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NASA's Cashflow Problem Puts Moon Trip In Doubt

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the as-for-mars-talk-to-the-hand dept.

Mars 357

krou writes "According to the Guardian, the Augustine panel is going to declare that there is simply no money to go back to the moon, and the next-generation Ares I rocket is likely to be scrapped unless there is more funding. The $81B Constellation Program's long-term goal of putting a human on Mars is almost certainly not going to be possible by the middle of the century. The options outlined by the panel for the future of NASA 'are to extend the working life of the aging space shuttle fleet beyond next year's scheduled retirement until 2015, while developing a cheaper transport to the moon; pressing ahead with Constellation as quickly as existing funding allows; or creating a new, larger rocket that would allow exploration of the solar system while bypassing the moon.' All of this means that NASA won't be back on the moon before the end of the next decade as hoped, 'or even leaving lower Earth orbit for at least another two decades.' Another result of the monetary black hole is that they don't have the '$300m to expand a network of telescopes and meet the government's target of identifying, by 2020, at least 90% of the giant space rocks that pose a threat to Earth.'"

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Sure they do! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067781)

It's in Congress' collective pockets. And going towards fruitless things like corporate bailouts.

Re:Sure they do! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068135)

It's in Congress' collective pockets. And going towards fruitless things like corporate bailouts.

I propose a new tax. Hear me out please. Every time a white boy is raised in a loving home in suburbia and thinks he's a bad-ass, hard-ass street thug because he listens to top-40 rap on MTV and carefully rehearses his Ebonics until he speaks like someone who grew up in the Projects, tax half of his income. Put that money towards NASA. There's so many of these otherwise useless bastards that it should take about one year before we have a McDonalds on fucking Mars.

Re:Sure they do! (4, Funny)

rbanffy (584143) | about 5 years ago | (#29068531)

That's surprisingly insightful.

Add sterilization to the package and we will also have smart people flipping burgers on the martian McDonald's.

Re:Sure they do! (4, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | about 5 years ago | (#29068465)

On the other hand, NASA's current budget could definitely pay for a TV studio and competent special effects people. I'm just sayin'...

Screw it!!! (1, Insightful)

Trupix (853338) | about 5 years ago | (#29067797)

NASA is gonna die, and our only hope is Privately funded space travel... Or the singularity to solve all our problems...

Scare mongering (3, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | about 5 years ago | (#29067915)

Keep all the little, boring projects that the public doesn't care about in the budget and then threaten that unless you get more money, then you won't be able to do the big, visible ones.

It's one of the oldest budgeting tricks in the book and somebody should be handing NASA's chief his ass for pulling such a stunt.

Re:Scare mongering (2, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 5 years ago | (#29067963)

Keep all the little, boring projects that the public doesn't care about in the budget and then threaten that unless you get more money, then you won't be able to do the big, visible ones.

Yeah, the public schools do that too. They let repairs go when they could have been fixed, but buy new uniforms for the football team and send the band to Disney, then they want a millage passed to do repairs.

Re:Screw it!!! (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 years ago | (#29067979)

I'm going to have to disagree. NASA could survive, but only by doing something relatively radical that actually makes space exploration make sense. At a minimum that means setting up an orbital refueling system, with disposable heavy lifters to bring up fuel and other equipment, relaunchable shuttles to ferry people up and down, and ships that never re-enter the atmosphere but are refueled and stocked in orbit.

Alternatively, NASA could dust off the theoretical nuclear rockets (the closed cycle ones, not the ones that rely on detonating thousands of nuclear bombs) that they had started developing back in the 60's. Or they could start serious research on a non-rocket launch system. A space elevator is probably out of reach right now, but a hypersonic sky-hook, a launch loop, or a laser propulsion system is probably within our technology level (or soon will be).

Re:Screw it!!! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 5 years ago | (#29068035)

Not within our budget limits however.

I would agree though, bringing back NERVA would definetly help with getting to Mars.

Re:Screw it!!! (4, Interesting)

causality (777677) | about 5 years ago | (#29068381)

A space elevator is probably out of reach right now

There is one objection to the space elevator that I've mentioned here before but never seen anyone seriously address.

The earth is built like a gigantic capacitor. The ionosphere has a relatively strong negative charge, while the ground has a relatively strong positive charge. An insulating layer of dielectric air is between them. It's a leaky self-adjusting capacitor because of lightning. A space elevator would bypass this insulating layer of air, making a direct physical connection between the negative and positive charges. Additionally, I believe that the carbon nanotubes proposed for its construction are electrically conductive, but even if they weren't there is probably more than enough current for electrical breakdown to take place considering that lightning does this to air molecules about three million times a day. What would keep the elevator from instantly vaporizing due to electrical arcing the moment it's installed?

Re:Screw it!!! (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 5 years ago | (#29068443)

"NASA could survive, but only by doing something relatively radical that actually makes space exploration make sense."

We don't need humans in space to explore space, we only need them in space to learn how to maintain them in space.

Tourism is not exploration. Learn first, then send tourists at leisure or let them go commercially.

In the days of terrestrial exploration, people and ships were throwaway assets. Now, we send people out of tradition, not utility even though they are counterproductive in terms of both expense and political fallout when we lose a few.

We need robots for many things, and they are suited to the dull and dangerous job of exploring space. Their rapid development cycle, liberated from the burden of supporting meat tourists, means that robot systems can evolve very quickly (vs fossils like the Shuttle that we are stuck with for decades). Vicarious fappery is not a
good reason to send people instead of machines.

Re:Screw it!!! (2, Insightful)

rbanffy (584143) | about 5 years ago | (#29068607)

Better:

With a nuclear rocket you don't have to send fuel and oxidizer up - you only have to send propellant.

And, as soon as you establish a viable transport network, you can get your propellant on much lower-gravity bodies. One could land on a comet, get a lot of water out of it and use part of the collected water to get back to the fuel station.

Re:Screw it!!! (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 5 years ago | (#29067981)

Look around. Do you see private companies lining up to fund Moon travel?

Believe me, if Boeing or General Electric or United Airlines (those seem like the most obvious candidates off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many others) thought there was a profit in it, they'd be lobbying like mad for whatever regulatory changes would be necessary, and simultaneously developing well-publicized plans. Instead we have the absurdly misnamed "Virgin Galactic" planning suborbital hops at some point in the unspecified future -- and as much money as the Branson empire represents, the truth is that when it comes to projects of this scale, Virgin Everything is a bit player.

Yes, eventually the technology will improve to the point that corporate investors will see a short-term profit potential, and at that point the dollars will start flowing in. But it is going to take massive government investment to get us there. As long as the US is dragging its feet, we'd better hope that the EU or Russia or China can step up, because otherwise we are just not going to see people on the Moon again in our lifetimes.

Re:Screw it!!! (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 5 years ago | (#29068385)

Believe me, if Boeing or General Electric or United Airlines (those seem like the most obvious candidates off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many others) thought there was a profit in it, they'd be lobbying like mad for whatever regulatory changes would be necessary, and simultaneously developing well-publicized plans.

That's exactly the point. There's not really a whole lot done in space that couldn't be done down here for less. I'm all for space travel, and generally not hostile to NASA, but until there's a VIABLE reason for space exploration other than "Because we can", most businesses aren't going to do it. They'll stick to having their satellites orbiting the Earth.

Re:Screw it!!! (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | about 5 years ago | (#29068537)

Look around. Do you see private companies lining up to fund Moon travel?

Believe me, if Boeing or General Electric or United Airlines (those seem like the most obvious candidates off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many others) thought there was a profit in it, they'd be lobbying like mad for whatever regulatory changes would be necessary, and simultaneously developing well-publicized plans. ...

Yes, eventually the technology will improve to the point that corporate investors will see a short-term profit potential, and at that point the dollars will start flowing in. But it is going to take massive government investment to get us there. As long as the US is dragging its feet, we'd better hope that the EU or Russia or China can step up, because otherwise we are just not going to see people on the Moon again in our lifetimes.

Didn't Boeing take a bit of a risk with the 747 since it would take many decades to recover the cost of its development? I agree with a lot of what you say, but there are industries out there where long term investments are made, and civil aerospace is one of them, so I think you might have picked a bad example to make your point there. Personally I wish more companies would make these long term investments rather than just cherry pick whatever will pay off this quarter. Japanese companies like Honda are a good example, look at their research into robotics. It could be decades before they turn a profit on any technology that's a descendant of the Asimo robot, but they keep plugging away at it anyway. Honda has always had a long term vision and has worked steadily towards it.

Re:Screw it!!! (1)

daveime (1253762) | about 5 years ago | (#29068627)

Yes, but that was in the days before the bean-counters took over the world. Now you need a cost-analysis and feasability study, not to mention 1000-page specifications before you get approval to take a shit.

Re:Screw it!!! (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#29068013)

Or the Chinese. They'll probably be there in less than 10.

Re:Screw it!!! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068453)

10 - 8 = 2

http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5751078/description.html

NASA has has this patent for years, 1960's I think, and a lot of hobbiest play with it but to many folks say it will never work. The chinese bought rights to use the patent almost 10 years ago and have publicly said they will be on the moon by 2012. I suspect, lacking details, that guess what they figured out and now the space race will begin again.

Re:Screw it!!! (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 years ago | (#29068097)

Not true. The US isn't the only country with space technology. I predict the Chinese will be the next to land men on the moon, and Mars, and everything after that. They'll probably work with the Russians, and maybe some US engineers will head over there too to help out after realizing everything here is going to pot.

While the USA is busy squandering its leading position in the world, China is working hard on becoming #1.

lotter tickets (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 5 years ago | (#29067805)

have a lottery for a chance to win a trip to the moon...

One of these days Alice, to the moon...

Re:lotter tickets (1)

random coward (527722) | about 5 years ago | (#29068021)

"we're whalers on the moon, we carry our harpoons...."

Seriously ... (2, Funny)

neonprimetime (528653) | about 5 years ago | (#29067813)

... how much could it cost to rent a hollywood studio and some video equipment for a day?

Re:Seriously ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068559)

Your lack of intellengce, or super ability as a sarcasm test subject, are only exceeded by the fiction which you generate.

Print up some spacecash (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067839)

If we can print money for digging holes and filling them again, nation destroying followed by nation rebuilding again and death panels, we can print up some federal funbucks for NASA.

Lack of Focus and direction (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067841)

TARDS!!!

We should have been on the moon and beyond by now. Instead we've let corporations with executives that thieves look up to ruin everything almost as bad as big goverment does. The true exploration of the moon and beyond will occur when some corporation tells the goverments of the world to pound sand and then charges same goverments for anything they want done on its ticket.

Re:Lack of Focus and direction (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 5 years ago | (#29068265)

B.S. Corporations don't have the giant amount of capital needed to fund any serious space exploration, especially when the financial rewards are questionable and probably many decades away (asteroid mining, space-based solar power, etc.). Corporations have to get their capital from investors, who want to see a return quickly, not 50 years from now after they're all dead (since most investors are older and saving for retirement; young people are busy spending all their money at the mall or other disposable things).

The problem is that our government has mismanaged our tax dollars, and instead of investing it in space exploration to keep America at the forefront of technology (with all the spin-off technologies developed, in addition to the potential new industries named above), we've wasted our money on useless wars (Vietnam, Iraq, Iraq II, etc.), welfare for people who don't want to work, and more recently idiotic corporate bailouts for companies that were mismanaged and failing. If we had devoted 1/4 the Defense budget to NASA all these years, we would have had a Moon base by now, and probably a Mars one too.

Instead, what's going to happen is that a government with real vision for the future is going to take over as the #1 power on the planet, and they're going to push space exploration. That country is going to be China. And with that, Westerner's prior dreams of humanity being led by Western cultures, with their focus on individual freedoms, (as seen in shows like Star Trek) will be dead. Instead, to be realistic, we should start writing sci-fi stories where everyone speaks Mandarin, and everything big is done for the glory of the Party.

Re:Lack of Focus and direction (1)

JAZ (13084) | about 5 years ago | (#29068499)

yeah, mankind will never go back, not in this era of civilization anyway.

we have become to trite and petty, we much rather kill each other off or maybe just watch american idle that achieve anything that might be beneficial to mankind as a whole.

hell, we even stopped curing our ailments when we realized that treatments could be more profitable that cures.

but take heart, hopefully we've left enough record that mankind's successors to this planet will have a chance to learn from our failure.

How can the federal deficit be blamed? (0, Flamebait)

Shivetya (243324) | about 5 years ago | (#29067851)

Because it certainly has not had any impact on the orgy of irresponsible spending of President Obama and his fellow Democrats.

Face it, it isn't because we "DON'T" have the money its because NASA != votes.

Please don't toss out "Iraq". That old throw away line was childish during Bush's years and just as tired now. Iraq had no bearing either.

Just note it as, NASA != Votes.

It is no more difficult than that. There is no conspiracy. This not because of Iraq/Afghanistan. This is not because of a bloated defense budget. It simply is because NASA does not generate votes or control and as such does not qualify for a President or Congress not interested in science. Please don't confuse a President who TALKS about being for science, just understand the science politicians support is the science that polls well.

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067937)

A Trillion dollar bill for a couple of nonbudgeted wars has no bearing? GFY Rush. Just GFY

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (3, Informative)

WankersRevenge (452399) | about 5 years ago | (#29068049)

In January, the Congressional Budget Office projected a deficit this year of $1.2 trillion before Obama took office, with no estimate for actions he might take. To a large extent, the CBO's estimate simply represented the $482 billion deficit projected by the Bush administration in last summer's budget review, plus the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which George W. Bush rammed through Congress in September over strenuous conservative objections. Thus the vast bulk of this year's currently estimated $1.8 trillion deficit was determined by Bush's policies, not Obama's.

The GOP's Misplaced Rage [thedailybeast.com] by Bruce Bartlett

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (4, Insightful)

scorp1us (235526) | about 5 years ago | (#29068221)

Just a tip - don't be partisan in your posts. Both parties spend spend spend, and have done so with reckless abandon since WWII. This is the check book republic.

Here, do this the next time your party is in charge: Take your income tax bill and write a check for double that. Because at our rate of spending, we only tax for half our expenditures. It doesn't matter who is in charge.

It us unfortunate that we have come full circle and now have taxation without representation. Our children and our kids have no representation in congress, yet they get to inherit our bills.

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | about 5 years ago | (#29068271)

Whats scary are those scientists with their universe destroying super colliders and off predictions of asteroid impacts. Why the hell would they want to collect super germs unless they planned on making bigger and better killers, they made AIDS for the CIA you know. Then they tell us that those things moving in the sky are swamp gas, swamp gas! How dumb do they think we are? For what, so they can go out into the woods scrape owl shit off of trees. I can do that and for a whole lot less!!!!1

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#29068279)

Please don't toss out "Iraq". That old throw away line was childish during Bush's years and just as tired now. Iraq had no bearing either.

Sometime between the time Clinton left office and Obama entered office the Federal budget surplus disappeared.

Now where did it go? Hrm?

Secondly, the national debt went from 6 trillion in 2001 to 10 trillion in 2008? (I'm rounding up)

Now where did that money go? It could have been useful to have when the economy collapsed in 2008?

Keep in mind the President had veto power and up until 2006 a majority in the house and senate so anything that got approved for spending crossed his desk.

I'm saying this as a person who support conservative government fiances in time of plenty and who donated to Ron Paul. As it is... 8 years is a long time to be in charge. Anything we have to deal with today was because of that.

And don't say Clinton is at fault either because he had 8 years to undo any problems he had caused if such is the reason.

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about 5 years ago | (#29068313)

Please don't confuse a President who TALKS about being for science, just understand the science politicians support is the science that polls well.

And science that people are likely to think of as relevant and necessary polls well.

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068317)

"...irresponsible spending of President Obama and his fellow Democrats."

"Please don't toss out "Iraq""

I'm going out on a limb and saying you're a Neocon or a douche bag.

$4 trillion dollars and counting for the Iraq war. Yeah no one will miss $4 trillion.

$2 trillion for the Wall Street bailout.

Negative job growth.

Yeah George W. Bush did a heck of a job!

Yup, douche bag.

Hey look, it's a partisan hack! (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 5 years ago | (#29068371)

Because it certainly has not had any impact on the orgy of irresponsible spending of President Obama and his fellow Democrats.

Oh yeah, cause it's -all- Obama's fault, right?

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29068469)

Because it certainly has not had any impact on the orgy of irresponsible spending of President Obama and his fellow Democrats.

Context failure on line 1: Orgies not related to root topic "Moon Trip".
Parsing failure on line 1: "President Obama" is not inherited from the class "Democrats".

Face it, it isn't because we "DON'T" have the money its because NASA != votes.

Illegal operand on line 3: !=; Class "Organization" cannot be compared with class "Citizen".
Compiler warning: All caps statement does not need added quotations for emphasis.
I/O: /projects/moon_trip/John_F_Kennedy.h include file missing.

Please don't toss out "Iraq". That old throw away line was childish during Bush's years and just as tired now. Iraq had no bearing either.

Compiler warning: Iraq.h included but not used.
Compiler warning: George_Bush.h included but not used.

It is no more difficult than that. There is no conspiracy.

Compiler warning: Illuminati.h contains errors and was not included.

This not because of Iraq/Afghanistan. This is not because of a bloated defense budget.

Compiler warning: Iraq.h alread declared.
File I/O error: Afghanistan.h not found.
File I/O error: Function bloat() included multiple times in budget/defense.h
Compiler warning: budget/defense.h required for NASA.c

It simply is because NASA does not generate votes or control and as such does not qualify for a President or Congress not interested in science.

Parsing failure on line 9: "Control" declared without operand.
Parsing failure on line 9: if/then branch always returns false.
Parsing failure on line 9: Class "NASA" not inherited from "Voter".

Please don't confuse a President who TALKS about being for science, just understand the science politicians support is the science that polls well.

Parsing failure on line 10: "President" cannot be confused by members of the class "Voter."
Parsing failure on line 10: "science politicians" is ambiguous. Add an apostrophe to politicians or prefix statement with a linking verb.
Parsing failure on line 10: "polls well" is ambiguous. Did you mean "does well in the polls" ?

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (1)

oblivionboy (181090) | about 5 years ago | (#29068497)

Just cause its an old line, doesn't mean Iraq isn't still a relevant line.

Re:How can the federal deficit be blamed? (1, Troll)

multiplexo (27356) | about 5 years ago | (#29068611)

Because it certainly has not had any impact on the orgy of irresponsible spending of President Obama and his fellow Democrats.

Shut the fuck up you worthless Republican pile of shit. Where were you when George W. Bush and his fellow Republicans were presiding over the most massive expansion in the federal government since Lyndon Johnson was president? Medicare Part D? The Iraq War. The massive deficits. All of this spending happened with a Republican in the White House and you didn't say a goddamned thing about it, because back then, according to your God, Dick Cheney, "deficits don't matter". But let a black Democrat come in, one who actually budgets honestly instead of trying to hide the costs of the Iraq War with budget games and all of a sudden you're whining about the irresponsible spending of Barack Obama and the Democrats. People like you are just too goddamned fucking stupid to live in this country. You should be rounded up and sold into slavery in North Korea or China, the best thing that you could ever hope to do with your life is die from lead poisoning after a short and miserable life slaving away in a communist prison factory.

Cash flow problem... (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29067853)

We're in the middle of a recession that's one of the longest on record. They're projecting that the budget they have now will be the same fifty years from now, and everyone panics over this? Oh please. Just wait until the Chinese start firing rockets into space with people on them and design their own Apollo program. I bet legislators will look between the couch cushions then and find the spare cash they need to one-up them. I've never credited Congress with an abundance of brains, but pride? Oh, they got that in spades.

Re:Cash flow problem... (1)

Councilor Hart (673770) | about 5 years ago | (#29068105)

It will go down right? The budget..
Isn't America broke, compared to the rest of the world?

Re:Cash flow problem... (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 years ago | (#29068137)

You're a bit late, the Chinese have already launched multiple rockets with people on them; and, are already working on getting to the Moon.

Re:Cash flow problem... (3, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | about 5 years ago | (#29068315)

Congress won't do anything serious until it's blatantly obvious--even to Joe SixPack--that there's a space race again and we're losing. It has to be portrayable as a crisis of epic proportions, so they can rush in to save American pride with some epic spending.

It has been the same for the last 30 years (2, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | about 5 years ago | (#29068173)

Our manned space program has been on a budget that amounts to just enough to keep limping along in LEO, but not enough to do anything useful for the last thirty years. And honestly, we don't care about what the Chinese do. We don't need an excuse to develop nuclear capability anymore. We aren't in a battle of ideologies where allowing the Russians to be better than us in anything would be a "win for communism". If the Chinese put a man on the moon we'll say good "job catching up", and then do nothing.

Congress doesn't have the decisiveness to kill the manned space program altogether nor the will to spend what is genuinely needed to kick start a colonization effort. So we continue with uninspired mediocrity. There is absolutely no reason to believe that this will change any time soon.

Re:Cash flow problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068309)

when you think that 90B$ is just about $300 per american... what a shame.

Re:Cash flow problem... (1, Troll)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 5 years ago | (#29068427)

i disagree- I think the USA is in not-quite a death spiral. It has exceeded its reach and the last time I checked (earlier today) it's in debt so deeply (11.65 trillions dollars) that if it was EVER able to pay down the debt at the rate of 1 million dollars a day (which it has NEVER been able to do on a consistent ongoing basis) it would take approximately 31,917 YEARS to pay it off. If it paid down the debt 1000x faster (1 Billion dollars a day) it would still take almost 32 years to pay.

The answer is: it's not getting paid. It will never get paid. And once everyone figures that out they will ditch the USA like a hot potato.

Re:Cash flow problem... (2, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | about 5 years ago | (#29068445)

Just wait until the Chinese start firing rockets into space with people on them

They started doing that almost 6 years ago.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3192330.stm [bbc.co.uk]

It seems to me (1, Interesting)

moogied (1175879) | about 5 years ago | (#29067869)

NASA's only real problem is that the government is giving them a crap ton of stupid projects to do. What good is identifying the asteroid that will kill us all? We can't stop the stupid thing. Why exactly are we going to the moon again? As a launch platform for mars? How about we use that other launch platform we have.. you know, earth. We got to the moon in the 60's because NASA was told "Get to the moon.", so sure enough they hopped right onto it.

Re:It seems to me (3, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 5 years ago | (#29068031)

Why exactly are we going to the moon again?

Uhhhh-- You're not from around here, are you? The non-geek answer is here [nasa.gov] . The geek-trying-to-not-be answer is here [nasa.gov] . And the real geek answer is... well, anything modded +5 on this thread that isn't "Funny".

Re:It seems to me (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068067)

uhh, we CAN stop the asteroid, at least we are close to it. There are many talks of using gravitational tractors to deflect the asteroids so that they harmlessly fly by the earth instead of slamming into it. Once again, it's just lack of funding. One of the above posts is right. NASA does not win votes, which is why it's not politically prudent to fund it.

Re:It seems to me (2, Informative)

joggle (594025) | about 5 years ago | (#29068071)

You don't need to stop a meteor. If you can spot it soon enough there are several techniques that could be used to change its trajectory so that it misses the Earth (such as putting a satellite near it that can tug it over time just using gravity, or by putting a coating on it that would alter the solar pressure on it and push it out of the way, etc).

Or you could leave everything to chance (or name your deity) but since we have the ability I definitely think we should give ourselves the chance to use it.

Re:It seems to me (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 years ago | (#29068153)

We can't stop the stupid thing.

That depends wildly on how much warning we have. If we spot it two months, or even two years before it gets here, you're probably right. Even then, small rocks are more common than big ones so it would be statistically likely that an evacuation could be done, possibly saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

If we spot a rock, even a big one, 30 or 40 years out, we have the technology already to make a difference. Enough nukes detonated all on one side will ablate material off the surface and produce thrust, changing the rocks orbit by a little bit. Luckily, even a minuscule change in direction will produce a significant change in position 30 years down the line.

The really interesting thing is if a rock is detected that will hit in 10-15 years. At that point, it is less likely for our current technology to be fully effective. We'd end up with a crash program that would make Apollo look like chump change. I could even imagine NASA dusting off the old Orion nuclear pulse propulsion ideas if the whole world were at stake; after all, what's a few hundred nukes being detonating in the atmosphere compared human extinction.

Re:It seems to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068399)

What good is identifying the asteroid that will kill us all?

Do you have the same attitude when crossing the street?

Why exactly are we going to the moon again? As a launch platform for mars? How about we use that other launch platform we have.. you know, earth.

The same reason we don't use your mom as a launch platform, because of the enormous gravity well.

Surface to Orbit [projectrho.com]

There's never any money for space. (4, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 5 years ago | (#29067879)

There never seems to be enough money for something as fundamentally important and immensely valuable to the human race as space exploration. But apparently there's always a bottomless pit of wealth for bailouts, to help grow government bureaucracy and expand what in many ways are entitlement programs.

Re:There's never any money for space. (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 5 years ago | (#29068323)

Space exploration is not "fundamentally important". The bailouts help protect the people who are alive from starvation and crime. [I hate you for having me argue for a bailout, but given a choice between space and the collapse of civilization as we know it, I'll take the bailouts]

I do believe NASA's premiere mission should be one to identify and protect Earth from asteroid and comet impacts by developing technology to 1) identify hazards and 2) adjust trajectories. Everything else (man on mars, moon or beyond) should be discretionary. We will never colonize another stellar body to any extent, and what is more, is we will never have an outpost to save humanity. Anything that is pervasive enough to destroy humanity on Earth is large nough to detroy the ecosystems of the planet for longer than any colony could exist independently off world.

Why bother going? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067885)

Nothing ever happens on the moon.

Efficiency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29067893)

On the bright side, this might just help NASA become more efficient in terms of expenditure.

Not surpised. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 years ago | (#29067903)

I really am not. The sad thing is that a lot of that money would have been spent on good high paying jobs in the US. It might have also started to inspire young people to think about jobs in science and engineering like it did in the 50s and 60s.
Well let's hope SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule work.
Or
Vote for me in the next election.
My platform is.
More money for Space.
Faster and cheaper broadband.
No more software patents.
And your tax refund can not be more that the amount you paid in taxes.

I guess I don't understand (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 5 years ago | (#29067931)

We were able to get to the moon in the 60's, but there's no way we can get there in the 21st century? If Congress is giving them too many stupid tasks to do, they should just divert the funds & manpower from those programs and redirect it to SPACE TRAVEL.

Re:I guess I don't understand (1)

confused one (671304) | about 5 years ago | (#29068201)

It comes down to this simple fact: In the 60's Congress gave NASA an unconstrained budget. all the money they asked for. Now, Congress isn't giving them enough money to complete the tasks they're already working on, like the ISS and building a replacement for the Shuttle -- going to the Moon is out of the question.

Re:I guess I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068213)

Better question it took 10 years to get to the moon in the 60's.
Why is it going to take 15 years to get to the moon now, and only if NASA gets the money?

NASA Benifits (4, Insightful)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | about 5 years ago | (#29067953)

No matter your political leanings, it is hard to argue that NASA does not provide a great return on investment. But with our myopic tendencies (Congress and Business) no one has the balls to invest what is needed to continue long-term success.

Re:NASA Benifits (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 5 years ago | (#29068121)

No matter your political leanings, it is hard to argue that NASA does not provide a great return on investment.

Such as? I'm not trolling, but what sorts of things does the space program do that could be considered a great return on investment? When I think of space travel inventions, I think of Tang, but now I found out here [cnn.com] that it was around before the "space age". Are all of the inventions listed in that article good? Sure, but most of them could have been and probably would have been invented in the absence of a space program.

Re:NASA Benifits (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 5 years ago | (#29068243)

Hear hear! I'm fed up with this superstitious crap.

Re:NASA Benifits (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | about 5 years ago | (#29068633)

Satellites => Cell phones, GPS, Google Earth...

Yes, satellites are more and more commerical, but that's why NASA needs to be focusing on ways to get out of Earth orbit. And the result of starting a mining colony on the Moon would be huge, much like the huge advantages (which you so quickly dismiss) of Satellite communications.)

Re:NASA Benifits (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 5 years ago | (#29068211)

Name them. What ROI do we get from manned space exploration that cannot be obtained from vastly less expensive and more technologically sophisticated unmanned exploration? What is compelling at all about sending human beings to the moon and mars? What will they do that can't be achieved far sooner, on incomparably longer missions, and at much much less cost by machines?

Re:NASA Benifits (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#29068397)

No matter your political leanings, it is hard to argue that NASA does not provide a great return on investment.

No it doesn't (from Congress's point of view): Funding NASA doesn't result in graft^Hcampaign contributions.

Short sighted? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 years ago | (#29068015)

There is a world recession on now, but it will eventually get better. Most people seem to think that will happen in 2-3 years or even a bit less.

Presumably then the money tap will be turned back on. If helium 3 turns out to be as important as it seems it will be in the next century, the money will be found.

Enough with the manned missions already! (1, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 5 years ago | (#29068023)

How hard is it to see that manned space flight inhibits space exploration? What does physical human presence on a spacecraft do that can't be done by remotely controlled or autonomous robotics? Why spend billions upon billions of dollars to provide food, water, atmosphere, heat, radiation protection, cabin space, lighting, and excrement processing when these are entirely tangential to any compelling mission? Almost the entirety of productive and scientifically valuable space exploration of the past half century has been performed by machines.

The "get off this rock" crowd is a magical-religious cult, not a serious proponent of realistic, feasible, affordable, desirable, or even specific projects. Manned colonization of the cosmos is, at the present time and likely for centuries to come, no different from a belief in an afterlife filled with saints, virgins, and angelic personages. It is not real. If you want inspiration, stick to anime.

Re:Enough with the manned missions already! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068175)

Read this book [wikipedia.org] and repost. $2B gets you to Mars. $20B gets you a network of sites on Mars. That's a whole lot cheaper than $81B mentioned here.

Re:Enough with the manned missions already! (5, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 5 years ago | (#29068273)

The "get off this rock" crowd is a magical-religious cult, not a serious proponent of realistic, feasible, affordable, desirable, or even specific projects.

Except that space advocates have been for decades proposing projects which are entirely realistic, feasible, and specific. Whether they're affordable is of course an open question, and whether they're desirable is a matter of opinion, but there is nothing like the ambiguity you claim.

Manned colonization of the cosmos is, at the present time and likely for centuries to come, no different from a belief in an afterlife filled with saints, virgins, and angelic personages.

By saying "cosmos," you're conflating science-fantasy ideas about warp drives and such with well-understood science and engineering problems involved in colonizing the Solar System. I suspect you're doing this deliberately to make it all look equally silly. In case you're really so ignorant that you don't understand the difference:

Cosmos -- not going to happen without fundamental changes in our understanding of physical laws. Too bad.

Solar System -- easily doable with technology that exists right now, using little more than a Newtonian understanding of the world.

It is not real.

Human footprints on the Moon are real. Many of the people who put them there are still alive. That's as real as it gets.

If you want inspiration, stick to anime.

How about being inspired by the actual record of what people did? Are you actually more inspired by fiction than by real life?

Re:Enough with the manned missions already! (1, Interesting)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 5 years ago | (#29068403)

Manned exploration of the solar system is far from "easily doable with technology that exists right now." It is colossally expensive, and devising safe, prolonged missions to other problems is not even close to being a solved problem in practical, feasible terms. True to my post, you are forced to resort to emotional arguments. You have neglected to explain why humans need to be present in space. It is very much a magical-religious cult.

Re:Enough with the manned missions already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068357)

The "get off this rock" crowd is a magical-religious cult, not a serious proponent of realistic, feasible, affordable, desirable, or even specific projects. Manned colonization of the cosmos is, at the present time and likely for centuries to come, no different from a belief in an afterlife filled with saints, virgins, and angelic personages. It is not real. If you want inspiration, stick to anime. What would we do without bright people like you?

Re:Enough with the manned missions already! (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | about 5 years ago | (#29068451)

What would we do without bright people like you?

You would spend billions and billions of dollars building a pointless low earth orbit ferris wheel and pretend you are some kind of space-faring Christopher Columbus. Oh, wait...

Re:Enough with the manned missions already! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | about 5 years ago | (#29068435)

What's the point of unmanned space exploration if we never plan on going there?

The engineering work behind designing human capable long distance space craft HAS to be done eventually, why sit and wait? It's not as if this kind of technology grows on trees.

Besides, getting off this rock is the only thing that will save it. The resources in space are unlimited and as is pretty obvious from looking back at history, almost all wars are fights over limited resources.

Re:Enough with the manned missions already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068547)

I have to agree with you on this. Manned exploration of the solar system has a great deal to do with what people simply want or what plays well for politicians. Part of growing up was becoming self-aware enough to tell the difference between what I wanted and what was actually required.

I recall when Bush started going on about putting a man on Mars and diverting resources towards that goal, while at the same time Hubble was being written off. That, if anything, should have put up a flag that it was all about PR and not science. NASA, of course, was happy to jump on the bandwagon.

Re:Enough with the manned missions already! (1)

oblivionboy (181090) | about 5 years ago | (#29068575)

Another mindless rant from the we should be exploring space with machines team. Thanks so much for your opinion. We loved it so much.

Simple minded Idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068581)

You are an idiot.

What good are autonomous robots if they cannot simple find all the raw materials and set up a habitability , location of off this planet. All robotic exploration has been centered around finding resources capable of sustaining life.

Understanding of how humans can travel in space has a number of great advantages. Just extended stays in the International Space station have yield a great deal of medical brake troughs. Understanding how to provide human with self sustaining habitat is also key. To simply say that maned exploration of space is to expensive is just plain short sided idiocy.

It is not like we have created a boogieman to scare all the useless people into traveling to another planet or something. Although if we do we should keep the telephone sanitizers this time.

Identify 90% of the rocks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068045)

How can they determine what 90% is unless they've located 100% of the rocks?

I can hear it now:
My President, there are 10163 large rocks out there but we've only seen 5892 of them. We know that the others are out there, though, but we haven't reached 90% so we need more funding. Trust us.

Bloody idiotic measures. That's as dumb as the "war on {a concept}", which we knew to be a crock when it was first declared.

One of these problems will fix themselves (3, Insightful)

starglider29a (719559) | about 5 years ago | (#29068059)

You just won't like the solution. From TFA:

The agency needs about $300m to expand a network of telescopes and meet the government's target of identifying, by 2020, at least 90% of the giant space rocks that pose a threat to Earth. Congress has not come up with the money and is unlikely to, according to the National Academy of Science.

There is no advantage to detecting an incoming impactor if you do not have the means to prevent its impact. Having less time before large scale annihilation may serve the public better. But when it does hit (don't say if if you mean when), the loss of tax revenue will cause more damage to the budget than the space budget would have.

A microgram of prevention is worth a metric tonne of cure.

Re:One of these problems will fix themselves (1)

oblivionboy (181090) | about 5 years ago | (#29068645)

Of course this is totally retarded thinking. If you happen to know how long you've got before the impact, then you can evaluate your options and see what is possible. And certainly SOMETHING might well be possible. It seems reasonable to me that advanced warning is important in this scenario. Unless you know something the rest of us don't, in which case please share.

$1B Prize (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about 5 years ago | (#29068115)

All they need to do is a $1B prize. It will happen.

Missing Tag: (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 5 years ago | (#29068133)

suddenoutbreakofcommonsense

Re:Missing Tag: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068555)

I am glad that its missing and it just shows that people like you are in a minority when it comes to slashdot.

It's not just the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068183)

It's also massive incompetence at NASA. Contracts improperly run, Congressional direction to waste money on less efficient ways of doing things (thanks senator Byrd), and your typical inefficient government bureaucracy conspire to waste a large percentage of the budget.

Humanity vs America (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068185)

Please explain to me why the nations of this world cant get together and share budgets, knowlege and whatever is necessary to get to where "humanity" wants to go when it comes to space exploration.

all i hear about is "humanity" followed by NASA ... Americans perhaps, not Humanity. The fact of the matter is that this world has changed since the 1960's ... and america isnt what it was before. I dont think getting to mars is something the NASA should be working on by itself, this is a project that should bind nations together... not set them apart. i wouldnt be surprised if eastern countries start teaming together to get to mars in the near future, leaving whats left of NASA behind... time will tell i guess.

90%? (0, Redundant)

Wiseazz (267052) | about 5 years ago | (#29068205)

"the government's target of identifying, by 2020, at least 90% of the giant space rocks that pose a threat to Earth"

If they don't know how many there are, then how do they know when they've identified 90% of them? Did I miss something there?

There must be a profit to be made in space (1)

werfu (1487909) | about 5 years ago | (#29068217)

There must be something that could turn a profit to pay for space exploration. Rare metal in asteroid or something else? Thinking of all this, it always reminds me the Star Trek story, the need for a WW3, a science guy inventing a light speed capable engine. The day we gonna drop our stupid money based system and start working for a common goal we may see space exploration happens. For now we're only looking our planet nose. There's is infinite space out there and lots of resources, more enough to satisfy man growth for long.

Re:There must be a profit to be made in space (1)

Suiggy (1544213) | about 5 years ago | (#29068489)

Right now, it's cheaper to spend $1 billion annually to operate a large terrestrial mine than it is to spend $10+ billion on a launch, retrieval, and return system that if it fails means that a large amount of the investment is wasted. If a $3 million giant dump truck breaks down, you bring in a few mechanics and some new parts, no big deal.

"There is nothing out there worth the $$$ of going (1)

starglider29a (719559) | about 5 years ago | (#29068605)

"There is nothing out there worth the cost of going. Does it mean we don't go? No, it merely means that we've passed 'The Point of No Return On Investment.'"

Starglider29a
Offline document

Obama's Moon Speech to Country (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068257)

I'm sorry kids, I know I promised it to you, but we're not going to get to go to the moon anytime soon.
(Pause for "Awe but..." and whining)

You see, the thing is, we're on hard times here. The country's not what it used to be. We just don't have the money right now to spend going on trips to the moon and such.

So keep up those grades and -- if you're good -- maybe we'll go to the moon in ten years.

Re:Obama's Moon Speech to Country (1)

inerlogic (695302) | about 5 years ago | (#29068439)

+1 sad but true

NASA should do an IPO (1)

middlemen (765373) | about 5 years ago | (#29068285)

NASA should just do an IPO, raise the funds, go completely private, remove the redundancies created by bureaucracy and go ahead with their work. Then they can throw the frivolous projects out, and continue with the useful stuff.

IMHO, the Russians/Chinese/Indians/Private companies with their space organizations will get to the moon/Mars much faster than NASA anyway since their motivations are different, and especially, those countries take a lot of pride in their space related work.

Re:NASA should do an IPO (1)

inerlogic (695302) | about 5 years ago | (#29068409)

they go completely private, they open themselves up to lawsuits galore.... and cost cutting measures to make money for investors....

Useful != Profitable (1)

starglider29a (719559) | about 5 years ago | (#29068549)

It sounds good, but which projects would you "buy stock" for? And if so, would you expect your money back?

if only.... (1)

inerlogic (695302) | about 5 years ago | (#29068401)

....we had a charismatic leader who inspired us with his oratory skill to achieve that which we think is impossible, and set a firm deadline....
and steel our resolve by his being cut off in the prime of life....

if only there were some other country on the planet that posed a technological and ideological threat to us to further spur us into action....

darn...

FAKE a Chinese Moon shot - Funding solved... (1)

jzarling (600712) | about 5 years ago | (#29068477)

The thought of a Chi-Com moon will open the Governments coffers.
We have the potential for a new wide reaching conspiracy theory here people.

Iran or China might do an Orion (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 5 years ago | (#29068493)

The future of space belongs to a country willing to use nuclear propulsion. [wikipedia.org] Chemical rockets are a dead end. They haven't improved much in forty years, and the limits of that technology have been nearly reached.

tro7l (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068515)

roots and

guardian speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29068597)

Wait is this a publication in a country who more than 25% believe we never went to the moon?

Fuck them. This is pure hype and hope that we won't continue to humiliate them in space. Beagle pancake anyone? It's fresh from Mars!

"going to declare" - fuck you - tell me what lotto numbers are "going to be declared" asshole.

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