does it happen often that 'humor challenged' individuals fail to get your 'jokes'?

Re:Just NASA? (1)

homer_s (799572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761629)

This is why central banks scheme to cause low levels of inflation.

On the contrary, the only thing central banks do is cause high levels of inflation to facilitate govt. spending. The more honest ones claim that they have the analysts and systems to accurately know how much money to create. If that sort of thing was possible, then Soviet Russia would've been a great success.

Re:Just NASA? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761753)

I guess I could have said "have a stated policy of scheming...".

I'm not really all that certain that a government should be completely non-interventionist (comparing any sort of centralized system to Russia seems to indicate a non-intervention stance). On the other hand, given that I think inflation will be rampant in the U.S. over the next 10 years, I can't really claim that I think the Fed is doing a good job at the moment.

Re:Just NASA? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761371)

Of course he's going to continue deficit spending. Only Ron Paul-level spending cuts or .com psuedo prosperity could prevent it. Oh, and congress, not the president, is in charge of the budget (you might remember that 700 billion financial bailout. Or if not, pay attention next week to the auto bailout.)

Re:Just NASA? (1)

Delwin (599872) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761397)

... or will he follow sound economic policy. You know, the one that notes that you get deflation in a recession so you need to print more money to combat this?

Re:Just NASA? (2, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761441)

We are in a recession. I certainly hope he continues deficit spending at least for the near term.

The last President to cut spending because of hard economic times was named Hoover, and it didn't go so well for him.

Re:Just NASA? (5, Interesting)

techess (1322623) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761487)

Don't forget NASA is one industry that puts a lot of money back into the US economy. Due to export controls and ITAR restrictions nearly every man hour is paid to a U.S. Citizen and nearly every part is built here. NASA farms out quite a bit of work to Universities so the next crop of engineers actually gets hands on experience in building equipment.

At a seminar I was at one NASA employee said that it takes over seven years after a student graduates before they are fully beneficial to the NASA program. If the student had hands on experience that number can be reduced to below three years. Many NASA employees are nearing retirement age and there already is a problem finding replacements. If you cut money now NASA won't/can't hire new employees to be trained by experienced personnel, Universities won't be able to fund new space projects so the students will not be fully prepared or trained to take over jobs once funding is returned, and those that are looking for jobs now will most likely go into private industry where their innovations and ideas will become the property of their employer and be lost to public enterprise.

So I'm for our government pouring money into NASA and rewarding a group that has been highly successful (recently). Why should they just be dumping money into failures (mortgage companies, banks, wallstreet, automotive).

Re:Just NASA? (-1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761761)

Hogwash.

NASA is not an "industry" and it certainly does not put "a lot of money back into the US economy."

"those that are looking for jobs now will most likely go into private industry where their innovations and ideas will become the property of their employer and be lost to public enterprise."

Yeah, that would be terrible if someone left government employment for the private sector...

Unimportant? (1)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761089)

How can you retire the shuttle fleet without replacement? Is it that unimportant to certain people? It's hard to imagine for me that there are people out there who are not inspired by NASA's endeavors.

Re:Unimportant? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761137)

How can we not not retire it? The shuttles are a huge money drain on NASA. If they were out of service NASA would have extra money to spend on more interesting things like developing better propulsion systems and better launch vehicles. Or better yet, let's let some of these budding space companies compete for building launch vehicles.

Re:Unimportant? (1)

Eddy Luten (1166889) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761245)

I guess so, yet in the mean time how do you continue space flight? There's nothing out there to replace the program, and the equipment up there requires frequent maintenance (Hubble, ISS, etc.).

Re:Unimportant? (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761665)

Why not fund them in parallel and just scale the shuttle missions back?

We can achieve all of the above with a sort of Compromise. I mean most of us can chew gum and walk at the same time. There is no guarantee that anything better will be made, the Shuttle was originally supposed to be cheap but by the time everything got into place and so on, we ended up with what we have at 10 times the original expected cost to operate. Even NASA's planned replacement isn't nearly as cost effective or capable as originally intended, and that is if they can get the bugs worked out. Last I heard, there were some serious bugs that made the entire project's justification questionable.

Re:Unimportant? (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761669)

How can you retire the shuttle fleet without replacement? Is it that unimportant to certain people? It's hard to imagine for me that there are people out there who are not inspired by NASA's endeavors.

I think you have it backwards. The important question to ask is how can we justify keeping the shuttle fleet around? Is inspiration really worth that many hundreds of millions of dollars? I'm not saying the space program needs to go away, unmanned missions have far more cost-benefit than manned missions.
What's wrong with taking a pause in continuing the expensive endeavour of putting folks in space until it becomes more economic? Take the budget for operations and invest it in better systems, and support development of spaceflight by private industry and you'll be better off in the long run.

Nope (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761105)

In this economy? No, I don't think he'll keep the funding promise. I think we just kicked the new age of human space exploration back to the curb, and we're going back to "better, faster, cheaper", with all small probes, all the time. As for the Shuttle, we should extend it's life (it'd be kind of stupid to depend on the Russians now), but I don't know if he will. He might very well decrease our commitment to the ISS, and basically punt to the Russians and the Europeans on it.

Re:Nope (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761221)

it'd be kind of stupid to depend on the Russians now

why exactly? as far as i know, for the last 6 years they have always delivered as they have promised.

Re:Nope (3, Informative)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761359)

Because our diplomatic relations with Russia have generally been getting worse. Many of their officials are hard-liners from the cold war era.

Re:Nope (1, Funny)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761405)

Because space stations and shuttles are kinda like submarines for space. And we know how well the Russians do with submarines.

Re:Nope (1, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761635)

His first act in terms of the military should be scrapping that stupid-ass missile defense system being built in Poland and the Czech Republic. There, now not only have you saved a ton of money on a pointless system that doesn't work, you also will remove one of the biggest causes of friction in the US-Russia relationship.

Re:Nope (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761827)

His first act in terms of the military should be scrapping that stupid-ass missile defense system being built in Poland and the Czech Republic. There, now not only have you saved a ton of money on a pointless system that doesn't work, you also will remove one of the biggest causes of friction in the US-Russia relationship.

Would you still think it was pointless if Iran gets nuclear weapons? They already have missiles that can reach Europe you know....

Space.com and the blank ad page (-1, Offtopic)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761111)

I wish Space.com would fix the blank advertising page that comes up before every story. I don't mind advertising too much, but to click through an ad page with no ads is annoying.

Re:Space.com and the blank ad page (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761393)

I wish Space.com would fix the blank advertising page that comes up before every story. I don't mind advertising too much, but to click through an ad page with no ads is annoying.

Stop using AdBlock then :P

I expect him to be as keep his NASA pledge... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761115)

I expect him to be as keep his NASA pledge as much as he kept his stance against telecom immunity and his pledge not to exceed public financing limits.

In other words, not at all.

He's a politician. I've never known a politician to follow through with their campaign promises.

Re:I expect him to be as keep his NASA pledge... (-1, Flamebait)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761361)

He's a politician. I've never known a politician to follow through with their campaign promises.

And, of course, since I'm not a politician, I always keep my promises.

There's nothing like a good generalisation, and yours was certainly nothing like a good generalisation.

Re:I expect him to be as keep his NASA pledge... (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761871)

There's one thing we know for sure we can count on, and that's change. We can all expect quite a bit of changes in his positions now that he doesn't have to win votes for a few years.

Continuing to use the shuttle? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761119)

We're considering continuing to use a vehicle that has a failure rate of 1-2% per flight? In the words of Invader Zim -- Have you the brain worms?! No, if the President wants space flight he needs to pony up on a vehicle that does more than act as an ashtray that seats seven. Honestly, given the current economic outlook, the United States needs to start looking at partnerships with other countries and pooling our resources collectively. Our space flight program is a national icon, but I think we proved that we can do it... Now the question is whether we can play well with others too.

Re:Continuing to use the shuttle? (4, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761261)

"We're considering continuing to use a vehicle that has a failure rate of 1-2% per flight?"

Just a reminder, the NASA space shuttle program is one of the most successful long term space programs ever. Remember - this IS rocket science. Seriously, look up some of the other space programs and you'll see some spectacular failures with nowhere near as many successes over the span of decades. The space shuttle program is an enormous success.

Re:Continuing to use the shuttle? (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761315)

Yes, and the management of it has been a classic example of how Not To Do It.

Re:Continuing to use the shuttle? (2, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761423)

The expected Apollo loss rate was 1 in 25, or 4%. The Soyuz loss rate has been 2 out of 100, or 2%.

Having said that, the Russians are very sensible in running basically the same spacecraft for decades. Once you get the bugs out, spacecraft (like any engineering) is a lot more reliable, and the Soyuz has had 90 successful missions in a row. (I am counting success here as the crew survived - obviously, not all of these missions did everything they were supposed to do.)

Re:Continuing to use the shuttle? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761465)

Or the public needs to adjust their mindset. Individual lives are worth a great deal to individuals, but as a society, we could burn hundreds of thousands of people a year trying to launch them into space and hardly notice. It would probably pay not to invest quite so heavily in those individuals.

Note that we currently burn tens of thousands of people a year driving around in cars, essentially unnoticed.

Obama's Decision? (5, Insightful)

Rayeth (1335201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761141)

Is any of this really up to Obama? Isn't it Congress that decides where money is spent? Pretty sure that I took Civics in 8th grade and the Executive branch doesn't control all the cash. Unless Bush has changed all that in the last 8 years?

Re:Obama's Decision? (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761411)

Is any of this really up to Obama? Isn't it Congress that decides where money is spent?

Shhhh, you'll spoil it! Next thing you'll be saying is that Obama can't wave a magic want and "change the world," or that his promises to tax the economy - especially the most successful parts of it - won't discourage people from risking their money and efforts in that way. Next you'll probably even say that calling a check you get from IRS, when you don't even pay income taxes, a "rebate" is a gratuitous lie. Why do you hate his supporters so much, that you bring up little issues like the fact that Nancy Pelosi has more to do with what NASA gets to spend than Obama does? You are mean.

Re:Obama's Decision? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761529)

Next you'll probably even say that calling a check you get from IRS, when you don't even pay income taxes, a "rebate" is a gratuitous lie

I must say that even as an occasionally liberal Democrat that this concept has always annoyed the hell out of me. Can I get a check from Uncle Sam just for working [wikipedia.org] ? And why do certain people get away without paying any income taxes anyway? Income taxes fund things that directly benefit all of us -- I wouldn't care if the lowest tax rate was a measly 1% -- as long as everybody was being asked to contribute something.

Re:Obama's Decision? (4, Interesting)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761503)

The President traditionally submits a budget to set the agenda. Of course, the congress is free to totally ignore it, but in practice the President generally provides a roadmap of what he wants to see.

That's why I blame Reagan for the runaway budget during his years, even though conservatives tend to blame the Democrat congress. Reagan didn't even *try* to submit smaller government budgets, and he certainly didn't do any veto threats.

Re:Obama's Decision? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761525)

The President is the ultimate authority on the budget. If he vetos it, Congress will have to start again. In result, bills are often a negotiation between Congress and the President. Which doesn't mean that Congress won't take a hard-line position and slam space funding through in exchange for other concessions, but it's far more likely that space funding will BE the concession.

Will he give NASA the $2 billion? Yes. (5, Informative)

Robotbeat (461248) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761189)

I think Obama will give NASA the $2 billion. It's a stimulus to the economy, something it badly needs. Now, I know that 90% of slashdot is libertarian, but Keynesian economics says that you do deficit spending in a recession. You both decrease taxes and increase spending, since the gov't can act as a employer of last resort (when everyone else is firing). There's no question that there's great waste when 10% of the population is unemployed (if that high unemploymentcomes to pass). You'll have millions of people not doing anything for the economy, just sitting at home and draining the government's social spending with nothing to show for it. The only way to quickly reduce that number is by government spending. No other way. He may even reverse Bush's decision to go to the Moon and instead go to Mars first. If he wants Florida in the bag in 2012, he probably will also extend the Shuttle for a couple years.

(Of course, the national debt will eventually overwhelm the tax base unless the flip-side of Keynesian economics is also followed: increase taxes and decrease spending during boom cycles.)

Re:Will he give NASA the $2 billion? Yes. (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761571)

The problem is that the U.S. federal government doesn't just do deficit spending during recessions. They do it during recessions, booms, middling periods, and every year in between. Deficit spending during a recession may indeed make sense, but turning it into the *norm* is the sure road to government bankruptcy and debtor nation status. And when the day comes when the U.S. can no longer get credit for the great national credit card and can no longer afford those growing interest payments, the collapse that will follow will make the current crisis look like a financial paradise.

Re:Will he give NASA the $2 billion? Yes. (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761581)

"He may even reverse Bush's decision to go to the Moon and instead go to Mars first. "

On my way to Mars I would still make a quick stop on Moon to grab some chips and Pepsi.

Plans to build a moon mosque with a commie flag... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761205)

...flying over it.

Michelle Malkin has the blueprints over at her website.

There is good news though.

The moon mosque's vistor's center will be using openoffice.

Global rethink and reset (3, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761211)

Our whole space program needs a general rethink. We have two big programs, flight to the Moon and Mars, that were started by Bush without a lot of thought, we have the ISS which is ready for experiments that we do not have money to fly - such as Samuel Ting's very interesting cosmic anti-matter detector [spaceref.com] , and we are canceling ready-to-go missions such as the SIM [wikipedia.org] planet finder to pay for new stuff that is frankly never likely to happen.

We do not have a coherent space program, and so we are wasting much of our money. Fixing this will not be easy, but it is very urgent in my opinion.

Re:Global rethink and reset (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761903)

Actually, the Mars mission was not started by Bush, it was pitched to Bush, but the genius behind it worked tirelessly to get his plan accepted. It's a beautiful plan, with the team producing their own jet fuel for the return trip, on Mars, and spending a significant amount of time there. They are sending 2 backup habitation and fuel modules so that the team can salvage parts.

So that the team doesn't get weak on the journey there, the craft will produce spin gravity, which you can conceptualize by imagining a weight, tethered to a tin can full of water. When you sling the can by the weight, the water stays in the can.

The plan has been in the works for a long time, Bush happened to think it was a good idea, or worth the PR, or something. It's one of the few decisions he ever made that I like, and approve of.

Hope for NASA (0, Flamebait)

HellYeahAutomaton (815542) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761241)

I, for one hope that we send as many Dems into space as possible. Sure, the upfront costs will be expensive, but the long term savings will be tremendous.

India has their space program ready just in time.. (2, Funny)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761251)

We're looking to outsource!

Re:India has their space program ready just in tim (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761311)

Yes, and their Moon mission is costing about 1/10th of what a similar NASA mission would cost. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea, but the lobbyists would hate it.

What exactly are we funding? (4, Insightful)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761389)

In the cold war NASA was bankrupting Russia and expressing USA's technical superiority... NASA's goals are much less interesting to many now - exploration, learning, and inspiring interest in understanding science and the unknown.

I love NASA and think it should be funded, but I'm a nerd... The cold war version of NASA was a lot easier for an entire nation to rally around and love.

Re:What exactly are we funding? (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761549)

The cold war version of NASA was a lot easier for an entire nation to rally around and love.

Well, if relations with Russia are any indication we might get back to that version of NASA in the next decade or so ;)

It's easy.... (1, Troll)

Qwrk (760868) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761435)

US$ 2 billion is a tag, that's LESS than ONE day of war in Iraq and Afghanistan..... An easy choice, I'd say.

/. Fails Civics 101 (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761535)

While Obama may view himself as a totalitarian dictator, the Old Republic has not been swept away to the extent that the President can just dump $2 billion in a government agency on a whim.

Eh (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761537)

The bankruptcy of the country aside, I'll start supporting NASA putting humans in space when NASA provides a path for normal citizens to go to space, such as myself. Right now, space travel in the United States is only for the annointed elite, and that's not the way it should be.

Shouldn't be that big of an issue (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761561)

Two billion out of two trillion per year in taxes (at current rates) isn't that big of an issue IMO. It's not just the exploration, but the additional research and innovation to solve complex out of the normal issues with space exploration.

Yes, spending is beyond revenue numbers, but I don't think this two billion would do the job to bring it down. Go look at streamlining health care or tax collection. And if there is a surplus, give me my money back.

What I would do (2, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761593)

Kill the shuttle and the ISS.

Take all that money and put it into robotic missions and space telescopes.

If a telescope needs work that only people can do, put some people on a rocket and have them work on it.

For all the money they want to piss away on a Mars mission, I'd send 100 robots.

for the money on the ISS, I'd put it into space telescopes or even one on the far side of the moon with lunar satellites for data transmission.

People in space has been and always will be a dumb idea. fun and glorious and all that crap, but still, vastly more expensive for less data.

RS

Kill off manned spaceflight (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761721)

It's dead and buried and serves no useful purpose other than demonstrating the practicality of yet more tests for manned spaceflight. Let's face reality - going back to the moon will never happen because the only practical use of it is to extend the science needed to go to Mars - which itself is not going to happen in this century. It's just not in the cards. And even if we managed to convince the people who think Jesus rode to church on dinosaur that THAT serves some purpose, it would take a hundred years to ramp up anyway. And last but not least - the age of manned spaceflight when hand in the glove with a notion of risk and adventurism. That too is dead. We live in a zero risk low impact let's put warning labels on the helmets we make everyone wear in the bathtub world now. No one's going to support sending people on a high risk mission like that and even if they did it would look like the religious driven babbling portrayed in the movie "Contact" when it was decided that the first person to step off to a new world had to be a Fundamentalist or at least pretend to be.

So let's kill off manned spaceflight once and for all.

Obama should fund NASA (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761725)

At least we will know where the money was spent and what it was spent on unlike the $700 billion bank bailout for the rich few.

Shuttle Launch tonight! (2, Informative)

Redbaran (918344) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761769)

Not really on topic, but there is a shuttle launch that is scheduled for tonight at 7:55pm EST, weather permitting. It should be especially neat because it is a night time launch. I live in north Florida and if the sky is clear enough, it's an awesome sight to see! I hate to think of the possibility that my generation could see the end of the space program, while my parents' generation saw the start of it. Make sure to check out some of the amazing picture of the shuttle at night: http://images.google.com/images?sa=N&tab=ni&q=night%20time%20shuttle%20launch [google.com]

Shut it down! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25761835)

There's nothing we can do that the Russians can't do better. They've been doing it longer, cheaper, and with less crew lost.

Why develop your own sub-par project when you can buy access to someone else's successful project for less than your development costs?

Re:Shut it down! (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761897)

"There's nothing we can do that the Russians can't do better. They've been doing it longer, cheaper, and with less crew lost."

Unless it is Russian Navy Submarines we are talking about!

Kill the Shuttle before - NASA build payloads (1)

J05H (5625) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761845)

Fly the ISS, Moon and Mars payloads on Delta, Atlas, Falcon, SeaLaunch, Proton, Soyuz. NASA should build/contract the deep-space components and fly on existing rockets.

No proposed Lunar payload is heavier than Delta IV-Heavy can launch, assuming a dry payload fueled in orbit. Heavy lift is only needed if the requirement is to fly a packed, fully-fueled vehicle from the ground and we'll still need to do orbital propellant-transfer and assembly for Mars.

This should be easy for him. (2, Interesting)

FatherOfONe (515801) | more than 5 years ago | (#25761893)

Lets see he is going to give 95% of Americans a tax break.
Keep spending under control.
Try and provide socialized medicine.
Continue to vote to bailout private organizations. Well only those that he feels should be bailed out.

What's 2 Billion dollars for NASA? Given the 1.7 TRILLION in Entitlement programs that the U.S.A currently has. Anyone want to take a bet that Entitlements will go up next year also? How about the debt?

Given the above situation I am sure he shouldn't have any issues getting an extra few Billion for a space program.

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