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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the to-infinity-and-maybe-not dept.

Space 870

HanzoSpam sends us this story from Space News, which begins: "US President-elect Barack Obama's NASA transition team is asking US space agency officials to quantify how much money could be saved by canceling the Ares 1 rocket and scaling back the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle next year. ... The questionnaire, 'NASA Presidential Transition Team Requests for Information,' asks agency officials to provide the latest information on Ares 1, Orion and the planned Ares 5 heavy-lift cargo launcher, and to calculate the near-term close-out costs and longer-term savings associated with canceling those programs. The questionnaire also contemplates a scenario where Ares 1 would be canceled but development of the Ares 5 would continue. While the questionnaire, a copy of which was obtained by Space News, also asks NASA to provide a cost estimate for accelerating the first operational flight of Ares 1 and Orion from the current target date of March 2015 to as soon as 2013, NASA was not asked to study the cost implications of canceling any of its other programs, including the significantly overbudget 2009 Mars Science Laboratory or the James Webb Space Telescope."

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Cut taxes, then (1, Insightful)

ohxten (1248800) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924633)

Let's cut taxes and reduce spending elsewhere, too!

Smaller government FTW.

Re:Cut taxes, then (2, Insightful)

qmaqdk (522323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924663)

Let's cut taxes and reduce spending elsewhere, too!

Smaller government FTW.

Is that you, Milton? :)

Thank goodness (1, Interesting)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924697)

These programs are the SDI of Nasa, although SDI turned out to be useful strategically. Basically the money for these programs would be pork. Why not give it to the NIH and the NSF ?

Re:Thank goodness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924739)

but at least with SDI we didn't trash our existing defenses and then kill it - this is a bad idea

Re:Thank goodness (4, Interesting)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925125)

I'm a huge fan and proponent of robotic exploration of the solar system. NASA, JPL, the aerospace contractors and their partners in universities across the world have done an amazing job with comparitively tiny sums of money. Alan Stern (the head of NASA's Space Science Directorate who resigned when his plan to make visible the pain caused by the massive cost over-runs on MSL by shutting down the Spirit MER rover was overruled by higher-ups) has recently pointed out that routine cost overruns are crippling NASA [nytimes.com] . Ares and Orion show every sign of following this trend, and for what? To keep alive the fallacious dream that seems rather too popular that Star Trek is a plan for future space exploration, rather than an entirely traditional drama turned to SF by the addition of magic impulse drive / dilithium crystal devices. When we've done a robotic Mars sample return, which although fiendishly hard to accomplish is infinitely more practical than doing a manned mission), let's talk about Moonbase Alpha or whatever. (And whilst we're at it, for god's sake abandon the ISS, the most expensive white elephant ever to wreck astronomical observations.)

Re:Cut taxes, then (4, Insightful)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924713)

I'd rather see them simply reduce spending and pay off the national debt.

Re:Cut taxes, then (4, Insightful)

s_p_oneil (795792) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924835)

I second this. IMO, the only way to significantly put a dent in the budget would be to cut back on defense spending.

Re:Cut taxes, then (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924987)

I second this. IMO, the only way to significantly put a dent in the budget would be to cut back on defense spending.

Did you read that on a bumper sticker?

Re:Cut taxes, then (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25925063)

I read it on your moms ass as I plowed that slit.

Re:Cut taxes, then (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25925169)

IMO, the only way to significantly put a dent in the budget would be to cut back on gratuitous spending, period.

You know, the dole out's in the millions of dollars to study stupid shit like environmental studies for running a highway through a congressman's swamp property.

And who came up with this harebrained scheme to give my tax dollars to Joe Crackhead and Janet Babymachine?

But congress will never pass the line item veto or adopt a ban on earmarks. Never that is, until we have an armed uprising.

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

Re:Cut taxes, then (5, Insightful)

INT_QRK (1043164) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924733)

The Obama team may be exercising due diligence in looking across the board for cost savings. I hope that this is the case, and that they are not focusing on cutting investment in space exploration. That would be egregiously short sighted. I would recommend looking strongly at assessing the real mission needs for high cost "bleeding-edge" defense programs such as the Future Combat System (FCS), F-22, and F-35, in favor of re-capitalizing with incremental improvements to exiting proven systems. Attacking inefficiencies is the a better first approach over cutting back on science as well as basic research investments in our future.

Re:Cut taxes, then (4, Insightful)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925047)

assessing the real mission needs for high cost "bleeding-edge" defense programs

It's called providing for the common defense ... one of the few things the damn government is supposed to be doing, as apposed to all the crap they are, and want, to do.

Re:Cut taxes, then (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925083)

I guess those super high-tech weapon systems might be a waste of money anyway, the US has already left the rest of the world way behind in the arms race but that high-tech army seems to be a massive money sink if it's ever fielded. 1.4 trillion USD just to fight a few cold war era relics? I guess they should research how to make the army cheaper, not even stronger. Noone's doubting its stength but if using it bankrupts the nation perhaps enemies of the US would consider the US army no longer a real threat as it hurts the US more than the target it's thrown at (especially when that target is an amorphous threat like terrorism).

Re:Cut taxes, then (5, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925163)

The only way to make the army cheaper is to lessen the value of the human soldiers in it. China's army is twice the size of the USA's. FCS and all those high tech devices are designed to allow the military to do more with less overall resources. The F-22 and F-35 are designed to use the same support systems, and similar components to allow faster and ultimately less expensive in field repairs.

While the whole land warrior system has been stripped back, squad leaders are still carrying the communication systems and real time mapping aspects to allow them to better coordinate forces. As it stands the US military is one of the most efficient militaries in the world(an oxymoron if there ever was one). While realistic assessments of the tech, and future upgrades to the systems themselves are required it can be doen more easily as the basics of the design has been completed.

The F-22 was the R&D test bed for the F-35 While the per unit cost of the F-22 is high because of this the per unit cost of the F-35 is far far smaller.

You can't make the army cheaper unless your willing to kill more of your own soldiers to do it.

Re: F-22 (1)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925093)

Some of our allies, Australia for one, really want to buy some F-22s from us. It would be great for the program, but unfortunately, some members of Congress do not like the idea. I find it ridiculous considering that Australia has been an ally of ours for quite a while and we're dependent on them for our defense. The F-22, aside from the F-111B is the only fighter on the planet that offers the range necessary to enable our long-term ally to defend herself.

Oh, many of the top secret features can be "dumbed down" with software. Just letting those of you who think that our best defense tech would be exported as well.

Re:Cut taxes, then (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925145)

Recapitalizing existing systems isn't going to save much money. There are cases where this can be done -- ships can sometimes have an extra decade added to their useful lives with a good refit -- but in other cases, this isn't reasonable. The F-15 and F-16, which the F-22 and F-35 will replace, are designs that are more than 40 years old, and some of the airframes are showing severe stress. No US fighter has ever had to go that long without successors or analogues being immediately available. Prior to their entry, the longest a plane would go without a replacement design coming online was only a few years. The F-15s would all be in the Air National Guard at this age for older designs.

as much as I like an aggressive space program... (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924867)

I realize that we can't have it all. That's part of the reason we're in the mess we are now, we're overspending pretty much across the board. I'd be a hypocrite if I said we need to cut spending on ABC but don't touch my XYZ. Here's hoping he has a sensible, balanced plan.

I'd like to know how he plans to combat pork though. I get the impression that's the biggest budget bleeder.

Do a cost/benefit anaylsis (4, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924927)

What benefit does man space travel provide? The space program has created a number of sparks in scientific results that have lead directly to tax producing products in the consumer market. Not the mention the non-tangible results of spawning hopes and dreams. For those old enough to remember, that was critical in the USA in 68/69. How many of today's scientist and engineers were inspired by the space program? It wasn't all Star Trek doing that. The manned space program more than pays for itself. In fact, cutting social security benefits by $5 dollars a month would pay for the entire space program, and we'd get more benefit back.

Re:Cut taxes, then (5, Informative)

unixluv (696623) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925005)

What most people, including the parent of this thread, don't understand is that NASA and other federal R&D facilities do is fuel our economy.

Many people here on /. work in the IT field. Well you can thank NASA for the Beowulf Cluster. NASA also worked with industry to make cordless drills, CAT Scans, digital thermometers, welder's goggles and thousands of other products.

Don't take my word for it.
http://www.beowulf.org/overview/history.html [beowulf.org]
http://space.about.com/od/toolsequipment/ss/apollospinoffs.htm [about.com]
http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/spinoff.html [nasa.gov]

Engage brain before moving mouth.

Re:Cut taxes, then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25925199)

Ya know, you'd think sooner or later a politician would be able to do that, but no.

Heads up: For all of you that missed the changes to the First Amendement (McCain-Feingold) and The Fifth Amendment (eminent domain) you probably also slept through the bailout bill.

In the bailout bill that had to be now-now-now! Actually cost us $850b, not the $700b the reporters focus on. But worst yet, it names Treasury Secretary Paulson (non-elected) to have unchecked powers beyond all branches of government: "The Treasury Secretary will ensure economic prosperity for this nation." (Paraphrased)

So why is Congress not on fire?

They're guarantees make the college prices higher every year. They waste nearly a trillion every year on the tired old concept of a "War on Poverty" and "The New Deal" which is communism.

Why is Congress not on fire?

Congress is at it's lowest approval ratings...ever. Why isn't anyone talking about term limits?

Oh: we're just gonna blame it all on Bush. I understand.

Results (4, Interesting)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924679)

Nasa has actually given results for it's money. What kind of return on the investment do other agencies produce? Perhaps a comparison vs. a kneejerk reactionary policy may be a better way to handle things... yes?

Re:Results (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924689)

So why not just bring back the Saturn series, with updates to todays' technology? It's not like the shuttle was really reusable, not when so much of it had to be rebuilt by hand after every flight.

Re:Results (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924725)

Because, as awe inspiring and amazing as the Saturn series was, our modern rockets are cheaper and more efficient to use.

Re:Results (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924759)

That, and all of the Saturn V blueprints have been destroyed.

Re:Results (2, Informative)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924797)

Despite what you may have heard, no they have not been destroyed.

That would be a ridiculous waste of resources as engineers who work on the modern designs tend to look at the older designs to see what worked and what didn't.

So no, we still have the Saturn series blueprints.

Re:Results (2, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924877)

I have read the contrary... not that this means anything. With out having acutally seen them, it is worthless to srgue.

However if they do exist, they are all on paper. Have fun getting them into a modern CAD system. That alone will take over a year.

Aside from practicality, getting back to useless net based speculation.... what I have also read is that many of the factories that built the Saturn have been torn down, that even with a complete set of prints it would take comtemporary engineers a long time to train and learn the older technology used, and a similar amount of time to upgrade the plans to use current technology.

I don't know about you, but it would take me months to be effective if I have to learn how to wire wrap a computer, or use vacuum tubes.

Re:Results (2, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924829)

Actually, on a pound-to-earth-orbit basis, they were a LOT cheaper than the shuttle. Plus, a LOT more capacity, so you wouldn't need as many missions to assemble something - another cost saving, and another place where compromises have been forced.

Re:Results (3, Informative)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925037)

You're facts are quite simply wrong.

The Saturn V costed $2.4-$3.5billion per launch versus $500 million for a shuttle in 2007 dollars.

The Shuttle launches ~ 59,000lbs into LEO while the Saturn V launched ~260,000lbs.

Going by the low estimate of $2.5billion per launch, it costs $9320/lb into LEO for the Saturn V.
For the shuttle it costs $8474/lb into LEO.
Of course those are amortized costs which include the cost of the whole program itself, but that's the only way you can realistically justify a program.

But then consider that the shuttle weighs around 240,000lbs itself. A heavy lift architecture based on the shuttle could concievably lift over ~250,000lbs into LEO at a price point cheaper than the Saturn V. Not to mention the shuttl architecure has had a buttload of analysis done on it by NASA engineers and the manufacturing facilities currently exist to manufacture shuttle components, it becomes a no brainer.

Re:Results (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924851)

Uh, really? A giant cylinder full of chemicals that needs to get to orbit... Seems to me there is precious little room for improvement compared to what we had in the 60s.

Re:Results (2, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924943)

Are you serious? Do you think the entire aerospace industry has been sitting around doing nothing since the 60s?

There are HUGE differences. With the advent of CNC Machinery, Computational Fluid Dynamics,Finite Element Analysis, Computer Aided Design, etc... designs can be realized with extremely high accuracy and safety compared to what was possible in the 60s.

Re:Results (2, Interesting)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924803)

As I understand it, the Saturn V was never really considered safe. It just had a small enough number of launches that nothing bad ever happened. According to Wikipedia, it only launched a total of 13 times. I think because it is so impressive (in terms of size and lifting capability) of a rocket and because it was lucky enough to never have a failure, it has become viewed as a safe, reliable workhorse.

Re:Results (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924933)

Saturn V LEO capacity - 250,000 pounds

Space Shuttle LEO capacity - 50,000 pounds.

Think of it - you could pack 5 space shuttle missions into 1 launch. Even more when you consider that some missions are devoted to assembling stuff that could have been pre-asembled with the Saturn V.

Plus, payload configurations (and sizes) would have been less compromised.

And you can always do a skylab - use the empty upper-stage booster as living space after venting out the H.

Re:Results (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925053)

The shuttle itself weights ~240,000lbs so the whole system is lifting over 290,000lbs into LEO.

Manufacturing facilities exist for the shuttle components, none exist for Saturn V.

Shuttle components are in CAD and have had FEA/CFD/Cost/Safety analysis done on them, Saturn V not really.

Engineers at Nasa have years of experience with shuttle components. Find me someone who has any experience with the Saturn V who isn't retired.

You think about it!

It's a 50-Year-Old Design (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925069)

Because it's a design that's about 50 years old now.

So, let's bring back the DC-7 and let airlines start flying those.

Re:It's a 50-Year-Old Design (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925185)

Because it's a design that's about 50 years old now.

And lets have the military start using the B-52 again. Oh yeah, they never stopped.

The 747 was introduced in 1969, so just because it is an old design doesn't mean it is worthless.

Re:Results (4, Funny)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924709)

Oh man. Now they're sure to get canceled. Showing results for the money makes other government programs look bad.

Stop working so hard NASA!

Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (0, Flamebait)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924699)

Further proof that he is no JFK - how about instead he challenge us to get to Mars before the decade is out !!!

Re:Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (3, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924741)

There aren't enough challenges facing us already? Personally, fixing the economy, changing the entire world energy landscape, averting a global climate disaster, and avoiding WWIII will be quite enough to occupy and challenge us for the next decade.

Re:Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (2, Insightful)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924893)

you may be too young to realize it but most of the really useful technology we use today has come out of Space and Military research - a vast amount of spin-offs from going to the moon have probably done more for energy efficiency than any research by independent companies and doing the research and the task provides jobs and stimulates the economy, as we ll as generating national pride - I would much rather my tax dollars go towards this than paying of someones mortgage who shouldn't have been given one in the first place...

Re:Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924931)

And you are old enough to belive that myth.
(well, at lest the "space" part. Seriously, that brought very very little. not even the teflon pan.

Re:Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925025)

(well, at lest the "space" part. Seriously, that brought very very little. not even the teflon pan.)

You've heard of satellites, right?

Re:Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (2, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924973)

Developing whole new sets of technology seemed to be a very good thing for the U.S. economy before. The Apollo program produced a lot of new technology (including Tang! yum!). The only reason we are 'first world' is that we had things to sell that the rest of the world didn't, and we were the only ones that had them. Of course now, we would likely lose that advantage immediately when those running things outsource all the work overseas once the technology is established. Then the overseas companies will sell our technology back to us as finished goods. BTW, didn't something like that happen in the 18th century? The U.S. shipped raw materials to Britain and they shipped finished goods back at significant mark up? That even figured into some war that was fought back then wasn't it (among some other things)? Sorry no, things aren't the same... at least back then the U.S. made some money on raw materials first. Now even that is lost. (And just kidding on the Tang thing btw... yech!)

Re:Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924815)

...how about instead he challenge us to get to Mars before the decade is out !!!

And when, exactly, do you think this decade will end? How about before the end of the next decade, around 2019... that would be reasonable.

JFK gave NASA a good eight years with his challenge. I don't think "To Mars, in one year !1!" is even possible.

Re:Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924929)

JFK did not start the space program and he didnt give a jack about space per se, to him it was beating the commies and extension of arms race.

Plus, all things considered Apollo was probably the worst thing that ever happened wrt to our prospects of conquering the solar system. Because it created the widespread perception of space being inherently expensive, government uberproject domain.

This is only now beginning to wane with the new generation of space enterpreneurs stepping up.

Re:Obama is definetly NO JFK !!! (1)

k33l0r (808028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924993)

Further proof that he is no JFK - how about instead he challenge us to get to Mars before the decade is out !!!

Well, NASA would certainly have to hussle to achieve that (~ one year to go?).

Cut funding... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924705)

And repeat the whole shuttle fiasco, the US will be left with inefficient space systems for another 30 years...

The last thing NASA needs is a funding cut in the middle of development!

Re:Cut funding... (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924717)

And repeat the whole shuttle fiasco, the US will be left with inefficient space systems for another 30 years...

Unless private enterprise succeeds.

Re:Cut funding... (2, Informative)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924743)

The only private enterprise I am currently aware of that has any chance at the moment is SpaceX. However SpaceX's dragon capsule is not designed to get us back on the Moon or to reach Mars.

Re:Cut funding... (0, Flamebait)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925235)

Private enterprise has something going against it far greater than any technical challenges ... our constant government growth and the belief of the people that government should solve their problems means government has become the initiator, facilitator, checkwriter, approver, middleman, evaluator, and savior in all activities, which are not allowed to die because it's somebody's rice bowl. As Mr. Reagan so accurately said about government's belief of what their job is (my paraphrasing): "if it moves, tax it, if it keeps moving, regulate it, and when it inevitably stops moving, subsidize it".

Re:Cut funding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924935)

You are all getting this wrong. Exploring the option is not the same as doing it. The team would have bad leadership if it would make a decision without knowing the options and its consequences. You can not extrapolate to their motives.

Re:Cut funding... (2, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924975)

The last thing NASA needs is a funding cut in the middle of development!

Sorry, but "what NASA needs" is a rather lower priority than getting a lid on government spending.


Re:Cut funding... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925087)

NASA Spending is .5% of overall government spending and produces a heck of a lot more for this country than other programs do.

I'm not suprised (5, Insightful)

NETHED (258016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924715)

Obama's presidency is going to be very FDRish. Lots of big 'public works' projects to keep the voting masses coming back, but in terms of actual forward thinking, very little. Well, actually, if you are into the government getting bigger, you won't be disappointed.

(Man, I'm gonna get modded into oblivion for this!)

Re:I'm not suprised (1, Redundant)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924857)

No one thinks anymore. For example...

Instead of throwing money at healthcare, figure out why health care is expensive.

As for taxes, tax cuts seem, for lack of a better term, "silly", in a time of recession. Shouldn't we focus on getting the national debt down before we cut anyone's taxes? (Unless there are some harmful taxes going on right now. Are the poor really that taxed heavily right now?) Of course, I feel eliminating the national debt can be good for the economy.

I'd like to see if anything can be cut from the DoD budget. How much of it is really necessary? And, is Obama for the current wars going on? Does he plan on keeping the current occupations going strong for years to come? Because we've heard about change, but I am not sure if I remember anything about him being an anti-war candidate.

And as for NASA, I don't know what to feel. On the one hand, space exploration brings technological advances, in medicine and other sciences, does it not? However, it's not like it's an absolute necessity. Thankfully, there is the House of Representatives. Perhaps we should voice our concerns to them, and let them decide what to do based on our input. After all, it's not necessarily the President's job to make the laws now, is it? (Maybe Bush changed things. Who knows?)

Re:I'm not suprised (2, Insightful)

cabjf (710106) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925001)

Except killing the DoD budget, at least in one big cut, would devastate the economy. We're too reliant on the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned about. However, if we put some thought into it and gradually reduced that spending to a reasonable level, then the economy would be able to absorb the loss, especially if we rerouted at least some of that money into scientific research that the entire public can take advantage of.

Re:I'm not suprised (5, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925113)

Not to mention later when it turns out we could use some defense around.

Like any preventative measure, you never know how much its worth until you dont have it.

Re:I'm not suprised (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925075)

I'd like to see if anything can be cut from the DoD budget. How much of it is really necessary? And, is Obama for the current wars going on? Does he plan on keeping the current occupations going strong for years to come? Because we've heard about change, but I am not sure if I remember anything about him being an anti-war candidate.

Much of that is pretty much out of his hands now (or, rather, will never get into his hands in the first place). The US will stay in Iraq in some form until the end of 2011, since that's the timetable the Iraqis have set. As for Afghanistan, Obama has already promised to increase efforts there (likely through increased troop deployments).

(Unless there are some harmful taxes going on right now. Are the poor really that taxed heavily right now?)

No, the poor are generally not taxed at all in terms of income tax. Some of them get a rebate in the form of the Earned Income Credit, which is ostensibly intended to reimburse payroll taxes.

Re:I'm not suprised (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925117)

I feel eliminating the national debt can be good for the economy.
REDUCING the national debt would be good for the economy. ELIMINATING it would be bad for the economy. National debt is not like the kind of debt that most consumers have, ie credit card payments, loans on depreciating assets (cars, boats), etc. Government debt is like investment debt. When you take out debt to start a new business or fund an existing business, that is good debt. As long as the ROI is better than your interest rate, a good businessman will borrow all he can. However, in the case of the government, they have borrowed more than the ROI, and need to reduce their debt. However, I strongly believe that the government should always have SOME debt, in order to "grow the business" so to speak. Figuring out the right amount is the challenge, just like in a small business.

Re:I'm not suprised (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25925165)

NASA is a publics works project for engineers and scientists.

ULA (1)

ender_wiggins (81600) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924721)

Cut funding for the atlas and delta. Why do we need two rockets from the same company?

ULA is actually two companies ... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924793)

.... Lockheed and Boeing

ULA is just a shell company created to please some stupid congressman.

Just like USA (United Space Alliance), it is a group of companies that fight between each other and never gets the job done because one is always trying to sabotage the other.

Re:ULA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25925081)

First, because if something happens that requires one vehicle to have some down time, the military will still have the option of using the other rocket to launch national security payloads.

Second, the rockets aren't entirely from the same company. ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin (the Atlas V) and Boeing (the Delta IV).

I was hoping to be on that rocket... (1)

thornmallow (1146719) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924763)

Initial reaction: Nooo! Don't take those away, I want to ride them! (never quite outgrew 'I want to be an astronaut when I grow up!')

Replacing Ares I with the Saturn or Delta rocket doesn't seem unreasonable though, since they have similar payload capacities. I do wonder how a rocket gets "human-rated" though. Failure rate?

Big cuts at NASA in general seem likely (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924785)

This is light compared to what is ahead. No one should be surprised substantial cuts will likely be made to NASA's funding. The budget for at least the next 4-8 years will be targeted at improving the economy, education, energy, and health care- not anything that might have been saved if Washington were more interested in funding the military and NASA. Contact your senators and house representatives in Washington and let them know how you feel if there is a NASA program you love that you don't want cut.

needs more watermelons and chickin (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924795)


$17.6 Billion is pocket change (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924801)

Even if the incoming administration eliminated NASA they wouldn't recover enough to pay for the various giveaways (e.g., bailouts, economic, stimulus checks, etc.). NASA's budget for 2009 was only 17.6 billion (http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/feb/HQ_08034_FY2009_budget.html). Certainly Obama and company can find better places to trim in this day of multi-trillion dollar giveaways. Let's start by scrapping the economic stimulus packages ($175-500 billion) which have thus far done next to nothing in stimulating anything except perhaps the re-election chances of those that allowed this mess to develop in the first place (yes Congress, that's you).

well you voted the twat in (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924809)

Ho Hummm Barack (Bin Laden)Obama struts his stuff enjoy iy whilst you can cus he's gunna crap all over you dont say you aint been warned .

Re:well you voted the twat in (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924889)

look dude... shut the fuck up already.

Either the person reading here is smart enough to realize that obama is going to SCREW our country so hard we may never recover.

Or they voted for him.

Neither group of people needs to be told, yet again.. what a monumental fuckup electing obama was.

Before jumping to conclusions... (5, Insightful)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924821)

This might actually be a good thing. I have a friend working at Cape Canaveral who tells me that most of his managers at NASA consider Project Orion a disgrace to the space program. The design is a kludge... it's less elegant than Apollo of 30 years ago, using multiple Ares rockets to handle what Saturn V did on its own. The design's fundamentally flawed, the rocket's so slender it "wants" to fly backwards... the control system has to fight its natural flight mechanics the entire way up to keep it straight. The launch vibrations were large enough to kill the astronauts, leading them to add shock absorbers, because the project's been so rushed and it's too late in the game to instead eliminate vibrations altogether. The whole capsule design is antiquated and relies on an incredibly tough heat shield for reentry, when reentry speeds themselves should be lowered (using a lifting fuselage, like the X-33 [wikipedia.org] and SS1 [wikipedia.org] ), vastly reducing reentry heating and eliminating burnup almost entirely as a failure mode (Columbia).

I won't try to just blame Bush, but this hasn't been a methodical, thought-out advance of manned exploration. Mike Griffin's in the wrong here too as the project cheerleader. The project's a mess, with so much modern materials science and computational flight dynamics being thrown at a design that was only good for the 1960s, but completely outclassed today by research since then. If Obama cancels BOTH Ares and Orion, maybe we can have a real successor to the SSTO (PLEASE be the X-33 with composite fuel tanks).

Re:Before jumping to conclusions... (3, Interesting)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924891)

Don't get so full of yourself, the Russians and Chinese seem to be doing fine with capsule designs. A lifting body isn't the best choice just because you like it more. A composite lifting body design is expensive when you can't guarantee resuability. And we all know how the reusability of the Shuttle turned out.

The whole point of using many smaller rockets is some little thing known as the economy of scale.

It's also rather difficult to completely eliminate vibrations from a solid rocket without an advancement in the manufacturing process used to create the fuel.

Re:Before jumping to conclusions... (2, Interesting)

Burdell (228580) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925035)

X-33 was an unmanned test platform that would never reach orbit. A lot was learned before the project was cancelled, even though it never flew. One big thing that was learned was that we don't have the materials capability to make a composite fuel tank that works; both the O2 and H2 composite fuel tanks failed.

X-33 and SS1 were both sub-orbital vehicles and did not have to deal with orbital re-entry speeds, so comparing to them is not valid. You can't magically lower re-entry speeds; orbital velocity is fixed and you have to slow down somehow. If you don't use a heat shield of some type and allow for atmospheric braking, you have to carry enough fuel and engines to slow down quickly throughout your flight (which is a huge waste of launch mass as well as greatly limits any orbital maneuvering).

Also, the Saturn V was not the only launch vehicle from the 1960s; the Saturn 1B was also used for launches of just a capsule (the first Apollo capsule test, the Apollo-Soyuz flight, and the manned missions to Skylab). Rather than try to make smaller and larger man-rated vehicles, it makes more sense to focus on one for manned launches and one for heavy-lift unmanned launches.

Re:Before jumping to conclusions... (1)

Smallphish (320591) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925109)

The real possibility here would be a scrapping of parts of Ares in favor of Direct 2.0 [directlauncher.com] or EELV based programs for lunar and mars missions. X-33 will not happen IMHO, due to COTS-based ISS crew rotation capability being much cheaper to develop.

Not suprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25924823)

Democrats always look inward. Things like social programs get high priority, and anything that looks to the future gets shelved. One of the many reasons I didn't vote for him.

Delay is not an option. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924861)

I cannot possibly see how delaying Aries would save any money over the long term. NASA has tons of people whose entire job is to support the maintenance and launch operations of the shuttle system. If we delay the Aries these folks will have nothing to do. If we fire them then they will move on and find other jobs and we will loose decades of experience which we can't expect to hire back if we decide to restart the manned space program again.

We have already wasted a bunch of money by grounding the shuttle longer than needed, and will be wasting more between the time when the shuttle is retired and Aries begins to fly. Furthermore the manned space program we have has has little to no value compared to our unmanned programs, and if our only goal is to continue limping along as we have been then it continue to be nothing but a money sink, regardless of how good of a job the Aries engineers are.

We have delayed advancing our manned space program for too long and we are paying for it. The only cost effective option at this point is to not only continue with the shuttle replacement as soon as possible, but to ramp up our manned space program and start doing something usefull (like precursors to colonization). If we aren't willing to do something meaningful with our manned space program then we should admit its current failure and cancel it altogether.

that is good for space future (4, Interesting)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924879)

This is the best thing that can happen to a space program. NASA should not duplicate already existing capabilities, in this case earth to LEO launch. LEO launch is a commercially available service, there is no need for government-operated launch business. NASA lunar architecture should be built around existing launch capabilities, its perfectly feasible to mount big lunar, martian and other exploration efforts with our currently existing 20MT class launchers, and it will work out cheaper, more robust and future proof Government sponsored R&D should happen on frontiers, not recreating exising services.

Good. (2, Insightful)

glrotate (300695) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924897)

The return of scientific information from the boondoogle that is NASA is trivial.

This money could find much better application in a numeber of scientific or nonscientific applications.

Almost not fair.. (5, Insightful)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924899)

Obama is inheriting an UNBELIEVABLE debt/deficit. There will need to be cuts EVERYWHERE. It almost isn't fair to put this article up on /. Of course all of us geeks don't want to see the space program cut.

Re:Almost not fair.. (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924949)

Cutting a duplicative and useless rocket does not mean cutting the space program. Canning Ares I is the best thing that can happen to NASA right now.

Re:Almost not fair.. (2, Insightful)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925031)

Obama is inheriting an UNBELIEVABLE debt/deficit.

Yes, thankfully he wasn't in Congress, where all spending bills originate, so he's good and blameless of the current mess. And he and his Party did not have control of the Congress for the last few years, nor were consistent blocks to appeals for oversight into the housing market fiascoes of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae.

Oh wait...

Re:Almost not fair.. (5, Informative)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925229)

Yes, thankfully he wasn't in Congress, where all spending bills originate, so he's good and blameless of the current mess. And he and his Party did not have control of the Congress for the last few years, nor were consistent blocks to appeals for oversight into the housing market fiascoes of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae. Oh wait...

Granted that Dems are usually regarded as the "spend" party. To characterize the unbelievable growth of the debt over the last 8 yeas as the Dems fault is quite a stretch, the Republicans had complete control for 6 of the 8 years. Also, the only time the debt hasn't been wildly growing out of control since 1980 was during the Clinton Admin.

That was one of the reasons why I voted for him (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924939)

he promised another Moon shot and increase NASA spending to mine the Moon for materials and maybe put a base there.

Next I supposed he won't keep his promise to close the doughnut hole in Medicare? He'll instead cut Medicare so it costs people like me on it more money?

You used me, Obama, dammit, you used me!

Re:That was one of the reasons why I voted for him (4, Insightful)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924985)

Whoa there... he hasn't done anything yet. He isn't even the president! His people are just gathering information. Calm down... Geesh.

Re:That was one of the reasons why I voted for him (1)

savuporo (658486) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925103)

Moon shot AITHOUT Ares I or V, using existing rockets will more realistically get there and be sustainable over long time, with opportunities for more private sector involvement.

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities (4, Insightful)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 5 years ago | (#25924945)

If you've been laid off, you've spent your retirement funds, you're car is about to be repossessed, and your house is about to be foreclosed, the *last* thing you want to do is go on that trip to the Bahamas you've been planning to take.

We can not afford to spend all this money exploring space, not right now. We should privatize the whole space program, and let somebody make money off it selling tickets to rich SOB's with more money than sense. Only when it has to make a profit for somebody will it find the efficiency and economy it needs to make real progress. At the moment, it's nothing more than a money pit.

Re:Priorities, Priorities, Priorities (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925213)

Is not the only money pit around. And if well the military money pit pays back sometimes, the investment there is several orders of magnitude over what is spent on NASA.

I agree that things must be rationalized all across the field, and even in nasa some projects have more future or cost than others. But postponing the essential because the urgent is sometimes a mistake (like when, i.e. the essential becomes urgent and you run out of time to solve it)

Manned flight SHOULD be the first to go... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25925089)

Yes...it's an old debate. But if you have a tight situation, like what we're in, you should definitely cancel the pointless space station "shuttle" before James Webb which will do real science. There's always the "exciting the public" argument in favor of manned flight - but I'd venture to say hubble and the rovers have excited the public more than the space station anyhow.

President-elect??? (0, Flamebait)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925101)

Why does everyone keep saying "president-elect" Obama, when the Electoral College hasn't voted yet? (And the scheduled Supreme Court consideration of his natural born citizen status is still ahead of us.)

Maybe he wants to go ahead with Direct... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925157)

Direct 2.0 [launchcomplexmodels.com] seems to be a safer path, perhaps Obama is actually on top of this...

Start making economic sense (3, Insightful)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925175)

This is a post from Frank in my Pirate's mailing list group:

I think the human race needs to start thinking of space exploration as necessity.

Obama wants to create 2.5 million jobs for 2k+9. But the prob is that we need

1) work that needs to be done
2) negotiate a price that the workers are willing to work for, and the employer is willing to

Without those two things, it's like trying to use an electric motor to charge its own battery.

The truth is, the earth isn't big enough for everyone. We want to increase wealth for
everyone. To do so we have two options:

1) take it from someone else
2) go where there is unclaimed wealth

The great thing about space is that there is a lot of it. You see, if I have a candy bar, and
the teacher sees me with it says, "are you going to share with everyone?" I have no choice
but to put it away because by the time I divide it up, my piece will be too small.

But if I can go to where there's a truckload of candy, I can truly share with everyone. So it
is with outer space.

So when we think of space exploration as a necessity, we will have:

jobs in space
homes in space
nightclubs in space
shopping malls in space
restaurants in space

In other words, a sustainable economy!

The headline is wrong! (5, Interesting)

Smallphish (320591) | more than 5 years ago | (#25925187)

This is an incredibly pro-space piece of news out of the Obama team, but what gets the focus is the potential termination of the boondoggle Ares program.

This article is far more interesting due to the last paragraph:

"Obama's NASA transition team also appears to be interested in a number of specific projects that have more or less languished in recent years. Among those projects are: the Deep Space Climate Observatory, a mothballed Earth-observing satellite formerly known as Triana; agency efforts to catalog asteroids and comets that could threaten Earth; and the harnessing of space-based solar power for use on Earth."

The article also alludes to a potential expansion of the COTS commercial space program, potential uses for EELV launchers, etc.

If the Obama team is serious about these projects (especially space solar power) it would mean a revolution in space funding and a committment to space development that would make Ares pale in comparison. SSP would mean a real orbital infrastructure that would enable a huge number of possibilities, such as real lunar bases and mars missions, not plant a flag crap which is where Ares is headed.

Ares I may be a kludge, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25925201)

if they choose to cancel Ares I, they really need to fly something in its place. Launching on already existing Atlas and Delta rockets (EELVs) will work for space station missions, regardless of the ATK vice president's ludicrous statement that using an existing rocket would take longer than developing a whole new Ares I. Both Atlas V and Delta IV passed their preliminary design reviews in the late 90's, are already flying, and were able to show they met NASA's requirements within 24 hours of the release of the 60 day ESAS report (which NASA administration still uses to justify Ares I over other options). Thus, the EELVs actually have a ten year head start on Ares I, instead of the reverse (read the article for the reference).

Beyond the EELVs, I'm impressed by the DIRECT concept that uses actual shuttle hardware (the current solid rocket boosters, which would keep ATK happy, and a modified orange external tank for the core stage) for exploration to the moon and beyond. It could be ready within about two years of the space shuttle's retirement, cost less than half as much as developing Ares I and Ares V, and match the Saturn Vs lift capacity.


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