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NASA Attempts To Cut Back Constellation

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the just-stop-sending-checks dept.

NASA 132

FleaPlus writes "In a surprise move in the battle between NASA and certain members of Congress over NASA's future direction, NASA has told its contractors to cut back nearly $1 billion on this year's Ares/Constellation program, stating that the cutback is necessary to remain in compliance with federal spending laws requiring contractors to withhold contract termination costs. While complying with budgeting laws (and in line with NASA's desire to cancel Constellation), this move is also potentially in violation of a 2010 appropriations amendment by Sen. Shelby (R-AL) and Sen. Bennett (R-UT) which prohibits NASA from terminating any Constellation contracts. If NASA's move goes through, the biggest liability is $500M for ATK, the contractor who is/was responsible for the first stage of the Ares I medium-lift rocket."

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RE: NASA to cut back on Constellation (4, Funny)

nopainogain (1091795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534032)

Orion left holding pants up with no belt

Re: NASA to cut back on Constellation (3, Insightful)

ccarson (562931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534200)

Too bad this is happening because I've always been a fan of private industry gaining more experience in the space exploration industry. It seems, not only was NASA inefficient and bureaucratic when it came to building space vehicles, they're impotent when charged with the simple task of doling out cash to competent private companies who are better equipped to handle the job. Yet another example of how large government is broken. I've worked in both the private and public sector and know from experience the problem lies with accountability. There is a serious disconnect between reality (i.e. what works vs. doesn't) and politics. Policies in private industry are based on getting the job done quickly, efficiently and competitively whereas there is no such incentive in the government sector.

Re: NASA to cut back on Constellation (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534322)

This I agree with. I think NASA should be used as a governing body to be in charge of overall space operations (for now), but the private industry should be funded enough to do the research and build the vehicles. NASA shouldn't be gutted (on the contrary, I think its budget should still be increased), but its role needs to be looked at.

Not sure why you were modded down. Companies like Orbital (formally Fairchild) already build most of NASA's hardware anyway. Might as well make it official, know what I mean?

Break It Up (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535876)

" I think NASA should be used as a governing body to be in charge of overall space operations (for now), but the private industry should be funded enough to do the research and build the vehicles."

I think NASA should be abolished. It was a creature of it's time... the US-Soviet space race, and it served its purpose as a cradle of US space exploration. It's time we left the cradle and let the children grow up and move out on their own. Abolish NASA, and farm out its responsibilities to existing agencies. Traditional aerospace research... the "Right Stuff" kind of flight testing, etc... should be given to DARPA. A new, smaller agency should be created that does nothing but manage space exploration and astronomy-based sciences. They'd do things like manage observatories, coordinate space research with universities, and manage space and planetary probes. Call it the US Space Institute or something similar if you like. Last, as much launch activity as possible should be turned over to the private sector. Perhaps the Commerce Department should have a bureau that manages these activities. Create more "Spaceports" like Mojave. There are plenty of retired Air Force bases and Army Air Corps fields in the southwest that could be converted to this kind of use.

Regardless, NASA in its current form has outlived its usefulness, and its duties are too varied and scattershot. Break it up and merge it into smaller units with distinctive missions.

Re:Break It Up (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536048)

Regardless, NASA in its current form has outlived its usefulness, and its duties are too varied and scattershot. Break it up and merge it into smaller units with distinctive missions.

Which I addressed in my OP and you somehow missed when you quoted me:-)

From my post:

NASA shouldn't be gutted (on the contrary, I think its budget should still be increased), but its role needs to be looked at.

Re: NASA to cut back on Constellation (3, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535172)

This is a great example of how NASA is trying to cut a wasteful program but is having its hands tied by Republican senators with solely their own selfish interests in mind and not caring about the usefulness of the end output. I can't remember the exact number but something like over 90% of the NASA budget is mandated of where it is spent by congress and the NASA administrator has no control over it. NASA has no choice but to be inefficient when saddled with restrictions like that.

NASA would be far more effective if it wasn't mandated by law to keep current contracts in place. Constellation was mandated by Bush, is completely unrealistic and unsustainable, and they are trying to terminate it which is what any fiscally responsible organization, public or private would do. However senators are passing stupid laws to prevent them from taking the right path. ,

Brought to you by the filibuster (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536114)

The filibuster DDoS attack against the constitutional function of the senate brings you much of todays PORK spending. These senators have corps in their state that want our tax money. Deals must be made for EACH senator's pet project when they decide they are in the best position to abuse procedures. (filibuster is not written into the system and some voting thresholds are which clearly imply a majority rule is the expected norm.)

State government needs to get back some of their power to pick senators. We changed it due to corruption; but it has become corrupt either way while state representation has fallen down to the point where the federal government has become too powerful. Power corrupts and must be distributed even in some cases where it is not ideal. Just as the right to due process applies to everybody without exception (drawing lines only leads to abuse so this must be severely limited.)

Re: NASA to cut back on Constellation (3, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32537040)

You are correct except for your knee-jerk desire to place blame on a single party. BOTH parties pull as much pork money into their states as possible, and in this case as many of the NASA contracts are in states that tend to vote republican, it happens to be republican senators pushing this particular issue... but do some reading on the subject and you'll find that there are plenty of democrats in the same situation with NASA contracts in their states as well.

Polictics is politics. No matter what team you're on, you play the same game. Political parties matter about as much as uniform colors. You root for the burgandy and gold team, I root for the yellow and black team.

Augh. (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534054)

It pisses me off to no end that we can afford to spend trillions of dollars killing each other, but we can't afford a few billion dollars exploring the universe around us.

What the fuck, people.

Re:Augh. (3, Insightful)

flitty (981864) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534116)

Well, more accurately, we can only support exploring the universe around us if we find a way for private companies to sell tickets.

Re:Augh. (1, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534166)

I know that's just a joke (well, I hope it is) - but as Pojut says, the money is clearly there if they just get their priorities straight. Definitely no need for any other sources of income.

Re:Augh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534238)

> the money is clearly there if they just get their priorities straight

Actually, the money isn't there. If you're an American, today you own about $4,000 more than you did a year ago. Expect the same or worse in future years.

Re:Augh. (5, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534348)

Actually, the money IS there. Getting rid of a single jet fighter program or, you know...getting the fuck out of the middle east...would be enough to pay for this.

Re:Augh. (1)

codiac (907533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535746)

Agreed. Big pictures are good. Hence: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/the-billion-dollar-gram/ [informatio...utiful.net]

Re:Augh. (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536216)

Have any sources for those numbers? The U.S. alone spends over $500 billion a year [ed.gov] on public education. So I find it highly unlikely that $465 billion would feed and educate every child on earth for 5 years.

Re:Augh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32535874)

Well, you have to blame the American consumer. The Middle East is vital to the national interest. It's easy to blame BP for the oil spill but they're there because the American consumer likes to drive big cars and F150's.

GM built those big cars because they were profitable then when gas prises rose demand fell and we had to bail them out.

So, the next time you want to blame the US govt, a car company or a big oil company, stop and think how the every day decisions of 300 million Americans is really the fundamental problem.

Re:Augh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536160)

Well, you have to blame the American consumer. The Middle East is vital to the national interest. It's easy to blame BP for the oil spill but they're there because the American consumer likes to drive big cars and F150's.

We're paying MORE for gas now than we were before we started blowing shit up over there. "Securing" the Middle East has done nothing but drain our treasury and make the world pissed off at us. Hmm...kinda like Rome!

We went in there to take over. It had nothing to do with WMD's, it had nothing to do with oppression, and it had nothing to do with oil; those things were just ways to distract the populace. It's pure, simple, imperialistic expansion. Nothing more.

So, the next time you want to blame the US govt, a car company or a big oil company, stop and think how the every day decisions of 300 million Americans is really the fundamental problem.

We the people aren't blameless, I completely agree with that...but how much say do you REALLY think we have, as far as what we do as a country is concerned?

What's the answer? Rise up, start a revolution? Yeah, that may have worked back in the day when militia's were bigger than the army and had about the same technology...but a home-grown revolutionary militia standing up to the United States Armed Forces at this point would be fucking massacred.

Again though, just to reiterate...I 100% agree with you that our consumer-oriented culture has played a role in this mess.

Re:Augh. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534392)

Okay, so a post about sources of income for a story about budget cuts.. is offtopic. Now I'm 100% sure the mods are on some kind of medication.

Re:Augh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534422)

And not the "hey, take a deep breath and let's experiment" kind of medication!

Re:Augh. (1)

PerfectionLost (1004287) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534486)

I just wish the tickets were cheaper.

Re:Augh. (3, Insightful)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534578)

No, private companies are only selling tickets to LEO. There is a big difference between running circles around the world we have been on since pre-history and actually exploring another one.

Re:Augh. (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535068)

No, private companies are only selling tickets to LEO. There is a big difference between running circles around the world we have been on since pre-history and actually exploring another one.

I believe one of them was offering a trip around the Moon by Soyuz for a couple of hundred million dollars a while back. But that's about as far as current cheap Russian rockets can get.

Re:Augh. (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32537258)

I believe one of them was offering a trip around the Moon by Soyuz for a couple of hundred million dollars a while back. But that's about as far as current cheap Russian rockets can get.

Yup:

http://www.constellationservices.com/lunarexpresssmsystem.html [constellat...rvices.com]

I believe SpaceX is designing their Dragon capsule to be eventually upgradeable to returns from lunar velocities and long-duration missions, as well.

Re:Augh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534142)

Sometimes I think the best thing that could possibly happen for the human race is to be invaded by aliens with far superior weaponry. Maybe then we could get along?

Re:Augh. (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534484)

Sometimes I think the best thing that could possibly happen for the human race is to be invaded by aliens with far superior weaponry. Maybe then we could get along?

Isn't it obvious that this has already happened, though not as you suggest? Put yourself in their position. Do you think the aliens are going to send some generation ship with a thousand crew members aboard and take us out, 1 vs 10 million, conquistador style? No, they are going to use a far more sophisticated approach than that - why kick over the beehive when you can just lay down a little smoke and lift out all that honey. The fact that we expend orders of more magnitude more GDP on attacking each other than exploring what's out there... DIVIDE AND CONQUER my friend. All you have to do is trace the levels of NASA funding back to 1966 when it halved and never recovered to pinpoint the exact year the alien occupation began.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Budget#Annual_budget.2C_1958-2009 [wikipedia.org]

Oh shit... it appears that they have triangulated my positJDGPJ&*GP$J#Jm{V#WJ9{W

NO CARRIER

Re:Augh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534524)

You know, out of all the memes here on Slashdot (and the internet in general), the "NO CARRIER" meme never gets old...makes me laugh every. single. time.

Re:Augh. (1, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534310)

It pisses me off to no end that we can afford to spend trillions of dollars killing each other, but we can't afford a few billion dollars exploring the universe around us.

What is even more depressive is that even a small fraction of the US military spending could grant you full health-care coverage for the entire population. The Iraq war alone could have accounted for half a century or so.

Re:Augh. (1)

sakonofie (979872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534800)

Estimate of US health care cost in 2009: $2.5 trillion [wikipedia.org] .
CBO estimate of the 2001-2017 total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afganistan: $2.4 trillion [reuters.com] .

This is also kinda depressing.
But back to space, NASA's annual budget $18.724 billion [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Augh. (0)

Rent A Ham (865093) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535402)

I'm always amazed at the cost of US healthcare.

Maybe if doctors didn't prescribe anti-depressants to everyone who comes in their office complaining about bad gas, it wouldn't be double the average EU GDP%.

Re:Augh. (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535684)

Maybe if doctors didn't prescribe anti-depressants to everyone who comes in their office complaining about bad gas, it wouldn't be double the average EU GDP%.

Maybe if doctors hadn't so jealously created and protected their monopoly on healthcare we might not be paying so much in the first place.

Re:Augh. (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32537464)

Insurance not doctors. Doctors get paid w/ public option either way. TBH I think many of them would prefer it.

Re:Augh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535798)

Maybe if doctors were allowed to prescribe medical marijuana, it wouldn't be double the average EU GDP%.

Fixed.

Re:Augh. (1, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534848)

What is even more depressive is that even a small fraction of the US military spending could grant you full health-care coverage for the entire population. The Iraq war alone could have accounted for half a century or so.

My understanding is that even including medical and retirement costs, the Iraq/Afghanistan military efforts cost around two trillion dollars. The US in 2008 spent 2.3 trillion dollars [kaiseredu.org] on health care. In other words, that's roughly a year of "full health-care coverage" not half a century. No offense but the war among other things bought increased oil security (not perfect though as markets have indicated) and knocked off a particularly troublesome dictator (who had a history of instigating wars and developing nuclear weapons and other WMD). Instead, it could have been spent to buy health coverage for a situation where roughly 90-95% of the population can already already afford health care covered (I figure 85% currently covered by insurance plus a signification fraction of the remainder who aren't insured but could be insured, if they so chose).

I'm not particularly impressed by the cost/benefit on the Iraqi War, but at least, it is buying something that average citizens can't afford. That strikes me as being better than buying something that the vast majority of the citizens are getting already.

Re:Augh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32536014)

...and knocked off a particularly troublesome dictator...

Hitler was a particularly troublesome dictator. Saddam Huessin was a mosquito on the ass of history, along with every other tin-pot dictator the world has seen.

Re:Augh. (1)

soundhack (179543) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536354)

I am getting sick of the "particularly troublesome dictator" excuse. At least you are honest enough to mention the oil part. In terms of troublesome, there are plenty of other candidates all over the world. How about all the tyrants in Africa that we support and dump as we see fit? No oil, not worth the trouble. Ayatollahs of Iran? They are definitely troublesome, sponsor terrorism, and do have oil. But they would have put up a greater fight so not worth the trouble. Ditto with Kim Jong Il. Huge security risk in Asia, could soon threaten west coast with nuclear weapons, not to mention our allies South Korea, Japan, Australia. No oil, but more importantly it would bring China into the conflict and we are too chicken to pick a fight with our banker. So again not worth the trouble.

So contrary to all the "evil" and "dangerous" talk about Saddam he was actually the opposite. He was someone the Bush administration figured would be an easy kill, who isn't so dangerous that the troops would be endangered too much (as opposed to say Iran or N. Korea) . They could go in, wipe him out, secure oil contracts, then leave. What they didnt figure was the insurgency.

Re:Augh. (1)

dammy (131759) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536134)

Actually, if you weed out the illegal aliens, young people who do not want to spend the money on health insurance because they are young and healthy, and those who are temporary out of insurance because of being unemployed but will find a job with health insurance in the near future, your down to 15 M people without insurance. If you take the money that was not spent (slush money) in the porkulous spending bill, that would be enough to pay for those 15M people's insurance policies for the next 10 years and not have the US Government in charge of the entire health care industry. Best of both worlds and everyone that wants coverage has it on money already borrowed. Win:win to me, but you know how the Progressives are, they want it all under their control, for their own power, ahh, well, your best interest. Yeah, that's the ticket!

But yes, kill the constellation program and move forward with the private enterprise bidding on hauling stuff into space. NASA does need to be broken up and scattered into the different existing agencies and deorbit the white elephant on schedule that is costing way too much and providing way too little.

Re:Augh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536258)

and not have the US Government in charge of the entire health care industry.

I stopped reading after that line.

The government doesn't produce pharmaceutical drugs, doesn't run the insurance companies, and doesn't mark every doctor as a federal employee.

Explain how, given just those three things, the Government is "in charge" of just a portion of the health care industry, much less the entire thing.

Remember, regulating is not the same thing as running.

Re:Augh. (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534334)

That is annoying, true. But what is more annoying is that these senators are clinging to this expensive program when there are cheaper, safer alternatives that would save jobs, and eliminate the necessity of going to the Russians and saying "Hey Ivan. Can you possibly give me a lift to the ISS?". They are clinging to this program simply because it brings money into their state. They are willing to sacrifice the US manned space flight program, the prestige of the nation for pork. I think Shelby in particular is in a position of conflict of interests. He controls how much money NASA gets AND he represents a state that is home to some major NASA contractors.

Re:Augh. (3, Insightful)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534682)

Constellation had a heavy lifter and plans to go to the moon. The cheaper alternatives end at the ISS. Is that the whole point of the space program now? Astronauts just sit in a can and look at the planet they just left for a while and then come back down? Choose a heavy lifter in 2015? Come on, that's just punting it to the next administration with no real plans to go anywhere.

Re:Augh. (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534858)

wrong. constellation had a space shuttle solid rocket first stage, a lot of plans for launchers that were more to keep the pork flowing for ex space shuttle contractors than something that would really be the best way to get to orbit, and nine billion dollars already spent. meanwhile spacex spent a tiny fraction of that amount of money on progressive testing of actual hardware like the falcon 1, and then used that experience to build the falcon 9. which nailed its first flight. you can have plans out the wazoo, but that dosent mean anything, especially in space launch.

Re:Augh. (1, Insightful)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535072)

The Falcon 9 did not nail its first flight. The upper stage ended up in an elliptical 240x280km orbit rather than the planned circular 250km one. The upper stage was also yawing and rolling noticeably after orbital insertion -- I watched the web broadcast of the launch and I wondered if that was deliberate or not, it turns out it was not. Hopefully they'll fix those problems in the next few test launches.

I can't see NASA or any of the other participants in the ISS programme letting a Spacex vehicle make an approach to their fragile space station unless they are sure it's not going to crash into it.

Re:Augh. (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536038)

I can't see NASA or any of the other participants in the ISS programme letting a Spacex vehicle make an approach to their fragile space station unless they are sure it's not going to crash into it.

Which is why they're planning to test exactly that - it's kind of the point of the whole COTS program. Spacex seems to have a "test early, test often approach" to development, which seems to be paying off. They never launch a real payload on their first flight (unlike, say, the Space Shuttle, which cannot launch without its most valuable cargo), but they save a ton of money on development by not having to guess how it's going to perform.

Re:Augh. (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#32537300)

For a new spacecraft making it into space without breaking or exploding is a huge success. It IS rocketscience. But only time will tell how reliable this vehicle really is, I doubt that the issues you mentioned are an irreparable design flaw.

Re:Augh. (4, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535476)

The cheaper alternatives end at the ISS.

Boy are you misinformed! DIRECT's [directlauncher.com] plan is for the Moon, Mars, and Near Earth Objects, with commercial craft doing ISS resupply. By making use of the current shuttle systems and infrastructure (as Constellation was *supposed* do do), they eliminate large chunks of costly development. There's no need to develop new engines when there's half a dozen SSMEs in stock and paid for, and an assembly line and trained workers already in place. There's no need to develop new solid boosters when there's already several in stock and an assembly line and trained workers already in place. There's no need to continually having to re-design the Orion crew capsule to make it light enough to fit on an anaemic ARES-I, a Jupiter 130 can carry two fully loaded Orions with payload capacity to spare.

Constellation would have cost $10billion for ARES-I and $25billion for ARES-V, $35Billion in total. DIRECT would have cost $8billion for the J-130 and $4billion for the upper stage to turn the J-130 into the J-246, a total of only $12Billion.

Re:Augh. (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536814)

Yes, but nobody did is or is likely to ever build DIRECT. I was sad myself when Constellation was chosen over DIRECT but unless I missed a really big announcement today DIRECT is as dead as it ever was. Don't think DIRECT will be chosen in 2015 according to Obama's plan of choosing a heavy lifter in that year. Nothing is 'planned to be planned' that far in advance unless it is really not expected to be done at all but merely hot air to keep people from complaining. Even if there really is a heavy lifter chosen in 2015 they didn't chose DIRECT last time and any advantage that might remain now to re-using Shuttle booster design will be gone by then with the shuttle infrastructure long since torn down.

Re:Augh. (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536990)

This is not quite correct. When the shuttle is retired, the Augustine commission claims there are a total of 17 SSMEs, which certainly could be used. But the assembly lines that produced the SSMEs were shut down years ago. Endeavour was largely built from spare parts, including the SSMEs that NASA had. So there's no assembly line to produce them and the trained workers are long gone. Besides the spares all we have are the plans. I don't think that the tooling even exists any more.

Re:Augh. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32537292)

I thought that they were supposed to shut down the line, but were dragging their feet on actually shutting it down. My mistake.

Re:Augh. (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535782)

But what is more annoying is that these senators are clinging to this expensive program when there are cheaper, safer alternatives that would save jobs

Constellation was cheap and safe back when it was a paper project too. They're always cheap and safe on paper.
 
Where things invariably get sticky is when they have to transition from paper to the real world - then all of the sudden, they aren't cheap or safe anymore.

Re:Augh. (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536610)

DIRECT could double its costs (which, by the way, already include generous padding in case of overruns) and still be cheaper than Constellation. Besides, the bulk of the J-130 already exists in the real world. The Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) and Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) would be used as-is. The External Tank ET needs slight modification - replace the bullet shaped nose with a blunt end cap (which is identical to the one on the tail end), and eliminate the manufacturing step where they shave metal off the tank walls to save weight. The only things that need to transition from the paper world to the real world are the payload fairing, the thrust structure (both of which are relatively simple), and the avionics ring.

Re:Augh. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534340)

First we need to prove that there are things to slaughter in outer space and then NASA funding will... increase greatly (should mod me for holding off using an obvious and terrible pun then)

Re:Augh. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534372)

I would mod you down for not using a pun, clod!

Re:Augh. (1)

amanicdroid (1822516) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534376)

Indeed it would.. rise up to sky level quickly.

Re:Augh. (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534420)

It pisses me off to no end that we can afford to spend trillions of dollars killing each other, but we can't afford a few billion dollars exploring the universe around us.

It pisses me off that the decision over which program survives and which dies has more to do with which senator's district the plant that's going to build it resides in.

Re:Augh. (2, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535352)

It pisses me off that the decision over which program survives and which dies has more to do with which senator's district the plant that's going to build it resides in.

What really gets me is that these are the same congressmen who will bleat and whine about out of control spending by Washington. The democrats park their cars outside of the adult bookstore and proudly brag about the porn they watch. the republicans park their trucks down the street and sneak in wearing a hat and sunglasses; on sunday morning they'll decry the filth-flarn-filth that they found in there.

If you look at the way the shuttle pork has been divvied up across the country it's absolutely disgusting. We can't have nice things because it costs too much to grease all the palms.

Re:Augh. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534500)

I want space exploration as much as the next guy.

However, *RIGHT* now it is way to expensive. You end up with a lot of 'on-off' shots. Even the space shuttle had to be torn down and rebuilt every time. Making all these new programs fantastically expensive.

That they are cutting costs says something. It means it is already wildly overbudget. Which means it is a bunch of unicorny features.

We need better and most importantly cheaper (fuel, money, and personal wise) ways to go into space. If you have 1 giagantor program sucking up all the resources you have, you can do nothing else. I dont mind 'up front costs'. Those you can live with, so long as they are reasonable. Its recurring that gets most people (and apparently the government) into trouble.

Right now we have dozens of these gigantor programs going on in the government. They have *MASSIVELY* overspent themselves. So you are going to see many programs cut. If they do not do so we will never get ourselves out of this debt mountain. Then you will *NEVER* get the program you want at all. Also they are going after programs that as you point out are small fry in the budget. They need to go after the heavy duty ones. Right now they are just going after the 'controversial' ones. But all of the programs need to be up on the chair for a buzz cut.

Re:Augh. (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534584)

I 100% agree...but you will never see the "Defense Budget" getting fitted for a hair cut. Never. All in the name of "national security".

We need to do only two things right now: secure our homeland, and fight people out in deserts. Funding our military as if the Cold War were still in full swing is not just stupid, but irresponsible.

What's the point of spending trillions of dollars to defend your country if there's no country left to defend?

Re:Augh. (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535808)

I 100% agree...but you will never see the "Defense Budget" getting fitted for a hair cut. Never. All in the name of "national security".

For the record, I'm about to switch programs again after the one I'm on just had its budget cut. This marks my second switch in 1 year. There are cuts going on, but the savings are being spent just as quickly.

Re:Augh. (2, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536422)

but you will never see the "Defense Budget" getting fitted for a hair cut. Never. All in the name of "national security".

Scroll down to figure 1 [cbo.gov] and you will plainly see that defense spending is the budgetary item receiving the biggest cuts over the last 50 years. (Post-9/11 it's grown by about 35% as percent of GDP.)

Re:Augh. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534754)

Shake your tiny fist and wish all the world's problems would just go away. Yes, insightful comment indeed.

Re:Augh. (-1, Flamebait)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534820)

Shake your tiny fist and wish all the world's problems would just go away.

Your mom didn't seem to mind my "tiny fist" last night. Is that why you're so cranky?

Re:Augh. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534894)

It pisses me off to no end that we can afford to spend trillions of dollars killing each other, but we can't afford a few billion dollars exploring the universe around us.

It's worth noting here that US space exploration probably picks up around 2% of the budget of US national security (including military, law enforcement, anti-terrorism, the military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc). That seems reasonable given the relative importance of the two.

Re:Augh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32535320)

Yes because it would be morally superior to just ignore it every time someone kills people you love.

Re:Augh. (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535434)

We can and do afford a few billion - more actually. NASA's budget is $17B, and very little of that goes to aeronautics.

While it would be nice to have more money, maybe our space program needs to figure out how to use the money we have more effectively. Its a much more effective plan than hoping that politics ceases to be petty and short-sighted.

Re:Augh. (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535920)

technically speaking both the space program and military contracts do the same thing, spend money on products that will get blown up.

as such, they are gravy for whatever local community that gets the contract for making those products, as you know the customer will be coming back for more.

Re:Augh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32536768)

It pisses me off, too. Howzabout we stop spending money on killing people. Howzabout we just let them kill us for a change? Lemme know what u think. kthxbye.

Re:Augh. (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536846)

It pisses me off, too. Howzabout we stop spending money on killing people. Howzabout we just let them kill us for a change? Lemme know what u think. kthxbye.

Looking at the last 4 big, major wars we have been involved in (Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan), nobody was killing us before we injected ourselves into the conflict.

Previosly on constellation (0, Flamebait)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534118)

Hang on, weren't they going to cancel constellation [slashdot.org] in the new budjet?

Re:Previosly on constellation (1)

flitty (981864) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534196)

Obama requested to cancel it after his special task force said that it was over cost and that either Obama needed to start paying for space travel, or not doing it at all, and the half measure that was in place wasn't working. However, before that, congress passed a law saying that Constellation could only be cancelled by congress (nice, eh?). On top of that, Obama only gets to sign the budget, congress still gets to write the budget, and they get to put in whatever they want.

Re:Previosly on constellation (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534294)

(Not understand quite how the American government works here)

So I get you need checks and balances and that you therefore need the president and congress to be on the same page when it comes to policy, but if you can have the situation above how come you don't get it more often where the right hand ties up the left hand from doing anything?

Oink. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534144)

You can't force an organization to stop spending money while at the same time forcing it to not stop spending money.

From reading the background on this, it seems that the whole "force Constellation to continue" was essentially a pork measure for the states where the contractors are. (Notice that the bill is credited to two Republicans.) This isn't about space exploration; if NASA felt the project was scientifically worthwhile, they wouldn't be trying to cancel it. Space exploration is what NASA does.

Old news (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534186)

This has been over a month coming. The irony is that at least for Orion they are using some jobs stimulus money that was given to keep working. At least through June. So what was important enough for stimulus money one day goes on the chopping block the next. Makes sense. My understanding is there is some verbage attached to an Afghanistan funding bill (something guaranteed to pass) that addresses the termination fee coverage issue.

Constellations (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534188)

I thoufght constellations were an astrological thing, and that most of the stars in a particular sign of the zodiac are actually no relation to each other, they just appear that way from earth

Re:Constellations (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534880)

yeah and I thought Pluto was a planet. Times they are a changin'

Attention NASA and Congress: (4, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534194)

I do not care whether it's Ares V, which doesn't really quite exist yet, the even more vaporware "new heavy lifter" that president Obama spoke of, or some weird hybrid that the nerds down in propulsion dynamics wrote up on the back of a napkin 2 or 3 years ago and havn't told you about yet...

But will you PLEASE get our monkey asses to Mars before I die?

I'd love to see the beginings of a manned Mars base (even, dare I dream, a colony?!), but at this point I'll take Neil Armstrong's grandson standing there holding a flag with 50 (or even 52) stars on it.

Pick a heavy lifter that can get the job done, put some intelligent technial people in charge of it, give them the money and resources to get it done, and LEAVE THEM ALONE for the next decade. Also, if it's absolutely necessary to get the job done again, I'm ok with you telling them that the russians (or maybe the chinese, the're more likely to believe that nowadays) are going to take over the world (scratch that, the galaxy) if they don't succeed.

That is all.

Re:Attention NASA and Congress: (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534788)

Mars colony? I doubt it. No doubt IF humanity keeps trying one day we will have that but I think at this stage we could pull off a lunar colony. Or... we could sink all our resources just in getting to Mars to plant a flag and then our grandchildren can watch as yet another generation pisses it's days away in LEO like ours has.

Re:Attention NASA and Congress: (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535862)

You've gotta start somewhere.

Christopher Columbus showed up what, 3 or 4 times in the new world? comparativly speaking, he did little more than plant a flag and grab some moon rock (well, he planted a few flags, and grabbed some natives for slaves). He went there, proved it was there (well, not that the vikings hadn't done so already, but nobody remembered), and Europe's response was "wow, that's amazing" and then proceeded to dick around in the mediterranen.

I'm too lazy right now to go dig up exact dates, but if memory serves it was at least 100 years before spain, england, and france started seriously exploiting the resources of the new world, and even longer before your first permanant colonies started springing up.

Re:Attention NASA and Congress: (1)

Necron69 (35644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535174)

Well, simply put, F*CK that. I DON'T WANT the government to go to Mars.

Let's see something more like the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Company [wikipedia.org] . That way, people might actually have a reason to stay on Mars instead of planting another flag and leaving.

Necron69
 

Re:Attention NASA and Congress: (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536054)

I'm not against the idea at all, I just think that the government is the only entity that can currently afford to do it.

If Bill Gates wants to get together with Warren Buffet and some sultan from Abu-Dhabi, and privately finance this, I'm fine with that.

Not because I think they'd be any more altruistically minded than some government, more so I just want to see it done during my lifetime... and seeing as how I don't believe the aging gene(s) will be discovered and nullified before my time is over, I'm in the "whoever can get us there first" boat.

Re:Attention NASA and Congress: (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535810)

But will you PLEASE get our monkey asses to Mars before I die?

How much do you think that would cost? Why not get together with a large bunch of like-minded people and do it, if you really want it?

Re:Attention NASA and Congress: (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535942)

The Mars direct program layed out in the mid 90s pegged the cost at 20-30 billion over 10 years to put 3 teams of 4 astronauts (two scientists and two engineers each) onto nearly overlapping stays of 1.5 years apiece.

Current estimate, adjusted for inflation, is around 50 billion over 10 years. I believe that is somewhere around 20% of NASA's current (non expanded) budget.

Honestly, If I had 50 billion lieing around, hell yes that is EXACTLY what I'd do. I couldn't think of a better project to put it towards. I mean seriously, past a certain point you've got all the boats, mansions, and cars you can want, and you're just saving up to buy your own country. Why not go to mars instead?

Re:Attention NASA and Congress: (3, Insightful)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32537524)

Pick a heavy lifter that can get the job done, put some intelligent technial people in charge of it, give them the money and resources to get it done, and LEAVE THEM ALONE for the next decade.

You don't need a heavy lifter for space exploration. In fact, it just eats up the funds you'd need for actual exploration. There's a reason that each of the times that a country has developed a heavy lift rocket in the past it's been canceled in a few years due to being far too expensive.

A better alternative is propellant depots, allowing you to use smaller, pre-existing launchers and refuel in space to get to where you want. Propellant depots play an important role in NASA's new plans:

http://selenianboondocks.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/Depot-Centric_Human_Spaceflight.pdf [selenianboondocks.com]
http://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/viewrepositorydocument/cmdocumentid=230949/Section4.pdf [nasaprs.com]

The German magic is gone (3, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534204)

The decades of Nazi's Ageing in Southern Anonymity seems to be over.
You would think they would have passed on the 'how to keep your projects funded' secrets as well as engineering, medical and other useful data.

Re:The German magic is gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534284)

I assume you're also familiar with the research and work of Joseph P. Farrell?!?

Re:The German magic is gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534594)

Wrong pal... It is the verge of Triumph for the Long Dead Nazis in Northern Anonymity and its pupils...

First they killed Apollo, then pushed for the Space "Lemon" Shuttle aka "Hell knows what they meant to do with this". Now, the final blow to the human dream of Space - screw even the wrong way to go there.

For what? For some piece of crap they have been building since my grandfather... The ultimate of ultimate among all ultimates. Great deal. The best monkey business since monkeys came out of the trees. To get ALL the bananas.

The toy will not work. And besides, there will no be too much bananas left in near future. All that will remain is a screwed planet, some monkeys trying (again) some new monkey business and a crowd that will not even remember what "Star Wars" means, much less "Man on the Moon".

Unless someone starts some good kick-ass... Not Holywood style. That's also part of the monkey business.

Re:The German magic is gone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534676)

Space Jesus disagrees

Re:The German magic is gone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32534798)

Oh... BTW... I am writing in a place where americans read a lot... So just in case... About the Long Dead Nazis.

No UFO's, no Bells, no Fifth Dimensions, no Angels, no Ultima Thules.

X-Files? Eeeeer... Sort of... X marks the spot. Hehe...

Conspiracies? Surely, lots of them. But not MiBs, no Smoking Jerks and even less dumb Agencies playing Grey (or is it Green?). Just and simply conspiracies. I think you may get some of them by just walking some corridors in Washington and take a puff with a few guys nearby.

I am not referring to Von Braun when I mention "Northern". When I mean Northern Anonymity, I mean it. But it is not hard to find the real Anonymous...

No Space either. All Space that is needed is the one enough to keep the barn thriving and the barner happy. That does not even reach the Moon.

Duh, no kidding! (0, Troll)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534304)

Well of course Hussein Obama would cut NASA. How's he going to pay for all this socialist crap that he has planned? Next to cut will be the military and on and on until we are forced to wear chairman Mao suits like good little communists!

Re:Duh, no kidding! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534780)

The first cut should have been to the military. Then he wouldn't have to fight everyone about how to pay for everything.

Overheard in Sen. Shelby's office (3, Funny)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534352)

Screw you guys! I'm gonna build my own space launcher, with blackjack and hookers! In fact, forget the blackjack!

Space Funding Cuts Inevitable (0, Troll)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534482)

Manned space flight was a government program that has been determined to be
too expensive and too limited in returns to be continued at its former funding
levels. We have serious problems now that we didn't have then, and few people
believe that throwing hundreds of billions of dollars into space will solve
them. Grown-up people chosen to make hard and realistic decisions about our
public funds and resources have decided this. NASA and its Tom Swift-space buffs
can't accept it. I'm sorry, guys, but it's time to get real.
      Sure, politicians will continue announce great new projects like manned Mars
missions. But then they will quietly de-fund them to nearly nothing a few years
later. They don't have any choice. Money that would have been spent on these
projects has already been spent; and it's gone.
    People born into 20th-century America are prone to economic fantasy because
they have lived their whole lives inside one. What they don't realize is that
their country and their government is broke. There is no trillion dollars for
space exploration. There is no trillion dollars for anything left anywhere in
the USA.
    Money is not a physical good. Money is basically created out of nothing. If
this conjured money doesn't in turn create real wealth, it disappears back to
nothing by means of inflation. Space exploration does not create wealth by
itself. It is only a combination of heavily-subsidized unfocused research and
technological stunts done for national prestige. NASA engineers never
understand this. They don't study economics, and they don't understand
economics.
    There won't be hundreds of billions of dollars spent on space in the coming
years because there was already a trillion dollars spent on a Iraq-Afghanistan
war that accomplished nothing. There was a trillion dollars spent on
maintaining the fantasy that some Wall Street banks and investment firms are too
big to fail. There was a trillion dollars spent giving $650,000 mortgages to
$10/hr janitors. And then there were all the trillions of dollars spent on federal
government budget deficits.
    All these trillion-dollar misadventures didn't create any real wealth. And
therefore, the money disappeared. America was rich in the past, now it's not.
There were great sums of money in the past available for funding giant government
projects, but there aren't going to be any more of these giant projects in the future.
The trillions of dollars that space enthusiasts believe could and should be spent on
the glorious future in space and its endless possibilities for the betterment of
humanity don't exist anymore.

      Space-cadets love to talk about the need to venture beyond the moon in order
to save humanity from a soon-to-be dying Earth. But this is not science
talking, it's a personality disorder. These guys assume that because their
scientific prowess has created tools and techniques that can destroy the Earth,
then it will inevitable happen. And that they have a right, and even a destiny,
to make it happen. They confuse rockets with penises and hydrogen bombs with
testicles. These guys are not clear-eyed, sober engineers; they are death-worshiping
fascists. They are left-over 'Dr. Strangelove' techno-psychopaths from mid-20th
century. They're pissed because 'little-minded people' wouldn't let them burn
the Earth and rule the ashes. These men are transparently insane, and you shouldn't
pay serious attention to them. Fortunately, their time has gone and they don't
have the political power that they did fifty years ago.

    We live in a different age now. This is the era of limits. Understand this
and we will all prosper in new and unexpected ways. We all need to learn to
differentiate fact from fantasy and leave the fantasies to the Hollywood. Space
Exploration is a 20th-century quasi-religion that has begun to manifest itself
as a mental disease among those people who continue to believe it too strongly.
Don't let that happen to you.
 

Re:Space Funding Cuts Inevitable (1)

TwoUtes (1075403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534734)

Wow, Dude, nice rant! But why do all antagonists have penis envy?

Re:Space Funding Cuts Inevitable (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535356)

Money is not a physical good. Money is basically created out of nothing. If this conjured money doesn't in turn create real wealth, it disappears back to nothing by means of inflation. Space exploration does not create wealth by itself. It is only a combination of heavily-subsidized unfocused research and technological stunts done for national prestige.

Basic economics lessons here. Money just like anything else is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. A currency like the Dollar or Euro has considerable value as a result even though it is "created out of nothing". Maybe these currencies and the dependent economics will collapse. It's not a big stretch for that to happen. But you ignore here that it hasn't happened yet. And just because money (here, a fiat currency) isn't a hard asset doesn't mean that an economy, dependent on money as a medium of exchange, is destined for failure.

Second, the US economy doesn't consist of just money. It also consists of 330 or so million people, real estate, infrastructure (physical, legal, cultural, etc), and a variety of other extremely valuable assets. So yes, the US can afford a lot of trillion dollar (using the current dollar as a measure of value) expenditures. Maybe manned space exploration would be a bad idea as you say, but it remains a feasible use of the resources.

NASA engineers never understand this. They don't study economics, and they don't understand economics.

Physician, heal thyself.

Space-cadets love to talk about the need to venture beyond the moon in order to save humanity from a soon-to-be dying Earth.

They talk about other reasons as well, such as increased access to valuable resources, expanding exploration and even tourism of interesting and exotic locations, solving "hard" problems that make current hard problems seem pretty mundane, making a cooler future (queue the classic Star Trek theme song), expanding humanity's economy, etc. I don't necessarily agree with all of these reasons, but why obsess over habitat diversification even though it is what I consider a good reason? Further, why do you insist on misportraying habitat diversification as some sort of destructive fantasy? It's worth noting here that most such "space cadets" do not have the fantasy of a destroyed Earth, making your argument a strawman fallacy [wikipedia.org] (link provided in case you are as ignorant of rational argument as you are of economics).

But it's worth noting that we do have several thousand nuclear weapons, can make more, and have a reasonable expectation that a full blown nuclear war would mess up the Earth globally, just due to fallout and the "nuclear winter" effect. There are several other scenarios for global disaster either by man or nature. I present the nuclear winter scenario merely as an existence proof, if you will, that humanity can adversely and rather easily affect the entire Earth in a very short period of time. Hence, it makes sense to discuss some sort of insurance against global devastation by human action. A human presence in space would have some value (in addition to other things) from this alone.

They confuse rockets with penises and hydrogen bombs with testicles.

I doubt you can find a space cadet anywhere who somehow manages to make this confusion and has even a shred of responsibility (much less finds their way out of a padded cell). I would instead classify this as a bullshit argument by someone who ran out of even remotely plausible arguments to support their beliefs.

We live in a different age now. This is the era of limits.

I'll cut off your nonsense at this point. You obviously don't have a clue what those limits are. Nor does anyone else automatically understand those limits. There's only one way to figure out what the limits are. And that is by "pushing the envelop" in aerospeak. It's foolish to delineate limits based on profound ignorance and then claim that we'll somehow become wealthy by respecting these artificial limits.

Re:Space Funding Cuts Inevitable (1)

morgauxo (974071) | more than 4 years ago | (#32536620)

This is not such a different age. When did people go to the moon? During the Vietnam War! The space program wasn't born in some rosy age of good times and free money which is somehow different from today. We did it then and we can still accomplish great things if we put a little effort towards doing so. The money required to fund a space program may be astronomical compared to our own personal budgets but it is nothing compared to the GNP or the national debt. We will always have war, we will always have debt, diseases to cure, pollution and all sorts of other problems. History proves we can still go new places, accomplish new things in spite of this.

I for one am not a crazy Dr. Strangelove type wanting to see the Earth blown up. I think a nuclear war or environmental disaster making Earth unlivable for humans is possible. But that doesn't mean I think it definitely will happen (at least in the next billion years) and it certainly doesn't mean I want it to happen. Neither is it the reason I want us to have a strong space program.

I for one am not proud of my labor generating tax dollars being used for the Iraq war and bankers' golden parachutes. I'm a bit more optimistic that the Afghan war will result in something better than before but that doesn't make up for the other two. I would be proud to see that money being used to expand mankind's reach to other worlds. I realize the other three things will take the majority of my tax dollars whether I like it or not but it is never too late to set a little of the money aside for something good.

You wrote: 'The trillions of dollars that space enthusiasts believe could and should be spent on the glorious future in space and its endless possibilities for the betterment of humanity don't exist anymore.'

I don't think anyone is asking for Trillions of dollars for the space program. It doesn't require Trillions of dollars to achieve progress there. Trillions of dollars are what the wars and the bankers are getting. Financing a strong space program would not remove a noticeable amount of money from these misadventures.

You also wrote: 'Space-cadets love to talk about the need to venture beyond the moon in order to save humanity from a soon-to-be dying Earth.'

Maybe. Life as we know it on Earth certainly could end soon and quickly due to nuclear bombs. We don't know for sure just how far climate change can/will go, that might be able to end it too albeit slower. That isn't really the point though. Even if we have a billion years to go before the Earth ends (when the sun engulfs it) we still want to venture out. It's just the next place to go. What's left driving progress on Earth? It's not making bigger or more cities, that just screws with the environment. It's not exploring new continents.. We've been to all of them and populated the ones worth doing so.

By nuclear war or by environmental disaster the public has been told the sky is falling since the 50s. We are all used to hearing that, space exploration friend/foe alike. While protecting the species is one reason to go into space I don't think it's the real main reason most space proponents talk about the end of the world. It's just an easy reason to explain to a public which is really only interested in their own personal little worlds and the sexual escapades of their favorite celebrities. What we really want is to see some sort of progress but try explaining that one...

Finally, you wrote: 'We live in a different age now. This is the era of limits. Understand this and we will all prosper in new and unexpected ways.'

I think I've already written enough about those 'limits'. How about the prospering? What do you even mean by that? Are you just talking about food to eat and roofs over our heads? I think that is about as far as most can see who support canceling the space program. My family will have that. I will do whatever it takes to ensure it whether it means working extra jobs or heading for the hills to grow our own food. I am not worried about this in the slightest. No space funding cuts are going to make a difference there anyway. If the money isn't spent in space it will go to the bankers, military contractors or maybe just to fund a bridge to nowhere. It's not coming to me and probably not to you either. (or are you David J. Lesar?) There is nothing to be gained here by cutting the space program. What I see as prospering is to create a future for my children and their children, just as most of the generations before me strove to do. Do you see some magical unexpected method of prospering just falling out of the sky when we no longer shoot rockets up into it? If so then who has a mental disease now? You don't prosper without actually doing something to make it happen.

spacex (2, Interesting)

strack (1051390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32534726)

with the successful launch of the falcon 9 recently, its a nail in the coffin of these really quite bad launch vehicles.

A billion dollars... (4, Insightful)

Necron69 (35644) | more than 4 years ago | (#32535074)

Would have bought us two more SpaceX's and four more new rockets, based on what SpaceX has spent in their 8 years or so of existance.

NASA's Constellation program is a massive budget boondoggle.

Stick a fork in it....

Necron69

Re:A billion dollars... (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32537372)

Would have bought us two more SpaceX's and four more new rockets, based on what SpaceX has spent in their 8 years or so of existance.

It's quite sobering when you realize that the half-billion required simply to cancel the contract for the Ares I first stage is about the same as SpaceX has spent in total to develop, build, and launch several Falcon 1's and the Falcon 9, and do most of the development on the Dragon cargo/crew capsule (all designed to NASA's human-rating specifications). Particularly so since most of the justification for when prior NASA administrator Mike Griffin went with the Ares I design was that it was supposed to be much cheaper and faster to develop [safesimplesoon.com] than the alternatives (which ended up being complete BS).

Senators are idiots (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32537150)

FTS:

While complying with budgeting laws (and in line with NASA's desire to cancel Constellation), this move is also potentially in violation of a 2010 appropriations amendment by Sen. Shelby (R-AL) and Sen. Bennett (R-UT) which prohibits NASA from terminating any Constellation contracts.

The mind boggles. I've never seen politicians in other countries actively sabotaging current policy like this.

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