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Obama Outlines Bold Space Policy ... But No Moon

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-things-to-all-people dept.

NASA 455

The Bad Astronomer writes "In front of a mostly enthusiastic audience at NASA's Kennedy Space Center today, President Obama outlined a bold, new space policy. It's a change from his previous policy; the Constellation rockets are still dead, but a new heavy-lift rocket system is funded. He specifically talked of manned asteroid and Mars missions, but also stated there would be no return to the Moon. This is a major step in the right direction, but still needs some tweaking."

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Color me not impressed (5, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867578)

$6B for five years? $1.2B a year. Less money than Microsoft is losing on Bing. Less than 5% of the annual revenues of Mars candy [wikipedia.org] . For humans to stretch the limits of the frontier, to go to Mars and the Asteroids this is all? This is bold? What deep commitment.

I honestly liked it better when he didn't care enough to pretend to try. Do it or don't do it. Don't go halfway into it and set everybody up for disappointment. This is important stuff.

Re:Color me not impressed (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867590)

In a time when every other discretionary budget is being cut, any increase is a show of support.

Re:Color me not impressed (5, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867640)

The military budget is not being cut (significantly). US military spending, regardless of how it is classified, is discretionary in reality.

You could fund a manned Mars mission (pessimistic estimated total cost: $100 billion) with a 3% cut in the US military budget for ten years.

Re:Color me not impressed (5, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867666)

You could fund a manned Mars mission (pessimistic estimated total cost: $100 billion) with a 3% cut in the US military budget for ten years.

You could pay for massive upgrades to child protective services, social security, medicare, etc. with $100 billion. You could put a million pedophile priests in jail for $100 billion. You could reinvigorate Detroit and create tens of thousands of jobs for $100 billion.

The point is that you could do a LOT of things with "just a small cut in the military budget", but it wouldn't sit well with the electorate. Obama already takes enough shit for being "soft on terrorists" and "elitist". I doubt he'd want to completely botch his re-election with a snooty re-allocation of military funds ("purtecctt amurreriicaa") to the space program ("scieencee and la dee daa").

Re:Color me not impressed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867758)

It's already botched. Thank [insert diety or favorite pizza]! The sooner this chump is gone, the sooner this country can get back to leading the world and not playing suck-up to failing nations.

Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream ! (-1, Troll)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867880)

I still don't understand why American elected Obama as their president.

To be a true American one must feel proud every single time one looks at the moon, for the moon signifies something special to the United States of America.

America is the first (and so far) only country in the world which landed HUMAN BEING safely on the surface of the moon (and a safe trip back home).

And on the surface of the moon still stands the flag of America.

It's something so special no other country in this world can make such claim.

Obama isn't truly American. He does not share the American dream. He doesn't see things eye to eye with his fellow Americans. He doesn't even care.

As I begin with my message, even until today I am still very puzzled over why Obama got elected the president of the United States in America.

Something must have gone very very very wrong, somewhere.

AMERICA, FUCK YEAH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867918)

Is it just me, or was Slashdot broken?

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867922)

Something must have gone very very very wrong, somewhere.

Even if you're a Republican, it should have been obvious during Dubya's administration that there would be a backlash to his fuckuppery, and that it would be enough to sink all our boats.

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (5, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867928)

Obama isn't truly American. He does not share the American dream. He doesn't see things eye to eye with his fellow Americans. He doesn't even care

Look up his life history - he is living the American dream. I don't know how anyone can claim he doesn't believe in it as that is what made him president. How many other self-made men have become president?

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867940)

How many other self-made men have become president?

He was created by the media and its obvious that he's in way over his head.

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31868008)

Seconded. Very strongly seconded.

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (3, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868070)

No - he created himself by carefully managing the media. The media did not pull him out of his bed at 4 am and tell him to run for the senate and then for presidency. And managing the media is a skill that you will find in almost anyone who has successfully run for higher office.

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (5, Insightful)

dunezone (899268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867936)

We have a two party system. There is no third option. The country had a choice of sticking with the party that ran the country for 8 years or going with the other party. There was nothing else. Sure there are third party candidates here and there but none of them have any real support of the population to put them as front runners or even on a ballet. That is why we have President Obama

Also what is a true American? I live in the United States and I don't even know what the definition of a true American is.

Is being a true American standing up for your rights when their trampled on? Is it serving in the military? Is it pushing yourself everyday all day to be a self made individual?

They called John McCain a true American hero during the 2008 election but all I saw was an old generation of ideas and values that didn't work in the modern world.

George W. Bush was called a real American because he defended us against terrorists at all costs. Does blowing billions of dollars on something that has no return on investment make someone a true American?

And whats this American Dream? I recall it being that if you worked hard and played by the rules you can do whatever you want. Well it feels like the only way to make money in this country is break all the rules and let others do the hard work while taking all the credit. Is this the new American Dream? Is this a true American?

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31868004)

I'm just going to reply to this because I think it's funny. But if the "new" American dream is to "the only way to make money in this country is break all the rules and let others do the hard work while taking all the credit." and if you don't like that then maybe you should go with McCain and his "old generation of ideas and values".

Since you don't seem to agree with the new generations ideas of values.

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (5, Insightful)

chadenright (1344231) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868094)

...To be a true American one must feel proud every single time...America is the first (and so far) only country in the world ...Obama isn't truly American. ...

That pretty much sums it up I think. I am an American and I am NOT proud of everything my country does. The fact is, I'm an American, really and truly; Obama is a real, true American, and the fact that we can disagree with you (or that you are allowed to disagree with us) is one of the the few accomplishments Americans actually can be proud of.

The fact is, one doesn't have to feel an overwhelming sense of stunning self-satisfaction for simply having been born into this great nation; America -isn't- the only nation on earth and never has been, and like it or not you've got a lot more fellow Americans than you think you do.

It's crap like this that makes me sick of my fellow Americans and, in many cases, their smug, self-satisfied pride at being born into such a great heritage.

That said, I think Obama has bigger fish to fry (yes, bigger than another trip to the moon). For one thing, I'd like some form of profitable employment and so would thirty percent of other voting age Americans who are unemployed or working part time at Wal Mart (or whatever the number is this week). I'd like to see America claw its way back to the top of the world powers, a position nobody thinks it still has. And I'd like to see America stop bleeding its jobs to its enemies in China, India, and Mexico.

Once we do that, and we're in a position to afford such frills as a moon trip again, I'm all for it.

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868142)

America -isn't- the only nation on earth and never has been

Not to troll, but there are quite a few Americans upon whom I really wish you could impart your wisdom.

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (5, Insightful)

OnePumpChump (1560417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868118)

And while we're at it, he's no true Scotsman, either.

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (0, Offtopic)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868150)

I love how certain readers of Slashdot keep substituting -1 Troll for "-1 Strongly Dislike And Wish To Censor".

Re:Too bad Obama doesn't share the American dream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31868182)

Which has absolutely nothing to do with the troll you're replying to being modded as such.

Re:Color me not impressed (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867802)

Unless he pulls a miracle from his ass, he's not going to get re-election. As of now, he and every congresscritter is in damage control mode saving themselves, their legacy, and the party.

Right now, people are worried about future employment, paying bills, and not losing their house. Baby Boomers are frightened as to how the new healthcare reform will pan out for them. Students are worried about being saddled with tuition loans and not being able to pay them off. Unless we have another 911, most people could give a shit about the war now. We are all in "save my ass" mode.

Re:Color me not impressed (4, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867892)

He'd be "soft and the terrorists" and "elitist" no matter WHAT he did. Those are talking points that are applied without regard to any facts.

Re:Color me not impressed (2, Interesting)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867954)

That's why you don't give your opponents actual facts, because his opponent's blatant lies are the only thing keeping the fifty-someodd percent of the electorate with him.

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868174)

You could pay for massive upgrades to child protective services, social security, medicare, etc. with $100 billion.

Not at all. Are you aware how much those things cost? Medicare alone costs over $600 billion a year. $100 billion over 10 years would be a drop in the ocean.

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867682)

Yes, and I'm sure you could cut veteran's benefits to fund a Mars mission too... or neighborhood watch programs. (Both of which have been in direct competition with NASA funds in the past). But over here in the *real* world, that's not gunna happen.

 

Calling the Moonies ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867770)

Oh boy, I bet the moonies must be very upset by Obama right now !

3% for ten years? (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868122)

The military budget is a trillion dollars every year. You could just end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and net over 150 billion in one year.

Re:Color me not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867690)

Yeah, an increase that will fund 'private' space exploration. Read: more backdoor bailouts. Voters were really pissed about the bank bailouts, but the politicians aren't done fattening up the wealthy at the expense of the common man. Want to bail out the car companies? Call it 'cash for clunkers.' Want to dump money on your friends in insurance? Call it 'healthcare reform.' Same old tune, now it's a 'bold new space policy.' Does anyone really believe this trash?

Re:Color me not impressed (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867836)

ummm.. you're aware that the bulk of the money of the commercial crew program will be going to the same old contractors that have been sucking of the NASA teat since it was begun right? It's not like pork is a new thing.. the difference is that this time NASA might actually get their money worth (maybe). In the mean time, the COTS program continues (it was started under the previous administration) and, if successful, will be some of the most efficient money NASA have ever spent.

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868126)

ummm.. you're aware that the bulk of the money of the commercial crew program will be going to the same old contractors that have been sucking of the NASA teat since it was begun right? It's not like pork is a new thing.

Actually the "same old" contractors are now themselves contracting out large portions of contracts. I'm not saying that it's a good thing (pretty much the entire reason for the Boeing 787 delays), and I'm not saying it's a bad thing (those same delays were in part due to the 787 design relying on new materials and techniques which Boeing couldn't have handled in-house), but I am saying that your concept of what's going on is a bit outdated.

The problem is that there are only a handful of American-led companies capable of taking on massive projects like this, so they're the ones who always win bids. If I was in your position I'd be more concerned that the outsourcing of subcontracts goes to American labor. (as an example, or maybe a warning, the car with the most American labor behind it is the Toyota Camry. Buying American?)

NASA is not discretionary budget (2, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868016)

Quite apart from the national security issues, there's a lot of science to learn out there or on the way. As Kennedy put it: "we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

But no, what we need now is a President to look up into the evening sky and see bright Mars. To wonder what it might be like for men to walk on it, to explore and harvest the vast resources of space - and then shrug, crack a beer and catch the game on ESPN.

Re:NASA is not discretionary budget (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868046)

Yes, it is. Congress could cut it to zero tomorrow if they felt the need.

Re:Color me not impressed (3, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867622)

I still don't understand why we're building a new heavy lifter when we have a heavy lifter we've spent several billion already over the past 6 years. How close was Ares V to being done? was it really THAT mismanaged that it's cheaper and more efficient to start from scratch?

Re:Color me not impressed (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867650)

Ares V development hasn't even started.. and ask Jeff Greason said "even if Santa Claus brought us the new program for xmas, we'd have to shut it down because we don't have the budget to operate it". The research is for *affordable* heavy lift. If you can't make heavy lift affordable (or as the codeword goes "sustainable") you have to do without it.. which is where the propellant depots and in-situ resource utilization comes in.

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867696)

The only Ares V that will fly in the next decade will be miniature hobby rockets. The Ares V exists only on paper at this point. Worse it doesn't even have a real design specced out at this point so if you said "build an Ares V starting tomorrow" it couldn't be done.

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

masdog (794316) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867748)

We have a couple of heavy-lift launchers according to Wikipedia. The Ares V is classed as a Super-Heavy lift vehicle and can lift 6-8 times as much as an Atlas V or Delta IV. Is the Ares V a good design? I don't know. I think we can do better than merging Shuttle-era technology with Apollo-era concepts.

Re:Color me not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867768)

"was it really THAT mismanaged that it's cheaper and more efficient to start from scratch?"

In short, yes.

Re:Color me not impressed (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868006)

What I don't understand is why they were building a new heavy lifter when we've had a working heavy lifter for the past 30 years: The STS system. Remove the shuttle, put the engines on the bottom of the tank, and the cargo/Orion on the top, and you've got a launch vehicle that can put 75+ tons into orbit. Production lines already in place, no major development needed. Cheap and affordable, and with a minor shuttle extension no loss of jobs.

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

magsol (1406749) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867736)

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't that $6B the increase NASA's budget is getting on top of their current budget?

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867740)

Sure would be nice if Microsoft and Google teamed up to help fund NASA. Think of it as their down-payment for improved PR and marketing.

I can dream, can't I?

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867882)

It is better than getting cut. Unfortunately many people just don't see the purpose and reason for NASA and why it is vital that we keep our LEO ability. Until the private sector INSIDE the US can do LEO it has to remain in NASA's portfolio.

The longer we remain solely on this planet the higher probability that we will no longer remain.

New space policy: (2, Funny)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867950)

To boldy not go where man has gone before.

Re:Color me not impressed (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868012)

well Obama has no control over how much MS loses on bing or what the revenue of mars candy is. he can only piss with the dick he's got.

he's got plenty of other priorities he's trying to juggle, i'd say NASA did pretty well out of this.

That seems reasonable (1)

ExtremelyAvg (1791194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867614)

I am a big fan of the space program. I am glad he hasn't just gutted it. Of course, I think the future lies in the private industry. But what do I know, I no rocket scientist accountant.

Re:That seems reasonable (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867812)

Of course, I think the future lies in the private industry.

A lot of people do, myself included. I have to say, though, I am much more pessimistic about the rate of progress that private industry will make than I was a decade ago. Growing up reading Michael Flynn's trilogy beginning with Firestar [amazon.com] , which presents a vision of the rise of private spaceflight in the near future, I was thinking, "Well, they just need to find a cheap way to orbit and then there will be all kinds of clients knocking on the door." But now I'm afraid that Scaled Composites and similar ventures will indeed slowly find a cheap way to orbit, but no one will want to sign on to actually do anything up there. Flynn's suppositions of who the first users of private spaceflight would be -- FedEx and UPS, among others -- now just seem ridiculous in retrospect.

Re:That seems reasonable (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867982)

Well, he's just improved the private industry use of the Moon.

Sounds luney to me... (-1, Troll)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867624)

... Obama probably received enough moons today from the tea baggers that going to the moon was not at the top of his todo list.

"No Moon" (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867626)

Yeah, I sighed. It's a shame that this concept is so hard to explain.

To go to the Moon you need a booster, a capsule and a lander. Without an Apollo sized budget its too expensive to build all three at once. So the question becomes: what can we do with just the booster and the capsule while the lander is being built?

There's lots of things of value. Developing cis-lunar space. Going to asteroids, to learn how to divert one that may threaten the Earth. To the Moons of Mars to learn how to do long duration deep space flights.

Eventually, the lander will be ready and NASA will try it out on the Moon, and then onto a Mars landing.

But that's not the kind of argument you can put on a bumpersticker or insert into a presidential speech.

Re:"No Moon" (4, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867674)

I have to disagree. The best way to "learn" how to do long duration deep-space flights is a moonbase, don't you think, not a first-try, no-exit-strategy, let's hope everything works shoot-'em-to-Demos one shot.

Bush was going to Mars too, so my concern is not alleviated that we're still talking fantasy appeasements while starving the program.

Re:"No Moon" (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867710)

Umm, no. To learn how to fly deep space missions (which, by definition are beyond the orbit of the Moon), you have to go further than the Moon. Sorry, that's just the way the real world works.. you can't learn how to ride a bike by buying a skateboard.

Re:"No Moon" (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867916)

But riding the skateboard teaches you a bit about balance and how wheels work, and teaches you that your bike can't have those little wheels if you want to ride on gravel.

Plus, free skateboard.

Re:"No Moon" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867910)

A moon base would be much different than an interplanetary flight in almost every respect. Comets have water. The LCROSS mission was spun as a success, but what it showed was that the moon doesn't have enough water for any practical purposes at all.

Re:"No Moon" (1, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867986)

The Moon has more water than we could use for the next 100 years. 600 million metric tons [airspacemag.com] at the opposite pole to the one LCROSS crashed into.. probably similar amounts at the south pole too.

My argument would be that if we're going to the Moon to get resources to go somewhere else, which is what Dr Paul Spudis, the foremost expert (and jackass, but that's a personality trait, his ideas are great) on the Moon says we should, that's a great idea, but why would you do that with humans? Paul regularly talks about the comprehensive robotic precursor missions which would characterize the resources and prove the capability to get it and make propellant from it. Then in the next breath he talks about humans on the Moon. This kind of "find a justification for human spaceflight" thinking is common in the space community. If the goal of going to the Moon is to get resources to go elsewhere, just do that with robots. There's no need to build an ISS on the Moon unless that's the goal. There's nothing wrong with that goal, but it will take time and budget, and NASA is having enough trouble getting enough budget to do anything with just one ISS to support.

Re:"No Moon" (1)

norpy (1277318) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868146)

If you mined the moon and brought it back to earth i think you would find that our planet would be changed irreversibly. So many things on our planet rely on the gravitational pull from the moon that who knows what would happen.

Re:"No Moon" (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867700)

There is a quote on the java ranch site [javaranch.com] that is very applicable here: "[Thompson's Rule for first-time telescope makers] It is faster to make a four-inch mirror then a six-inch mirror than to make a six-inch mirror." If they shoot for Mars first, it will never happen.

Re:"No Moon" (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867754)

Did you completely miss what I said or what? No-one is "shooting for Mars first". Every suggestion of the milestones required to get to Mars, of a plan that has even has milestones (I'm looking at you Zubrin) has included a return to the Moon. The speech writer for Obama was simply trying to make the point that the surface of the Moon isn't the *next* place to go.. there's plenty of other places to go first.

why asteroids and not comets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867860)

Who cares about dry asteroids, when we have water-laden comets flying around? Comets are much more interesting exploration targets at about the same marginal cost. They're hollow, allowing for habitats to be built inside them for a usefully radiation-shielded planetary cycler, filled with plenty of propellant to maneuver with. The cost to excavate an ordinary asteroid to achieve the same utility would be absurd.

Also, uncharted comets from the Oort clout are more likely to represent substantial Near Earth Object threats with only months instead of the decades notice we have for all the large asteroids, so the more we find out how much we're able to deflect their trajectories by blowing up a nuke next to them, the better.

Re:why asteroids and not comets? (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867872)

Yeah, "Asteroids" is easier for the public to understand.. barely. But whether it is an asteroid or a comet is a completely flexible decision. The NASA studies all refer to "Near Earth Objects" as you do.

Re:"No Moon" (5, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867896)

But that's not the kind of argument you can put on a bumpersticker or insert into a presidential speech.

Bumper sticker, no. Speech, well, you need the right president.

Where Bush had a space program that made him look good but would never accomplish anything, Obama has one that has folks scratching their heads but which might just take space travel out of its 40-year coma.

And no, I'm not blaming W for the mess that is NASA. Every President since JFK has put politics over real accomplishments in this area, though Bush was just a little more cold-blooded about it.

Re:"No Moon" (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867932)

Overall, NASA's PR has been more horrid this year than I ever remember :) This budget rollout was broken. The President's speech was "ho hum", at least to me and other space cadets, I don't know how people who were completely unprepared received what he said. But he at least managed to give some people what they wanted: destinations and dates. Most likely not the ones they wanted, but at least the Apollo cargo cult can't moan about that tickbox being unchecked anymore. So now we wait to see how much Congress screws with the budget. If they trash it, Obama might veto it.. if they fiddle with it a little they might even improve it. We can wish.

And overall NASA needs to allocate some money to contracting PR people who know what they are doing, and actually listening to what they say... I'm sure it would be along the lines of "mission control is boring, STOP PUTTING IT ON NASA TV".

Re:"No Moon" (4, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868114)

Where Bush had a space program that made him look good but would never accomplish anything, Obama has one that has folks scratching their heads but which might just take space travel out of its 40-year coma.

Had space travel been in a coma, you'd have a point. But it hasn't. Instead we've actually had what all the space fans claim to have wanted for years - a routine workaday program. Turns out they were lying, what they want is stunts and spectaculars and big penile substitutes.
 
And really, Obama's program is something of a bust - a modest amount of money, a booster with no mission (I smell pork), and a capsule that might be adapted to have a mission at some date in the misty future. No clear goals, no timetables, no roadmaps nothing but warm fuzzy rhetoric.
 

And no, I'm not blaming W for the mess that is NASA. Every President since JFK has put politics over real accomplishments in this area, though Bush was just a little more cold-blooded about it.

I hope you're not referring to the Apollo program, because that was pure politics through and through.

No, no moon. In fact screw the moon (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868138)

Mars. Put a man on Mars. Everyone wants to 'Reach for the Stars' by going to the Moon. No, lets go to Mars.

Here's what the Bad Astronomer says about it (3, Interesting)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867632)

Phil Plait offers his comments on Obama's new space policy: Obama lays out bold and visionary revised space policy [discovermagazine.com] .

Shit (4, Funny)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867646)

I should have checked the link before posting the above.

Re:Shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867676)

RTFS?

Re:Shit (1)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867724)

I did read the summary. It's just that I rarely look at the submitter's name and I was so eager to share Phil Plait's post that I didn't follow the link first.

Re:Here's what the Bad Astronomer says about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867716)

Maybe you should have RTFA'd.

Re:Here's what the Bad Astronomer says about it (5, Funny)

Phroon (820247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867864)

Damn it! You tricked me into reading the article!

Re:Here's what the Bad Astronomer says about it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31868034)

Here's what Neil Tyson [youtube.com] has to say about going to the moon.

The purpose of government research (4, Insightful)

Dice (109560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867638)

I think he's probably right in terms of what a government research program should have as its goals. IMO, the purpose of government research on this scale is to drive forward technological development and give the private sector a kick in the pants.

We've already been to the Moon, that technology was developed during the 1960s. We could probably do it better now, but the advancements wouldn't be nearly as significant as what is required for a manned mission to Mars. Leave the moon to the private sector, we should expect to see a private company touching down there within a decade or maybe two. Mars is still a pie-in-the-sky target, let's point NASA at that.

Re:The purpose of government research (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867660)

Do you really want private companies going to the Moon and commercializing it?

Re:The purpose of government research (4, Insightful)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867686)

Right now it would be good to get anyone to go the moon and commercialize it. That's where the money will come from, though. Holidays, mining, health, retirement villages...

Re:The purpose of government research (4, Insightful)

Dice (109560) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867722)

Yes. Why not?

Re:The purpose of government research (2, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867920)

Yes. Why not?

Because when I take a girl for a walk on the beach at night I want to see the moon, not a Pepsi logo.

Re:The purpose of government research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31868084)

Yeah, but when Pepsi's management and shareholders take a girl for a walk on the beach, they want to see a nice Pepsi logo, not some piece of cheese.

Re:The purpose of government research (1)

dcmoebius (1527443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868128)

This is slashdot sir. The odds of you successfully convincing a human female to accompany you to a beach at night are slim to none.

Re:The purpose of government research (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868132)

Commercializing the moon is not likely to involve building a trillion dollar planet size company logo. It's just a dead rock. If there are resources there that we can use of course we should.

Re:The purpose of government research (1)

DougF (1117261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867726)

Yes

Re:The purpose of government research (1)

weirdo557 (959623) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867924)

hell yeah

Re:The purpose of government research (5, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867958)

Do you really want private companies going to the Moon and commercializing it?

Yes please, as rapidly as possible. Coincidentally, a couple days ago space.com had an interview with construction billionaire Robert Bigelow (who currently has two prototype space stations in orbit, which he launched on his own dime). In the interview he discussed his plans for a private lunar base, which would be assembled from three of his space station modules in lunar orbit or a Lagrangian point, then land assembled on the lunar surface:

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/private-moon-bases-bigelow-aerospace-100414.html [space.com]

After launching two prototype space stations into orbit, space entrepreneur and pioneer Robert Bigelow is now setting his sights a bit higher. His latest vision: A quick-deploy moon base capable of housing up to 18 astronauts in inflatable modules on the lunar surface.

The base itself would be fabricated in space, with consideration being given to crewmembers piloting the entire base directly onto the moon's surface. ...

"We need to make low-Earth orbit work first before we go beyond . . . but I believe we will," Gold told SPACE.com. "Once we've established a robust infrastructure in Earth orbit, created the economies of scale necessary to produce facilities in low Earth orbit . . . at that point, we've really enabled ourselves to look at a variety of options."

Bigelow's main limiting factor has been the lack of a commercial crew vehicle to transfer customers to his space stations, and NASA's newly-announced commercial crew initiative will solve that problem. Once Bigelow's LEO bases have proven themselves, a private lunar base will be able to take advantage of the propellant depots in LEO and Lagrangian points foreseen under the new NASA plans.

Re:The purpose of government research (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867990)

As if the commercialization won't happen once we actually establish any sort of presence there? Come on.

Re:The purpose of government research (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867782)

Leave the moon to the private sector, we should expect to see a private company touching down there within a decade or maybe two.

If by "the private sector" you actually mean "India or China" then yea, they'll be there within a decade or two.

Why would the private sector even want to go to the moon?
We can't even convince our domestic aerospace giants that building heavy lift rockets is a viable commercial interest.

Re:The purpose of government research (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867800)

The moon missions were a long time ago - but its not clear that we have progressed much with technology needed for aerospace. The basic technology hasn't changed, launch costs aren't that different. It was hard then, and its still hard now. Mars is a lot harder. We could do it if we wanted to, but we aren't willing to put in the require effort, or take the required risks. Its not that I think Obama's plan is fundamentally flawed, but when he talks about a mars mission in the 2030s, it sounds like another of the every 10 years "lets go to mars" talk, never followed by any action. I think I will likely live to see the day when no living man has been beyond 1000 miles from earth.

Maybe China will do it - they have the will and are willing to take the risks. Not the flag I'd most like to see flying over a mars base though. Not what I imagined when I watched the first moon landing 2 generations ago.

Exploring and colonizing space doesn't have a point - it IS the point.

In 2 and a half years (3, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867670)

In 2 and a half years when Obama is replaced by the next guy we can recycle this whole thing over again. Each administration takes over and points NASA in yet another direction killing off whatever the current direction is. Next administration will probably kill the heavy lifter project and replace that with a direct shot to mars.

NAHHH! If Palin is elected president . . . (5, Funny)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867788)

. . . you can expect BIG CHANGES in NASA policy:

      * NUKE MARS! Eliminate alien threats before they start. And incidentally destroy any pesky bible-insulting fossils.
      * Spaceport Wasilla: Because Alaska is already halfway to heaven!
      * Drill Baby Drill through the crystal sphere separating us from the stars!

Re:NAHHH! If Palin is elected president . . . (1)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868058)

We had to do it — they had Weapons of Mars Destruction. And the residents will Deimos as liberators!

Re:NAHHH! If Palin is elected president . . . (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868092)

I'm pretty sure Palin believes the sky is a carpet painted by God. Seriously ... space station? How will they make it stay up there, nail it to the carpet?

No Moon? (4, Funny)

z0idberg (888892) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867680)

So if it's not a moon, then I guess it's a.....Space Station?

But No Moon (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867698)

We can't always expect him to bend over and pull his pants down. Come on. A president can only give us a Moon once every blue moon.
oh wait . . .

major step in the WRONG direction (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867718)

what is the point of going to Mars if we have no capability of setting up a base there? No capability of any rescue? The moon is our kindergarten - a place to learn about how to live for long periods of time in extremely harsh environments. It is close enough that rescue or other aid may be possible. It is close enough that there is greater flexibility in the mission. The sad thing is that what we did in a handful of years in the 1960s is going to take us a decade or more 50 years later.

Chinese (3, Insightful)

acehole (174372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867730)

You can bet that when the Chinese land on the moon and start talking about setting up bases there'll be a renewed call for the US to end up on the moon again post haste. I can tell its going to be like toddlers and toys. One wont play with a toy until he sees someone else enjoying it and wants in on the action.

Re:Chinese (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867790)

The Chinese have no interest in going to the Moon. They are planning a manned space station, to be completed by 2022 [spacepolitics.com] .

No amount of screaming "the reds are under the beds!!" is going to bring back the unique set of cold war circumstances that made Apollo a success.

Re:Chinese (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867992)

No amount of screaming "the reds are under the beds!!" is going to bring back the unique set of cold war circumstances that made Apollo a success.

They certainly try, though. In fact, Congressman Todd Arkin (R-Missouri) made the absurd claim today that NASA's new plan would force the US to become reliant on the Soviet Union:

http://www.goodporkbadpork.com/2010/04/missouri-congressman-mistakenly-refers-to-soviet-union-in-anti-obama-space-policy-press-release/ [goodporkbadpork.com]

A giant telescope on the moon (3, Informative)

thoughtsatthemoment (1687848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867742)

I think a giant telescope on the moon would greatly increase our knowledge of the universe. Maybe our current technology is not sufficient for longer distance space travel and gaining more knowledge about the universe might be better for now.

The west will go to the moon by 2020 (3, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867774)

The reaon is that NASA is going to get private space off the ground. As long as we adhere to this and get BIGELOW AEROSPACE off the ground, then we will hit the moon around 2020. Bigelow and Musk have BOTH said that they want on the moon around that timeframe.

Re:The west will go to the moon by 2020 (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867798)

[citation needed]

No Moon (0, Offtopic)

Gandalf_Greyhame (44144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867806)

"That's no moon!" /obligatory

This is a moon - (_._)

The Next President ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31867904)

will dig a big hole, dump Obama's lifeless rotting corpse, and with it the Obama "Beautiful American", and then full it with gasoline and burn it.

A fitting end to a most unfitting abomination, Barak Hussain Obama ... Satan waits to kiss you.

Re:The Next President ... (0, Troll)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#31867996)

and then full it with gasoline

You aren't wearing a Revolutionary era costume and chanting, "KEEP YOUR GOVERNMENT HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE!" are you?

No moon? (2, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868090)

No moon? That's a space station?

(Millions of geeks suddenly sighed at the pun and were silenced.)

You still need to go to the moon. (2, Insightful)

nuclearmatt (1791222) | more than 4 years ago | (#31868148)

There is a tiny bit of good thought in this: We will finally discuss space radiation and advanced propulsion systems.
Without a nuclear propulsion system that works, a mars mission or a mission to anything but a close flying asteroid is foolhardy.
We have built them before (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NERVA [wikipedia.org] ).

This is how engineering works:
1. Find elephant
2. Take SMALL bite.
3. Chew bite.
4. Spit out bones (of dead mars crew in slow rocket)
5. Continue until elephant is gone
It is rare that we get a huge leap in technology where physics is involved.
We have been working on the fusion reactor for 60 years. No breath holding or life betting on this one. Trust me. You don't want to build the next Tokamak and try and power Chicago with it.
Stated otherwise: You don't build a boat and test it by taking a transatlantic voyage.

Additionally, the moon part of these missions isn't really about "going" to the moon. It's about *building* on it. What we did before was the equivalent of a day trip in the woods.
Going to mars with chemical rockets is like taking a backpack into the woods across an ocean with only a Columbus style sailing ship back across that ocean to call on for help.
The moon is close, relatively speaking. The moon can be landed on, and then escaped from, with 40 year old technology as it sits. If you build an Apollo era lunar module as an escape capsule, you're done. You only have to live in it for a couple of days.

Mars CANNOT be escaped from with ANY technology currently available. Period. And building a habitation on mars makes the job significantly more difficult. Everything about Mars is harder and will require more time and money with much larger potential for failure and longer lead times.

If you build a habitation (read beginnings of colonization) on the moon, you may be able to build some things which can be tested in a "real" environment prior to getting to a place where you have no help.
There is almost no possibility of resurrection of your (scientific/monetary/personnel) outlay on mars. This is less true with the moon.

And the moon is still a huge challenge. Did I say huge? I meant *HUGE*.

We haven't been to the moon. We touched it, for a brief moment. Do we need to make it to Mars, HELL YES.
But we need to be smart about it.

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