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House Outlaws Obama's NASA Intervention

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the let's-argue-some-more dept.

Government 209

TopSpin writes "NASA's Constellation Program and Ares rockets appear to have strong support in Congress. An appropriations bill passed by the House includes language that bars 'any efforts by NASA to cancel or change the current Constellation program without first seeking approval of Congress.' The Administration's appointed NASA leadership is being publicly hostile towards its traditional aerospace affiliations. As Charles Bolden put it to industry execs, 'We are going to be fighting and fussing over the coming year,' and 'Some of you are not going to like me because we are not going to do the same kind of things we've always done.'"

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209 comments

Oink! Oink! (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414610)

It's so very important not to change the carefully crafted pork that these projects tend to be once Congress gets their crusty little fingers on them.

"Our minds are made up, don't confuse us with the facts".

Re:Oink! Oink! (4, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414650)

Of course, I'm sure you've been on many decade long aerospace engineering projects to know how it should work.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1, Troll)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414680)

You don't need decades of experience to have an opinion about the usefulness of giving a select few joy rides into space.

Re:Oink! Oink! (5, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414740)

Right, let's just sit on our asses and wait for that Technological leap to appear out of nowhere so we can utilize the infinite resources in space. I mean that is how technology progresses right? Just sit on ones ass, somewhere someone will come up with the right idea.

Re:Oink! Oink! (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414774)

Until someone makes a technological leap past chemical rockets, the resources of space are anything but infinite.

And I don't think repeated practice with 40 year old chemical rocket technology is going to lead to that leap.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415798)

Until someone makes a technological leap past chemical rockets, the resources of space are anything but infinite.

First, it's worth noting that chemical rockets are only really necessary for when you want a lot of thrust in a short period of time, like going from Earth to orbit or exploiting the Oberth effect [wikipedia.org] (for an object leaving orbit around Earth or some other massive body). There are other applications like station keeping (minor pushes to a satellite to maintain its orbit), course corrections (when you're on a trajectory, but need a little change in order to hit a desired window of opportunity), and applications where you want to visit a lot of locations and have time to spare (say visiting a bunch of asteroids or moons around a gas giant).

There are a variety of other current or near future viable propulsion systems that work in a large part of the Solar System: compressed gas, electric propulsion, and solar sails. These have different characteristics from chemical propulsion.

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415840)

Only problem is: getting off the Earth is the limit to doing anything in space...

Re:Oink! Oink! (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416018)

Chemical rockets are not that limiting. For example, there's no reason that they can't attain similar economics as commercial airlines. You have similar energy needs (a long passenger jet flight consumes a similar amount of energy as it takes to reach orbit) and similar roles (carry passengers and cargo on "trips"). The profound difference is that there's maybe a few dozen rocket flights a year at best while there are somewhere around thirty thousand passenger jet flights per day just in the US.

My view is that if rockets were flying at the same rate as passenger jets, fuel costs would be about a third of overall cost (as they are for passenger jets). That means roughly $300 per kg for vehicles using liquid oxygen and hydrogen or $100 per kg for vehicles using liquid oxygen and kerosene. That's well over an order of magnitude cheaper than today's price (and the cost goes down, if energy gets cheaper).

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416084)

And I don't think repeated practice with 40 year old chemical rocket technology is going to lead to that leap.

The big question is, what will? It's reasonably arguable that the only reason we ever made it to the moon was a drive to push the limits of existing technology. To, as the GP points out, sit on our hands will, if anything, retard the interest and drive to develop those new technologies.

Besides, the next leap is unlikely to push us particularly farther than we can go now and things don't become much more than an interesting "joy ride" through space really until we can actual travel to other solar systems. Even then, one could argue that really at no point does it ever being more than a "joy ride" since the amount of energy required is so massive that it's incredibly unlikely that anything could be discovered to make it worthwhile from a purely utilitarian perspective.

In short, if one can't accept today that the things done by astronauts in space are more than a "joy ride", then I don't see how you could see any action by astronauts in space as more than a "joy ride"--not without some magical pixie dust that violates the laws of physics to allow ultra energy cheap escape velocity.

Re:Oink! Oink! (2, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414878)

Right, let's just sit on our asses and wait for that Technological leap to appear out of nowhere so we can utilize the infinite resources in space.

That's exactly what we should do. In the mean time, robotic probes can accomplish much more useful work in space than fragile human meat sacks at a small fraction of the cost.

Re:Oink! Oink! (2, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414976)

But the ultimate goal is to send humans into space not robots.

Re:Oink! Oink! (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415112)

You're confusing the ends with the means. The ultimate goal is to gain scientific knowledge and/or access to resources. This can currently be done more effectively without the additional cost of sending humans.

The only current useful purpose for sending humans into space is to provide an exhibition of national bravado.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415304)

The only current useful purpose for sending humans into space is to provide an exhibition of national bravado.

I'm sure that a person's ability to improvise has *nothing* to do with it.

Re:Oink! Oink! (2, Interesting)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415580)

To date, the main use of peoples' improvisational abilities in space has been to save their own asses when they got into trouble.

(Missions like fixing the Hubble telescope don't count, either. It would have been cheaper to build several Hubbles on an assembly line and launch them as they break than to send shuttle missions to service them.)

Re:Oink! Oink! (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416284)

(Missions like fixing the Hubble telescope don't count, either. It would have been cheaper to build several Hubbles on an assembly line and launch them as they break than to send shuttle missions to service them.)

Might have been cheaper, faster and more effective. But the Hubble servicing missions DID give us practice in doing repairs in space. That is the sort of practice and technique we're going to need if we plan on doing anything in space that approaches 'routine'. Like go to the asteroids / Mars / Moon.

Saving one's bacon is a very strong motivator to getting something done. We need to do more of it. Or do you think that we won't have any equipment problems as we scale up our space activities?

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415812)

Could not be more wrong.

You want to talk ends and means?

Call knowledge an end: OK you know everything about everything. So what? Now just sit on your ass? NO. You use it to make life better, easier, to accomplish some other goal.

But that means that The Pursuit of Scientific Knowledge is not an end.

Which is true. It never has been. It is a MEANS to an end.

So no, the ultimate goal is not to gain knowledge, but to do something with that knowledge.

Re:Oink! Oink! (2, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415834)

To you the ultimate goal is scientific knowledge and resources.

To me the ultimate goal is human settlement beyond Earth.

To congresspeople the ultimate goal is getting reelected.

What you see as nationalistic chest thumping I see as (admittedly often poorly done) continued development of technology to support frontier development. They of course see it as jobs for their district. Conversations about how we should do things first require an agreement on the goals.

Re:Oink! Oink! (2, Insightful)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415134)

But the ultimate goal is to send humans into space not robots.

And do what? Live? Currently we do not have the means or technology to build a self supporting orbital colony, or one on the Moon or on Mars. Spending more money on putting humans in space won't magically develop technologies needed to support life outside of Earth.

I agree that it is imperative that for the survival of our species that we have more than one home in the solar system. We can better work towards that by focusing on science, which outside of our orbit is most efficiently done with probes.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415190)

The technology doesn't appear out of a vacuum, it comes from decades of research and development. That R&D won't happen unless we put money into it now.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

AlamedaStone (114462) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415724)

The technology doesn't appear out of a vacuum, it comes from decades of research and development. That R&D won't happen unless we put money into it now.

I applaud your enthusiastic support for the space program, but I feel you still miss the point entirely.

Space research and study can be accomplished with robotic probes. Human sustainability projects can be synthesized down here on old terra firma. We can even briefly simulate weightlessness, and closed systems and solar techs are actively being studied. Based on the numbers just pulled directly out of my ass, it would be cheaper by an order of magnitude to do both of these things separately than to do them both together with manned spaceflights.

It's about choosing between grandstanding and using resources efficiently.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

haruharaharu (443975) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416560)

Space research and study can be accomplished with robotic probes.

Robots won't tell us how to support humans in space, sorry.

Re:Oink! Oink! (4, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415342)

But if the goal is to send people to space sustainably and for the long term, then NASA should be doing things like building and testing space stations that can spin and thus create artificial "gravity", and have decent radiation shielding. The long term goal should be creating space colonies, in _space_. Colonies where future generations of humans can live and reproduce. Thus the target would be developing technologies that would make it possible.

Not working on sending people to Mars or the Moon. Getting to the moon has already been done.

Getting people stuck on other gravity wells in the Solar System is silly and expensive. And talks of expensive, rushed (because of poor shielding and other issues), potentially one way trips to Mars are even more ridiculous.

What's so great about living on the Moon or Mars? It's not like they are human friendly places. What can you get from Mars or Moon that you can't get from asteroids?

There are plenty of asteroids to mine out there. Asteroids have a lot of water:

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/050907_ceres_planet.html [space.com]
http://www.universetoday.com/2009/10/08/more-water-out-there-ice-found-on-asteroid/ [universetoday.com]

You might even be able to hollow out an asteroid and turn it into a space station.

Just because we're living on a decent planet doesn't mean that getting stuck on other gravity wells should be our goal. We should only get stuck in one if it's as good as Earth (or almost as good). And the other planets and moons in the Solar System are far from meeting that mark.

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415638)

If only Columbus, Magellan and all others that followed thought the same. Stop trying to explore, find new routes, new resources. Just sit on your asses back in Europe, watch the days go by. Actually, that was the attitude in Europe for quite some time. I think it is referred to as the Dark Ages?

Going into space was always about *pushing* boundaries. You are NOT doing that with freaking robots! We can send robots to almost any place in the solar system now, if we want to. But we don't have any data on *how* to survive someplace like the Moon. And that is only ONE light-second away from Earth!

But no, you say we should sit on our asses until things become "cost effective". Space exploration is NEVER cost effective, unless you look back on it decades afterward. Apollo program resulted in computers (I guess that was a non-cost effective problem). If it wasn't for Apollo, NO ONE would fund the early silicon fabs. It would continue to advance at the pace of current fusion research.

So, 2nd Dark Ages next? Or we continue with science?

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415796)

If only Columbus, Magellan and all others that followed thought the same.

They didn't have remote probes. More importantly, their destinations were not in lifeless, uninhabitable, waterless vacuums.

Going into space was always about *pushing* boundaries. You are NOT doing that with freaking robots!

Sure we are. For example, a mission to drill down into the liquid oceans of Europa would push plenty of boundaries (and would be totally impossible for humans anyway).

But we don't have any data on *how* to survive someplace like the Moon.

So what? We don't need to know how to do that unless we find a valid reason have anybody live there. It's a waste of valuable resources to figure it out now.

Apollo program resulted in computers (I guess that was a non-cost effective problem). If it wasn't for Apollo, NO ONE would fund the early silicon fabs. It would continue to advance at the pace of current fusion research.

False. Integrated circuits were first used for ICBM guidance, which is another robotic space technology.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416294)

Yes and no. Those 'meat sacks' are necessary to raise capital. Nasa has become a very political organization. In order to raise public interest, there has to be a human element. Without it, they lose funding. You have to have something that will fire up the imagination of the voters.

Sending a probe is great. Sending a human and claiming 'first post' on Mars or what not is historic.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416368)

There are hundreds of robots out there right now, space isn't just about exploration and colonization, but when a robot in space breaks, how is it going to be fixed? With a human.

Those "fragile human meat sacks" have kept the HST going for decades longer than it should have been working.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415652)

Just sit on ones ass, somewhere someone will come up with the right idea.

No, first we need a global nuclear war that kills hundreds of millions of people. Then we need a drunk who wants to make enough money to retire to an island filled with naked women. Added bonus if he hates flying so much that he takes trains and has never been into space.

Once you have those ingredients the technological leap will follow.

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30414834)

Anyone can have an opinion about anything, but in most cases everyone else wishes they'd shut up about it. Having a worthwhile opinion is a rare thing.

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415626)

You must be new here.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

jstults (1406161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415014)

You don't need decades of experience to have an opinion about the usefulness of giving a select few joy rides into space.

The assumption that any project NASA attempts needs to take deca-years and giga-bucks is part of the problem. Small is beautiful, those decades long development projects you (and the big aero-defense contractors) love are not.

A little 'buck-up' by NASA management is a good thing.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415152)

Name one thing that has been launched into space without using a fuckload of money. There aren't any. This is because shooting things into space is fucking hard and requires a fuckload of power. This fuckload of power requires a shit-ton of money to buy. The reason for this is because there's no source of power that's cheap, small enough to fit inside a rocket, and can produce enough power to launch the rocket into space.

Assumptions aren't assumptions if they're proven facts. It's been proven repeatedly that it requires X much power to get something of Y mass into space. There's no way around that without breaking the laws of physics... which generally isn't possible.

Re:Oink! Oink! (3, Interesting)

jstults (1406161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415262)

  1. In June 2002, Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX).
  2. The Falcon 1 achieved orbit on its fourth attempt, on 28 September 2008.

Check your assumptions, that's all Bolden's been asked by his boss to do, you should too.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415312)

You still didn't answer his question, how much money has Elon spent getting SpaceX up and running? His own money and the money from DOD Contracts?

Re:Oink! Oink! (2, Informative)

jstults (1406161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415416)

Yeah, those DoD contracts where he actually (attempted) to put stuff in orbit...what pork! They weren't paying him for power point slides...

Apparently Falcon 1 / SpaceX startup costs are around $450M, which is about what that recent Ares I-X test flight costs. You think there might be a little difference in the overhead of the two operations?

I'm not arguing against the conservation of energy, (yeah lots of energy to get something to LEO), just that there might be a better way.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

jstults (1406161) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415656)

Back-of-the-envelope overhead comparison:
  • (from the wiki): The Augustine Commission also stated that Ares I and Orion would have an estimated recurring cost of almost $1 billion per flight.
  • (from SpaceX site): 44-49.5M depending on the orbit you want (LEO or GTO), that's the 'out the door' price (not the cost), sure that doesn't include the cost of the payload

The costs are not even in the same order of magnitude, you really think SpaceX's Dragon will add additional recurring costs of $950M? The performance improvement from Falcon 9/Dragon to Ares I/Orion is incremental, certainly not enough to justify the price difference (unless you happen to work at MSFC / Boeing / Lock-Mart).

Re:Oink! Oink! (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414890)

Of course, I'm sure you've been on many decade long aerospace engineering projects to know how it should work.

I grew up around NASA - at the KSC and JSC. I watched as the US built up the space program from Mercury to Gemini to Apollo. I watched as Congress gutted NASA after Apollo and managed to create the kludge that is the Shuttle. I watched as NASA and it's contractors managed to get the Shuttle off the ground despite the roadblocks put up in front of if.

I know enough to realize that rocket science is hard and that Congress, as a body, is no more able to micromanage booster technology than it is able to manage, well just about anything. Congress has a near perfect track record of solving the wrong problem, solving the right problem in the wrong way which results in not solving the problem, and / or doing anything but attempting to solve the problem along with a myriad of other generic inabilities.

Congress should make general policy and let the people that know what they are doing implement it. Congress should NOT micromanage.

And while you're at it, I'd like a Pony.

Re:Oink! Oink! (3, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415980)

I watched as Congress gutted NASA after Apollo and managed to create the kludge that is the Shuttle.

In other words, even though 'grew up' around NASA, you prefer urban legends to facts.
 

I know enough to realize that rocket science is hard and that Congress, as a body, is no more able to micromanage booster technology than it is able to manage, well just about anything.

Had Congress micromanaged booster technology, you'd have a point. But the fact is, a reusable booster was on NASA's menu from very early on. Even while Gemini was flying, NASA was planning the Shuttle.
 
Heck, remember Gemini was itself a political creation. As Mercury was winding down, NASA management realized that it would be years before Apollo flew and that they needed some Buck Rogers to keep the bucks flowing, so they dusted off an unsolicited McDonnell (not yet merged with Douglas) proposal for Mercury MKII and justified it was 'a development program for Apollo'. (Despite the fact that the Apollo design was already frozen.)
 

I watched as NASA and it's contractors managed to get the Shuttle off the ground despite the roadblocks put up in front of if.

Roadblocks largely put in front of it by NASA itself.
 
Despite being clearly told that budgets would be limited in the future, NASA insisted on proposing an expensive Shuttle-Station-Mars program. When rebuked by Congress, NASA responded by promising to deliver a revolutionary new spacecraft on an extremely optimistic budget and an even more optimistic schedule. Many space historians believe that NASA had convinced itself, despite abundant evidence otherwise, that the austerity of the late 60's and early 70's was an aberration and that soon happy times and near blank checks would resume shortly. More than a few believe that, institutionally, NASA retains this conviction even today.

Let's give them healthcare!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30416566)

Because if you don't support Congress making medical decisions instead of your doctor, than you are a bad person.

Re:Oink! Oink! (5, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415186)

No, only a few years, but its pretty clear that this is not in the best interest of furthering space exploration, but rather in keeping jobs in a few congressional districts -- namely Huntsville, Alabama. Marshall Space Flight Center stands the most to lose if Ares falls through, but MSFC is in many ways a dinosaur of the Apollo era and hasn't transitioned to being a leaner, more efficient group.

Consider this: for the cost of building Ares 1-X, the test-flight that consisted of a shuttle SRB with some dummy mass on top and made up to look like an Ares 1, what was essentially the worlds largest model rocket, cost $450M -- SpaceX, has developed one working rocket and has almost completed a larger one for around the same cost. While obviously the Ares program will cost more than what a company like SpaceX will spend, since they're building bigger rockets to do riskier things, there is something wrong when a mere model costs that much.

The problem with micromanaging NASA through congress is that the only districts where its an issue that can make a difference in an election are the ones where they want to maintain the status quo, which is not working well. Everyone else who sees it and disagrees with its handling probably aren't going to swing their vote based on it, since there are a myriad of other, more immediate things to consider as well.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415578)

It's worth pointing out that the SpaceX Falcon 1, based on the same technologies as the Falcon 9, failed catastrophically on four out of five flights. Ares I is intended to have a safety record of one failure in a thousand launches. Comparing the two is fair, but they're definitely not intended to be equal products.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415606)

It's worth pointing out that the SpaceX Falcon 1, based on the same technologies as the Falcon 9, failed catastrophically on four out of five flights.

Three out of five flights. Last two were successful.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415658)

To elaborate on my previous statement, Wikipedia lists all five flights [wikipedia.org]. The last two in September 2008 and July 2009 were successful. The fourth launch had a dummy payload while the fifth launch had a paying customer (though they probably didn't pay much).

Re:Oink! Oink! (2, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415740)

Three out of five flights, and the order matters significantly. The two that have been successful are significantly different than the three that failed. They added baffles to the tanks, improved the control algorithms, changed materials. They *FIXED* all of the issues that caused the early failures. Also, if its cheaper to blow up a few unmanned rockets than it is to design it perfectly the first time, then that sounds like the right way to do it. I'd consider the reliability of the Falcon 1 the same as any vehicle with a 2-0 record. Still not too reliable yet, but showing promise.

And those safety numbers are in so many ways bogus, since they only consider known failure modes. Everything thats ever killed an American astronaut was an unknown failure mode. Since Falcon 9 is intended for human use as well, with the same safety goals, and is in a further state of development than Ares 1, I can't help but be shocked by the sheer price of *just* Ares 1-X. If it were the entire Ares 1 program that had cost so much so far I'd say it was pretty reasonable and even cheap -- but no, just the aerodynamic and structural test cost that much.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415920)

Everything thats ever killed an American astronaut was an unknown failure mode.

Not really. Both Shuttle accidents occurred from known problems. Burn through of the O rings was a known problem as was the fact that the O ring material became brittle at freezing temperatures. The relevant engineers even tried to stop the fatal Challenger flight precisely for the reasons that destroyed the vehicle and killed seven people.

Similarly, ice strikes were a known problem. There were a number of times when the Shuttles came back with extensive damage to the underbelly. They were watching for ice strikes by the time of Columbia's final flight. The engineers working on that problem wanted to get images of the Shuttle from US intelligence satellites, but were overruled by management. Maybe they couldn't have done anything about it, but this sort of activity prior to the Columbia accident surely indicates that the failure mode was far from unknown.

Re:Oink! Oink! (2, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416026)

Then I would argue that the failure mode is poor management and schedule rush -- definitely things not included in whatever safety numbers were quoted when the shuttle was being designed. The point is that whenever those 1 in 1000 numbers are pulled out they are almost meaningless -- the failures that did occur weren't included in those.

Its like judging the safety of a car on whether or not a freak string of events is likely to blow up the car on any given trip (or the brake lines fail, or your toyota accelerates without your command), when everyone knows that the most likely reason you're going to die in the car is because you or someone else screws up. While you want to do your best to keep the freak accidents from happening, more time needs to be spent making mistakes less damaging, and training people to avoid them.

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30416028)

Columbia wasn't hit by ice. It was foam.

Re:Oink! Oink! (5, Informative)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415346)

I think you missed the point, as did anyone who modded it troll.

The language that effectively ties NASA's hands was inserted in the bill by Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican from...drum roll please.... Alabama. Where NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center is located.

And that language boils down to: "no changes". Subcontract a part of the crew module out to Russia, Germany or France? No. Not unless Congress approves. Even if it'll get Ares off the ground sooner...nope. Cancel or delay Ares I to concentrate on Ares V? Nope. Even though Russia already has, and will continue to have, the capability to put people in orbit thus rendering Ares I redundant, while what's really needed is the heavy-lift capability of Ares V.

Shelby wants one thing: Money in Alabama. So say bye bye to Kennedy Space center, and write off the US Government using commercially (read: private industry) available means to ferry crew to space. If SpaceX or Virgin Galactic manages to get people into LEO by 2015, NASA wouldn't be able to buy a seat without Congress' approval.

The 'no changes' language has nothing to do with getting into space or not, and everything to do with making sure money flows to contractors in Alabama.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414742)

All that "careful crafting" is actually a lot of hard work. I can almost hear a thousand Hayden Christensen impersonators shouting in vendorland.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414894)

No, it's important to congress to see expected goals met, since they've been funneling billions of dollars into NASA with the understanding that they're investing in programs like Constellation. NASA is funded by congress, not slashdot.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30414960)

NASA's budget:17.6 billion
DOD budget: 515.4 billion

NASA's entire budget is what, 8.5 spy planes? We have bigger fish to fry, believe you me!

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415004)

if you asked the british public what they'd prefer to have, 14 kidney dialysis machines or 1 Alan Partridge christmas special, I think the answer would be pretty unanimous...

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

angelwolf71885 (1181671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415098)

well ok we will kill ALL nasa funding and let CHNIA USSR AND INDIA AND THE EU all have control over space while we whittle our thumbs and give the money we saved to ACORN CONSUMER REPORTS AND ACIU

deliberative democracy (1)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415332)

In the long run, the best way to cut port would be deliberative democracy, meaning a citizens line item veto by jury trial.

You might for example eliminate the presidential veto but say that all laws must pass a jury trial with a large enough jury that you don't need jury selection, like say 100 to 200 people. Any group of 10% of the house or senate or 5% of each could send an advocate to argue for or against all or part of the law, and the president could send an advocate or even appear himself. If the law was substantially modified from it's original form by the jury deliberations, then congress would have an opportunity to veto it, but once spending items were cut by the jurors it'd be pretty hard to reintroduce them.

A well respect president would effectively still have veto power, although not the pocket veto.

Re:Oink! Oink! (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415566)

I recall a story that the ill-fated solid booster rockets could have and should have been built in one piece near the launch site, but they were farmed out to Hatch's home state of Utah for political reasons. Transportation from there meant that they had to be built in segments joined with O-rings.

Is my memory correct?

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30416602)

no you are not correct.

The reason why they are built in segments is that quality control for the solid fuel mixture is extremely difficult the larger the segment is.

It is a matter of cost/performance (as is all engineering). By creating the segments, they lowered development cost, but increased operational cost.

Re:Oink! Oink! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415718)

both sides to keep their hands out of nasa. the main reason nothing significant has happened at nasa since 1969 is all the political manuevering and demands.

Give nasa a real, reasonable budget, and let them focus on the important work. no more atmospheric research, theres more than enough unis working on that, along with NOAA. no more nasa deep sea diving (what part of nasa acronym refers to diving exaclty?)

THE REAL WORK.
IE, GET US OFF THIS ROCK.

War is peace (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30414616)

Obama's Nobel peace prize.
Islam is the religion of peace.

Re:War is peace (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30414636)

and niggers are responsible for all of the world's technological progress.

Well, I'm glad thats settled. (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414626)

I wouldn't want there to be any confusion about whether scientists or defense contractors are in charge of the direction of our space program.

Re:Well, I'm glad thats settled. (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414796)

How could it be otherwise? Although Congress technically works for the taxpayers, a politician's career advancement is completely controlled by campaign contributions.

Re:Well, I'm glad thats settled. (3, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415000)

Well, it can be a little more subtle than that. Eisenhower described the process thusly:

Politicians are concerned about the welfare of their constituents. During wartime/other massive government spending in industry, more and more of those constituents become financially dependent on military/government contractor industry for jobs. To act in the best interest of their constituents, politicians are compelled to continue war, or to make other kinds of major fiscal decisions benefiting those industries.

By promoting massive, wasteful spending on NASA, many politicians could be actively seeking the immediate best interest of their constituents.

Representative democracy should fear the military industrial complex.

Re:Well, I'm glad thats settled. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415052)

'Thus' is already an adverb

Re:Well, I'm glad thats settled. (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415458)

Wow, you're right. No one ever notices that... I'm gonna keep putting it in my papers for my humanities courses, though, and see if any of these PhDs pick up on it. Good call!

Re:Well, I'm glad thats settled. (1, Flamebait)

db32 (862117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415368)

Well, color me shocked. You just repeated the talking points of a Republican and didn't get modded into oblivion. Even more surprising is that it got a +5 Insightful. I wonder if the groupthink is waning, or if it is that no one knew that Eisenhower was actually a Republican. My guess is most people here didn't know he was a Republican since he sounds so different than the current breed.

For those of you watching at home... Go look up the speech that this came from. The man had no kind words for the military industrial complex and it wasn't just a passing mention. He also had some amazing dialog about what he thinks of the people who would promote the idea of "preemtive war".

I want to build me a frankenPOTUS using Jefferson, Eisenhower, and a handful of others. Maybe then we could get shit back on track.

Re:Well, I'm glad thats settled. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415754)

Eisenhower is NOT the *current* type of a neo-con "republican". The neo-cons are actively feeding the military industrial complex to,

    1. gain support trough jobs and nationalistic mania
    2. further their own ideals
    3. funneling money into their own pockets via bribes, I mean dividends, from the companies in question

Eisenhower was warning us about the neo-cons and the military industrial complex. Republicans in the last 3 decades all have done is feed it.

It's sad that one has to explain these things!

"Texas Oil Millionaires" (1)

namespan (225296) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415922)

You just repeated the talking points of a Republican and didn't get modded into oblivion.

That's because they apparently don't make 'em like they used to. Nowadays the GOP seems to get the likes of what Eisenhower called "Texas Oil Millionaires."

Re:Well, I'm glad thats settled. (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416060)


But those projects are funded by the taxes of the consituents, so it's not in the interests of the constituency to spend the money just for the sake of employment. That's like borrowing money on a credit card to pay off your mortgage. Besides which it doesn't even work as a means of wealth redistribution. People pay their taxes which the government ploughs into weaponry in return for which you also get some jobs for workers, but a large amount of that money gets skimmed off and into the pockets of rich people. The "jobs" argument is flawed in in even more ways than just the "broken window fallacy" model suggests.

Re:Well, I'm glad thats settled. (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415094)

And that is why the USA is toast.

This will not change until campaigns are publicly financed or contributions may only come from registered voters whom the candidate would represent.

Afro-American Racism Against Whites and Asians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415620)

During the election, about 95% of African-Americans voted for Barack Hussein Obama due solely to the color of his skin. See the exit-polling data [cnn.com] by CNN.

Note the voting pattern of Hispanics, Asian-Americans, etc. These non-Black minorities serve as a measurement of African-American racism against Whites (and other non-Black folks). Neither Barack Hussein Obama nor John McCain is Hispanic or Asian. So, Hispanics and Asian-Americans used only non-racial criteria in selecting a candidate and, hence, serve as the reference by which we detect a racist voting pattern. Only about 65% of Hispanics and Asian-Americans supported Obama. In other words, a maximum of 65% support by any ethnic or racial group for either McCain or Obama is not racist and, hence, is acceptable. (A maximum of 65% for McCain is okay. So, European-American support at 55% for McCain is well below this threshold and, hence, is not racist.)

If African-Americans were not racist, then at most 65% of them would have supported Obama. At that level of support, McCain would have won the presidential race.

At this point, African-American supremacists (and apologists) claim that African-Americans voted for Obama because he (1) is a member of the Democratic party and (2) supports its ideals. That claim is an outright lie. Look at the exit-polling data [cnn.com] for the Democratic primaries. Consider the case of North Carolina. Again, about 95% of African-Americans voted for him and against Hillary Clinton. Both Clinton and Obama are Democrats, and their official political positions on the campaign trail were nearly identical. Yet, 95% of African-Americans voted for Obama and against Hillary Clinton. Why? African-Americans supported Obama due solely to the color of his skin.

Here is the bottom line. Barack Hussein Obama does not represent mainstream America. He won the election due to the racist voting pattern exhibited by African-Americans.

African-Americans have established that expressing "racial pride" by voting on the basis of skin color is 100% acceptable. Neither the "Wall Street Journal" nor the "New York Times" complained about this racist behavior. Therefore, in future elections, please feel free to express your racial pride by voting on the basis of skin color. Feel free to vote for the non-Black candidates and against the Black candidates if you are not African-American. You need not defend your actions in any way. Voting on the basis of skin color is quite acceptable by today's moral standard.

Great! (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414818)

First they privatize many Government prerogatives, and now the (current) administration wants to offshore them!

Congress can't restrict the Executive in this manner, at best it is posturing.

It would be so nice if our elected officials understood the Constitution, and would try to govern rather than rule.

the golden rule (1)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 4 years ago | (#30414970)

as with everything in life. He who pays(Congress), decides. that's why it's very important to know who and why you're allowing other people to pay for your stuff.

International "cooperation" (2, Funny)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415102)

The Obama administration still clings to the idea that the world is a friendly place full of pink unicorns and people who want to be all huggy-kissy with everyone else. There's no reason to develop technology more advanced than other countries'; we'll all play nice together like happy socialists are supposed to and not compete like evil capitalists.

Re:International "cooperation" (1, Insightful)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415260)

Clings to the idea? How about trying to reconcile the disaster that was the last eight years of foreign policy? Remember those days where we told just about every other country to do it our way or fuck off?

Yeah, we have a lot of enemies out there. But why not work with those who used to be our friends and try to reconcile our differences for a better world? Contrary to popular belief the United States does not have infinite resources. Money, scientists, natural resources... yeah, you know those things we need to actually make shit?

I'm so sick and tired of people bashing the one president this decade who is actually trying to get my country back in the good light it once had. So if you have no recommendations on how to improve this country - move out or shut the fuck up.

Re:International "cooperation" (2, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415778)

Yea, because Clinton's policy of ignoring problems worked out so well for the US, about the same as appeasement did throughout the last century. Obama has brought it to a new level with his "bend over" foreign policy.

Who specifically are you referring to when you say "those who used to be our friends"? Our relationship with China was better under Bush than it had ever been. Muslim countries? Never been great, but the moderates are still as friendly as can be expected. You blame Bush for Putin's policies in Russia? Pffft. I'm quite happy living in the US, if you want change you can go somewhere else.

Re:International "cooperation" (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416016)

Yea, because Clinton's policy of ignoring problems worked out so well for the US

When Clinton had missiles fired at Ossama Bin Laden, it was all "Wag the dog! He's trying to distract from the important issue of his blowjobs!"
There was a little war in Kosovo...

Yeah, he was ignoring problems just like Bush was eloquent.

Nice spin (1)

sheldon (2322) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415148)

But any time Congress does something like this, it's really about protecting the pork.

I'm sure the Constellation has parts built in all 50 states so everybody get's a piece of the action.

Re:Nice spin (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415336)

But any time Congress does something like this, it's really about protecting the pork.

Besides, NASA is part of the Executive Branch, and Obama is The Executive. Even I, a silly old Republican, knows that...

Military-industrial complex fights hard (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415158)

The one thing the MIC does incredibly well is fight for every last penny. Odds are, the aerospace companies view this as only the first salvo before the big fight over defense spending cuts hits.

Re:Military-industrial complex fights hard (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415540)

Where have you been? The first salvo was fired even before Obama was sworn in. That would be when he persuaded Defense Secretary Robert Gates (who used to literally count the days until he was replaced [thinkprogress.org]) to stay on. I've often wondered how and why Obama did that. My best guess is that they agreed on an agenda of cost cutting and procurement reform [foxnews.com].

When Gates announced his program, the defense special interests fought back — hard. And yet they lost. Mind-boggling, but true. Now that's change I can believe in!

I'm all for space travel, but I want to see the same thing happen at NASA. Anybody who really believes we're going to start a moon base and travel to Mars using Apollo-style space capsules is fooling themselves. The program is pure pork, USDA approved.

It won't be law without Obama's Approval (2, Interesting)

ericnils (1424615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415176)

This still need to get through the senate intact and be approved by the President before it is of any consequence.

From http://www.rules.house.gov/POP/approps_proc.htm [house.gov]:

Congressional action on an appropriation measure is not complete until both the House and Senate have successfully disposed of all amendments between the Houses eventually agreeing on an identical text pursuant to the Constitution - at which point the President acts on the bill.

No Good Guys Here, but Separation of Powers = Good (4, Insightful)

rbrander (73222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415256)

NASA has always been used as a pork barrel, and the engineers who just want to fly birds have both used that shamelessly to get funded, and been victimized by it, in equal turns. It's hard to guess whether they would have created cheaper, simpler designs if feeding billions into the industrial complex (in all 50 states as often as possible) were not the more important goal than flying.

Bottom line, I find it hard to cheer for either side when these spats come up. You always want to take the side of the homies (fund NASA, fly something cool somewhere), but NASA is spending so many millions per kilogram flown that the whole thing will ALWAYS be for a lucky tiny few as long as their big-iron design philosophy is enabled by those who LIVE to spend tax dollars (in their state).

Silver lining though: Americans may have forgotten that their Congress has the power to tell the Executive branch "NO!". That the founders considered the legislature, NOT the executive, the first among three equals, because it directly represents the people on the most frequent election cycle.

Who knows, this "make the executive branch moves illegal" power, now revived for the first time in years, may one day be used to make torture, fake intelligence, and war itself less likely instead of perfectly acceptable.

Re:No Good Guys Here, but Separation of Powers = G (1)

SlappyBastard (961143) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415390)

Congress can't compel the president to spend money. They went through a round of this under Nixon. While Congress can allocate funds, nothing compels the executive branch to spend them.

Re:No Good Guys Here, but Separation of Powers = G (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416068)

While Congress can allocate funds, nothing compels the executive branch to spend them.

If the president can chose not to follow Congress's direction on spending, then Congress can chose to impeach and remove the president. They can also retaliate in more subtle ways say by gutting some program the president values.

Re:No Good Guys Here, but Separation of Powers = G (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416290)

That the founders considered the legislature, NOT the executive, the first among three equals, because it directly represents the people on the most frequent election cycle.

Until the Supreme Court rules something unconstitutional. Then no one can do ANYTHING. Good thing we get to elect the Supreme Court Justi. . . Oh, wait. Well, at least their terms expi. . . Oh, wait.

Re:No Good Guys Here, but Separation of Powers = G (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416396)

Until the Supreme Court rules something unconstitutional.

This itself being unconstitutional.

Then no one can do ANYTHING.

The best possible outcome!

Good thing we get to elect the Supreme Court Justi. . . Oh, wait. Well, at least their terms expi. . . Oh, wait.

Yeah, and still only 9 judges for 330,000,000 people and they never have time to hear many important cases and decide those cases as narrowly as possible? FAIL.

Of course they won't cancel it (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 4 years ago | (#30415430)

Even if this boondongle would cost lives and not work, can't cancel it....it would hurt the pork contracts they have promised their buddies.

This bothers me more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30415672)

At an aerospace luncheon, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said President Barack Obama wants the agency to embrace "more international cooperation" after the space-shuttle era ends in 2010 and hinted that its Constellation moon-rocket program could see major changes.
There is only several space groups that NASA is NOT dealing with.
  1. North Korea.
  2. Iran.
  3. China.

I can already guess which one Obama wants to include in this. Total Garbage.

I am absolutely opposed to W/neo-cons, but this was one place that they had right. If China really wants to join the world, rather than take over, they need to open up their budget, Free their money, and drop their trade barriers. Right now, their money is fixed at ~7 Yuans to 1 dollar. In fact it has not really changed much since they moved to this system. From 8.5 to 7 is not a real change after 4 years of monster growth against the west.

Opening their budget is VERY important. Right now, it is known that their military and space (which is ran by their military) budget can not be even close to what they are obviously spending.

Life is very short... (1)

Slur (61510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416044)

...and there's no ti-i-i-i-ime for fussing and fighting, my friends.

a problem of education (1)

TRRosen (720617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30416462)

Maybe before you can run for Congress you should prove you've read the Constitution. Of course since this is congress trying to assume powers of the exec branch it will never pass muster.

Well, blocked a.fsdn.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30416492)

Well, blocked a.fsdn.com and although the page looks pretty poor, at least the bastard thing DISPLAYS rather than sit on its arse going "Transferring data from a.fsdn.com...".

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