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NASA's Space Plans Take Another Hit

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the shields-weakening dept.

Government 12

coondoggie writes "The folks at the Government Accountability Office have not been all that kind to NASA in recent years, and today they issued another damning report on the future of the manned space flight program. NASA is still struggling to develop a solid business case — including firm requirements, mature technologies, a knowledge-based acquisition strategy, a realistic cost estimate, and sufficient funding and time — needed to justify moving the Constellation program, which includes the two main spaceflight components, the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle and the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, forward into the implementation phase, the GAO stated."

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Ugh. More Pencil Pushers. (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29551639)

Did anybody read that as the Onion Crew Exploration Vehicle? Did anybody think this article reads like something the Onion would post? Except with a better headline, e.g. "Bean Counters Say Putting People in Space Is Hard"....

This reads like the sort of thing I see from mid to upper level corporate managers who often can't tell the difference between minor, trivially solvable problems and major, fundamental problems, and have no idea how to describe things to their managers except to portray everything generically as a "risk".

Ooh. They fixed posting for this story.

Re:Ugh. More Pencil Pushers. (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29554245)

Did anybody read that as the Onion Crew Exploration Vehicle?

No, but I read "NASA's Space Planes take a hit" - It should have read "slashdot's comment system took a hit"

Re:Ugh. More Pencil Pushers. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#29554269)

A hit of what though?

Apparently, they decided to free slashdot from the story boundaries. The CA traffic light story is or was cross-linked to the comments for some Microsoft developer technology.

Re:Ugh. More Pencil Pushers. (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29555617)

The CA traffic light story is or was cross-linked to the comments for some Microsoft developer technology.

Looks like Microsoft can crash anything these days.

Why, why, why? (3, Interesting)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29551765)

Why does space exploration have to take a hit when we can spend trillions on everything else? Here is my idea, let GM and Chrysler build the vehicles... After all we own GM and Chrysler.

No German engineers this time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29552613)

I think the lack of success is caused by lack of German engineers.

Just doing my job, Ma'am. (3, Insightful)

JLF65 (888379) | more than 4 years ago | (#29552623)

- at this point NASA does not know how much Ares I and Orion will ultimately cost, and will not know until technical and design challenges have been addressed, the GAO concluded.

Isn't that NASA's function? To figure out how to overcome those "technical and design challenges"? How are they supposed to do the job when they'd denied the money needed on the basis that what they're MANDATED to do can't easily be estimated? That's why NASA is doing this instead of a company - because the government can more easily shoulder the unknown cost than any one company.

redoing Apollo (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 4 years ago | (#29554233)

In the 60's the Saturn V launchers were a radical step. Now can anyone honestly say that solving the same engineering problems for Constellation that the Saturn launchers suffered is a radical step. It's little wonder that Joe Public isn't engaged by the space program because it's already been done.

Something radical is holding a competition to make long strand Carbon Nano Tubes to build a space elevator - why not CNT's are the last major technological hurdle to a permanent presence in space. Costs for Constellation are slated to be 97 Billion dollars, so has anyone ever seen one of these projects come in under budget?

Apollo/Saturn had full political focus for budget support to power the industrial machinery to produce it. Does Constellation? Does anyone think it will take 97 Billion to develop long strand CNT's. What is a wise investment infrastructure when 4 billion is the estimate to implement a S.E?

Unless a radical step is taken that inspires Joe Public I can't see Constellation having the political support required to complete it. Ares I and Orion will be the minimum done so you have a launcher that does exactly what the Shuttle does, but doesn't kill the crew every 68 launches. This will be your tax dollars at work.

spokesperson (1)

Ninjaspork19 (1641879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29558209)

Sounds to me like NASA needs a good spokesperson to help get their ideas approved. Maybe Tim Allen wearing a Buzz Lightyear costume would suffice? To infinity and beyond NASA haters...

Democrats- (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29561969)

It doesn't surprise me. In the last couple of decades, democrats have typically been harder on NASA's budgets then any other political group.

In 1995 with a democrat congress and administration, NASA's budget was cut by $553.8 million. The NASA budget cuts from after the 1995 cut until 2004 totaled $410.3 million and was spread over 5 more cuts with 3 of the 5 occurring during the Clinton administration (with a republican controlled congress). All be told, since 1995 and until 2004 (that's when my data points end), NASA's budget was cut by $902 million when Clinton was president and only $62.1 million with 2 cuts during Bush's first term.

Re:Democrats- (1)

bhiestand (157373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29563215)

I'm not arguing your data since I haven't looked it up, but wasn't a significant portion of NASA funding directed to the moon/mars missions by Bush? If you consider that money down the drain, that should be a pretty big cut as well...

Re:Democrats- (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29565387)

I got my data from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] which cited a February 4 2007 report from Florida Today [wikipedia.org] as it's source.

As for the moon and mars, NASA's budget for 1992 [wikipedia.org] when Clinton took office was $13.961 billion dollars. When Clinton left office and Bush took over, NASA's budget was $13.428 billion. That's an overall decrease of 533 million in eight years. In 2005 when Bush proposed the moon-mars mission, NASA's budget was $15.602 billion or $1.641 billion more then when Clinton took office and $2.174 billion more from when Clinton left office.

Bush initially purposed a 880 million dollar [space.com] increase in NASA's budget to cope with the moon-mars missions (planning and development at this stage). Congress slashed that and actually cut NASA's funding by 477 million. However, by the end of Bush's term, NASA funding had increased again to $17.318 billion. This is also when certain parts of the moon-mars plans started coming together and needed funding. It also addressed a few funding lapses in other areas. That's $1.716 billion more then 2005 when Bush purposed the moon-mars goals. It's a $3.890 billion difference from when Clinton left and Bush took office.

If you can call that extra 1.716 billion dollars a budget cut, then I not sure what to say to you. I mean with increased costs and all, it could be worse, they could have left with less money then they came in under Bush with. That's what happened with Clinton in office and as it stands now, they are almost 4 billion ahead.

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