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Senators Demand NASA Continue Spending On Ares

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the needs-new-rims-for-his-chariot dept.

Government 152

FleaPlus writes "Senators Richard Shelby (R-AL and ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee handling NASA funding) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) have added an amendment onto an emergency spending bill for military operations in Afghanistan, reiterating that NASA must continue spending its funds on the Constellation program, particularly the medium-lift Ares I rocket. Alabama and Utah have strong ties to Ares/Constellation contractors, and both senators are opposed to the new direction for NASA, with Shelby describing it as a 'death march' for US spaceflight and criticizing the emphasis on commercial rockets."

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Science and Politics (5, Insightful)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219068)

And this is why the US is such trouble. When politicians are eagerly representing a companies views rather than the country.

Re:Science and Politics (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219094)

How's that wrong? America isn't made up of people. It's made up of corporations. And those corporations need representation, dammit. Thankfully, the Republican and Democrat parties realize this, and do everything to support these True Americans, and allow them to participate in democracy.

It's about jobs in this economy (5, Insightful)

dammy (131759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219394)

It's those engineers and support personnel who are about to be out of a job in those states are the ones that need Ares funded. Although I do support the commercialization of space and getting NASA out of the manned LEO rides, I can sympathize with those who are about to be unemployed because of the budget reversal. My memories goes back to the mid 1970s when my father and his friends lost their jobs when Apollo 17 completed it's mission.

Can I blame those GOP Senators for pushing for funding to keep jobs in their state? Nope, sure can't. Do I think it should be funded, nope, sure don't.

Re:It's about jobs in this economy (5, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219678)

Can I blame those GOP Senators for pushing for funding to keep jobs in their state?

You can when they're also pushing for an end to earmarks, reduced government spending, and a generalized "the government can't do anything right" attitude.

"Small government" is a valid position, but "reduce spending on everybody but me" is an attitude that merits blame.

Re:It's about jobs in this economy (2, Insightful)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221260)

You can when they're also pushing for an end to earmarks, reduced government spending, and a generalized "the government can't do anything right" attitude.

You know not of whom you speak. Senator Bennett recently lost out to two more conservative candidates for the opportunity to run in the Republican primary. Among other reasons, because he never saw an earmark he didn't like.

Re:Science and Politics (2, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219540)

Dummy.

Republicans represent the rich and corporations.

Democrats represent illegal aliens and unions.

Re:Science and Politics (0, Flamebait)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220320)

Jeopardy Question for 25 cents. The answer is, "What two senators lost their bid for re-election because their efforts were based on helping big business interests, not their constituents interests."

Re:Science and Politics (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221226)

Actually, both parties have a Terry Pratchett-esque gentleman's agreement on the "illegal immigration" issue. The Republicans agree to keep keep cheap foreign labor illegal so long as the Democrats don't try to enforce the law. The Democrats agree to let cheap foreign labor into the country so long as we pretend they aren't supposed to be here.

The Republicans then rail against the illegality of the cheap labor they crave. The Democrats rail against the inhumanity of the Republicans toward "undocumented workers", while at the same time being complicit in the legal fiction that strips those workers of basic legal protections.

The poor bastards living in a hole in the friggin' ground with no running water just want a roof of their family's head and drinking water that won't kill their children. They want to work create wealth, and better their lives. And they know blatant hypocrisy when they see it.

If you want to secure the border, there's two things that you have to do. First, you have to increase the number of legal immigrants so they can provide the cheap labor which our economy is dependent upon. The second is you have to support economic development in the places they come from. You can't keep them out with walls or border patrols, much less laws written down in books they'll never read. You've got to reduce the force that drives them over the border, then reduce the economic incentive for subverting the border.

Re:Science and Politics (4, Insightful)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221504)

If you want to secure the border, there's two things that you have to do. First, you have to increase the number of legal immigrants so they can provide the cheap labor which our economy is dependent upon. The second is you have to support economic development in the places they come from. You can't keep them out with walls or border patrols, much less laws written down in books they'll never read. You've got to reduce the force that drives them over the border, then reduce the economic incentive for subverting the border.

Uh, all you have to do is fine the businesses that hire them severely until hiring illegal aliens is no longer economically viable.

Re:Science and Politics (0, Troll)

INT_QRK (1043164) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219682)

And corporations are made up of...wait for it...prairie dogs in suits! Thats right! Stand up, looks out across the cube-tops and greet your fellow prairie dogs! We are corporation! We are America! We deserve representation! Meer cats suck, by the way. Freakin' commies.

Re:Science and Politics (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221458)

Yeah without representation they might dress up like Indians and dump all of our tea in the harbor. You know we don't want that to happen again.

Re:Science and Politics (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219200)

Let's not forget that pork often produces jobs. Usually, the support comes from the representatives etc who come from the states where the jobs will be produced. They get campaign contributions from their constituents and the corporations (ok, their real constituents) as a result.

Re:Science and Politics (4, Insightful)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219282)

Let's not forget that pork often produces jobs.

You'd get more employment (and "stimulate" the economy more) if that same amount of pork was used simply to pay people at the bottom of the economic ladder to work on various things (perhaps even to go to school). But then you wouldn't be able to direct the money to your favorite political donors.

Re:Science and Politics (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219366)

No you wouldn't. Those people are at the bottom of the economic ladder for a reason, and it's not because they want to work on various things or go to school.

Re:Science and Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219480)

No you wouldn't. Those people are at the bottom of the economic ladder for a reason, and it's not because they want to work on various things or go to school.

Let me guess. One of those reasons is "because that's where God wants them", right?

Re:Science and Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219584)

I would venture to say they are referring to the people at the bottom not wanting to get an education, but sit around and fuck their sister/cousin all day because school is boring.

Re:Science and Politics (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220720)

That's why I was proposing "paying" them to work (at least work going to school/training programs if nothing else). Tie that together with not getting child-welfare payments unless their kids are "working" at school.

Over time, the idea that you have to "put in effort" to get compensation of some sort should sink in, and by providing a path for them to get extra schooling/training when they can't find a job (rather than just sitting around collecting welfare checks), you will end up getting a highly-skilled & flexible work force who can transition to whatever job the economy demands at any given moment without worrying about their family getting thrown out on the street.

If you do it right, you can also chuck out any requirement for stuff like minimum wages, since the ability to go back to get training without destroying your financial life will act as a form of job competition for any employer who thinks they can abuse and/or exploit their employees at will.

Re:Science and Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219644)

Actually it is not God. It is them.

Re:Science and Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32220296)

No you wouldn't. Those people are at the bottom of the economic ladder for a reason, and it's not because they want to work on various things or go to school.

Because when I think of well-educated contributors to American society, the first places I think of are Alabama and Utah...

Re:Science and Politics (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219440)

You'd get more employment (and "stimulate" the economy more) if that same amount of pork was used simply to pay people at the bottom of the economic ladder to work on various things (perhaps even to go to school). But then you wouldn't be able to direct the money to your favorite political donors.

And I never suggested otherwise. I was describing the full motive. It's not just for corporate welfare. Until we root out corporatism, the majority of the money WILL go to the corporations. Given that, the politician's job is not to fight corporatism (although I'd like to see that, it only works if enough of them are united, and good luck with that) but to steer it towards the benefit of their constituents.

Yes, I find the whole thing alternately angers and depresses me, too.

Re:Science and Politics (2, Insightful)

Raven_Stark (747360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219452)

How about creating jobs that also produce a product that is more useful to the entire country?

Re:Science and Politics (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219578)

How about creating jobs that also produce a product that is more useful to the entire country?

Are you trying to open up a war about whether the research that results from spaceflight is worth the investment? Where I come from, we call that Flamebait. It's also more than a little Redundant since some tool brings up the same argument every time we discuss spending on space.

Re:Science and Politics (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219692)

If NASA had never gone to the moon, no one would be able to say that they got some Tang in space.

Re:Science and Politics (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220232)

Here you go, a couple dozen out of over 1600 technologies that the Space program has given us over the last 50 years.
http://www.sti.nasa.gov/tto/Spinoff2008/pdf/timeline_08.pdf [nasa.gov]

Re:Science and Politics (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220276)

Double entendre says hi.

Re:Science and Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221354)

How about creating jobs that also produce a product that is useful to the country?

FTFY

Re:Science and Politics (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219244)

You mean that Alabama and Arizona senators vote for things that benefit Alabama and Arizona? Shocking. Next you'll probably tell me that most people are interested in themselves first and others second.

Re:Science and Politics (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219646)

You could also frame it in terms of the populace being so easily manipulated that the other 98 Senators (or maybe 96...) can't just laugh the damned amendment off the floor.

Re:Science and Politics (1, Interesting)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219696)

If Republicans spent less time beating a bible and more time thinking -- really thinking about anything -- we wouldn't be in the shape we're in. It's like having our very own Taliban in our backyard, with the Republicans' many divisions sowing discord: their crazed birthers, their TV hate- and panic-mongerers preaching destruction and vitriol, their just-so-fucking-crazy-there's-no-excuse crowd, all frothing at the mouth.

You can take Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh -- and Sarah Palin while you're at it, please -- and shove them up Rosanne Barr's ass.

(Not that I hate Rosanne Barr or anything, I just think there's room / she wouldn't mind.)

Re:Science and Politics (0)

dubdays (410710) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219778)

Well, personally, I'm thrilled they're trying to keep NASA alive. We know so many things today--that we really take for granted--that are a direct result of the space program. Just consider the wealth of knowledge and understanding we've gained through Hubble alone.

Don't get me wrong...the commercialization of space is important, and a great deal of good science and useful applications are sure to come from the private sector. I just think the government should help do some of the necessary "heavy lifting" due to the huge cost of space travel. Sorry, but no private company(s) I can think of is going to be able to pump a few billion dollars a year into an exploratory space program, while, for the government, it's not that much of a problem. Besides, would it really be all that difficult of a mind exercise to consider diverting a tiny fraction of the funding for the wonderful wars we are currently involved in to learn to build a decent, well-directed space program?

Being one who is about as far left of the aisle as a person can be, I applaud these Republicans for this amendment. I know their reasons are, oh, pork-ish. However, I'm able to overlook that for, in this case, the ends just may justify the means.

Re:Science and Politics (5, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219892)

Well, personally, I'm thrilled they're trying to keep NASA alive.

NASA'S new direction is not a budget cut [northwestern.edu] . What they are doing is directing money towards unmanned space flight. IMHO it is a simple question of whether to keep pouring money into the failed Ares program, or redirect it to something more promising.

Re:Science and Politics (1)

DangerFace (1315417) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220214)

Well, personally, I'm thrilled they're trying to keep NASA alive... Just consider the wealth of knowledge and understanding we've gained through Hubble alone.

Remind me, how many men are there on Hubble again?

Re:Science and Politics (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220244)

He is likely talking about the maintenance program (never mind that the same funding probably could have been used to launch several of the damn things. And imagine, the later ones could be built to not require corrective optics).

Re:Science and Politics (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221440)

Remind me again how much biological testing and in human endurance studies Hubble has done?

Re:Science and Politics (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219794)

Well, I agree with the sentiment but really the politicians are representing their constituents who are employed by the corporations. Either way, it's just pure waste.

Re:Science and Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219900)

I sort of agree with this, were not talking long term anything here were talking about making a few objects and shutting down production, in what 5 years?

Corporations are Evil--And so are you (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219982)

I agree that corporations have way too much influence over government policy. But that's not the problem here.

You're oversimplifying things when you cast it as "the people" versus "corporations". In this particular case, the two are actually aligned. If Ares is canceled, it isn't just corporations in Utah and Alabama who will lose out there, it's all the people who work for these corporations, and everybody in the state who would be affected by the damage to the local economies. Which is just about everybody. Which is why "the people" are actually for Ares. But not all the people — just the ones that live in Utah and Alabama.

To most of us, Ares is pure pork. But not to its supporters. The problem is not "us" versus "them", it's the fact that everybody wants their own bit of pork, and everybody thinks that somebody else is being too greedy. That attitude is screwing us up on every level: health care, physical infrastructure, education, you name it.

Your country is too big (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32220962)

The problem is that your country is too big. Really.

I live in a lot smaller [wikipedia.org] country. We do suffer from the same problem to some extent: The Keskusta party [wikipedia.org] has its base of support in the countryside so it tries as hard as it can to "decentralize" resources (people, governmental institutions, services, etc.) away from the cities which we living in the said cities consider quite a nuisance. (Keskusta is one of the three largest parties in Finland yet it only has 3 out of 85 politicians in the city council of the capital)

But even so... It is a lot less of a problem in this scale. People move, have relatives in different cities, often visit different parts of the country on vacations, know a lot of people all around the country... It is never completely "My benefit against theirs" kind of situation. Anything that somehow benefits people 200 miles away might still benefit me somehow. And if it doesn't, there is a pretty good chance that it does benefit someone I know. (And conversely: If unemployment rates would skyrocket in some areas or such, it could well hurt someone I know)

Now, I imagine that this is not the case when a country is the size of a continent. (which is pretty much what EU is turning into) If I lived in the USA, I would probably want to vote for a party that... Hmm. I am a liberal leftist and could never vote a party like the republicans, yet I would want a lot less involvement from the federal government and... Damn. I've never truly realized how fucked up the two party system is. I might just not vote.

Re:Your country is too big (0, Offtopic)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221526)

Now, I imagine that this is not the case when a country is the size of a continent. (which is pretty much what EU is turning into) If I lived in the USA, I would probably want to vote for a party that... Hmm. I am a liberal leftist and could never vote a party like the republicans, yet I would want a lot less involvement from the federal government and... Damn. I've never truly realized how fucked up the two party system is. I might just not vote.

That's exactly it-- our Federal government was never intended to be as large as it is now, or do as many things as it does now. Our de facto form of government we have now is not sustainable.

BS (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220064)

Alabama = Marshall Space Flight Center = Jobs which is why that senator wants funding to continue Utah = Rocket company Thiokal = Jobs which is why that senator wants funding to continue. This is always been the problem with legislators who depend on money for elections. Until the USA gets behind term limits, and banishes these "lifetime" politicians, this BS continues. Oh, let one senator keep is million dollar pet project here, another with a 2 billion dollar project there, it's not "that" much money. After you total up the entire 500+ idiots we call legislators, you can see why the USA is in such trouble.

Re:Science and Politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32220428)

Hate to break it to you, but large corporations in someone's district usually just happen to be made up of employees who also live in the district, who also happen to spend money on businesses run by people who also live in that district. How could you say that he is not looking out for the best interest of his district? I

Re:Science and Politics (2, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221480)

When politicians are eagerly representing a companies views rather than the country.

The party of "no" suddenly doesn't want to cut spending...when it's in their state. Apparently spending cuts are things that happen in someone else's district.

That's why we have more aircraft carriers than some countries have ships in their entire navy, because no senator wants to give up the funding.

Re:Science and Politics (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221500)

I don't think it's so much they're representing companies as they want to be able to tell constituents they saved x number of jobs in the district. Unfortunately that's the sort of thing people base their vote on.

Pork! Pork! Pork! (5, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219098)

Budget be damned! Hold funding for the troops hostage to a steaming helping of pork. I thought Republicans where supposed to support the troops and be against deficit spending.

These actions speak louder than words, and I hope the voters are listening this November.

Yes they are listening (5, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219108)

Yes they are listening, just through republican ears. These are highly tuned and will hear roughly the following: Democrats who vote against this are against funding our troops, republicans who vote for this are voting for our space program!

Really, politics is a lot simpler then people think.

Yup, politics is simple (0, Troll)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220746)

True and it boils down to the 3 laws of politicians 1: If a politician's lips move he's lying 2: He or she is full of shit, the only question is human, bull, dog, or horse. 3: Yes, laws 1 and 2 are true of your favorite politician too. Why yes, I am a bit jaded and cynical.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (1, Insightful)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219162)

The Republicans are what got us into this mess to start with. But that's OK, they believe their god will help them get through it. They're fine with screwing Americans because they think a rapture is going to come and fix it all for them. That would be typical of their religion, err political view. No need to let things like freaking logic or science get in the way, whack it with a bible and make it better.

You know, maybe the whole 2-party system is responsible. See, with only 2 parties one can always be the opposite of the other, and with enough issues you can muddy the waters enough that both look good. With 3 or more parties, you have to actually grow some balls and take a stand as a party. You have to define yourself by what you believe, not "the opposite of <the other party>". Wouldn't that be nice?

The system America has right now sucks, and the regression we continue to see will result in even more Americans detached from the political process. I'm disgusted by it, nothing gets done except finger-pointing like little babies.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219172)

I thought Republicans where supposed to support the troops and be against deficit spending.

These actions speak louder than words, and I hope the voters are listening this November.


It's not just limited to these actions? This has always been how the Republicans have operated (at least in my 40 years of life so far). The problem is that far too many people only hear what the Republicans say and don't pay any attention to what they actually do.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219182)

This is the EXACT reason Bennett was rejected by his own party. He is a lame duck as Republicans are fed up with these Pork Barrel Neocons. He lost in his states convention and will not be the Republican nominee.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (1, Insightful)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219208)

I'll give you one point - I hate ear-marks tagged onto other more important work. Other than that, you are a dumb f*&^. Why is it whenever dems want to enforce "PAYGO" it is the military that gets blasted. Let's look at the domestic side. Or how about a windfall profit tax on lawyer fees in law suits. How about 50%. But alas that will never work as almost 50% of the electorate is on the dole and once they realize they can vote for bread and circuses. Getting back to topic (sorry) the US without human launch capability it absolutely shameful. Who ever (Yes it probably was the republicans back then) allowed the shuttle to retire without properly funding NASA sufficiently to have ARES ready near 2010 should be soundly beaten. I take pride in NASA but it will be a sad day when the last shuttle lands and we have to rely solely on others for LEO travel. Let the negative moderation begin.

Astronaut Job Interview Question . . . (2, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219302)

I take pride in NASA but it will be a sad day when the last shuttle lands and we have to rely solely on others for LEO travel.

1960's: "Do you have the right stuff?"

2010's: "How's your Russian?"

Re:Astronaut Job Interview Question . . . (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220106)

The correction should be '2010s: "How's your Chinese"' since they will most likely be the next to go the Moon.

Re:Astronaut Job Interview Question . . . (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220932)

The correction should be '2010s: "How's your Chinese"' since they will most likely be the next to go the Moon.

How's your Urdu?

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (3, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219210)

This is on the same order as the amendment to deny viagra to sex offenders or to fire workers who download porn once. Besides the fat that no one should vote for these because they are overly broad and badly written laws, these are clearly junk amendments that waste our money. We pay these freaks, and when they act like freaks playing games, they waste our money.

In this case the harm is clear. We have people in Afghanistan and we have a much harder job to do with less money to do it because we wated 8 years in Iraq. The attack in times square shows the frivolity of spending a trillion dollars in Iraq while Laden was working with the Taliban to destroy America. But because Obama wants to fight a war for victory, instead of the Bush war for Haliburton profits, the republican guard all of the sudden can't support it.

What is even more silly is that the amendment is an attack on fiscal responsibility and the free market. We don't need a city of bureaucrats running the government mandated spae program. Yes it is going to hurt. Yes, some people, who have no skills and have been living the high life at the tax payers expense, are going to suffer. Yes, some government funded luxury neighborhoods will be in deep trouble. But I hardly think it is my responsibility to keep otherwise unskilled persons living in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Which is not to say I don't think we need a manned space program. A scaled down shuttle program, two launches a year, transitional to private launches to LEO and multinationally funded human spec launches to the solar system would be quite adequate.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (3, Informative)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219278)

These actions speak louder than words, and I hope the voters are listening this November.

You don't have to wait until November. Bennet already lost his party's nomination. [kansascity.com]

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (5, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219500)

hahahaha! you certainly drank the "wah on tarrah" kool-aid

you imagine the troops haven't been hostage for the last eight years, using their blood to grease the skids for the defense contracting industry and for a political rallying point? that's ALL they've been bleeding and dying for! That's all this "war" is about.

Here's some reality for you. The "Taliban" that hosted bin Laden is long gone, today the "Taliban" is any disgruntled afghan with a gun. We dropped the ball on Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, put it on the back burner, and instead went for war in Iraq to further defense contractor profit enhancement and gain another neocon agenda rallying point.

We need to drop the budget to zero on these pointless wars now. budget be damned, indeed.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (1)

Thuktun (221615) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220424)

We dropped the ball on Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, put it on the back burner, and instead went for war in Iraq to further defense contractor profit enhancement and gain another neocon agenda rallying point.

You forgot bringing Al Qaeda to Iraq.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220986)

Drop everyone of those crooked, fat-assed, chicken-hawk politicians into downtown Fallujah or Ramahdi and we will be out if the area by 12:00 zulu, today.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219568)

I hope the voters are listening this November.

What, and vote for a democrat? I don't think so...

!Pork (3, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219846)

It's not pork; it's R&D that's every bit as valid as anything else the Federal government spends money on, if not more so.

It keeps thousands of aerospace engineers, scientists, and technicians productively employed.

It restores funding to a project that is well underway and is built on known, working technology (Apollo).

It gives us an American manned launch capability in the near future, versus the complete unknown of relying on the private sector.

It's a tiny investment; Nasa needs about $6 billion a year to keep Constellation going. It's literally a drop in the bucket compared to many other appropriations.

The country needs a manned space program. Say what you will about the Shuttle and other manned spacecraft, they have been an inspiration to generations of young Americans to pursue science and engineering careers. While our private sector engineering jobs have dwindled along with our domestic industrial production, aerospace remains a promising field. Jet aircraft are just about the only big ticket industrial item America still exports, and aerospace technology from Nasa bleeds over to the jet transportation field all the time.

Now consider what else the Feds spend our money on:

$700+ billion economic stimulus - truly, this is almost all pork and includes various "jobs training programs", money for local construction projects, items like that which are traditionally considered bacon. Individually, these projects may have merit, but why should the federal government be funding them with a huge a deficit?

$600+ billion for defense. Surely, 1% of this budget could be redirected to Nasa with no damage to our national security.

$125+ billion per year for new healthcare obligations. That's roughly twenty times the sum Nasa needs, and it won't even cover all the uninsured. It basically is a payoff to medical providers to take care of the indigent or working poor who can't or won't provide for their own healthcare funding.

We could easily cut a trillion or so dollars from our national budget and not even notice the difference. Maybe 25% of Pentagon funding, and a bunch of entitlements, and the economy would actually benefit from the expanded availability of lending capital.

Re:!Pork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221120)

Exactly.

Re:!Pork (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221534)

It gives us an American manned launch capability in the near future, versus the complete unknown of relying on the private sector.

Wrong. Constellation was facing huge technical issues, none of which had known fixes. And isn't relying on the private sector what the US should be doing? I mean, it's what I hear from every red-blooded republican.

It's a tiny investment; Nasa needs about $6 billion a year to keep Constellation going.

Is that the current R&D, or is that its projected operating cost? And considering that the NASA budget stands currently at $20B, $6B is anything but a tiny investment. In fact, it is the single largest component of the budget, on par with the current entire Space budget.

The country needs a manned space program.

No, it does not. The space shuttle has stopped being exciting long ago. I got a bigger kick out of the Mars Rover than any Space Shuttle launch in the last 10 years (save the Save the Hubble missions).

We could easily cut a trillion or so dollars from our national budget and not even notice the difference.

Really? I mean, REALLY? You could cut 25% of the Federal Budget without there being riots in the entire country? I'm sorry, that's just delusional. As a matter of fact, you can look at the hubbub that came from just cutting 0.1% of the budget through the nixing of Constellation program, and see that there is never any cut that is going to be unopposed.

Re:Pork! Pork! Pork! (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220910)

If the government funded NASA like they fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we would be just outside of Alpha Centauri by now. We bail out the asshole banksters, incompetent automakers, coke driven wall streeters and yet, we nickel and dime the nations only foothold on the high frontier.
There is no long term national initiative. If you want to go into space, learn Chinese and hope your genetic makeup is acceptable; or you could pay millions of dollars/ Euros/ pounds of gold and fly Russian. There is money to be made in space and IF you can't see that, XIE XIE and Dos Svydanya.

NASA is Military Spending (3, Interesting)

segedunum (883035) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219180)

I don't know what they're talking about. NASA is military spending because most of NASA's contractors contract for the military. NASA is also a military organisation, believe it or not. It has been and continues to be a massive white elephant black hole for money. Whereas military contracts are for the military military contractors have also made tidy sums out of NASA's supposedly 'civilian' spending.

The focus on commercial spaceflight is right and proper because that's the only way things will move forward. Creating another Apollo craft forty to fifty years on to hop, skip and jump into space simply isn't going to work. We're at a stage in spaceflight right now where the Wright brothers were with flight, and we've been in that position for fifty years.

Spaceflight has not turned into the everyday occurence that everyone thought it would around the time of the moon landing. Hell, 2001 was nine fucking years ago. I still can't get over that. Frankly, progress has been a failure.

Re:NASA is Military Spending (4, Informative)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219292)

NASA is military spending because most of NASA's contractors contract for the military. NASA is also a military organisation, believe it or not

Yes, most of NASAs contractors also contract for the military because it just makes sense, but that does not make NASA a military organization.

Did you know that the Air Force budget for space development and operations actually exceeds that of the entire NASA budget?

Speaking as a NASA contractor, NASA is definitely NOT military.

Re:NASA is Military Spending (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219464)

Speaking as a NASA contractor, NASA is definitely NOT military.

then how sir are you going to explain away their clearly militaristic logo?! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NASA_logo.svg

i think it's quite clear the comet-esque item is actually a missile and the red lines the spilled blood of our enemies who's locations indicated by the "stars" (bomb sites) on the "blue circle" (earth).

caughtcha!

Re:NASA is Military Spending (0, Troll)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221022)

Universal health care is a good thing. It's not socialist. Get over it.

When the whole Universe starts paying for health care, maybe, just maybe it would be a good thing.

Re:NASA is Military Spending (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221340)

Yes, most of NASAs contractors also contract for the military because it just makes sense, but that does not make NASA a military organization.

But it does make NASA part of the military/industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961

That's where the phrase actually comes from. It's not some liberal talking point. This case is a exactly the kind of thing Eisenhower was talking about, a cozy relationship between military bureaucrats whose career depends on certain programs with contractors who profit by those programs and the Congressmen they have in their pockets.

Re:NASA is Military Spending (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219816)

The thing about space exploration, the reason why commercial endeavours will fail, is that it has no practical value. Sure, communication satellites, but considering the cost, these things take time to pay for themselves, much longer than terran commerce to produce results. It won't take long for any commercial organization that achieves space flight to realize the margins are pathetically thin, if they exist at all. Space exploration has always been about discovery, and never about commercial application. Do we really have to dismantle NASA, and let the commercial space programs fail before we realize ONLY government should be exploring space (due to cost, and so any discovery will belong to everyone, and not some crappy space junk company)? If government should exist at all, and we believe it should because we not only can't trust BP or UnionCarbide, but we also can't trust each other to remain civil/moral all the time, then government should be the entity to open the doors to everyone the great things that might come from space exploration.

Re:NASA is Military Spending (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220918)

How's that space elevator coming? That's the next stage of space exploration we should really be pushing for.

Re:NASA is Military Spending (1, Flamebait)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220608)

Spaceflight has not turned into the everyday occurence that everyone thought it would around the time of the moon landing.

When everybody is five years old, they believe in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny too. What 'everyone thinks' has roughly zero relevance to the real world, doubly so when most people don't understand why we went to the moon in the first place. (Short version: political Viagra.)
 

Hell, 2001 was nine fucking years ago. I still can't get over that.

In other words, because reality has failed to keep face with your ill informed dreams, it's realities fault?

Republicans have gone space crazy (5, Insightful)

pedropolis (928836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219254)

What planet did I wake up on today? Republicans criticizing the commercialization of low-orbit space flights? Demanding the return of a gigantic, overbudget, behind schedule rocket to nowhere? Obama for the privatization of space and Conservatives for the continuation of a government monopoly on space? Has everyone gone space crazy?!

Re:Republicans have gone space crazy (5, Insightful)

znu (31198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219382)

The real motivation here is probably to maintain the flow of money to NASA contractors, who happen to also be politically connected defense contractors. In other words, it's the usual crony capitalism [wikipedia.org] that the Republicans seem to favor over actual market competition these days.

who are the cronies? (1)

thaig (415462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219642)

.... so that some other crony capitalists can take over space flight, technology only developed because of the huge public expenditure on space in general through the military and NASA, and sell it back to the public.

Wow.

This isn't about "NASA is bad" as much as it's about Obamas new friends getting to feed at the trough. In the end it's still the American taxpayer paying. Fortunately I'm not one.

Re:Republicans have gone space crazy (1)

The Shootist (324679) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219474)

No doubt the space program has lost its way. Bureaucracies have a way of doing that.

Close NASA and give Space to the Navy.

Re:Republicans have gone space crazy (4, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219650)

``What planet did I wake up on today? Republicans criticizing the commercialization of low-orbit space flights? Demanding the return of a gigantic, overbudget, behind schedule rocket to nowhere? Obama for the privatization of space and Conservatives for the continuation of a government monopoly on space?''

I actually think that if you look more deeply into what the Republican party and the Democratic party are really advocating, and where Liberals (in the American sense) and Conservatives (again, in the American sense) fall on various issues, you may be in for a few more surprises. Republican politicians voting for larger government, more government spending, and less room for enterprising individuals and companies is really nothing new.

Many people _believe_ that the Republican party is for big business, less government control, hard-working people keeping their money, and sane economic policies, and many people _believe_ that the Democratic party is for more government control, higher taxes, taxing hard working people (or even handing out money to those too lazy to work), and running up budget deficits for future governments to clean up after. Many people _believe_ that Republican == Conservative and Democrat == Liberal.

As far as I can tell, these beliefs are widely held by people all over the political spectrum. In actuality, things aren't quite as clear-cut. In fact, there are many cases where things are the exact opposite of what these beliefs would have you expect. For example, there are many cases where US national debt has decreased under Democratic presidents, and many cases where it has increased under Republican presidents [wikipedia.org] . Also, American liberals largely vote for the Democratic party. They also tend to be wealthy and highly educated [wikipedia.org] . This contradicts some of the things that many people say and believe. The moral of the story? Always check your assumptions, and check the actual program and voting record of the participants in the elections, lest you vote someone into office who is going to do the opposite of what you want ...

Where are the contradictions you mentioned? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32221398)

I don't think that the links you posted contradict the beliefs you stated.

"For example, there are many cases where US national debt has decreased under Democratic presidents, and many cases where it has increased under Republican presidents" <-- Simply means that in many cases the democrat policies have been the right tool for the situation at the time and in many case the republican policies have not. (Actually, it doesn't necessarily even mean that. Four years is a short time and many decisions reflect on the economy on a lot larger timeframe. Thus, in many cases a lot of statistics on the era of one president might have been influences significantly by the previous president) It does not however say anything about whether or not the democrat policies do include high taxes, etc... It only implies that whatever they do include, it occasionally works.

As for highly educated (and thus well off) folk voting democrats... That doesn't seem to contradict anything either. There is only a contradiction if you assume that the well-off portition of the people want to vote the politician that promises them the lowest taxes. Thankfully, this doesn't seem to be the case.

Re:Republicans have gone space crazy (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220292)

You woke up on a planet where Shelby is the Senator from Alabama which is home to Marshall Space Flight Center. Ares is pivotal to the long term health of Marshall since it's leading development of Ares. Its led the development of every major NASA launch vehicle and is rabidly opposed, with good reason, to privatizing any of their mission. Marshall creates a lot of high paying jobs in Shelby's state, Boeing has a large office in Huntsville and no doubt fills Shelby's campaign coffers.

You woke up on a planet where Bob Bennett is the Senator from Utah which is home of Thiokol(ATK) which builds the solid rockets that are what Ares I is made out of. Note Bennett's own party threw him out at the state Republican convention recently so he is a lame duck now. The powerful Texas congressional delegation is no doubt supporting this to defend jobs at Johnson.

There isn't anything ideological here, these two Senators are rabidly defending the jobs of the voters in their home states, large quantities of federal dollars flowing in to their states, and campaign contributions from Ares contractors.

This is extremely traditional politics and government contracting. Both NASA and DOD, and more importantly their prime contractors spread jobs from their pet programs through as many states and congressional districts as possible to make it impossible to kill them in Congress no matter how dumb they are. They also try to have big parts of the projects in states with very powerful senators and representatives. This same tactic made the F-22 impossible to kill even when the Secretary of Defense didn't want it, didn't need it and considered it wrong for the times.

Turning NASA and manned space flight in to a job's program with no well defined or sensible goal, other than creation of jobs is why its been so disappointing for so long.

Re:Republicans have gone space crazy (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220540)

and thanks to rocket launches being in the area of 50% wasteful, its good for the corporations and workers (tho automation will increasingly remove the latter) as the customer will always be back for more.

Re:Republicans have gone space crazy (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221048)


Republicans criticizing the commercialization of low-orbit space flights? Demanding the return of a gigantic, overbudget, behind schedule rocket to nowhere? Obama for the privatization of space and Conservatives for the continuation of a government monopoly on space?

You must be new to this "politics thing". See, Republicans are critical of "big government" they don't like, or don't have any special interest in, but love spending in their own state or for projects they approve of. So spending on big military projects in your home state == good. Spending in someone else's state (especially a blue one) on transit or west nile virus research == bad.

The Democrats aren't really much better, but they aren't the ones people seem to think are the ones against "government waste".

In reality, it's the individuals rather than the parties that might actually be for actually reducing wasteful projects. Most of the time that all gets lost in all the noise and nonsense that gets thrown around to try to divide everyone into neat little categories.

Retarded (2, Insightful)

durrr (1316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219364)

Spending truckloads of money on a super expensive brand-name rocket that not only do nothing more than the generic ones around but whose purpose of shuttling stuff to the ISS makes it entirely fucking retarded as by the time the rocket gets to orbit the atomized remains of the ISS will be floating in the pacific.
This is the most apparent short sighted bill i've seen in a long fucking while. Someone should add a clause that draws the additional funding required from the pocket of the senators and the companies they are puppets for, perhaps they would be motivated to produce something that's a bit less shitty and budgethogging if they had to pay for it themself.

People lose respect for a broken system (1)

VMaN (164134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219470)

American politics.. I admire how parts of it are beautifully crafted where checks and balances work.

And then there are rider bills and the lobbying industry,.. wtf? you can do better America...

Re:People lose respect for a broken system (1)

Chih (1284150) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219560)

And it's unfortunate that any attempts to make real substantive progress will be quashed by this highly polarized political environment. It kinda wants to make a taxpayer fire/ban everyone involved (Reps, Dems, AND the Lobbyists that get our dole)

Re:People lose respect for a broken system (3, Funny)

nschubach (922175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219666)

We definitely need a reboot. We are so fragmented and corrupt right now. On one hand, we have our virtual memory being consumed at an alarming rate while we borrow more and more disk space to cover operation costs that we don't have the memory for. On the other, we have applications that demand more and more memory without regard to how much the system can handle. The common solution is to put in more memory, but that only makes each byte of memory that much more insignificant and applications will demand more and more until our whole system comes crashing to a halt. ;)

Re:People lose respect for a broken system (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221070)

... this highly polarized political environment.

Only when there is a revolution, will the political environment be highly polarized.

Rapid decline or rapid development (-1, Flamebait)

amightywind (691887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219574)

The nihilist proponents of Obamaspace propose nothing more than a well funded rapid decline to irrelevance in US HSF. They propose no goals, no specifics besides hitching a ride with the Russians to an ISS the US. You may quibble about Ares architecture, but I think there is overwhelming support for development of an Orion launcher and heavy lift capability developed by NASA ASAP.

Archie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32219616)

If this were an Archie comic, it would be called Rocket Racket.

So much for "fiscal responsibility"... (1)

TVmisGuided (151197) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219702)

Do a bit of research. What aerospace firms are in Alabama and Utah?

It is ALWAYS about the money. 'Nuff said.

Re:So much for "fiscal responsibility"... (2, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219824)

Sorry, but it can't be summed up in six words.

It's easy to say that the republicans are in the pockets of some big company.

The Republicans and the Democrats are in the same people's pockets. If some big aerospace factories close, thousands of people lose jobs, and the local representative doesn't get re-elected. The difference between the Republican and the Democrat is that the Republican thinks it's the big company's responsibility to give those people a job, and the Democrat thinks it's the government's responsibility to make sure those workers don't need to worry about whether they have a job or not.

Bottom line, it's always about the voters. Except that most of our citizens of voting age are so cynical about the process, and think it's all about the "money/power/big companies/cronyism" that they stay home and dilute the real power base.

Get off your ass and go vote.

Better yet. Understand what the people you're voting for actually stand for before you go vote. Otherwise you'll be surprised when the guy you voted for to change things starts supporting revoking Miranda rights, and sends more troops to the wars you don't support, and keeps an infamous prison open, and supports off-shore drilling, and signs a massive health care welfare bill into law just like the last guy did, and generally acts like a re-incarnation of George W. Bush, even though the writing was on the wall before the election, and everybody who pointed it out was routinely censored by the internet community.

Bob Bennett? (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219788)

He will no longer be a senator shortly. Didn't make it into the primaries this year and will be unseated in November. That leaves only one Senator backing this bill. I suspect it may not make in the final version if anyone pushes back.

hmmm (0)

charliemopps11 (1606697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219804)

The fact that we're not trying to get to mars is... well, a shame. Shame on obama. And Shame on Nasa for wasting all those years on the POS space shuttle. Commercial space flight isn't going to do a damned thing other than fly millionaires around for a long time.

Chang'e we can believe in (2, Interesting)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219866)

Here is the current direction of the space program ... in China

Chang'e 2 - 2010, second lunar orbiter
Chang'e 3 - 2013, lunar lander
Chang'e 4 - 2017, return lunar sample to earth
Chang'e 5 - 2020-2025 - manned mission

Japan, India and Russia may also be competing for the 2020-2025 moon race.

Admendmen is about spending, nothing else (2, Interesting)

mstrcat (517519) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219958)

So I almost lost my breakfast over this one. The amendment doesn't say word one about getting anything useful, only that the spending continue. The legislators in question don't seem to care if the money spent returns anything worthwhile, only that we keep spending. Barf! No wonder everyone hates politicians.

Earmarks (1)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#32219970)

Regardless of the reason, the Shelby blackmailing the passage of legislation isn't unusual. Between 2008 - 2010 he's requested a total of $488,734,050. I have no idea if they were all/any "good" programs (and I have no definition of good. I suppose "good" for his state is different than "good" in the overall picture.) For more info, source is here: legistorm.com [legistorm.com]

Legislation Fraud (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220114)

Issues on Afghanistan and NASA aside, it should be made illegal to tack irrelevant points to legislation in an effort to piggy-back otherwise ridiculous things into law or to sabotage bills with unpopular additions.

Seriously what the fuck.

Re:Legislation Fraud (1)

TechNit (448230) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220432)

Issues on Afghanistan and NASA aside, it should be made illegal to tack irrelevant points to legislation in an effort to piggy-back otherwise ridiculous things into law or to sabotage bills with unpopular additions.

Seriously what the fuck.

I fully concur!! Moves like this should be illegal and result in said politician/politicians being tarred and feathered live on the evening news. Then hauled off to share a cell with Bubba for the next ten years. It's blackmail and should NEVER be allowed!! If it's more funding for a NASA program that they want then submit a stand alone bill and let it run through our system on its own. What utter bullshit!!

This puts us in a tough spot. (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220496)

I work in the space program and this is not a fun time. Many people I know moved to the areas where the work is being done because they love space and want to be a part of advancing civilization. Here is the problem with space budgets. There just aren't enough flights to recoup development costs. So take the $10 Billion that was already spent on Constellation. Just guessing that half was for the Ares I rocket. So what would $5 Billion buy you on the commercial market today? 50 Atlas V/Delta IV launches or about 15 Delta IV Heavy Launches. That is a lot of payload in space. I personally think NASA should get out of the rocket design business. I think it would be better to get the countries involved in the ISS and work on an IMS International Moon Station. Let the Russians launch people until our commercial guys can prove they can do it. Consider it a return on the favor when we kept MIR operating for 4 years with the shuttle. Build the parts small and light enough to fit into existing launchers. Also to spur development use a Prize system with no more feed money. Say set aside $2B a year to put into a pot that keeps growing until someone successfully launches 3 missions with a 100 ton payload. That way you can harness private money for the development costs and the tax payers aren't stuck with a bill for a useless design. The money is there. $19B is a lot of money. The jobs will be there too we just may have to move to find them. Since most of us already did move to work in this field we will do it again.

wut? (3, Insightful)

J05H (5625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32220588)

So a budget increase, a scope increase and general revitalization of a flagging agency are a death march? Only when some of the suffering is in your district. Obama is promising more NASA for more uses and the Republicans are screaming no.

Ares I is slated to cost $35 BILLION to develop. This is for a basically existing design. Delta and Atlas EELV cost about $5-7G together and produced two families of light-medium-medium-heavy launchers. Ares is a joke and the sooner it dies the better.

Re:wut? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221156)

Ares It is slated to cost $35 BILLION to develop.

How much money has the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost so far?; huh?, Apparently the idea of fighting a war on two fronts got lost in the translation.
Remember the past or you will be doomed to repeat it.

it doesn't matter (0, Offtopic)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32221240)

The whole line of discussion on this topic is pointless.
It's business as usual, politics as usual. The government has not changed, the oil companies are pointing their fingers at everyone but themselves. The checks and balances are not checking nor are they balancing, all the while the oil spill/leak is continuing to grow and spread in the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe when the spill overflows the gulf and into the Atlantic Ocean will you assholes get it.
How does anyone know if the continuing release of oil from under the Earth's crust is related to the ever increasing seismic activity.
Like anyone else, I enjoy waking up to apple pancakes however, you sheople are about to wake up to a baseball bat upside your collective heads!
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