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Obama's Space Plan — a Conservative Argument

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the who-is-this-conservative-paleface? dept.

NASA 433

MarkWhittington writes "The Obama space proposal, which seeks to enable a commercial space industry for transportation to and from low Earth orbit while it cancels space exploration beyond LEO, has sparked a kind of civil war among conservatives. Some conservatives hate the proposal because of the retreat from the high frontier and even go so far as to cast doubt on the commercial space aspects. Other conservatives like the commercial space part of the Obama policy and tend to gloss over the cancellation of space exploration or even denigrate the Constellation program as 'unworkable' or 'unsustainable.'"

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433 comments

Obama, space plan? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129052)

As we all know, there are no niggers in space.

Re:Obama, space plan? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129452)

Get it right - no STRAIGHT niggers in space.

libertarian (5, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129070)

Coming from a different point than conservative or liberal - NASA has always been a huge waste of money and ought to be deprecated. Getting private industry into the act is a good thing, in my opinion, although I'm not so sanguine about government subsidies. Also, while low Earth orbit may not be as grand a vision as going to the Moon, or Mars, or the asteroid belt, it's a good starting place of all of the above; let's get some infrastructure up there and we'll be able to go wherever we want.

Re:libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129180)

Yes, because there is a shitload of private developed launchers that can bring cargo into LEO and beyond. Go libertarian!

Re:libertarian (4, Informative)

cohensh (1358679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129226)

Yes, because there is a shitload of private developed launchers that can bring cargo into LEO and beyond. Go libertarian!

SpaceX and Orbital immediately come to mind. Not to mention the Atlas rocket family.

Re:libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129354)

tjstork says they don't count. Never mind that those companies have viable launch vehicles for a lot less than what NASA has, but they are just money funnels of the democrats to help the poor. I don't know either. Falcon 9 launches next month and there are three scheduled demos for the Dragon module with the third being a full resupply of the ISS. That's all within the year. We could see the unleashing of private industry into space. My only hope is that NASA piggy-backs off this into deep space exploration and advanced rocket tech so we can actually send a man to Mars.

Re:libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129380)

Yeah. 6 successful Taurus missions and one Falcon 1 mission. That is really a shitload. Even less than Ariane 1 has achieved.
Atlas doesn't count, it was designed by the US Air Force.

Re:libertarian (4, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129396)

How about 18 successful launches by the United Launch Alliance in 2009 (on the Delta II, Delta IV, and Atlas V platforms)? This includes several NASA and DoD payloads too.

Atlas doesn't count, it was designed by the US Air Force.

It was designed by Lockheed Martin.

Re:libertarian (4, Insightful)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129782)

It was designed by Lockheed Martin.

I don't know the specifics of this case, but if it was designed by Lockheed Martin on a government contract, that's not an indication that it would have been feasible to do so in the private sector.

Re:libertarian (0, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129236)

You do know that NASA has a record for decades of doing all they could to prevent the development of any private competitors, right?

-jcr

Re:libertarian (1)

uassholes (1179143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129904)

Maybe we'll be as knowledgable as you when you supply the citation. It's not that I doubt, but I can't accept such a bald statement on it's face.

Re:libertarian (5, Insightful)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129310)

well that's one thing where, even though I'd say I'm mostly libertarian, I'd disagree. getting infrastructure in place is one of the things that government can do easier and (if you can eliminate most of the pork and other bureaucratic shit) should be doing since it is one thing that most definitely does benefit all citizens equally, just imagine if the roads were done by private companies, there might be more that are very well maintained but something like the interstate highway system would be near impossible to create because you'd be so hard pressed to get the companies to actually cooperate in any reasonable manner. Funding NASA helps fund the research and development that allows for the possibility of creating that infrastructure we so desperately need up in space in order to do any of it. There are so few people that seem to realize that we are so incredibly far away from being able to mine the asteroid belts and things like that. And even so many years after the space program has started, there is not one company that can go into LEO to do the things NASA can do, simply because the returns aren't there in LEO to be profitable in the short or even medium term. Government does not have any business in morality but infrastructure is one place that it can really do a huge amount of good for the citizens and possibly the world (and our own economy if we get the infrastructure up there and charge others to use it)

Re:libertarian (5, Insightful)

TwoUtes (1075403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129560)

Mod this parent up. U.S. industry is loathe to spend money on any R&D that does not have an immediate return on investment (read:shareholder gains). That is why there are not now and never will be manned private launchers entirely from the so-called 'private sector'. Too expensive for too little return. This new plan from the Obama administration doesn't change that one bit. The U.S. Treasury will still be spending the money to design and build a man-rated launcher. Instead of ATK, Lockheed, Boeing, etc. being the recipients of this largesse, it will now be SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, and others. Basically, the money has been diverted from large government contractors that have already been in the space business for a long time, to a bunch of newcomers. Same game, different players.

Re:libertarian (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129842)

I've always envisioned NASA being the space version of the FAA. Except that's not what's happening here. NASA not only oversees the USA getting into space, but they're also in charge of making the vehicles, piloting, and booking flights/cargo into space. In its current form, how can NASA not be bureaucratic? The role of NASA needs to be changed to a more basic level to that of the FAA.

Re:libertarian (2, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129348)

Private industry will continue to be in, not get into, space related projects when there's money to be made. Communication satellites are a good example, billions of dollars in private investment [cnet.com] are being spent on building and launching them. Of course that industry wouldn't have ever been possible if the USA and other governments hadn't developed the technology first.

But exploration and development of new technology are risky with too little chance of ever recovering the investment for private industry. The Obama plan is nothing more than an excuse to shift federal dollars to companies that are friendly to Hope and Change.

Re:libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129352)

I lean libertarian, too, but NASA is one example of where government can pool together resources to achieve national objectives the private sector would not do.

Without NASA fronting the monetary costs that developed the space industrial complex, it may have taken decades longer than it did for technology to mature enough to develop orbital capabilities. If the government didn't subsidize space R&D in the 50's and 60's, it would have cost the private sector billions to develop the capabilities on their own from scratch. Few companies have that much money laying around, and even fewer would be willing to spend it on high risk research without a profitable business plan. What incentive would private industry have without government to develop space capabilities on their own back then? There was no profitable reason to do it in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, nor was there any market for any products that required space capabilities. NASA fronted the R&D and spent the billions necessary to maintain the space industrial complex--as a result space tech has matured enough and allowed businesses to develop profitable products that revolve around space technologies--GPS, communication satellites, radar satellites, oil exploration satellites.

Besides NASA, there are things that just wouldn't happen without government funding, like the large hadron collider.

Re:libertarian (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129398)

NASA is one example of where government can pool together resources to achieve national objectives the private sector would not do.

Consider the history of flight: the government wasted money on Langley, and he had all the right connections and credentials. He failed. Who got us off the ground? The Wrights, Glenn Curtis, Alberto Santos-Dumont, and thousands of others who risked their own life, money, and work. Why did Lindbergh fly the Atlantic? There was a prize for it, posted by a consortium of private parties.

The government spent a shitload of tax money on beating the Russians to the moon, so we'll never know what the private sector would have done to develop a near-earth launch capability, or maybe to go to the moon for something like the x-prize.

Re:libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129612)

The difference is getting to orbit is a lot more complicated than atmospheric flight. The wright brothers made what was essentially a large kite. Space flight is much more complicated--it can't be done by just a few dudes in their garage with spare bike parts.

Re:libertarian (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129434)

I get the feeling that if instead of throwing 15-20 billion at NASA on a yearly basis, we set up a few X-prize style incentives, we'd have done a lot more than NASA has. Set concrete goals for various prizes and only hand them out when the goal is reached. Leave the competition open to *anyone* American, Chinese whatever with the condition that the technology used to acheive the goal is to be put in the public domain.

Re:libertarian (5, Informative)

astar (203020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129500)

yah, the private banks do so well at giving us a future.

to go where ever we want, we need high-energy "rockets". Otherwise serious colonization does not work. In the 70s we were ready to go with nuclear drives. Now the russians are going to finally do it. I do not see a lot of private investment in anything really different. Pooh, we now all hear about the virtues of innovation, and as far as I can tell, this is something marketing is especially good at.

if you are a conservative type, something to consider is that India will be in LEO with men in 2012 and on rhe moon, with people, in 2020. oh, India is involved deeply with the russians on the nuclear drive.

on a more earthly thing, China currently has 64 high speed rail projects. 1000's of miles. The usa has 64 miles of medium high speed rail. Some people talk about high speed rail in the usa as capable of causing a 15% overall productivity increase.

and last I looked, 54 nuclear power plants were being built, almost all in asia. the usa has one, an old mothballed tva plant being brought up.

so who has the potential for a future?

anyway, here is a video entitled "the destruction of nasa" which is supposed to be very good

http://larouchepac.com/lpactv?nid=13392 [larouchepac.com]

Re:libertarian (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129508)

Getting private industry into the act is a good thing, in my opinion, although I'm not so sanguine about government subsidies.

Like the nuclear industry, who do you think is going to end up insuring private space flight?
Getting rid of government subsidies isn't nearly as easy as we'd like to think.

Re:libertarian (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129526)

What private company do you expect to fund the GPL and send probes to the outer solar system? Or Hubble, for that matter?

Yes, reasonable people can argue that LEO launches are so routine these days that they should be turned over to private industry. Fine. But there are tons of other NASA programs that have no profit potential whatsoever, yet tremendously enrich humanity culturally and scientifically. Because private industry [nytimes.com] would never fund these programs, NASA must. And we're better off for it.

Re:libertarian (2, Insightful)

laddiebuck (868690) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129550)

Libertarian -- and therefore idiot. You mayn't be an idiot, of course, but you're just parroting idiot arguments. You're not sanguine about government subsidies, but you think getting private industry into the act is a good thing. Right: how the hell do you think private industry is going to get into it, without the last 100 years of government research into how it's done and how you build the tools to do it, and the currently proposed subsidies for getting there? Private industry on its own wouldn't touch space with a barge-pole, not now and not in the next thousand years.

My dear libertarian friend, please realise that government isn't evil, it's a necessity and basically a good thing. Without it we'd have anarchy -- like Somalia. Nobody wants to see levels of control like in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, but that's why we work to make it better, not to get rid of it.

Re:libertarian (1)

BuR4N (512430) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129608)

I think its a good plan, I just a bit worried if private sector can handle the risks [with manned space flight], or if everything will grind to a halt when the first fatal accident comes. Seeing how "the market" works in other sectors when something bad happens.

Re:libertarian (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129650)

And this is an example of why the libertarian party never goes anywhere. It is like the Republican "I hate government spending" on steroids. Most Americans realize that there is a place in the world for government spending, and that it includes things like social security and public education and science.

Sen. Shelby (R-AL) (2, Informative)

Weezul (52464) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129716)

Don't forget how Sen. Shelby (R-AL) behaved like a spoiled brat by placing holds on all Obama's appointees trying to extort $40B in pork. Any redirection of resources away from Alabama right now will help reduce pork long term.

Yay, mindless idealism! (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129876)

Libertarians are often ignorant of the fact that they effectively lobby against civilization. In terms of GDP per capita, life expectancy, innovation, and quality of life, the middle of the road socialist countries dominate worldwide. That's because if you shackle your society with continuous relearning of generational lessons, you can never move beyond basic progress.

If you'd like to refute the massive progress introduced by the Apollo program in the sixties, go ahead and make your case for a private corporation in the same time frame spending a good portion of the US GDP for pure research. Bell Labs is the only thing that even comes close.

A world of self regulation is just as absurd as a world with complete government control of production. Use the market for easily duplicated services that are not necessary. For everything else, try and use your brain. Mindless idealism nets nothing of value.

Summarized in economic terms by Adam Smith:

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.

Who also believed

The legal rate... ought not be much above the lowest market rate. If the legal rate of interest in Great Britain, for example, was fixed so high as eight or ten per cent, the greater part of the money which was to be lent would be lent to prodigals and projectors [promoters of fraudulent schemes], who alone would be willing to give this high interest.A great part of the capital of the country would thus be kept out of the hands which were most likely to make a profitable and advantageous use of it, and thrown into those which were most likely to waste and destroy it.

When the legal rate of interest, on the contrary is fixed but a very little above the lowest market rate, sober people are universally preferred, as borrowers, to prodigals and projectors. The person who lends money gets nearly as much interest from the former as he dares to take from the latter, and his money is much safer in the hands of the one set of people than in those of the other. A great part of the capital of the country is thus thrown in the hands in which it is most likely to be employed with advantage.

(from naked capitalism [nakedcapitalism.com])

GDP Per Capita [wikipedia.org]

Life Expectancy [wikipedia.org]

Quality of Life [wikipedia.org]

Space exploration is conservative. (1, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129102)

Conservatives are not opposed to federal spending when it is in the geo-political interest of the nation as whole. Eisenhower kicked off the federal highway system. Republicans and conservative Democrats came through with money for Apollo. Richard Nixon, actually, Caspar Weinburger, kept the space shuttle alive, and none other than Dan Quayle intervened to keep the Space Station and Space Shuttle going when Bush the Elder proposed cutting it.

The issue with federal spending is usually around entitlements, which are a different argument that I don't want to start here.

But...

The way I read the whole killing of manned space flight is that there has been, even dating back to Apollo, this idea in liberal camps that we should not be spending any money on things like space or defense, or even roads, for that matter. Instead, the federal government in their eyes should not do anything until every poor person is somehow fixed. Walter Mondale made this argument in the 1960s, and Barrack Obama made this argument elliptically during his campaign. There's not a talk of the "private sector" building into space. There's no economic benefit immediately of sending a man to explore Mars or the Moon or an Asteroid. It's a national project with payoffs in intangibles that are hard to even forsee. But it is one of those things the country must do, and keep getting better at, to get ahead.

But the fact is, space exploration is dead in this administration. It just is. Democrats aren't pro-science. They are a pro-poor party these days. Exploration, as the government would do it, in the tradition of Columbus and Cook and Shepard and Armstrong, is now dead to Democrats. Once again, conservatives have to pick up the torch, because the left is so fixated on redistribution of wealth that it has forgotten how to manage a nation as a whole. You can't stop exploration to ensure that every idiot has a slice of bread.

Sometimes people have to be left behind, and that's what this is about.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (3, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129134)

killing of manned space flight

When did this happen? Last I heard, a NASA project that was even more horrendously delayed and over-budget than usual got canned. There's nothing to stop another, better, project from taking it's place.
Or for, you know, any other country with manned craft from launching them.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (-1, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129228)

?When did this happen? Last I heard, a NASA project that was even more horrendously delayed and over-budget than usual got canned. There's nothing to stop another, better, project from taking it's place.

If Obama gets re-elected, there won't be one to even begin for 8 years, because in their hearts of hearts, liberals don't want to spend money on spaceships for white people, when there are so many suffering minorities. It's racial politics, is all this is.

Of course, Jeff Sessions in Alabama did not help himself AT ALL when he bitched about GM getting a handout in Detroit. He's sitting there on top of a huge NASA budget coming into his state, and he's complaining about a fraction of that going into GM. Oh I was pissed off when he did it, and I could see this result coming from a mile away.

The ironic end game though is that you'll see southern states waiving environmental, wage, and other regulations to get aerospace jobs, while the liberal north languishes, as usual, and so, when the south does "rise again", the Confederate Army will be in the position of having the spaceships while the North will be cut off and begging for some foreign powers to help it.

God, the North is SO STUPID these days, and the liberals are just leading the charge of dumb.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (2, Insightful)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129240)

Oh please.

Eisenhower was a centrist, and for that matter so was Nixon. If either of them were alive today running for office, they'd have teabaggers screaming "you lie" at every event and fabricating evidence that they are actually communist spies born in foreign countries who hate "the troops" almost as much as they hate apple pie.

Furthermore, liberals and the Democrats (NOT the same thing) are all for building and maintaining roads... perhaps you've noticed that a huge chunk of the previous stimulus package went into just that, and that a huge chunk of the new jobs bill does more still.

The bottom line is that the current budget has far too many massive mandatory expenditures (read: interest on the debt accrued during the past 8 years, Medicare [especially Part D], Social Security), two very expensive foreign wars (which just this past year went onto the books rather than being funded with supplementals... we're a lot more in debt because now we're actually counting ALL of the money we spend, not just half of it), and an enormous revenue shortfall. And guess who's crying the loudest about it and pointing the finger at the other guys (hint: they were in charge when most of these expenses experienced astronomical growth in the '00s)?

It's a damn shame that there just isn't enough money for NASA right now, but blaming liberals for it is just asinine.

Easy enough to balance the budget (0, Troll)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129456)

It's a damn shame that there just isn't enough money for NASA right now, but blaming liberals for it is just asinine.

I have the Federal Budget right in front of me as I'm building an application that details the number of days the average citizen has to work to fund each and every 600 odd line items, including details of entitlements.

The fact is welfare has been a persistent and chronic drain on the federal budget now, for a generation. We've spend a trillion dollars a year to help urban centers and eradicate poverty, and what has it accomplished? I mean nothing.

You want funding for NASA? I'll tell you what, I got it for your right in these line items:

50 billion plus for food stamps
20 billion for school lunches
150 billion plus for unenemplyment
150 billion plus for SSI disability

And I haven't even started on Medicare or Social Security yet.

So, here's the deal, I'll cut 10 billion from food stamps, 5 billion from school lunches, 30 billion from disability, and 30 billion from unemployment, and in just one year I've got nearly the entire cost of the Constellation Program.

Entitlements aren't too blame.

I thought liberals knew how to add.

Re:Easy enough to balance the budget (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129570)

Entitlements aren't too blame.

I thought conservatives had basic grammar skills. Gut TARP, kill the agricultural subsidies and get the fuck out of Iraq and you'll free up enough funding to get us to Mars.

Re:Easy enough to balance the budget (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129728)

I was under the impression that unemployment was paid for by the "employers" (i.e. the employees don't see this part of their compensation on their paycheck), though i'll confess I don't really understand the system.

Where are you getting these savings from, though? It's well and good to slash everything by 20%, but since you're not proposing canceling those programs for idealogical reasons, you must have some reason why you believe they can accomplish the same goals with less funding.

Re:Easy enough to balance the budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129826)

150 billion plus for SSI disability

Entitlements aren't too blame.

What the fuck do you think Social Security disability insurance is?

Re:Easy enough to balance the budget (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129834)

School lunches and SSI Disability... so you want kids who's parents are too poor to get food for lunch to suffer more in school than they are due to their social problems, increasing the number of poor in teh country due to lack of education and you want people that are disabled to not be able to survive?

Unemployment should be modified some... people just need to get more Entrepreneurial IMHO, as for food stamps... I think they are necessary but welfare in general needs to be redesigned to transition people off of it rather than keep them on. At the moment, they are kept at about 50K per year in benefits if someone takes full assistance. If they get a job that pays half that, they lose it all.... Not much of an incentive to get off welfare.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (5, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129512)

Our federal budget is 4.5 trillion this year. Why is NASA's ~20 billion so hard to pay for when we seem to have little trouble finding enough to spend about 2.5 trillion on entitlements yearly? Tell ya what; end the agricultural subsidies and we'd free up more than enough to pay for NASA. Maybe then we'd see more actual sugar used instead of that HFCS crap.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129844)

I agree... the one thing we do need free trade on is sugar. We can't produce enough of it in the US for our demand so we should be importing it.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129666)

The bottom line is that the current budget has far too many massive mandatory expenditures (read: interest on the debt accrued during the past 8 years

You are either lying, crazy or stupid. I suspect the first. Under Bush 43, the national debt increased by a bit more than a trillion dollars. Obama has committed to spending that much more during the first year of his new administration. Without question the Bush administration increased the debt, please don't act like all ~5$ trillion can be laid at his feet. Clearly, it can not.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (1)

cvd6262 (180823) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129776)

Also, his "they were in charge" cry is tiresome since congress has been in democratic control since 2006. I saw one poll just after the 2008 election asking people which party controlled congress. Around 80% of those who voted democratic responded "the republicans."

Of course, if the tables were turned, I'm not sure those who vote republican would have any clearer idea of how the government operates. It just demonstrates how people craft reality to meet their own beliefs.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (3, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129846)

Furthermore, liberals and the Democrats (NOT the same thing)

For someone who demands such a nuanced interpretation of liberal/democrat, you sure seem ignorant of what the tea party actually is. The tea party is a group of people, some crazy and some not, who are united by a desire for a sound fiscal policy. They are not happy with the Bush era policies (the people who are happy with that are the die hard Republicans, not the tea partiers; not the same thing) They also like dressing up in costume, which, if you live in San Francisco at least, shouldn't be too foreign to a liberal. In fact, your very next quote sounds exactly like it could come from a tea party:

The bottom line is that the current budget has far too many massive mandatory expenditures (read: interest on the debt accrued during the past 8 years, Medicare [especially Part D], Social Security), two very expensive foreign wars (which just this past year went onto the books rather than being funded with supplementals... we're a lot more in debt because now we're actually counting ALL of the money we spend, not just half of it), and an enormous revenue shortfall.

Now, I am not a tea-partier, I am just someone who enjoys observing politics, which brings me to my next point, has anyone else noticed that liberals and conservatives are sounding more and more like each other? Not just this guy, but if you ignore the partisan fighting of congress in the last year, for example, and go back to the election, both McCain and Obama (and Clinton) had healthcare plans that were very similar. Same with Bush's and Obama's stimulus plans and auto company bailouts. I think it's also safe to say that almost everyone in the US resented being deceived about Iraq's WMD, and also that nearly everyone wants to stop terrorists from attacking the US if we can.

I have a theory that both parties have a strong motivation to emphasize our differences and divide us (they have to, why would you vote for one if you can't see any difference between him and the other), but in reality there is more similarity between Americans than there are differences between liberals and conservatives.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129422)

Any story or statement beginning 'conservatives are X' or 'conservatives think that Y' is a bit pointless since it devolves into an argument about who the true conservatives are. In addition, it tends to obscure the detail of who, exactly, did what: it's only a small step away from the classic weasel-word formula 'Some people think that...'. If you mean Republicans, say that; membership of a political party is a question of fact and doesn't provoke argument. This doesn't apply in countries where 'Conservative' is the name of a well-known political party, or to 'conservative bloggers' if treated as an amorphous mass. But the opinions of a mass of self-defined 'conservative' loudmouths don't make a news story; only named people or particular events do.

Re:Space exploration is conservative. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129476)

The idea that manned missions (don't call sending humans "exploration" we can do that longer, better, and more often with remotely operated systems) are what to do before perfecting machines that man will _require_ anyway is silly.

Let's compare space exploration to the other high-tech human pastime, which is war. It is cheaper and safer to remove humans to safe operating locations and send UAVs on air missions. UAVs have long loiter time, and no big deal if one is destroyed. Operators can swap out at home station, and if one is ill or dies it doesn't affect the mission. Likewise, bomb disposal with robots allows seeing and manipulating unfriendly devices with fewer deathy outcomes.

Space is an utterly hostile environment. Robots and remotely operated vehicles are more useful to humans NOW than is space exploration in its current state, and the better robots we build to explore space the better robots we will have on Earth. If we want to lead in tech, robots are one way to do that.

Out source space too... (5, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129108)

I guess the US will be exporting space exploration to China now as well.

Re:Out source space too... (1)

Usually Unlucky (1598523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129294)

Just Russia for the time being. But China's manned lifter, Shenzhou, is more capable than the Soyuz and probably cheaper once it goes into production.

Re:Out source space too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129662)

The Divine Land is more capable than the Union. Wouldn't've guessed.

Re:Out source space too... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129378)

Don't confuse "putting humans in space to the deprecation or exclusion of other methods" with "exploring" it.

We need to perfect robots for terrestrial and off-world use far more than we need to send meat tourists (who still need physical barrier protection and robotic assistance to function) into space.

Re:Out source space too... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129590)

China benefitted from US and European tech in its rise to power.

Should the US not do the same thing? It did during the Industrial Revolution.

We don't need to be ahead of China in everything, because we don't need to fight China now that EUSian colonialism in Asia is dead.

Torn between their two favorite things: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129130)

Conservatives are confused, as they can't decide between their two favorite things: shoveling tax dollars to aerospace companies in Red states, or attacking science. After all, those NASA guys keep putting up satellites that tell us about the climate...

My private sector asteroid. (2, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129138)

All I gotta say is the if I ever had my own private sector asteroid, and the liberals wanted to tax it after killing manned space flight and wrecking the future of America so some morons can gobble down their welfare government cheese, than I'm dropping the dino-killer right on their fricking heads.

Re:My private sector asteroid. (2, Interesting)

astar (203020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129598)

an interesting moral position

I guess when you look at whatever you are using for currency, you see an intrinsic value in it. So much so, it justifies genocide.

On the other hand, our current economic problems, including apparently expensive entitlement programs, stems ultimately from the silly view that currency has intrinsic value. as far as I can tell, this, when argued competently, is some sort of psychological value thing, and I suspect is based on a rejection of the idea that the universe is lawful and knowable. all very peculiar. but maybe it is a genetic defect.

Types of conservatives (5, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129148)

Conservative: n. 1) A person who holds to conservative principles or beliefs. 2) A person who agrees with other people who call themselves Conservatives, without regard to their actions, statements, beliefs, or principles. 3) A person who opposes anything that a non-Conservative (as defined by the first two definitions) says, does, or believes in.

Re:Types of conservatives (3, Informative)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129286)

1) A person who holds to conservative principles or beliefs.

Correct.

2) A person who agrees with other people who call themselves Conservatives, without regard to their actions, statements, beliefs, or principles.

Wrong! Conservatives of all types constantly debate and fight among inner circles. You see it happening every day in politics, you just fail to be aware of it. Case in point, remember to Republican party "crack up" that's been going on lately? The party has no direction or leadership anymore.

3) A person who opposes anything that a non-Conservative (as defined by the first two definitions) says, does, or believes in.

Some things, not everything. It depends on who Conservatives compare their ideals too. This is to be expected with any ideology and not just conservatism.

Re:Types of conservatives (2, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129672)

Wrong! Conservatives of all types constantly debate and fight among inner circles.

There are conservatives that do that. They'd be among those that have retained my respect. Sometimes they even manage to change my lefty-liberal mind about things.

Then there are those conservatives who only know how to attack anybody who disagrees with them. They do not concede that anybody can honestly and intelligently hold contrary views: people with opinions they don't like are liars, stupid, or both. And they will never allow such a person the label "conservative", no matter how many conservative opinions they have — at best they're "conservative in name only." Our own Pudge [slashdot.org] is a prime example.

From where I stand, this second kind pretty much dominates conservative political groups and media right now.

Re:Types of conservatives (2, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129764)

Then there are those conservatives who only know how to attack anybody who disagrees with them. They do not concede that anybody can honestly and intelligently hold contrary views: people with opinions they don't like are liars, stupid, or both.

You appear to be confusing conservatives with liberals.

err, Re:Types of liberals (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129808)

There are liberals that do that. They'd be among those that have retained my respect. Sometimes they even manage to change my righty-conservative mind about things.

Then there are those liberals who only know how to attack anybody who disagrees with them. They do not concede that anybody can honestly and intelligently hold contrary views: people with opinions they don't like are liars, stupid, or both. And they will never allow such a person the label "liberal", no matter how many liberal opinions they have — at best they're "liberal in name only." Our own./random [slashdot.org] is a prime example.

From where I stand, this second kind pretty much dominates liberal political groups and media right now.

Huge mistake. (3, Insightful)

fatalexe (845503) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129158)

Without an active maned launch program I fear the United States will quickly loose our position of technical and scientific leadership. Already we have slipped to 9th in the world for science and technology education. If they money were to be invested in higher education I would be less worried but seeing as my tuition went up after North Carolina instituded a "education" lottery, well things just don't look good.

that's not why they hate it (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129194)

Some conservatives hate the proposal because of the retreat from the high frontier and even go so far as to cast doubt on the commercial space aspects.

Uh, no- all congresscritters hate it because NASA is giant cash-cow for the defense industry- companies like Lockheed-Martin and Boeing. Hell hath no fury like a congresscritter who wants to stand on a platform in front of a defense factory in his or her district, come election time, and talk about how important the makers of the A43 Latrine Servicing Truck are to the defense and security of our great nation.

All those probes, satellites, etc? Built by defense contractors, carried up on rockets built by defense contractors, and very often launched from launch facilities owned by defense contractors.

The shuttle costs half a billion dollars per launch [nasa.gov], for example...and almost everything NASA does is outsourced to government contractors.

Re:that's not why they hate it (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129510)

Hell hath no fury like a congresscritter who wants to stand on a platform in front of a defense factory in his or her district, come election time, and talk about how important the makers of the A43 Latrine Servicing Truck are to the defense and security of our great nation.

Election ad: "Our current Representative, John Wilkes Booth, allowed our Military Slide Whistle factory to be closed, and jobs in our district to be lost. Our military is now dependent on slide whistles made in China.

This election, vote for Jack D. Ripper. He will make sure that cuts are made elsewhere, not here!"

You are now paying for the Chinese space program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129204)

Remember where your Trillions in in recovery came from, the US people are now paying long term for the Chinese Space Program.

What NASA does (0)

Usually Unlucky (1598523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129210)

To me Obama's plan sounds like this

'Here is a bunch of money, more than you usually get. I want you to spend it, but I don't want you to do anything with it.'

Which is essentially how the rest of the scientific community works. But there are thousands of Universities and private labs who already do that work.

NASA is the only organization in the world that can do what it did, manned exploration of the universe.

Why don't we leave aimless R&D to academia and let NASA do what it can.

If you got rid of all the scientific bloat on NASA's budget there would be plenty of money for moon and mars, and science will follow.

 

You just described Keynesian economics (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129480)

Here is a bunch of money, more than you usually get. I want you to spend it, but I don't want you to do anything with it.

Go build a statue, a pyramid, anything, as long as it's not useful. Classical Keynesian economics.

 

wha? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129502)

If you got rid of all the scientific bloat on NASA's budget there would be plenty of money for moon and mars, and science will follow.

Wha? You mean like the Hubble Space telescope, the Terrestrial Planet Finder, the New Horizons probe and the Spirit mars rover? How about all that perfectly good money wasted on expensive, can not afford to fail humans? What science has that multibillion dollar space station generated?

The US has the Titan and Atlas rockets. SpaceX will get the Falcon 9 fully tested in the next few years. Then there is the Ariane rocket series from Europe and the Russian rockets. China is developing its Long March Rockets and India will have working Rockets in a decade or so. The US does not need any more rockets.

The US should get out of manned flight, hand the science over to the NSF and turn NASA back into an airplane reserach organization.

Re:What NASA does (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129892)

NASA is the only organization in the world that can do what it did, manned exploration of the universe.

DID? The universe?
What NASA has been doing so far was manned exploration of the front porch. And not even all of it.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129244)

Is it really that big a deal? I'm sure it's not going to polarize conservatives.

Strawmen (0)

tgrigsby (164308) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129248)

I hear strawmen in the article description. "Some conservatives hate the proposal because of the retreat from the high frontier and even go so far as to cast doubt on the commercial space aspects. Other conservatives like the commercial space part of the Obama policy and tend to gloss over the cancellation of space exploration or even denigrate the Constellation program as 'unworkable' or 'unsustainable.'"

Like who? Which conservatives? All the conservatives I've talked to think that unless there's a corporation somewhere profiting from our activities in space, it's not worth spending money on. I have no doubt that Obama's plan to focus on profitable LEO projects pleases the typical conservative, while launching RC cars to Mars plays as a complete waste of money in their minds.

I'd like to see a fiscal conservative support sending ice drilling autonomous subs to Europa to search for possible signs of life. I think their heads would spontaneously explode....

Re:Strawmen (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129568)

All the conservatives I've talked to think that unless there's a corporation somewhere profiting from our activities in space, it's not worth spending money on.

I don't know which conservatives you've been talking to, but I'll bet you haven't taken a look at Jerry Pournelle. [jerrypournelle.com] He not only wants to see us back in space ("Growing up, I always knew I'd live to see the first man on the Moon. I didn't know I'd also live to see the last one.") he wants to see the US offer an X Prize of about $10 billion or so for the first manned colony on the Moon to last at least a year. (The idea is that it costs us nothing unless somebody actually wins it)

Rational decision based on irrational constraints (5, Insightful)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129254)

If conservatives want to have a civil war over the space program, then fine. The simple fact is that the new space program is the most rational allocation of the woefully inadequate NASA funds that politicians are willing to throw at them. Nothing more, nothing less.

As a NASA engineer, I agree that it is a shame we are shutting down all our manned launch programs for the time being, but completing the Ares project would have meant shuttering just about every other research & development effort. NASA's most valuable resource is their innovative scientists and engineers--it really is a waste to have most of NASA's budget going to routine space flight tasks.

The new budget cuts manned launches but redirects those funds to long-term research that will make future manned launches both more productive and less expensive. Extensive research into propulsion, navigation, life support, and self-sustainability will be carried out using inexpensive robotic missions and the International Space Station.

If the Republicans want someone to blame, then they should blame nearly every politician since the end of the Cold War for not pushing for more NASA funding and relevant priorities. And no, pork barrel projects don't count, only money that can be distributed based on scientific merit and technological feasibility really makes a difference.

The bottom line is the political climate makes it impossible to properly fund anything, including space travel. If you want to change that, tell your congresspeople to increase funding and support the scientific priorities--not pork projects--we need to make real and tangible progress in the quest to explore the universe

Re:Rational decision based on irrational constrain (3, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129674)

The other priority should be a campaign to combat superstition and promote naturalistic views of the world. Turn on TV you get talk shows promoting psychics and alternative medicines. Open up a phone book and it's full of Chiropractors and Acupuncturists.

How can you expect to make an investment in sciences and develop a sound technological basis for the future of mankind when only 40% of the population believes in a naturalistic explanation of it's own existence?

Shorter Republicans: NONONONONONO (-1, Troll)

Mix+Master+Nixon (1018716) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129270)

If Obama was smart, he'd publicly endorse air, leading immediately to the entire Republican party boycotting it.

Space is critical (4, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129278)

I always love debates on the space program. Lots of big ideas, but what is missing is leadership. What made NASA so successful in the 1960s and 1970s was that there was a clear objective: put a man on the moon. Build a reusable launch system. Put up a space station. The problem is that there are no real national goals with space, so it is exceedingly difficult to sell, say a heavy launch vehicle. Put some goals in, and suddenly money becomes easy because people buy into the grand plan. Say the goal is to put a permanent colony on the moon - or to put a man on Mars. Suddenly there is context and justification for spending, inventions to invent, and what is science suddenly turns into applied science.

Our politicians need to lead, not look for the people to lead them when it comes to space. An ambitious space program is just what is needed.

Re:Space is critical (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129474)

Do you think that clear objectives just happen? What made NASA so successful in the 60's and 70's is that we were in a pissing match with the soviets, which implied a number of well defined propaganda goals to be achieved(manned orbit, man on moon, manned anything, pretty much) and substantial investment in launch systems. Politicians exhibited "leadership" only in that they stood up and said what the situation required. If you want to see political leadership(bipartisan no less) today, just look at the downright heroic efforts being put into the destruction of civil liberties, which seems to be the project that goes along with the "war on terror".

Space exploration has been largely aimless since then because it is largely pointless, except as a matter of pure scientific curiosity, and a more-palatable way of keeping aerospace corporations and engineers on welfare. The one slice of space work that isn't largely pointless, near-earth satellites of various sorts, has been humming right along. Everything else has sort of meandered; because it is competing for funds and focus with less pointless projects. There is a virtually infinite supply of projects that satisfy pure scientific curiosity(not that the public has much of that), and a very long list of projects with more plausible payoffs in the short and medium(and arguably even long) term. It's frankly surprising that NASA gets as much as they do.

Re:Space is critical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129494)

We need an orbital earth asteroid defense grid. we'll need to bring in real asteroids to test the system of course

Re:Space is critical (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129592)

What made NASA so successful in the 1960s and 1970s was that there was a clear objective: put a man on the moon.

I disagree. That 'clear objective' led to a system totally designed to meet that objective which was cancelled even before the last man walked on the Moon... the objective was achieved, but nothing lasting was left behind.

NASA's work in the aeronautical realm doesn't seem to have many 'clear objectives', but it's almost certainly been far more beneficial in the long term than anything they've done in manned spaceflight. If government has any role in manned spaceflight it should be in researching new technology that will have long-term benefits, not sending burrowcrats to Mars on a one-off spacecraft that will never fly again.

Though admittedly there are probably plenty of burrowcrats who'd be better off on Mars if we could just ensure they'd never get back.

Re:Space is critical (2, Interesting)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129718)

Space Station was cancelled, restarted, delayed, changed, funding cut, etc. in the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and so on. There NEVER was a "clear vision" for WHY we neede ISS other than a place for the Shuttle to go. I worked on at least two iterations of "ISS". The moon mission was a side effect of the Cold War and somewhat a legacy of JFK. There was some really cool inventions that came out of the program and were commercialized and lots of technology invented that went on to be used for many years. Right now, the leaders in invention and technology for Space is in the commercial sector, but there is not a heavy lift MAN-RATED launch platform in the US commerical or NASA inventory at this time. There were some other alternatives that were proposed that were strictly heavy lift for manned missions but they were shot down for the Aries that was more "scalable" for many types of missions. This was a mistake as those other missions are being filled right now by commerical ventures like Atlas and Titan IV. Maybe it was a case of NASA wanted the whole launch "business" to itself like back in the 1960s. If the program was refocused on building a simple, efffective man-rated heavy lift launch vehicle (think Saturn V but modern) I think something could be ready in a few years. Granted we might have to "license" some engine technology from the Russians but it is doable. Spending more $$$ on R&D isn't going to progress anything. A TON of research was done in the 1960s and 1970s that can be reused, updated and put into practice, there really isn't a lot of NEW things the R&D money is going to invent. Just a different kind of "pork".

I'll say it again (2, Insightful)

axonis (640949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129290)

Remember where your Trillions in recovery came from, the US people are now long term paying for the Chinese Space Program.

Re:I'll say it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129742)

You can say it as many times as you like, but that doesn't make it true. China holds $600 billion in American debt. And nearly all of it was accumulated BEFORE either the recovery money spent while Bush or Obama were in office.

That's less than a tenth of total U.S. debt, and it's pretty close to what the Japanese hold. And no one's talking about how Japan will be our future masters or other nonsense like that.

Our debt is bad, our spending habits are bad, but try to stick to the facts instead of idiocy like "we borrowed trillions from China to bail out Wall Street". Unless you're speaking at a Tea Party event.

American Manned Space Program is dead, dead, dead (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129332)

No two ways about it. The shuttle is on its last legs, Orion/Ares is mis-begotten, and anyone who thinks that private enterprise can deliver a man-rated system in the near future is delusional.

Give it up...we're in this position because of lack of intelligent investment over the Clinton and Bush administrations.

'Man rating' is bullcrap (3, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129660)

anyone who thinks that private enterprise can deliver a man-rated system in the near future is delusional.

So you're seriously claiming that a private company can't build a system which kills its crew less often than every fifty flights? Because based on the shuttle's record, 'only' killing the crew 2% of the time is what 'man rating' means to NASA.

And before you respond, you might like to consider that Delta already has about a 98% success rate over the last twenty years and so far capsules with escape rockets have a 100% success rate in saving the crew. Stick a capsule on a Delta with an escape rocket and you're already more 'man-rated' than the shuttle (and yes, I do know you would need some minor mods to ensure that the capsule could escape safely at all points during the flight).

NASA should go back to the roots (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129410)

Testing aviation systems and technologies, then passing on the information and systems to commercial and military applications

whatever (1, Offtopic)

kaoshin (110328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129412)

"one that touts limited government and the empowerment of the private sector, the other that touts national security and national greatness as virtues as well."

I think it is naive to suggest that Obama's space plan started this "civil war". In case you have been living under a rock, there has been an ongoing disagreement between conservatives and the virtuous neoconservatives and their ambitions for national greatness.

It's easy to spot the *real* conservatives (3, Insightful)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129442)

They're the ones cheering at the cancellation of Pork In Space.

I'd certainly like to see a viable human spaceflight program, building our way out to Luna, Mars, and beyond. Problem is, Constellation wasn't it. Constellation was treated as an excuse to pay aerospace giants megatons of money to develop a new launcher which would - at best - just barely achieve its aims. NASA appears to no longer be capable of serious launcher development, because the industry lobbyists own the politicians, and the politicians own the engineers specifying how the industry's products must perform. I am dead certain NASA engineers can do fine, fine work, but they haven't been free to do what they do best.

With the new approach, this counterproductive cycle is at least interrupted and hopefully broken.

It Could (Have) Work(ed) (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129462)

The only real positive reconfiguration of the space program would be as a stair-step program, each step dependent on those before. As some criticisms of Obama's plans state, this would take quite a while to accomplish. But as time goes on, the program design becomes more necessary to maintain and it's continued future more assured. Twenty to thirty years is a long time? Only to those unfamiliar with planning for the future of the species in the context of the universe. Even for them, a comparison of 40 years is constructive, and that's the amount of time since people walked on the moon.

Sadly, nobody has even mentioned the possibility of planning for such a program, much less taking advantage of this opportunity to setting it up. Even when it is mentioned, such 'plans' are often ruses with no inherent intentions of carrying it out. So this rebuilding of the future is, while still possible, not yet being seriously considered.

Many arguments have nothing to do with space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129468)

Let's not be so naive as to think these objections are based on what is best for humanity. Most are based on what will strengthen the political (or financial) position of the speaker, and weaken his opposition. Part of doing that is making arguments that sound vaguely plausible to the audience (that's you). But please, don't be a sucker.

Conservatives? Who cares? (4, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129490)

Why are we even talking about what conservatives think? The GOP has amply demonstrated that it has no interest in governing the country in good faith. Their entire program is:

  1. When in power: transfer as much wealth as possible to the very rich
  2. When out of power: throw a wrench in the works to make the government look bad enough to vote the GOP back into power

Any conservative argument needs to be critically examined in light of the question, "how does this allow the GOP to continue its looting?" Just look at Chicago economics, Reagan tax cuts, Bush's imperialism, and flagrant anti-union rhetoric. It's not made in good faith.

Conservatives have no interest in the real welfare of the country. This little spat about NASA is merely a disagreement among the foxes about whether to go through the front or the back of the hen-house. It should be an awfully strong hint that the rest of the world is governed by parties to the left of even the left here, and is going better for it.

Can we please stop wasting our time and giving attention to these right-wing lunatics and their pernicious ideas?

Re:Conservatives? Who cares? (1, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129730)

This is exactly why the country has become so polarized as of late: rather than simply disagreeing with the viewpoints of others and then discussing ways to find common ground, people who hold to strict left- or right-wing tenets simply dismiss members of the opposition as being "lunatics" and having "pernicious" ideas.

This has the short-term benefit of not having to address real problems with one's favored agenda (e.g., trying to provide health care for everyone or trying to overthrow unfavorable foreign regimes when the country is up to its eyeballs in debt). But in the long run, it means that nothing gets done, and those things that *do* get done are ill-conceived and generally rife with provisions that will cause more problems than they solve.

In other words, come back when you're done with your whiny ad hominem talking points. Then we can talk actual issues.

Why the sudden love for private industry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129528)

Obama's been hard at work for the last year growing the size and scope of government. Why the sudden love for private industry? My theory is that he realizes that we can't pay for both space travel AND expanding the welfare state, so he's chosen the path of most votes.

I have my doubts that private manned space travel will ever succeed in the US. We are far more pussified than we used to be. The safety and regulatory hurdles are astronomical. We treat every space death as if it should be the last time we ever send a person into space. We're strapping a person to a giant rocket and launching them into space. Guess what? IT'S VERY DANGEROUS! Now get over it! No one is being jettisoned into space against their will, although sometimes I wish all of Congress were.

Re:Why the sudden love for private industry? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129696)

Why the sudden love for private industry?

Because when they want to cut NASA's budget again, cancelling contracts with private companies is much easier than laying off tens of thousands of government employees.

They complain about spending (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129532)

Some conservatives hate the proposal because of the retreat from the high frontier and even go so far as to cast doubt on the commercial space aspects.

They complain one day about out of control government spending, so when Obama cuts an expensive program that isn't working, they complain about that. Those fiscal conservatives in the Alabama congressional delegation are having a collective heart attack trying to hang on to their pork projects.

Privitazation revisited (1)

Airborne-ng (1391105) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129578)

While privatization in the past has led to corruption , site Enron [wikipedia.org] . NASA has indeed peeked in its performance and space exploration should be delegated to private companies to reignite competition and improve efficiency, I hope a cold war citation is not needed.

- Liberal till death

Two things about any OBAMA idea. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31129594)

One, he didn't come up with it.
Two, it's bad for America.

If you like America oppose anything he supports, if you don't, support it.

Going back to the moon was a stupid idea (3, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129596)

Going back to the moon on chemical rockets was a stupid idea. If we had a better technology that allowed, say, a permanent base with a hundred people, it might be worth doing. But just repeating Apollo is pointless.

Worse, it would probably fail. Apollo had top people, including many experienced aircraft engineers who'd designed many successful aircraft, and, of course, the best German rocket engineers. That pool of people is gone. As Ben Rich, once head of Lockheed's "Skunk Works" (SR-71, stealth aircraft, etc.), wrote, "I worked on 22 airplanes in my career. Today's engineer is lucky to work on one."

The choice? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129686)

From what I understand, the choice is that we can either keep flying the Space Shuttle, past its design lifetime and with its two fatal crashes in its history, or we can use someone else's rocket and work on developing a superior replacement. Is this even a choice? Who in their right mind would choose the former?

Too late (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#31129732)

As discussed when Bush wanted us to go to the moon, the whole space program is a mess and it is unclear what we ought to do. What is clear is that the money that needed to spent 10 years ago on a new human spec launch vehicles was not spent. Certainly when Columbia was lost in 2003 it was time to fully fund what is now called the Constellation program. The year or two delay and lack of funding and focus was irresponsible and has really left the United States with no good option for human space flight.

I would like to see the shuttle operational for as long as possible. I would like to contract some of the ISS work out to private launch concerns. It may be that US astronauts have to go up to the ISS on other crafts. I would like to see more unmanned missions to more planets, and an emphasis on micro satellites that will allow a wider range of persons, down to high school students, in the US if the US is funding it, gain experience with LEO.

What I think I am saying that that space exploration and LEO is no longer the exclusive domain of the privileged few. I really do know how difficult space flight is, and that things never work the way one thinks they will, so I know it is risky. But we have to gain a broader experience. At this point, to some extent, we are just protecting government jobs, not doing useful work.

The most hypocritical things I have seen is Senator Olson, who represents the JSC area, crying because people at NASA are going to lose their jobs. Is that the job of republicans? To save government jobs? If there is no shuttle program, something which as decided under a republican president, they why do we need shuttle controllers? This is like complaining that health care reform is going to cut $500 billion out of medicare, then proposing a bill that would cut $650 billion out of medicare. NASA cannot be a jobs factory. They have to, and have been, doing useful things. If we want to keep the astronaut core up, then keep and expand the ISS, and let other take us up.

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