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US Manned Space Flight Taking a Budget Hit

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the no-moon-for-you dept.

NASA 182

An anonymous reader points out that Congress has quietly begun dismantling NASA's manned space flight program. "Other recommendations contained in the bill include a $77million reduction in NASA's proposed space operations budget, which includes the space shuttle and international space station; a $6 million reduction in science; and a $332 million shift in funds from the Cross Agency Support account to a new budget line-item included in the subcommittee's mark. Dubbed Construction and Environmental Compliance, the new account would be funded at $441 million. Congressional aides said the new line item and accompanying funds are aimed at consolidating NASA's various construction efforts into a single pot of money."

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A shame and ironic (5, Insightful)

Hmmm2000 (1146723) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256573)

In a bad economy, pure science and space exploration seem to be first on the budget chopping block. However the information learned and technology developed while performing these activities quite often lead to innovations that fuel the economy for years to come.

Re: A shame and ironic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28256711)

I rode the goatse [goatse.fr] for 18.6 seconds, can you beat that?

Re: A shame and ironic (3, Informative)

al0ha (1262684) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256759)

Actually this not completely true. While it seems some space exploration may be on the chopping block, scientific research is a part of the Obama stimulus package and the top notch research/educational institute for which I work is a beneficiary for this year and in 2010.

Re: A shame and ironic (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28256833)

Utter bullshit. We need to spend money to live on earth before we try to explore how to live off of it. There will be far more technological innovations if the money is pumped directly into research and/or the industry as opposed to the trickled effects of a space exploration mission. This is a classic case of living beyond one's means.

Re: A shame and ironic (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257077)

NASA has produced a helluva lot of useful technology. The drive to miniaturize onboard guidance systems and other computers in the Apollo program pretty much lead to the blossoming of integrated circuits and microprocessors in the 1970s. The value that that has produced over the last forty years for just about every industry in the industrialized world would be hard to calculate. So even though Apollo was an insanely expensive program, the spinoffs were enormous.

I'm not saying NASA doesn't need to live within its means, and I'm not saying that there aren't areas where efficiencies can be gained, but guys like you who just mindlessly go "money shouldn't be wasted on space research" are tragically ignorant of just how important the Unites States' space exploration programs have been to the technological innovations of the last few decades.

Re: A shame and ironic (3, Insightful)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257193)

Can you prove that microprocessor design wouldn't have progressed more quickly if the money had been pushed into direct research?

You're right... (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257303)

...but I have a better plan. [memory-alpha.org] .

  • step 1. find crashed starship
  • step 2. strip it of technology.
  • step 3. profit!

Re: A shame and ironic (3, Insightful)

Scragglykat (1185337) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257321)

Can you prove that it would have? Perhaps you can prove that Neo would not have knocked the vase over, had the Oracle not told him to not worry about it? It's not something you can absolutely prove, but it does seem logical, no? Your line of thought reminds me of the terminator series... mainly starting with T2, where they try to stop the apocalyptic future by stopping the production of SkyNet, but each time, even though they stopped one means of SkyNet being created, there is always another that pops up. And as the story goes, they don't stop the creation of SkyNet, but they do delay it. I can agree with you... or disagree with you on that point, but you can't argue that some stimuli, such as the need for smaller electronics and control systems in space vehicles, often speed along the development of those things. You can't prove it wouldn't have happened otherwise, but it seems logical that if that need hadn't been there, the development of those technologies would have at the very least, been delayed until that need did arise elsewhere.

Re: A shame and ironic (0)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258229)

What?
Those are movies.

Neo wouldn't have knocked the vase over if he wasn't told not to worry about it, simply because Keanu Reeves is a mindless robot. He would have stood completely still until someone removed him from the set.

Skynet was around in T2's future because the arm of the T-800 was retrieved from the warehouse, and was being researched and reverse engineered.

Skynet was around in T3's future because "judgement day is inevitable [as long as we can make money on a sequel, so lets throw some tits on screen to make sure we get a return on this one]". Did you not see the movie? I sure as fuck didn't, because I'm still waiting for them to write the script for T3.

Regardless, don't bother arguing with the goob baiting you into proving a hypothetical negative.

There's plenty of present day, real-world examples of research moneys for non-necessities resulting in minimal progress. I offer up any disease that is marketed with a walk, ribbon, foundation, etc., any social "issue" that demands my tax money and awareness, anything involving the environment or energy "crisis", anything dealing with voice recognition, etc.

There are very few examples of research moneys going to necessities and not speeding along progress. (If anyone wants to challenge this claim with a "necessity" that we've been putting money into without any results, I will automatically counter with "we've got 7 billion people, we're fine without that "necessity", therefore, it is not a necessity".)

Re: A shame and ironic (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257345)

What an odd question. How would I prove that, any more than you could prove directing the money to basic research would have been better? It's a nonsensical question, like someone asking "If Elizabeth I had married a Catholic monarch, would England have still become the major naval power of its time?"

NASA had a requirement, a solution was developed, and that solution also had uses in other industries. In this case, the solution has uses in just about every industry out there. The problem was an engineering problem, for the most part the technologies already existed in one form or another, but the specific applications had not. I can't think of too many other programs at the time that would have driven the miniaturization of ICs as much as Apollo.

Re: A shame and ironic (0, Troll)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257635)

The difference is that you are basing the expenditure of billions of dollars of other people's money on a gut feeling.

Re: A shame and ironic (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257815)

Uh no, I'm basing it on the proven spinoffs from the Apollo program. You're basing your claim on a demand that I prove a negative.

Re: A shame and ironic (0)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257999)

No, we know for sure that spending money on direct research will have some benefits. You're saying that focusing on a goal that has no direct benefits will probably have greater knock on benefits than direct research would have done. I think that puts the burden of proof onto you.

I'm not against the space program but I'm one of many who think that the focus should be on things that are obviously useful. A manned mission to Mars /might/ provide some stimulus the overall sense of aspiration amongst people, but robotic missions seem to provide a greater practical return on investment. Richard Branson's efforts look like they might successfully pay for themselves while advancing technology, another laudable goal, IMO.

Re: A shame and ironic (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258059)

Branson's efforts have managed to produce a vehicle of about the same capability as the early Mercury missions. In one respect, it's impressive, in another, well... the US government has significantly greater resources both financially and technically than any private interest.

Re: A shame and ironic (3, Interesting)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258293)

No, we know for sure that spending money on direct research will have some benefits. You're saying that focusing on a goal that has no direct benefits will probably have greater knock on benefits than direct research would have done. I think that puts the burden of proof onto you.

If you're claiming that research for research's sake is better for technology, then the burden of proof lies with you. Neccessity is the mother of invention. Money is not. Dumping money into a cloud named "research" is going to get you nowhere, no matter how much money you dump into it. Asking the world to conjure solutions to problems it doesn't even know exist will net you waste. In the 60's (and stretching even much later), everyone was sure that computers were going to get bigger and louder. The limitations of space travel completely reversed the direction of circuit research for this small group of engineers, and that revolutionized the evolution of computers. Were that money directed elsewhere, personal computers could still be a pipedream today.

Re: A shame and ironic (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258349)

I'm not against the space program but I'm one of many who think that the focus should be on things that are obviously useful. A manned mission to Mars /might/ provide some stimulus the overall sense of aspiration amongst people, but robotic missions seem to provide a greater practical return on investment.

I think it depends on exactly what returns you're looking for.

If all you want is scientific knowledge about Mars, then robots are definitely the cheapest way to get that.

But if we had been content with simply sending robots (or remote-control probes, since the Moon is so close this would have been feasible), instead of sending manned spacecraft, we wouldn't have developed all the technologies we did, and we also wouldn't have developed any knowledge or expertise about sending humans into space.

If your goal is to eventually send humans to Mars, then sending robots isn't going to get you to that goal as quickly as starting manned missions as soon as possible.

Of course, with everyone whining about the spending, has anyone looked at how little money in the Federal budget is spent on NASA? It's a tiny, tiny fraction of what is spent on the DOD and for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Exactly what "return" are we getting on our "investment" there?

Re: A shame and ironic (4, Funny)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258095)

I can't think of too many other programs at the time that would have driven the miniaturization of ICs as much as Apollo.

Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, Polaris...

Re: A shame and ironic (2, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258531)

The problem there is that we didn't know we were progressing towards microprocessors at the time, as nobody could even envision them. "Microprocessor" is something you buy in a box now, but it's the culmination of huge advances in many different areas. You don't just "research microprocessors". Especially if you don't know what you're researching.

Advances in techology generally come from trying to solve a problem. The bigger the problem, the bigger the advance. In this case, there was an overriding need to put certain functionality in a particular volume of space with not more than a certain weight. You could not make the space bigger, and you could not make the device heavier, but you had to do it, and you had the engineering and monetary resources of the largest nation on earth, in it's innovative prime, to get it done. Classically, that's the environment that's given impetus to radically new technologies. Once the pump is primed, consumer usage helps drive refinements, but in some cases you need a "moon shot" effort to get things started, if they're radical enough.

The classic environment for radical advancement is war. War also works really well as an engine for technological advancement. On the whole, however, I prefer space exploration.

Re: A shame and ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257677)

The drive to miniaturize onboard guidance systems and other computers in the Apollo program pretty much lead to the blossoming of integrated circuits and microprocessors in the 1970s.

That's funny cause I read this article [wikipedia.org] and I see no mention of all of NASA or Apollo. In fact most of the article that talks about the history of ICs and their development is from the 50s. In particular Jack Kirby and Robert Noyce from Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor. The only mention of NASA in this article [wikipedia.org] is from the late 70s of the RCA 1802 that was used in the Voyager/Viking space probes. Again, all the talk of the development centers on groups other than NASA. Now don't you think that if this claim had any merit that you'd see more mentions of NASA and Apollo in these articles?

Re: A shame and ironic (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258017)

I think they're going to have to add a whole new logical fallacy; argumentum ad Wikipedia.

At any rate, NASA themselves claim some credit for this:

"...In one respect the all-up decision was like the previous decisions discussed: It evolved from earlier decisions and, in turn, presupposed subsequent decisions to implement it. The all-up decision presupposed the July 1962 decision to use lunar orbit rendezvous as the mission mode for Apollo, and it required an ever stricter control of quality and monitoring of contractors, the budgeting of weight within the launch vehicle and spacecraft (itself requiring major advances in electronics and miniaturization)..."
- http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4102/ch1.htm [nasa.gov]

Re: A shame and ironic (4, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258051)

NASA has produced a helluva lot of useful technology. The drive to miniaturize onboard guidance systems and other computers in the Apollo program pretty much lead to the blossoming of integrated circuits and microprocessors in the 1970s.

That's what the urban legend says. But it's utter bullshit. The Apollo computers and guidance system were based on those of the Polaris A-1/A-2. The USAF and the USN miniaturized the computers and guidance systems, all NASA did was issue spiffy press releases.
 
You find the same thing almost universally when you run down the list of technologies 'developed' by NASA. They were first developed by someone else, and then like a technological Sylar NASA sucks them up.
 
 

guys like you who just mindlessly go "money shouldn't be wasted on space research" are tragically ignorant of just how important the Unites States' space exploration programs have been to the technological innovations of the last few decades.

The tragically ignorant are people like yourself who endlessly regurgitate NASA press releases. As far as results for dollars expended, the NASA PR department is probably the most efficient in the US government.

Re: A shame and ironic (2, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258013)

You want innovation? You fund and use your military. The vast majority of man's innovations have come about through necessity, and the thing that most necessitates innovation is someone trying to kill you.

Please don't blame it on the "bad" economy (3, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257165)

That is exactly how they would like it portrayed. The real truth is we are lucky to have any budget for NASA currently. Considering the reckless, if not criminal, debt being piled up in just the first year I will be surprised if NASA doesn't get bigger cuts going forward. How long can the funny money last? The real threat to scientific investment by the US government is all the new entitlements and "stimulus of the moment" bills coming down the pike. Eventually reality will bite us hard, we cannot print our way into having it all, someone pays the bill.

NASA's budget has always been pitiful. It will continue to be so because it isn't the science of the rich and powerful climate groups who have the money to buy influence to get even more money. I expect NASA money to be directed into more "Climate" areas as a way of funneling money to payoff people who voted right or supported the right people.

Each year we seem to get new reasons to blame NASA's budget shortfall but in the end it really all boils down to NASA is being kept around because they have to keep it. If it were not for other nations reaching for space currently or the military needing to keep progress going I would have had no doubt that NASA would be reduced to unmanned flights.

Until NASA becomes a real public interest it won't get money. NASA generates very few votes. It would probably take a meteor or Extraterrestrial's to get people interested enough to where they get the funding many of us here like.

People tried to warn you about Obama. (1, Interesting)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257185)

People tried to warn you that an Obama administration would mark a massive shift in focus away from high-IQ pursuits and towards low-IQ pursuits, but nobody wanted to listen:

Obama: cut Constellation to pay for education
November 20, 2007
http://www.spacepolitics.com/2007/11/20/obama-cut-constellation-to-pay-for-education/ [spacepolitics.com]

The consistently weird thing about Obama is that all of the very worst predictions about him keep coming true [Bill Clinton, for instance, was far more inconsistent in his politics] - Obama really does subscribe to this tribalistic, Bolshevik form of Mugabeism - he really is a true believer.

Re:People tried to warn you about Obama. (2, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258257)

Sadly, I don't think there's any hope for getting the young kids to wake up and see that Obama's plan for Europe 2.0 will actually be bad for them.

Re: A shame and ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257583)

Yeah. I don't know what I'd do without a pen that writes upside down.

Re: A shame and ironic (2, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257681)

Yep, gotta cut science, engineering and exploration from the budget so we can use the money to fund science and engineering programs in the schools....

Re: A shame and ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258877)

Just FYI, if you add up state and federal education spending, it amounts to nearly a trillion dollars a year. It's 50 times more than what NASA gets. I laugh any time anyone says we need to spend more on education. We already spend enough on education - but we spend it poorly, throwing money at schools and teachers that don't perform well. If you completely cut NASA's budget to zero and gave all the money to education, that would only increase education by 1/50th. It's insane to think that we are only 1/50th away from a working education system. It's just insane.

Re: A shame and ironic (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257957)

"In a bad economy, pure science and space exploration seem to be first on the budget chopping block."

Dump the manned program and devote the remaining resources to advancing robotic systems. We can afford to wait centuries to send meat tourists, while learning how to economically exploit space by remote control.

Human explorers were fine when they were cheap and expendable. The loss of a ship and crew was nothing near as damaging to exploration as the loss of a Shuttle is today. Now humans are expensive and robots are cheap, so leave the tourists at home.

In other news (-1, Flamebait)

Xonstantine (947614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256597)

Acorn will be given a generous grant of $4 billion to get out the (Democratic) vote for 2010.

Re:In other news (-1, Offtopic)

HebrewToYou (644998) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256687)

LOL -- you're already being modded down, but that was pretty funny.

Why is this a surprise? (4, Insightful)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256735)

The shuttle replacement is over-budget, under-spec, and without a realistic mission. We have trouble building and servicing a base going around the Earth, in zero-g... why does NASA think we can do this without busting timelines or budgets on the moon?

I wish Bush had set a more realistic goal... landing on near earth asteroids. Then NASA would have two things going for it - something never done, and a bs fallback line to feed axe wielding politicians (we need these missions to learn how to blow up incoming astroids - you want to tell your constituents why they need to live in a tent camp for the next 5 years when we evacuate all of New Mexico?).

Now all NASA has is a half-assed Apollo clone, no clear goal, and a loud insurgent campaign (DIRECT). I just hope this doesn't blow-back and foul up the fairly successful non-manned space missions.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257001)

Landing on a near-Earth asteroid is a "realistic goal" compared to returning to the moon and then going from there to Mars?

Re:Why is this a surprise? (2, Insightful)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257269)

Yeah, it is. Asteroids are actually "closer" if you consider delta-v your yardstick.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (2, Insightful)

offrdbandit (1331649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257057)

I wish Bush had set a more realistic goal... landing on near earth asteroids.

Are you insane? Do you have any idea how hard it is to land on asteroids? Any "near earth" asteroids would be on eccentric orbits. I doubt it would even be possible to land on an asteroid and return to Earth. It certainly would be extremely dangerous (you know, with the risk of being stranded in a 100+ year orbit, ejected from the inner solar system, etc, etc). The Moon and Mars are targets for two reasons: they are close and they are "easy" to land on. The hard part about either is getting there and getting back. Asteroids are harder to get to, more dangerous to approach, more difficult to land on, and far more difficult to leave. You don't know what you are talking about.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (5, Interesting)

spacemandave (1231398) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257657)

Wow, an astounding amount of ignorance is on display in this post. Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs, or NEOs if you prefer) may indeed be easier to visit than the Moon, and they are quite a bit easier to visit than Mars. Mainly this is due to the lack of appreciable gravity, so that the escape velocity from the surface adds only a negligible delta V to the total delta V budget required (for both landing and taking off again). You're not going to find yourself on a 100+ year orbit on an NEA. If you did find yourself on a 100+ year orbit and on on your way out of the inner solar system, then, by definition, you would have landed on a Halley-type comet (or perhaps even a long-period comet if you were *really* on your way out). Take as a typical NEA 433 Eros. The NEAR spacecraft successfully landed on it, despite the fact that the spacecraft was designed to be an orbiter (which, I think, succinctly illustrates how easy it is to land on an asteroid). Its perihelion distance (closest approach to the Sun) is 1.13 AU (1 AU is the Earth-Sun distance) and has a period of a bit less than 2 years. Once nice thing about asteroids is that they basically represent remnants of the original solar nebula from which planets were formed, and most of them never differentiated (melted and formed iron cores and rocky mantles). That means that they are relatively rich in many raw materials compared to the surfaces of planet-sized bodies. A carbonaceous asteroid contains valuable metals (often as little blobs of pure metal), water (up to 30% by weight in many cases), and organics (kerogen). Some other asteroids are nothing but metal, and would require very minimal processing to make them useful (unlike many ores found on Earth). Going to asteroids makes a lot of sense. The main difficulty with an asteroid vs. a lunar mission is that the mission length to an asteroid would be longer than one to the Moon (although depending on the asteroid, it could be much shorter than a Mars trip).

Re:Why is this a surprise? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257847)

I wish Bush had set a more realistic goal... landing on near earth asteroids.

Are you insane? Do you have any idea how hard it is to land on asteroids? Any "near earth" asteroids would be on eccentric orbits. I doubt it would even be possible to land on an asteroid and return to Earth. It certainly would be extremely dangerous (you know, with the risk of being stranded in a 100+ year orbit, ejected from the inner solar system, etc, etc). The Moon and Mars are targets for two reasons: they are close and they are "easy" to land on. The hard part about either is getting there and getting back. Asteroids are harder to get to, more dangerous to approach, more difficult to land on, and far more difficult to leave. You don't know what you are talking about.

First of all, who said anything about returning to Earth? Hell, we haven't returned to Earth from Mars yet either, yet we set out to go there. We've barely returned from the Moon, and that's practically at our doorstep. And landing isn't quite as hard as you make it out to be; landing on Mars is one of the hardest things we've done engineering-wise, yet we've done that via auto-pilot. As long as we picked an asteroid with sufficient mass and with a clear enough neighborhood, it should be just damned hard instead of damned impossible (like we thought Mars was during the years of the Martian Curse).

So let's do what NASA is incredibly good at: Send Fucking Robots. They're dirt cheap. If you build them right (and the Martian landers have proven that we can), they last fucking forever, and they do more exo-planetary science than the International Space Station has, at a tiny fraction of the cost.

Quite frankly, we have too much to learn about our solar system to be so fixated on one target like we have been with Mars. Let's look around to see what else we can learn. You never know, it might actually help us get to Mars more quickly.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (2, Informative)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258799)

I'm sorry - but thats complete and utter bullshit. Save your apoplexy for subjects that you didn't study at the Armageddon School of Asteroid studies. Mars is not close. Asteroids don't randomly shoot through the solar system. They are not surrounded by asteroid fields, or whatever craziness you think makes landing difficult. In fact, the practically 0g environment makes them the EASIEST objects to take off from.

This idea is so "out there", that its been studied by NASA for the Orion spacecraft. Here's a wikipedia link, since the actual study isn't in easy to watch movie form. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orion_Asteroid_Mission [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why is this a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257073)

The shuttle was plainly a bad design, it was blingy but unsafe and inefficient, it's had its day. A more efficient people-carrier is just right.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257137)

The shuttle was plainly a bad design, it was blingy but unsafe and inefficient, it's had its day. A more efficient people-carrier is just right.

Yes, it's called the Saturn V.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (1, Interesting)

transami (202700) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257095)

Bush's "goals" were all a setup. There is no real intention of a manned mission to Mars. His father did the same kind of thing when he was in office. Make big promises only to have the whole thing undercut quietly later on.

Re:Why is this a surprise? (2, Insightful)

Waste55 (1003084) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257155)

How is Orion half-assed when it is capable of more than Apollo? Do you really think avionics on board Orion for example are going to be less advance than a craft that is over 40 years old?

Orion is even included in DIRECT's architecture as well...

Robots all the way! (0, Flamebait)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257631)

Manned space flight is a complete waste of money right now. It achieves very little and makes everything an order of magnitude heavier and more complex. We need less astronauts and more Mars rovers.

Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28256757)

Obama will put stimulus as he promised for science...

Affect on Armadillo Aerospace? (3, Funny)

malloc (30902) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256777)

I just saw this April 2009 video interview with John Carmack [flightglobal.com] this morning, where he mentions that some of their NASA work is up in the air, pending the budget shakeout. Does this mean no more NASA work for Armadillo Aerospace [armadilloaerospace.com] ?

It does emphasize one benefit of private research and development: not subject (as in "we kill you right now") to such political money shuffling.

-Malloc

Peanuts compared to the billions sunk into GM (-1, Troll)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256815)

A lot of people (I guess universally hated on Slahsdot) told the Obama administration not to throw good money after bad. They didn't listen, and billions are now lost. So let's cut funds for scientific research (I expect the fury of the Slashdot general public, as well as their apologetic posts finding excuses for anything the Democrats did since the elections. Never mind, I have enough karma)

Re:Peanuts compared to the billions sunk into GM (1)

Eric_Henry (121003) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257083)

And the money we 'sunk' into GM was peanuts compared to what we sunk into Wallstreet. Am I correct in guessing you are one of those people who saw that as perfectly justifiable? If not, why not mention GM instead?

Re:Peanuts compared to the billions sunk into GM (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257139)

No, the money sunk in Wallstreet was a colossal mistake.

Welcome To The : +1, Helpful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28256837)

  order-of-magnitude reduction in U.S. credit financing.

Yours In Space,
Kilgore Trout [russianspaceweb.com]

They have yet to take my suggestion (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256865)

The expensive thing about manned space exploration is the added costs of bringing the explorers back. Manned exploration would be cost-competitive with robotic exploration if we just sent astronauts on one-way trips! Any volunteers?

Re:They have yet to take my suggestion (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257263)

Manned exploration would be cost-competitive with robotic exploration if we just sent astronauts on one-way trips! Any volunteers?

I volunteer the politicians who put us in this budget mess to begin with.
     

Re:They have yet to take my suggestion (1)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257313)

I don't know about anyone else, but I'd have a hard time passing up the chance to be the first person on Mars, even if it was just a one way trip.

Re:They have yet to take my suggestion (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258319)

I'd do unimaginable things just to be considered for such a mission.

Re:They have yet to take my suggestion (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257941)

Manned exploration would be cost-competitive with robotic exploration if we just sent astronauts on one-way trips! Any volunteers?

ME!

And I'm not even sure I'm joking (ask me again when it's a possibility and we'll see). But really, one of my greatest dreams is to be able to visit see the earth from space some time in my life, even briefly, even at the very end. I'll sign whatever waivers are necessary. To actually be able to visit Mars, to be the first human to touch down on it, and report your discoveries back to an expectantly waiting humanity? Yeah, I'd do that.

Sadly, aside from the fact that no such mission exists or is being planned, it won't happen because willingness to risk my life for the cause of space exploration isn't even close to the biggest thing keeping me from being the next Neil Armstrong.

Re:They have yet to take my suggestion (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259009)

I'm sure a considerable number of people would be willing to take a one-way trip just so they could be in space. What we have a deficiency of is people willing to let other people take risks.

Two agencies Bush didn't screw up (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28256879)

(1) NASA. Censored documents on global warming and climate change to meet his views, but at least the funding was relatively fine. (2) The U.S. Mint, because how dumb do you have to be to screw up the seigniorage from the state quarter program? Based on this, we can conclude that the Mint will do something stupid, like a series of sharp-cornered triangular dimes with a series of vice presidents on the front, in order to provide stimulus for the band-aid industry.

Re:Two agencies Bush didn't screw up (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258341)

(1) NASA. Censored documents on global warming and climate change to meet his views, but at least the funding was relatively fine.

Small observation: ledgers have two sides.

Giving an agency a good sized budget is a metric meaningful only to bureaucratic empire builders. What matters is the size of the budget as compared to the ambition of your goals.

It's even possible for a budget cut to further an agency's mission, although without reading the budget I can't say whether that is true in this case. If I gave your agency a fifty billion dollar annual budget, is that a lot of money? Well, what if I said your agency's mission was to produce a workable fusion power plant in ten years? There's a tiny chance you might catch a lucky break, but *most* likely what's going to happen is that you have the freedom to try more ways of failing. Furthermore dreaming up new ways to fail and dealing with the ..er.. fallout would consume a great deal of your time. A billion dollars and a goal feasible for that amount is far better.

I've even seen government groups doing pretty good work on a shoestring get messed up by becoming a political priority and having tons of cash dropped on them they've got to spend right away. These guys had a budget that wasn't quite enough, and they knew damn well how to put, say, 5% or 10% more to good use. A huge windfall means they're dealing with amounts of money they've never thought about using before. The problem of getting it out of their pockets before it burns a hole there consumes creativity and energy that should be spent on the problem.

The whole Mars thing was balloon juice. I'm not saying that a manned mission is necessarily worthless; that's a proving-a-negative kind of assertion. But a program that consumes large amounts of money but doesn't have any real critical path milestones in the next four years is fiscal cancer.

Is sending humans a novalty at this point? (5, Insightful)

ViennaSt (1138481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256903)

With robotics coming such a long way since the 60s, it is more efficient and cheaper to just send robots to do all the exploring and data/sample collection in space. Until the average American thinks the cost of human presence in space is a priority for the tax payer dollar, space flight will have to be unmanned in the meantime. We are just going to have to wait for China or another rising global leader to send humans to Mars until the US population is willing to put in the extra effort and dollar to compete in a second space race and reinflate their ego as the "pioneers of space".

Re:Is sending humans a novalty at this point? (2, Interesting)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257403)

I think the answer to the question (whether sending humans is worth it) really depends on what you/we think the goals are.

For pure science, I'd argue that sending humans to deep space definitely is not worthwhile. While you may get more science/dollar for it (another debate), the total cost is so high that the current state of politics cannot sustain it. That is, the cost is too high to be able to complete it within 6 or 7 years when an administration change is going to rework everything anyway. For pure science we get a lot more value out of robotic missions because they can be finished more quickly and are sustainable in the political sphere.

However, if your goal is the eventual development of a human ability to leave the Earth permanently then of course its important to keep sending people. There are legitimate questions as to how best to utilize limited funding to advance that goal, particularly when the final goal is decades or centuries away, but I think they all involve continuing to send people to space and pushing further and further out.

Finally, if you're goal is an international pissing contest, let the other two groups decide and keep sending them the checks. I think Hubble and the Mars Rovers give us as much prestige as the shuttle (maybe not as much as Apollo though), so it ends up working out the same in the end for this group.

Re:Is sending humans a novalty at this point? (1)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257777)

Well, on the ISS when the latest rounds of solar panels were being deployed automatically (via a robot, if you like), one of the tracks jammed and an astronaut had to go out and whack it with one of those $10,000 hammers.

Robots are great, but sometimes, you just need to whack something with a hammer...

Time for gubm't to step aside and let others lead (0, Troll)

XavierItzmann (687234) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256917)

It is time for the government to step aside from manned space flight and let private enterprise lead, if there is a market.

If there is no market for manned space flight, then using your taxpayer dollars for it is simple misallocation and waste of resources. Ask the Soviets what the ultimate outcome of such State resource management is.

Re:Time for gubm't to step aside and let others le (0, Flamebait)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257275)

Right, lets leave it to private enterprise, so they can do for spaceflight what they've done for the financial services industry.

Your invisible hand is superstitious bullshit. Market equilibrium is a concept entirely at odds with empirical reality. Get over yourself, and stop ramming idiotic libertarian pop economics into every argument.

Re:Time for gubm't to step aside and let others le (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257735)

The invisible hand that allowed the financial mess in the first place. Except this hand wasn't invisible, it was Uncle Sam's hand who allowed the credit swaps and actually encouraged it, it was the government who allowed bank mergers creating full service banks which was not technically possible until they relaxed the rules, and it was the government that drew up a pyrimid scheme with Fanny and Freddie in which they sought to artificially increase real estate prices as a way repay bond holders.

You cannot rest the blame on the mess your talking about purely on market forces, the government shares just as much if not more blame through their relaxing and refusal to enforce regulation. And no, you can't blame it on one party either, the democrats have a much larger majority then the republicans ever had and it took both parties to make it happen.

Re:Time for gubm't to step aside and let others le (2, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257925)

So what you are saying is that by not preventing (regulating) private action (creation of CDSs and full service banks), the government prevented the free market from working?

If I read you correctly: the government doesn't do anything==bad. The government does something==bad.

Re:Time for gubm't to step aside and let others le (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258347)

No, what I am saying is that the regulation was already there but not enforced and loopholes in the regulation was created to allow practices that were specifically denied by laws and regulations on the books.

It's not a matter of Government regulation being good or bad, it's a matter of improper regulation, improper enforcement of regulation, and the lack of either all tied together being bad. We don't have a free market in the banking sector, we have a quasi-free market and actions by the government or the inaction by the government strongly effects it. It was a combination of actions in certain areas and inaction in others that allowed the blowup. This is why so many people blame elements of the CRA, Fannie and Freddie, the ponzi schemes, credit default swaps and so on. Not one of those caused the problem, a combination of them plus the lack of enforcement of existing regulation did. The private citizens involved outside of the schemes, was operating within the rules being enforced at the time.

Re:Time for gubm't to step aside and let others le (4, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257743)

While I'm an advocate of the commercial space segment, I think you're reaching a bit far here. Most people calling for it (myself included) believe that NASA needs to get out of the business of building launchers and buy them off the shelf, but continue their efforts to explore the frontier.

There are plenty of commercial opportunities for launching to LEO, and new NASA programs like COTS are attempting to foster this development by basically assuring the companies that the government will be a reliable customer. As such, it makes sense that NASA should limit its work on directing the construction of new launch vehicles and help to develop an open market that they and others can purchase from. Things like COTS, as well as efforts to reform ITAR would go a long way for this.

However, there is no reasonable commercial reason to do science and exploration, yet there is very high value for society in exploring and doing this science and development. This is exactly why we formed governments in the first place, to do the things that benefit our society and advance our interests that individuals and private groups are incapable of doing. Defense isn't really commercially beneficial (neglecting war profiteering which just leaches off of the government effort), but I think most people agree its necessary to some extent, thus why we have governments do it. In the 1500s and 1600s, governments paid for the initial exploration of the world, and only later did commercial entities come in to exploit and profit from it. Continued government spending on exploration efforts seems appropriate and proper if we ever want to leave the planet, especially at the low level of funding it has.

Meanwhile, $ 900,000,000.00 will go to Palestine (-1, Troll)

tjonnyc999 (1423763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256919)

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/24/washington/24gaza.html [nytimes.com] .

(or, if you don't trust/like NYT - google "900 million" and pick any of the suggestions.)

Clearly shows where Obama's priorities lie.
Our economy is in the shitter.
100-year-old corporations are shutting down.
Educational system is utterly fucked-up (http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/05/26/174212 [slashdot.org] )
...
{too many examples}
...
And now NASA's budget is getting cut.
Meanwhile, Hillary and Obama want to give the better part of a trillion bucks to a "nation" with a proven track record of terrorism.

Yeah, change we can believe in.

(O/b/ligatory SFX: FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU- )

and... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28256945)

billions will go to israel

(slow down cowboy!! slashdot can't handle your quick posting!!)

Re:and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258961)

This is why I love slashdot. Someone points out something that hits a nerve, gets modded troll, while a one-sentence non-thought response is +2 insightful. lol groupthink.

Stupid move (-1, Flamebait)

prakslash (681585) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256937)

If there is one area in which the US is unquestionably ahead of everybody else, it is in its space programs. Cutting funds to these programs is a completely stupid idea. You need to strengthen your competitive edge, not let it degrade.

Obama needs to grow a backbone and stand up to the Republicans he is trying to appease by continuing overseas military operations. Instead of diplomatically engaging with the Muslims, keeping a heavy military presence in their countries in order to "stop terrorism" is only pissing away funds that could be better used elsewhere.

The full budget requested by NASA was 4 billion dollars (As per TFA, Congress reduced it to $3.2 billion). Guess what? We piss away this much amount in Iraq every two weeks!

Re:Stupid move (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257055)

The full budget requested by NASA was 4 billion dollars (As per TFA, Congress reduced it to $3.2 billion).
Guess what? We piss away this much amount in Iraq every two weeks!

Yes but how much oil do we get for the blood we spend?

Re:Stupid move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257337)

Obama needs to grow a backbone and stand up to the Republicans he is trying to appease by continuing overseas military operations.

You seriously believe this - that the ineffective and lame Republicans are somehow holding Obama to continuing overseas operations? That they are somehow doing this with an effectively filibuster-proof majority in congress (taking RINO's into account)?

I'd love to hear your theories about the 9/11 attacks.

Re:Stupid move (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258423)

Ok, let's hear your theories about why Obama is still wasting so much money over there. As the other poster said, the entire NASA yearly budget is spent in Iraq every two weeks. What return are we getting on our investment?

Re:Stupid move (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257341)

If there is one area in which the US is unquestionably ahead of everybody else, it is in its space programs. Cutting funds to these programs is a completely stupid idea. You need to strengthen your competitive edge,

That's because we spend far more than any other country, not because we are efficient. I'm not sure that's the same as "competitive".

Plus, it could be argued that unmanned missions are scientifically more cost-effective (a long, complicated, contentious debate).
     

Re:Stupid move (3, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257609)

Obama needs to grow a backbone and stand up to the Republicans he is trying to appease by continuing overseas military operations. Instead of diplomatically engaging with the Muslims, keeping a heavy military presence in their countries in order to "stop terrorism" is only pissing away funds that could be better used elsewhere.

Obama is engaging heavily with Muslim leaders, even making overtures to Iran to prevent the next mid-east debacle (which would make Iraq look like Candy Land). So it's not a matter of "instead". As far as the military presence, he's pulling out of Iraq -- not as fast as I'd like by any means, but about as fast as is responsible I must admit. Afghanistan, now that's the conflict that actually made sense, and with an actual enemy and lines and territory won and lost, our military has a prayer in hell of winning. It will still be expensive at a time we don't need it, absolutely, but at the same time we can't let Afghanistan fall to the Taliban again. Hopefully with us focused solely on that, and Pakistan starting to get serious about their Taleban problem now that it's hurting them, we can resolve it soon. Okay, I don't have that much hope, but it will help.

The full budget requested by NASA was 4 billion dollars (As per TFA, Congress reduced it to $3.2 billion). Guess what? We piss away this much amount in Iraq every two weeks!

I hear ya. Really, this pissing around with millions here and there, targeting "earmarks" and such that nobody is going to be able to get rid of anyway, is just a distraction that can ultimately just backfire. You might think the ten million here, half billion there would add up and it does... to a pretty small fraction of the budget. There are bigger issues there. Robbing NASA of $800 million that can be used for doing their special kind of advanced R&D that can benefit us going forward... silly.

So getting back to one of the things that does matter, I wonder how much cheese we will save when at long last we're not more than a token presence in Iraq. I know we're ramping up in Afghanistan, so that offsets any gains. I am willing to bet it'll be enough that scraping that $800 mil off NASA's budget won't seem like it was much use.

Re:Stupid move (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258163)

As far as the military presence, he's pulling out of Iraq -- not as fast as I'd like by any means, but about as fast as is responsible I must admit

Obama is following the SOFA agreement Bush put into place. The only difference is in the naming of the remaining forces. [indecisionforever.com] The SOFA agreement is the agreement giving the US authority to be on Iraq soil abd was negotiated by Bush before the Obama became president. It appears that it follows McCain's plan [indecisionforever.com] pretty close too.

War spending shouldn't be in conflict with other spending. That's why it is typically done off budget. Putting it on budget only causes crap like this to happen where good spending get cut under the cover of paying for it. Sure, we are spending more money then we should be. But not spending money in Iraq or anywhere else doesn't not mean that money would then be spend somewhere else nor now that it is on the budget, does it mean it will stop being spent. When they put the war spending on budget, it was done to raise the budget ceiling which is used to keep congress's spending somewhat under control. Now when the war is done and the spending isn't needed, congress can simply spend the money somewhere else.

Re:Stupid move (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258791)

Obama is following the SOFA agreement Bush put into place. The only difference is in the naming of the remaining forces. The SOFA agreement is the agreement giving the US authority to be on Iraq soil abd was negotiated by Bush before the Obama became president. It appears that it follows McCain's plan pretty close too.

Yep. One thing I agree on with my very pro-war (and McCain) father is that the outcome was largely already decided and who got elected made little difference.

When they put the war spending on budget, it was done to raise the budget ceiling which is used to keep congress's spending somewhat under control Now when the war is done and the spending isn't needed, congress can simply spend the money somewhere else.

Well what on earth do you expect them to do? Relinquish the opportunity to spend money? Haha, fat chance. They've got to press on in the name of bipartisanship. :)

Huston, the Eagle has landed (4, Insightful)

transami (202700) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257143)

Without our biggest dreams, even our smallest hopes are lost.

And so the Spirit of our country is lost.

Re:Huston, the Eagle has landed (2, Insightful)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257501)

The key is to find real, meaningful, achievable dreams and work towards those. One reason NASA has floundered is their long-term manned space exploration visions haven't made much sense in recent decades, with a lot of technical and logical show stoppers swept under the carpet. People think its unpatriotic to say this, but from my experience parts of the NASA bureaucracy are almost unbelievably corrupt. People lose faith after years of false promise and waste. Better to start fresh maybe, focusing more where there has been recent success, such as with unmanned probes and powerful telescopes.

Re:Huston, the Eagle has landed (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257661)

As another idea that might make a lot more sense than going to mars....If you like the technology developed by manned exploration, there's a lot more building and exploring that could be done in relation to the ocean. Not as much like Star Trek, but with the virtue of being more real.

Re:Huston, the Eagle has landed (2, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258475)

NASA floundered because their budget was cut, and they were saddled with the stupid, ill-conceived, and overpriced Space Shuttle by the Defense Department because the DoD wanted a way to send military satellites into orbit and then to retrieve them intact too. If they had stuck with the Apollo-style rockets and kept the budget up, we'd already have a moon base by now. It would have been expensive, but the economic rewards in spin-off industries would have been huge, plus we could have paid for a lot of it by not wasting so much money in Vietnam and on Johnson's Great Society program where we pay lazy people to sit at home and pop out babies without working.

Re:Huston, the Eagle has landed (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258895)

OK, I'm with you on the military and great society stuff. But some of those people sitting at home and popping out babies work at NASA. One colleague had a huge family to deal with and only came in to the office a couple hours a week. And he wasn't working at home.

I'm also not sure the moon base really makes sense. What is it for? The bottom of the ocean under the north pole is a lot closer, and more hospitable in a lot of ways, but not a very good place for people to live. And I don't think its really a step towards 'colonizing the stars', as claimed in a recent NASA mission statement. If we want to do that, we have a lot of work to do first with evolution and understanding fundamental physics. But I'm open to moon bases as long as people will be honest about what they will be good for and how much they will cost.

Re:Huston, the Eagle has landed (2, Funny)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258363)

Nice quote, but it would have been more effective if you'd correctly spelt "Houston".

I hope all you Obamanauts are happy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257227)

He's working out great, isn't he.

Russia, China, India (2, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257265)

Russia, China, India, the hope for a human future in space.

GO CHINA! GO CHINA! (4, Insightful)

solios (53048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257331)

We did the Apollo thing not really to do it, but to rub the Soviet's nose in it. The the NASA manned program feels like it's been coasting on "hey, wasn't that AWESOME?!" for the last thirty years.

Don't get me wrong - I love the space program and think it's money well spent (overall - Ares/Orion is debatable, but look at the science we've gotten from Hubble and compare the cost of the maintenance flights against, say... the F-22 Raptor program). However, there's no competition in the manned arena and there hasn't been since the days of the Saturn V and the N-1 (or space stations, if you want to go there - We've fielded one and a fraction. The russians have done much, much more in that area).

And there won't be competition until China - who's been excluded from the ISS program - starts making some serious strides towards putting a man on the moon. Or mars. Or an asteroid or a comet or whatever.

So despite the setbacks they've faced, I'm all for the Chinese space program - eventually they'll catch up to NASA/Roscosmos and we won't have a choice - we'll have to get off our asses and start giving a shit about the manned program again, or lose the prestige forever.

NASA costs pennies compared to the black hole of the bailouts and massive defense boondoggles such as the recent USAF tanker fiasco or the Army's Future Combat Systems. Pennies - fractions of pennies - on the dollar, with REAL results.

So why not? (3, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257413)

Okay, so what's the national interest in manned space flight? I'd be firmly against cutting NASA's more scientific work, but the manned space program doesn't do nearly as much for science as other NASA programs.

It's cool to get people off the planet, but it costs a whole lot of money to get them into low Earth orbit, let alone somewhere interesting.

Manned space flight seems to have lost the inspirational value it had in the 1960s, it doesn't produce good scientific returns compared to the unmanned probes, it takes money and attention from the really useful space stuff, it's hurt our satellite-launching capability, and if there's commercial value in sending people into LEO some company will take it up. Why should we be doing it?

Re:So why not? (3, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257867)

First of all, as an academic (his name escapes me now) once said:

A trained geologist can do more research in an hour than a robot in a whole year

and as I understand, his opinion stemmed from the huge delay in sending commands and receiving feedback from the rovers on Mars - and he actually contributes to the Mars Science Laboratory, so he's not "just being negative".

And then, a manned mission to mars would galvanize the energy of the nation that would take on such an endevour. Direct monetary benefit: none. Indirect: incalculable.

Re:So why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258427)

If a trained geologist can do more than a robot, it just means our robots aren't good enough yet.

Push more of the budget into robotics from manned spaceflight. I'm hoping for robots along the lines of the ones in Philip Palmer's "Debatable Space". Humanoid robots that are controlled by humans on Earth through VR type interfaces. They transmit sensory data and allow humans to control them as if the humans were really there. Obviously we'd want FTL communications to do that, so let's get cracking on that too.

And I really hope that we don't end up using them as the robot overlords of our colonies either. There were some disturbing parts in that book where humans on Earth would act out messed up fantasies using their robot bodies with the humans on the colonies.

Re:So why not? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258227)

Well, for one, efficiency gains and life support would be a main benefit. Manned missions can't really carry nuclear fuels to power electronic devices, they can't burn fossil fuels and so on, so the result is going to at minimum be more efficient technology that pollutes less and less.

I would say that is a great plus seeing how the world is a frightened little schoolgirl over global warming. Gains in these areas when shared with US firms and universities could mean the US is leading the pack at efficiency and selling the tech or products using the tech to the rest of the world. In the Apollo missions, we stayed in space a relative short time. Now we are looking at permanent semi-permanent bases as goals which means that the research has to be done with stuff in effect and working by the time it happens.

Re:So why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258433)

just getting a person into orbit is such a waste. you've already put in half the energy required to get them to the end of the universe theoretically. it so wasteful.

Democrats gutting space program (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257577)

It's always been clear that the Democrats would gut the space program.

Sad, by electing Obama, we've put the last hopes of space progress behind us. We're a smaller nation as a result. Pretty much the plan, I guess.

Forgive my lack of eloquence and elegance (1)

almitchell (1237520) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257889)

but this is just bullshit.

Obama (-1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257975)

Change I can believe in.

Money saving measures (1)

pjpII (191291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257993)

Oh no! Does this mean they'll have to use a sound stage in Vancouver?

This makes sense (1)

acb (2797) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258391)

Sending humans up into space is colossally expensive, and of little scientific interest in itself. (It has been proven that you can send humans up into space.) Actual experiments in space, be they to do with zero gravity, telescopes, or what have you can generally be conducted much more economically by mechanised probes.

For the past few decades, manned spaceflight was more a PR exercise than anything else. Someone would go up with a few schoolchildren's experiments, make a few transmissions and get some heroic news coverage. This would be great for national prestige, and to be one of those kids whose plant seedlings got taken up on the space shuttle would have been pretty awesome, though the scientific value of such missions hit the point of diminishing returns a while ago. Now the PR value seems to be declining as well (it has been almost half a century since the first astronauts went up), and the question must be asked: is it really the best use of such sums of money?

Re:This makes sense (2, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258645)

You miss the point. Near-Earth orbit is a stepping stone to further goals. A base on the Moon might is equally but a stepping stone.

The point is acquisition of resources and raw materials from off-planet sources. Whether it is Helium-3 from the surface of the Moon, hydrocarbons from Jupiter, or metals from asteroids the key is that we need stuff. Stuff to make other things with.

There are alternatives. None of them particularly nice. If we force a much smaller population to consume less we will not need as much and can probably get by with what natural processes will make available. Wood is essentially an eternal resource, as long as you like stuff made from wood. Wood is particularly unsuited to a number of containers, enclosures and cases in common use today. Wooden cars are unlikely to be very popular, as would wooden cell phones.

Similarly, while it is possible to recycle metals, it is neither economically feasible nor practical to recycle all metals - most metal products today end up in a landfill somewhere. In 10,000 years or so we can expect to mine rich ore veins where there were landfills. Until then, we are either going to need other sources of raw materials or just plan on a smaller population making do without.

How much smaller a population? And, more importantly, how do we get to a smaller population today? War? Pestilence? Herding people into gas chambers? I really want to hear someone on the environmental side come out with some plans for how we are going to get to a smaller, Earth-constrained population that will be able to make do with fewer natural resources.

Re:This makes sense (0, Troll)

turkeydance (1266624) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258675)

space exploration is "sport" for national governments. don't "have to" do it, but do it for prestige. hey y'all...watch this!

Seven hours in Iraq (5, Informative)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258557)

Other recommendations contained in the bill include a $77million reduction in NASA's proposed space operations budget

When I read this I decided to see what that is relative to the Iraq war.

I'm using this chart as a reference. [zfacts.com] It says we've been at it for about 7 years, and it's cost about $670 billion in total.

So, 7 years is about 2500 days. Divide that through and you get about $268,000,000 per day. That works out to 11.16 million per hour.

77 million / 11.16 = 6.89 hours.

7 hours.

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  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>