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Neil Armstrong To NASA: You're Embarrassing

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the one-small-complaint-for-man dept.

NASA 409

astroengine writes "Neil Armstrong, Apollo legend and outspoken critic of NASA's current direction for human spaceflight, was joined by three other space experts to address Congress on Thursday. It wasn't pretty. Amongst the other criticisms was Armstrong's tough statement: 'For a country that has invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space exploration and exploitation, this condition is viewed by many as lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable.' He might have a point, but Apollo 17's Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, suggested the shuttles should be brought out of retirement to fill the U.S. manned spaceflight gap — a suggestion that probably rolled some eyeballs."

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I Love you Neil (1, Insightful)

masternerdguy (2468142) | about 3 years ago | (#37489736)

Thank you, maybe they'll listen to you. American space exploration has been in a state of decay for a over a decade.

Re:I Love you Neil (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489780)

The Republicans just spent 30 years gutting the fuck out of NASA as well as every other government program not designed to throw bullets and guns at brown people. So what do you expect NASA would turn out like?

For fuck's sake, the Bush Bailout program cost more money in one year than NASA's entire 50+-year budget.

No no NO!!!!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489882)

No no no!!!!! This is Slashdot. It was teh Obama bailouts and teh three wars started by Obama!!!!! Everything Bush did was glorious.

Re:No no NO!!!!!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489934)

No, they both suck, just on different levels and in different ways.

Re:No no NO!!!!!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490044)

No, they both suck, just on different levels and in different ways.

They do both suck, but Bush funded NASA more than Clinton and Obama combined. For all the fucking up Bush did, hurting NASA isn't part of it.

Re:No no NO!!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490230)

America does not need to worry about taking "humanity" to the space. China is going to take americas is place, the comunists, can you believe it?
The world has changed, bad for america and europe, good for the "3rds worlds".

There will be no more 1st and 3rd only, all will be 2nd.

Re:I Love you Neil (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489892)

It was pretty clear that Obomba inherited a sagging economy. Bushy also inherited a sagging economy, but managed to re-inflate the bubble, and then leave office as it was all coming down.

As decent as it was under Clinton, and a republican house of the 1990s, that too was a bubble. Just look at tech, manufacturing data, consumption.

republican and democrat politicians are to blame.

but the real blame goes to the american people. exactly such as yourself, or people like you.

to think that one half of america is an innocent bystander while the other half is a lying, self deceiving bunch's indicative that you have your head so far up your ass, the taste of old copper pennies fills your mouth.

your penchant to duck your own culpability in this, will mean that your suffering will be thrice that of those who admit it.

Re:I Love you Neil (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490046)

republican and democrat politicians are to blame.

Not really. The Republicans are such goddamn bullies they forced their shit on us. The Democrats being spineless cowards allowed the Reps to push them around. During the budget ceiling debates, Obama gave the Reps a sweetheart deal but the Reps threw back in his face because "eliminating tax loop-holes is the same as tax increases". The Republican's billionaire masters didn't like the elimination of tax loopholes.

but the real blame goes to the american people. exactly such as yourself, or people like you.

I can't argue with that. In '12, I'm sure the Reps will do well because many of my fellow Americans are too easily distracted by bogus issues like: family values, abortion, taxing the rich aka job creators, whether or not their multi-millionaire candidate eats junk food, etc ...

Our "leaders" via their propaganda machines (media) are distracting us and creating unimportant issues while an elite sucks the wealth out of this country.

Class warfare? Whatever man. While my fellow poor and middle class slobs are all "outraged" over the idea of taxing the rich (those that make over $1 million) more that they are now, I just have to watch in complete disgust - they are sticking up for the economic abusers of our economy. While their lively hoods are being destroyed and sent overseas so that some well connected CEO can get his $20 million bonus for fucking up the company and subsequently putting more people out of work, they're sticking up for the same people that are fucking them up the ass.

Re:I Love you Neil (4, Insightful)

bberens (965711) | about 3 years ago | (#37490266)

Here's the thing that gets me. We bailed out AIG, GM, Chrysler, Goldman Sachs, GE, Bank of America, the list goes on and on. We gave them Trillions in direct cash infusions and 0% interest loans. Essentially every member of the financial sector and virtually all large businesses were saved because of either being directly saved or we saved their financial counter-parties. As soon as someone starts talking about raising taxes on the decision makers in those big corporations a few % all of a sudden it's class warfare. I agree there's class warfare going on, but it seems clear that my side is losing.

Re:I Love you Neil (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 3 years ago | (#37490462)

The other side is better funded.

Re:I Love you Neil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490534)

you can't raise taxes on those people. they have an army of lawyers and bookkeepers.

it never works. never.

all you end up doing is killing the bottom end of the rich, which really aren't rich. they can't afford the army of lawyers and bookkeepers.

so they shrink and shrink.

and it's the small rich guys who are 80% of the economy.

so all you leave standing with your tax increase is the mega wealthy.

good going.

Re:I Love you Neil (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 3 years ago | (#37490180)

The Republicans just spent 30 years gutting the fuck out of NASA as well as every other government program not designed to throw bullets and guns at brown people.

Hmm... Perhaps after there are some brown people living on the Moon or Mars...

Re:I Love you Neil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490482)

No there is a terrorist training camp on mars!

Re:I Love you Neil (1)

MrMickS (568778) | about 3 years ago | (#37490504)

The Republicans just spent 30 years gutting the fuck out of NASA as well as every other government program not designed to throw bullets and guns at brown people.

Hmm... Perhaps after there are some brown people living on the Moon or Mars...

Everyone knows that Martians are green ... sheesh

Re:I Love you Neil (1)

cmdr_klarg (629569) | about 3 years ago | (#37490514)

The Republicans just spent 30 years gutting the fuck out of NASA as well as every other government program not designed to throw bullets and guns at brown people.

Hmm... Perhaps after there are some brown people living on the Moon or Mars...

They'll be there long before we go back...

Re:I Love you Neil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490248)

Democrats can be harmful to NASA too. Walter Mondale kept trying to put a stop to NASA and the Apollo program. NASA's budget problems are bipartisan.

Re:I Love you Neil (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489800)

decay comes after living beyond one's means.

nasa is a reflection of the government.

the government is a reflection of the people.

and it's 20 years, not 10.

america, and a large part of the world will know what it means to live beneath one's means for decades to come.

Re:I Love you Neil (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about 3 years ago | (#37489956)

No, try again. As the poster above you points out: the Bush Bailout cost more in one year - nay, in ONE LUMP SUM PROGRAM - than NASA's entire budget for the entirety of its existence.

And what did the Bush Bailout get us? Pretty much nothing except a bunch of Republican fat-cats lining their pockets after claiming their businesses were "too big to fail."

NASA is not a reflection of "government." NASA is a reflection of what happens when you give an agency - ANY agency, whether public or private - an order to do grand things on a shoestring budget and then start hacking away at the budget even further.

The final three planned moon missions were all canceled by Nixon and the Republicans, who had their hate on for the space program because it had been put in place by JFK (Nixon had an especially heavy hate on for any remnants of that administration, as he had lost to JFK previously). This behavior has continued more or less apace every time the Republicans held either the Presidency or at least one house of Congress.

As has once been said: NASA is an agency with an undeniable problem. The problem is not the will to do what they are assigned to do. It is not the capacity and intellect to get the job done. No, the problem is that it is an agency assigned to tasks that require a 10-15 year program to set up and accomplish, while being overseen and funded by a bunch of assholes who are generally replaced on a 2-year cycle and who are perpetually looking to be seen as "cutting government waste" and wanting instant gratification. For god's sake, we build in a 10% overage "just in case" fund for every construction project, but Congress won't do the same for NASA's programs!

You want to see NASA do well? Give them a task, assign realistic funding (and a percentage for overruns when they happen, because something unexpected always happens) for the task, lock the funding in place so that future Congresses can't touch it, and GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY.

Re:I Love you Neil (1)

grumling (94709) | about 3 years ago | (#37490214)

Hate to be the devil's advocate here, but the bailouts also saved pension and mutual funds. Even though most mutual funds say they are diversified, most of them were/are heavy on financial and bank stocks. Oh, they took a major hit in 2008, mostly because the superstar fund managers didn't see it coming, but seeing mass bankruptcies without a chance to recover would have devastated boomer's retirement funds.

Of course it was made worse for the mutual funds because they have stupid rules like they cannot short stocks and they can't hold cash for any length of time. When the crash started I was able to sell off everything before I took too bad a hit, but the superstar fund managers weren't and had to catch a falling knife.

Re:I Love you Neil (0)

Moryath (553296) | about 3 years ago | (#37490254)

Hate to be the devil's advocate here, but the bailouts also saved pension and mutual funds.

Oh? So you consider a 40-50% drop in value, followed by another 15% drop over the next two years, to be "saved" pension and mutual funds?

I suppose in counter to "completely devalued", perhaps - but not ALL financial and bank stocks were going to die. The number of companies that would actually have gone into complete failure is far less than you think: the vast majority of the "bailout" money just lined the pockets of people who would have maybe had to face the consequences of their actions, get their incompetent asses fired, and live without their golden parachutes otherwise.

Re:I Love you Neil (0)

jgtg32a (1173373) | about 3 years ago | (#37490320)

As opposed to a 100% drop in value?

Re:I Love you Neil (4, Interesting)

firex726 (1188453) | about 3 years ago | (#37490292)

Maybe they should be run like CERN.

Basically have a big bank account that the government(s) dump money into each year and then leave it up to NASA to decide how to spend it.
That way if some wingnut gets in and decides to defund it, they'll just loose funding for that year or two and can live off the savings during that time.

People always think it was the Republicans (3, Informative)

Quila (201335) | about 3 years ago | (#37490448)

The Democrats seriously have a lot of people brainwashed to think they're for the little guy.

The bailout was bipartisan and not targeted to Republican supporters.

Citigroup, the largest recipient, in fact donated much more to Democrats than to Republicans.

Re:I Love you Neil (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37489968)

The rest of the world is used to living with less and is used to being poor. It's the Americans (and to some extent the Europeans) that are going to suffer more than anyone else.

Re:I Love you Neil (1)

Denogh (2024280) | about 3 years ago | (#37489816)

Thank you, maybe they'll listen to you. American space exploration has been in a state of decay for a over a decade.

Sadly, I don't think they're going to listen to him. They haven't listened Jim Lovell, John Glenn and Fred Haise, so why would they listen to Neil Armstrong?

Re:I Love you Neil (-1, Troll)

RoLi (141856) | about 3 years ago | (#37490002)

America is becoming a 3rd-world country (propably a lot like Brazil) and will have a 3rd-world space program, i.e. none at all.

Basically America committed suicide [] .

But it's too late now, maybe the Chinese will pick up the ball, who knows.

Re:I Love you Neil (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#37490322)

American space exploration has been in a state of decay for four decades now.


Nasal has been dumped (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 3 years ago | (#37489772)

These "scientists" are too busy playing with their pokeymans and gambling on the stock market to learn about the Moon and other American planets. What is America coming too? Soon Italy will be taking over our universe. I fear for the future of our bright, shining, stupid youth!

Manned why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489804)

Manned exploration makes no sense. Just because Armstrong did it in his day doesn't mean it makes any sense now. The only reason to have manned shuttle at this point is the space station, but that has no point now either and is simply kept to fill prior agreements.

Time to move on.

Manned is dead, unmanned is the future.

I'm sure thats what they told Columbus (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 3 years ago | (#37489952)

No doubt you'd have been down there on the dock pointing and laughing at him,

Re:Manned why? (1, Interesting)

Ost99 (101831) | about 3 years ago | (#37490018)

Without manned spaceflight, mankind is doomed.

Re:Manned why? (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | about 3 years ago | (#37490382)

nah, we're good.
We'll just get russian robots to do our bidding in space.

Re:Manned why? (1)

Ost99 (101831) | about 3 years ago | (#37490428)

I'm sure they'll be really good at stopping the sun from swallowing us when it goes red giant on us.

Re:Manned why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490026)

I disagree. Manned exploration does make sense. It is the stubborn insistence on returning those humans to Earth that makes it pointless. Why would you spend all that money lifting that mass out of the gravity well just to throw it back in after a few days?

Re:Manned why? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 3 years ago | (#37490222)

Manned exploration makes no sense.

Suppose it's 1995. The Hubble space telescope is broken. How do you fix it?

Now's it's 2015. The James Webb space telescope is broken. How do you fix it?

Maybe the US in all its financial glory has abandoned human space flight as "cost ineffective". I only hope other societies such as China see things differently and at least try to advance humanity beyond a race of ineffectual bean-counters.

Re:Manned why? (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 3 years ago | (#37490326)

I do have to agree...

We've made great advances as a result of manned space flight, but it doesn't seem so functional now.
There needs to be at least some kind of practical reason to send a man up into space now. If we could develop the means to slowly terraform Mars for example, sure send a man up. But right now I don't see a compelling reason to reinvest in manned missions when probes are doing a decent job. (Maybe not as good as a man, but there is a Cost to Benefit relationship here too)

Just Finish It (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 3 years ago | (#37490488)

If they would just fucking pick something and COMPLETE it, stay with the basic design and develop a wide base of manufacturing for it, manned flight would be cheaper and more reliable. The Shuttle was an expensive sports cars with too many moving parts and too few suppliers.

I think they were on the right track with the Orion, but once again it was killed half way through development. You can't keep killing development programs half way through and then wonder why NASA wants more money.

Unsurprising (3, Insightful)

dward90 (1813520) | about 3 years ago | (#37489812)

A guy who walked on the moon thinks manned space flight is a good idea. Full story at 11.

In all honesty, manned space flight makes no sense right now, as it's not something that can be done half-assed. With the current state of American finances (and the petty squabbling surrounding it) , NASA will never get the investment they need to put a human anywhere that matters. Robotic and satellite exploration, however, is not out of reach at all. We need to do more of, and we need to invest more in it if we (the US) are ever going to maintain some innovative power going forward. Space exploration is the right thing to do, but we don't yet have the knowledge or technology to make meaningful manned missions.

Close but (1, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 years ago | (#37489850)

it's not something that can be done half-assed.

The truth is its not something that can be done lard-assed. They can't find an American that will fit in a space-suit any more.

Re:Close but (1)

Threni (635302) | about 3 years ago | (#37489942)

This whole thing reminds me of Space Cowboys. Actually, Clint Eastwood can probably still fit in a spacesuit...

Re:Close but (1)

jamiesan (715069) | about 3 years ago | (#37490472)

But in space, no one can hear you say "Do you feel lucky punk?"

Re:Close but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490356)

God I wish I had some mod points right now.

Re:Unsurprising (1)

MrMickS (568778) | about 3 years ago | (#37489888)

I have to agree that the current state of the US economy pretty much rules out meaningful human space exploration at the moment. Economic cycles being what they are things could be very different in 10 years. The problem is that a new manned spaceflight program is long term. There is nothing to stop NASA from planning for manned spaceflight now, to show some ambition and state what they intend to do. That way when an upswing comes they would be in a better position to move forward.

Time after time NASA seems to shift its focus based on the available funds. It should be looking at long term programs and advance them as funds are available. If there aren't funds for manned spaceflight don't ditch the program completely, scale it back. Planning and design work should still be possible.

Re:Unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489958)

I agree 100%. This is like the spoiled kid that was going to go with his mother to the store to keep her company, but when she said he couldn't get that expensive toy he wanted, he said "well fine! no toy? no company for you, bitch!"

Re:Unsurprising (4, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | about 3 years ago | (#37490284)

So NASA always gets hit during economic downturn, but apparently there is always money for the US war machine. At least something positive always comes out of the NASA spending.

Re:Unsurprising (5, Insightful)

tophermeyer (1573841) | about 3 years ago | (#37489910)

Space exploration is the right thing to do, but we don't yet have the knowledge or technology to make meaningful manned missions.

We didn't have the knowledge or technology prior to 1961 either. But spending money to learn how to do those things was the right thing to do.

IMO the goal of our space programs isn't just to put humans into space. It also serves to dump piles of money into US science an tech development. Our space program is an investment in the US that allows us to maintain a technological edge. We've lost hope of outproducing developing countries like China, out best chance now is to keep ourselves ahead of them technologically. We can't do that unless we are keeping our scientists and engineers working and advancing our sci/tech industry.

TL;DR: We must do this in the name of SCIENCE!

Re:Unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490364)

We must do this in the name of SCIENCE!

This is Cave Johnson signing off.

Re:Unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490468)

We spent 4% of the budget on the moon race. NASA has not since had anywhere near that funding level.

We get what we pay for, and with the current miserly budget, meaningful manned spaceflight is out of the question. Further, NASA is now seen by Congress as a pork barrel, which is why you see their facilities and contracts go all over the country to the politically powerful districts.

All because folks don't want to pay more taxes. Go Ron Paul.

Complaining at NASA will not remedy this situation at all. Complain to the folks that believe we can spending cut our way to prosperity.

Re:Unsurprising (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 3 years ago | (#37490532)

IMO the goal of our space programs isn't just to put humans into space. It also serves to dump piles of money into US science an tech development.

That's why we have the Department of Defense. And, it has the added benefit of getting to use the technology to kill people on the other side of the planet rather than just meander aimlessly through space. /s

Re:Unsurprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489948)

They should get rid of NASA all together if they don't intend on doing anything useful.

Re:Unsurprising (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490134)

What a lot of people do not realize is NASA never really 'had' the money for the moon shots. The Air Force had it all. Every single missile was 'on loan' from our defense program. They had the money to do the research and get contractors to build the lander/capsule. The people, the money, the resources were coming out of our defense program. It was THAT big it didnt even make a dent in it.

NASA has always been 'underfunded'. The 60s we were in a good spot where we had enough missiles to wipe out our enemy's of the time. So a few dozen were marked redundant and donated to the moon shot program under direct orders from the top.

Since the SALT talks of the late 70s and early 80s we have dismantled our heavy lifting programs. As the moon shots were really showing precision bombing. The exercise was not lost on moscow. Why did we do that? The same program that put us on the moon was the same one built to deliver bombs. We have by treaty stunted our growth.

considering the debt this nation is in (-1, Troll)

FudRucker (866063) | about 3 years ago | (#37489830)

many government programs that are not essential to survival should be either scrapped and dismantled or shelved until the debt is paid off and better economic times come, and NASA is one that should be shelved, maybe in the future newer tech will make gaining escape velocity more cost effective , and the space shuttle is like your uncle's old smoking oldsmobile 98 with the dents all down one side, (send it in the junk yard) it was nice a couple of decades ago but it is now showing its age...

Re:considering the debt this nation is in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489896)

that would be such a wrong way to do things. you would cut a ton of innovation, which may help your debts.
its not as if the debts are at a amount that will be payed off in a year or 5.

Re:considering the debt this nation is in (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 3 years ago | (#37489928)

New tech will only come if somebody is trying to develop it. For that you need goals. Waiting for a government to pay all of it's debt off, waiting for everybody to be rich and nobody poor, that means waiting forever. Those things will never come. If we just quit trying then what is the point? We might as well go back to the Savannah and start hunting termites with sticks.

Re:considering the debt this nation is in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490064)

There are plenty of people currently developing new technologies. It doesn't have to be NASA, and it most definitely doesn't have to be the government.

Re:considering the debt this nation is in (1)

stdarg (456557) | about 3 years ago | (#37490324)

Maybe not shelved, but cut? Money is an input to the development process. What you come up with will be different if you have $X versus 10 * $X, but you can still come up with stuff. One obvious thing that inflates NASA's manned space mission costs is safety. The thing is -- how safe does it really need to be? Would there still be plenty of volunteers if the risk of a mission was higher, but much cheaper? As long as they're open and honest about the risks it doesn't seem like a big deal.

Re:considering the debt this nation is in (0, Flamebait)

Moryath (553296) | about 3 years ago | (#37490058)

You really are a fucking moron, aren't you?

NASA is not just essential to space exploration, but a constant source of improvement and innovation that you fail to consider as it works its way into facets of life on earth.

maybe in the future newer tech will make gaining escape velocity more cost effective

Force =Mass times Acceleration. Acceleration must be at least greater than 9.81 meters per second squared near the earth's surface. Even a "giant beanstalk" (aka "space elevator") must supply force at its high point in some fashion to counteract the pull of lifting an object from earth's surface (see also: "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction").

This is not a "tech" problem. This is physics. Even with superheated steam propulsion powered by a nuclear micropile, Force Still Equals Mass Times Acceleration and we still have to design VEHICLES that can survive the acceleration stresses of launch and reentry.

and the space shuttle is like your uncle's old smoking oldsmobile 98 with the dents all down one side, (send it in the junk yard) it was nice a couple of decades ago but it is now showing its age...

What, precisely, is your point? The space shuttle is a marvel. Did we ever get "monthly launches" from them? No. And why not? Because the original fleet was supposed to be a DOZEN or more, until the Republicans chopped the fuck out of the budget; NASA barely got four at any time, and almost didn't get the budget for Endeavour to replace Challenger.

To steal your analogy: the Space Shuttle is like my car. I drive a 14 year old sports car. It's got a couple dents from the redneck fuckwits around here who can't be bothered to put their shopping carts up. It's got some spots where I've hand-repaired some of the interior, a few patches on the seats where the fabric got frayed. But you know what? The engine still gives a nice satisfying growl because I treat it right and my maintenance is on time, I still get 28 mpg, and I plan to be driving it for another 4-5 years.

I'll take a good, solidly running, well maintained 15-year-old car any day over an already rusty shitbucket like the Chinese are building, or worse yet, the 40 year old Yugo that is the Russian Soyuz system.

escape velocity (1)

samjam (256347) | about 3 years ago | (#37490530)

(in general) escape velocity exists as a concept when you will run out of fuel before you reach your location and so are coasting along against gravity.

The kinetic energy of the escape velocity must equal or exceed the change in potential energy (due to gravity) required to raise you to the required height.

escape velocity applies absolutely to a catapult, not at all to a flying saucer with limitless zero-point fuel (which could ascend as slowly as the pilot liked), and somewhere in between for a rocket that has enough fuel for a couple of minutes lift away from the earth, to a point of lower gravity and therefore with lower escape velocity.

Re:considering the debt this nation is in (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490152)

Or maybe we could just not start trillion dollar wars because mean old Sadammi fweatened my daddy, so I'll make up some lies about WMDs, and more lies about how little it's going to cost to get everyone on board.

Yeah, Sadam Hussein was not a nice guy. Robert Mugabe is not a nice guy. The leaders in Myanmar are not nice guys. Kim Jong-il is not a nice guy. But we haven't felt compelled to spend Trillions to get them out.

What exactly did Iraq have to to with the attack on Sept 11? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

Maybe if we hadn't flushed $1T down the toilet over the last ten years and had been paying down the deficit like we had the previous eight years, we wouldn't be where we are now!

Stop drinking Faux News' Haterade. Get the facts. Don't just swallow the rights' propaganda. Think for yourself for a change.

Sorry Mr. Armstrong (1)

wisebabo (638845) | about 3 years ago | (#37489838)

As a former "booster" of the space shuttle myself (way WAY back when I believed the promises being made about it), it was ridiculously expensive for the capabilities it brought. If they had kept the Satun Vs rolling off the production line, we would probably have had a HUGE space infrastructure by now with a colony on the moon and an outpost on Mars!

Reminds me (sadly) of the Arthur C. Clarke short story "Superiority" which describes a country at war that keeps developing ever more astonishing weapons in fewer and fewer quantities eventually leading to its defeat by its technically inferior enemy. (Probably was written before WWII where huge technological leaps clearly affected the war's outcome: A-bomb, radar, enigma).

Re:Sorry Mr. Armstrong (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about 3 years ago | (#37489936)

I think we have to ask ourselves if a moon colony is worth the cost. Sadly, the answer is "probably not". However, the space program of the 1960s and 1970s *was* worth it, in my opinion, far more than the Vietnam war, for example, and at a considerably lower cost in both dollars and lives. It, along with the general realization that our government was not infallible and the Civil Rights and women's movements, were probably the major accomplishments of those decades.

Now, as to the benefits of continued *manned* space flight in the next few decades, I'm frankly not sure I see them. The challenges here on earth: global warming, feeding the world population, satisfying our energy needs... (and on and on) are probably more pressing priorities. That's not to say that weather satellites and other scientific *unmanned* launches should stop, but a full-on manned space program to the moon or Mars is probably not the best use of our resources right now.

Re:Sorry Mr. Armstrong (1)

stdarg (456557) | about 3 years ago | (#37490358)

Back in the days when a country went somewhere, planted a flag, and claimed the whole landmass it probably would have been worth it even if it didn't pay off for a few centuries. Now, with most foreign policy initiatives leaning towards the welfare and compassion angle, you're probably right.

Re:Sorry Mr. Armstrong (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 3 years ago | (#37490156)

Your comment about the Clarke story is interesting, because its largely true - WW2 saw over 38,000 of the top two allied aircraft produced (the P-51 and the Spitfire), with build times down to a couple of days per aircraft.

Today, the USAFs top air superiority aircraft is the F-22, which costs a whopping $180M per unit, and takes over two years to build. It costs that much, and it takes that long, because it is an aircraft with significant technological advances in it - and it also shows in its operational performance, with significant maintenance hours per flight hour (the last figure I heard was it took 100 maintenance hours per flight hour to keep the F-22 flying).

And the USAF only has 190 or so of them. With no more coming.

What do you think would happen if we pitted a modern equivalent of the P-51 against the F-22? Take a cheap-and-quick-to-build airframe, put 10,000 of them in the air, and keep the replacements coming. What would the outcome be?

Eventually, through sheer numbers, the F-22 would fail in its task - there are only so many missiles it can carry, which means there are only so many enemy it can remove from the equation per sortie - and the operational tempo would have to be kept high enough that the enemy doesn't enjoy air superiority over your bases and supply chain while you re-arm and re-fuel, which means a high availability rate for the aircraft would need to be kept.

You are going to lose F-22s on a steady, but maybe very low, rate - perhaps 5 or 6 a sortie, against 300 or 400 enemy destroyed. But that enemy can afford to sustain those losses, because it can replace them while you cannot, every F-22 lost is an F-22 you cannot replace. Every F-22 that cannot complete a mission due to mechanical failure is another aircraft that needs to take up valuable maintenance time.

As the saying goes, quantity has a quality all of its own. Its how the Soviets defeated the tank battalions of the German army - the German tanks were technologically advanced (power steering, active suspension systems etc etc - a leap ahead of other tanks of their days) but the Soviets produced their T-34s in vastly superior numbers, alongside the massive output of the US Sherman tanks...

Re:Sorry Mr. Armstrong (1)

deburg (838010) | about 3 years ago | (#37490192)

Probably was written before WWII where huge technological leaps clearly affected the war's outcome: A-bomb, radar, enigma

Not really, Nazi Germany fits the story, with its advanced tech (and many firsts) but inferior production. V1 cruise missile? V2 ballistic rocket? The Tiger heavy tank? Me 262 jet fighter. StG 44 assault rifle. The list goes on.

Anyway, the A-bomb finished the War in the Pacific, but that was already a foregone conclusion. And the Enigma was cracked early on, so it was a negative advancement since it gave the Allies intel.

Re:Sorry Mr. Armstrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490474)

Arthur C. Clarke short story "Superiority"....Probably was written before WWII

Actually, it was published in 1951 []

Put manned space flight on hold (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489844)

Manned space flight should be put on hold until we're a rich country with money to burn and get our bloated defense budget cut by 90%. Scientifically, its a mission looking for a problem. The best science is with unmanned space exploration. Its at least one or two orders of magnitude cheaper plus the information gathered and scientific rewards are so much greater. What have we learned from the space station? Billions of dollars spent on a project looking for a mission. Look at what we've discovered from Hubble for a fraction of the cost.

NASA to Congress: You're Embarrassing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489864)

NASA should just reply with: "NASA to Congress, You're Embarrassing." I mean it's all about getting people jobs in your state and then protecting those jobs. Nobody in Congress truly cares if we get to the moon or even if the Space Station stays afloat, so long as nobody looses a job in their state on earth. It's time to give the decisions to nerds* at NASA. Let them tell congress what they need not the other way around.

*The Engineering kind who get really work done.

Yes and No. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#37489898)

In broad, total-budget-allocation numbers, it is unequivocally the case that the US seems to have backed out of a great many 'big picture' projects in favor of a mixture of foreign policy adventuring and financial jiggery-pokery.

In that sense, Armstrong is correct.

However, it must not be forgotten that Armstrong is also speaking in his capacity as one of the White Elephants. The people we sent to the moon pretty much to show Ivan whose dick was bigger. An impressive feat of engineering(that conveniently aligned with the Cold War enthusiasm for big missiles); but not really a high point for science. Those unassuming little RC cars on mars that survived so long did a fair bit more extraterrestrial data gathering, and a combination of orbital and improved ground telescopes have done extraordinary deep-sky work...

So far as Armstrong is arguing that there is something rotten in the US, he is correct. However, I can only take them seriously so long as he stays there, rather than expanding into a lamentation over the decline of the impressive, but scientifically dubious, in favor of unsexy but productive and increasingly robotic space work.The fact that it's easier to find money to save gamblers from the consequences of their own folly than it is to explore the universe is sad. The fact that tinned-monkey 'space exploration' is being supplanted by increasingly sophisticated robotic systems is not.

5th Armstrong to NASA Story (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489904)

This is the 5th story about how Neil doesn't like the current direction. Everyone seems to think because he was first on the moon it means something. Should we ask the first soldier to hit Afghanistan wether the war should continue? Is his opinion more important?

Re:5th Armstrong to NASA Story (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#37490354)

Later today we'll also get the 5th story about how Buzz Aldrin is pissed too.

Neil is right (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | about 3 years ago | (#37489906)

But he is also wrong. NASA and the astronauts were political tools from the very beginning and today is no different.

When the astronauts themselves realised this they became incredibly jaded and it's why several of them went a bit doo-lally in the years afterwards.

Blame congress? Because those Mars landers were am (3, Interesting)

Maow (620678) | about 3 years ago | (#37489908)

NASA sure has its problems, but I think Congress can be blamed for most of the embarrassing things.

I'm thinking pork barrelling, micro management, underfunding of stated goals.

When I think of the Mars landers that were planned for 3 month mission and 1 may still be running *years* later, I am in awe of NASA.

Re:Blame congress? Because those Mars landers were (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37489996)

Perhaps you should also be in awe of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, who actually put the rovers onto Mars.

Re:Blame congress? Because those Mars landers were (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490146)

who cares about the launch systems anymore?
NASA should focus on the science and engineering payloads, not on being over glorified space truckers.
leave that to private industry, they have been getting pretty good at progress at LEO lately

Re:Blame congress? Because those Mars landers were (1)

slarr (1364415) | about 3 years ago | (#37490118)

For all ya'al who keep blaming Congress, realize that Congress has been the same bunch of jokers over decades, until there is culpability and weekly reports of what they have been doing, things will go on the same way, the public will look the other way and the politicians will spend tax payer money in rest area and airport urinals. I could never understand why people get so elated when an election contestant gets a ton of money for his campaign. What this means is he will just be offering that many favors to those who contribute more. Didn't mean to hijack, but if you want your best interests in Congress, make sure you act instead of whining.

Re:Blame congress? Because those Mars landers were (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490226)

You should not be in awe of people who so wildly underestimated the capabilities of their own hardware. You should be questioning their technical acumen.

Re:Blame congress? Because those Mars landers were (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490378)

Congress is surely to blame for most of the embarrassment, for exactly the reasons Maow states.
The Shuttle termination is irreversible, though. Shuttle did its job (big heavy payloads and people to low earth orbit), in spite of Congress constantly cutting its budget. It was a good ride, in my opinion, Congress notwithstanding.

Re:Blame congress? Because those Mars landers were (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490496)

Oh, I know, those Mars landers were totally "am". That definitely helps makes your point.

time for private space flight (1)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#37489924)

it's going to be cheaper and faster in innovation that the endless pork NASA projects that seem to cost more than the GDP of most countries

Re:time for private space flight (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#37490396)

The problem is that private space flight isn't profitable, beyond some space tourism to LEO. If you're looking for private enterprises to venture beyond low orbit (without NASA contracting them to), you can forget it. There is no gold in them hills and no money to be made by going to them.

Re:time for private space flight (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 3 years ago | (#37490418)

The problem is that private investors expect a return on their investment. Is there such thing in space exploration, besides launching satellites and the dubious 'space tourism' proposal?

To Congress (5, Informative)

michael1221988 (1613671) | about 3 years ago | (#37489982)

He didn't say this to NASA, but to congress.

With all due respect (1)

itchythebear (2198688) | about 3 years ago | (#37489988)

Really, I have a ton of respect for all astronauts and consider them true heros, but please don't resort to making sensationalist statements like (FTFA):

"A lead, however earnestly and expensively won, once lost, is nearly impossible to regain,"

That doesn't even make sense, how is it nearly impossible to regain a "lead"? The only reason he said that was to scare people. Remember at one point the Soviet Union was winning the space race, but the US eventually overtook them by landing on the moon. Now he is claiming that we are at risk of losing our leading position in space to the Russians. It seems that based on his previously quoted statement that should be nearly impossible.

Additionally, Eugene Cernan had this to say (FTFA):

"Get the shuttle out of the garage down there at Kennedy (Space Center), crank up the motors and put it back in service,"

I think all these men understand pretty well that that's not how it works. The shuttles are getting old, are a huge money pit, and they have already been in service longer than planned.

I think NASA's place in space exploration should start to move into an advisory one rather than an active participant, at least for manned exploration anyways. With the advances that the private sector and other space agencies are making, it won't be long before the only reason for NASA to do manned space flights is for the sake of American pride.

Re:With all due respect (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 3 years ago | (#37490074)

Yup - crank up the engines. We're talking about multi-billion-dollar investments the same way we'd talk about maybe taking the car in the garage to the shop for a $1000 tune-up.

The shuttles are a distraction. They're a dead end. We already know we can do it. Let's do something we haven't already done.

Doing something you can already do is fine if there is some kind of demand for it. We know how to make apples, but people still want to buy them so people still do it. On the other hand, people aren't willing to pay the cost of a shuttle mission just to put a satellite in orbit when there are much cheaper ways to do it (it only happened in the past either because of below-cost pricing or because of political requirements). There isn't much else people are even looking to do in space right now (that they're willing to pay for - lots of people will come up with stuff to do if it is "free" - and most of that stuff can be done cheaper without the shuttle).

People get really emotional about this stuff, but the shuttles don't actually DO that much. They've marvels of technology but they solve a problem that nobody has - getting a few people into LEO for a few days. On the article's comment page there was somebody taking about losing access to the 99.9999...% of the universe beyond our atmosphere. The reality is that the shuttle gives us access to a very small fraction of volume of space compared to what we already have inside our atmosphere - it isn't like you can just take the shuttle over to Alpha Centauri.

The basic problem with NASA (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 3 years ago | (#37490054)

In a word, NASA's problem is: Congress.

Congress's attitude towards NASA alternates between using it as pork spending, and seeing it as a horrendous waste of money. The major points of the space program from Congress's point of view was never to promote science or human exploration of space - it was to learn how to launch spy satellites, and prove to the world how much smarter the US was than those dirty Commies. Since the real motivations are gone, you're left with an agency that has a lot of smart engineers with a wildly fluctuating budget and no clear goal to work towards.

And because NASA projects last way longer than, say, a presidential term, there's no sign they're going to get a clear mission anytime soon.

Re:The basic problem with NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490336)

in a word, NASA's problem is: government

they should tell the government to keep the money, and go do it on their own, shrug off the government harness.

Not the "gap" crap again (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 3 years ago | (#37490188)

"manned spaceflight gap"

Not the "gap" crap again. Look up Kennedy's "missle gap" or "bomber gap" sometime to see how our overwhelming superiority in each area was successfully used to convince Congress to overspend on the same things even more.

(I wouldn't be surprised if we start hearing about a "carrier gap" soon now that China is poised to launch a group of their own.)

Wow - what smallminded people (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490212)

Boo hoo, we can't afford space flight.
Boo hoo, the people in favor of space flight are being influenced by the size of their ego's.

Look, the simple fact is that space flight is an impressive feat, giving engineers and scientists a worthwhile goal. To abandon it because of cost or to disdain it as some form of ego tripping is something that the US should not even consider. To say that we should postpone space exploration until better times come is a paradox; the better times (advances in engineering, computers, materials, energy) occur when engineers are working on challenging projects.

Turning the US's back on space flight is self defeating.

Why all the attention on NASA...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490216)

If anyone's going to be breaking the boundaries of human spaceflight in the next few decades, surely we shouldn't be looking at NASA...I, for one, am absolutely convinced that the first man on Mars will be Chinese. They're the guys who have the cash, the desire and the bordering-on-insanity conviction that can take them there. The global economy has taken this kind of stuff away from Western public expenditure, for a good long time at least...I guess if it's not going to be Asia, then it'll be private companies that will be the next organisation to take us beyond the 240,000 miles we've managed so far.

Risk Averse (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | about 3 years ago | (#37490232)

Unless we are planning to stage nuclear weapons in space, the government is not really suited for the ongoing business of exploration. Such endeavor entails risks, both financial and human. The public will not tolerate it politically. Private enterprise, particularly corporate, is designed for this. A company knows how to quantify a human life and weigh it against the commercial gain. It may seem ruthless because it is ruthless. Space exploration by humans is not for the faint of heart or weak of will. Of course, in thirty years it will be obvious that machines are more capable than people and less costly in every way. Our ingenuity will obsolete our role in space.

Forget the old shuttles - separate the loads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490250)

What's needed is: A) small passenger shuttles *not* for payload delivery, B) cheap (per tonne of payload) heavy-lift conventional rockets for delivering payload to orbit. Put the two together in orbit and you can either do things there or head off to bigger missions. The idea of bringing the old shuttles back from retirement is stupid, because they were always an inconvenient chimera between big payload and passengers. If you mainly wanted to send passengers up, you had to lug up all that extra ship. If you wanted payload, it was always too small anyway or there were safety concerns because of things such as the solid boosters (necessary to get such a big ship off the ground) and the need to always have human-safety-level inspection and maintenance on such a big craft (slow turnaround). It was like a pickup truck -- convenient if you were always carrying plenty of cargo, but inconvenient and inefficient if you mainly wanted to carry people or wanted an even bigger cargo. Separate the two types of deliveries (cargo versus passengers), customize the vehicles for each, and you'll save money and complexity. Docking in orbit is easy these days, to the point that the Space Station already gets automated supply ships. There's no reason to have a single vehicle that does badly and expensively for two different jobs.

Re:Forget the old shuttles - separate the loads (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | about 3 years ago | (#37490406)

The shuttle was more than just a truck to deliver large loads to space or a commuter vehicle to get astronauts up there. It was also large enough to perform as an orbiting lab for science experiments that could only be performed in zero G. (Perhaps now that we have the ISS that function isn't as important). The shuttle was also the only way to bring cargo back to earth from orbit, and there were several such experiments placed in orbit to study exposure to space environments.

Get off my lawn (1)

fermion (181285) | about 3 years ago | (#37490264)

I am the last person who disrespects the way past generation, but I do believe we have to take what they say with a grain of salt. Each generation has to define their own direction, and not be hobbled with the pat saying this is how it is because this is how it was. People going into space may not be the best use of funds right now. If we had been irrationally attached to people in space, we would not right be exploring the Heliosheath. We would not know what we know about Mars. I would like to see hundreds of probes sent in many directions to do some basic science on our solar system. I would also like to see people traveling so they can see and describe in a way that machines cannot. We can have both.

Coldwar (1)

raymansean (1115689) | about 3 years ago | (#37490302)

NASA's strategic goal was to force the Russian's to spend more money on their space program, while they maintained a healthy defense budget to protect itself from potential US threats. Now the USA has an obese defense/ security budget protecting itself from... ???? and it has managed to "bail out" several large companies with large PAC's to protect the USA and "global" economy from.... ??? If there is any question as to why the USA is falling behind, just read a little history about the cold war, or if you prefer the short version look at the National Budget ~20% GPD v. Taxes ~15% GDP [] I suspect that while Neil used the context of NASA, he was talking about a much larger problem than the insignificant budget of NASA, forget man space flight.

American to Neil Armstrong (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 3 years ago | (#37490310)

F. U.

Tell you what. You fund NASA. We are sick and tired of pooring billions of dollars into NASA which do nothing to solve the current problems we face.

Re:American to Neil Armstrong (1)

netskink (1169915) | about 3 years ago | (#37490470)

Everything you use today is a result of the space program. Our current problems will not be solved by class warfare. Support technology or wallow forever propping up the welfare class. You do realize that there are people in this country who will never work, right? Its not because they are unable to do so, its simply because they can get more by not working. Everyday, I see men standing by the road waiting for noobs to give them money. They add nothing to civilization. If you gave them $10,000, they would not use it to get on their feet and get into the workforce. Instead they would squander it and then return to the street later for another handout. Case in point. A local homeless guy used to loiter around the corner store near my home. We all knew him. He was there everyday. One day, I see he has a brand new scooter. It turns out his father died and left him with some land. He sells the land at a discount for $10K. He buys a scooter for $3K. He uses the remaining $7K to buy beer. When he ran out of cash he sold the scooter for $500 so he could buy more beer. If you go into the woods near his tent, there is a mountian of trash and a gulley filled with beer cans. Its literally 6 feet deep. I heard from one of his pals that he is now living in a church sponsored apartment getting free cable. He likes to brag that he so far no one has complained about him getting pay per view porn.

Not as embarrasing as his denialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490350)

Neil, old chum, when you stop listening to RightWing Politics in a science debate and look at the evidence of the science, THEN you can call NASA embarrassing for their current direction on engineering, m'kay?

I agree with Neil (1)

netskink (1169915) | about 3 years ago | (#37490380)

Money spent on NASA has done a lot more for us than money spent on welfare or foreign aid. Sad that this concept is totally foreign to most Americans.

Don't worry... (1)

iminc0gnit0 (2468668) | about 3 years ago | (#37490416)

Galactica & the fleet should arrive anytime now.

Who cares what Amstrong thinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37490486)

First came the apollo space program and it ceased, then came the shuttle and it ceased, next will be the ISS to cease and then a trip to mars, and it'll cease. All until we find better ways of accessing space and other worlds coupled with a better way of living right here on earth. Try a little harder perhaps you'll be the one who makes a discovery that'll revolutionise space access.


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