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Is the OMB Trying To End Planetary Exploration?

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the you-wouldn't-like-us-when-we're-angry dept.

Mars 236

EccentricAnomaly writes "Lou Friedman (former head of the Planetary Society) has written a provocative article over at Space Policy Review where he accuses the Obama administration of working on plans to gut the robotic Mars program in order to pay for NASA's exciting new rocket. This is after NASA already killed the Europa mission that was to have been the next outer planet mission after Cassini."

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Waste of time and money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37687970)

Considering the fiscal climate we are in I say the government should forget about going to Mars and just pick the project which would create the most high paying jobs. It seems like the new rocket will create the most and will greatly ease launching more satellites for both private and public use. The only thing on Mars is dirt and sending another probe wont change that.

Re:Waste of time and money (0)

elbonia (2452474) | about 3 years ago | (#37687990)

Oh and I forgot, First Post!

Re:Waste of time and money (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688146)

OMB = Office of Management and Budget for us non-Americans.

Re:Waste of time and money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688494)

Hell I am an American and I didn't know that.

I thought it was a misspelled abbreviation for Obama.

Re:Waste of time and money (2)

phrostie (121428) | about 3 years ago | (#37688818)

+1 informative

thanks

Re:Waste of time and money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688008)

Designing a better system to get us to Mars could lead to dozens of technological breakthroughs though - things that could be used massively in both the public and private sectors for everyday life applications. There's tons of unforeseeable benefits to working towards a manned mission to Mars. Also, saying that "the only thing on Mars is dirt..." is rather short sighted and simple minded - we don't know what we might find there.

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | about 3 years ago | (#37688112)

Like what? Ballistic package delivery? Remote analysis of viral infections in hostile areas? Dozens of "technological breakthroughs" isn't going to create the millions of jobs needed to save this idiotic place. How about the Fed build huge machines (computers) and compete with the assholes playing the market. I can hear the screams from wallstreet all the way to the west coast. Get use to poverty, food shortages, riots and general decay.

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

myurr (468709) | about 3 years ago | (#37688428)

The thing is we don't know what technological breakthroughs will be required to get to Mars, especially for it to become routine, nor how those technological advances will impact humanity as a whole. A huge number of everyday items that you currently use are directly traceable to previous human endeavours such as the Apollo program and Concorde.

The advances in medical understanding required to get astronauts to and from Mars could include such wonders as tissue regeneration, stimulation of muscle growth, or stasis, which could have endless benefits for disease and accident victims. Advances in propulsion and heavy lift to orbit (not necessarily chemical rockets) could make space flight routine. Energy storage advances could lead to more practical electric cars.

We just don't know yet - and without the vision required to achieve these lofty goals our technological advances will happen at a vastly reduced rate.

Re:Waste of time and money (4, Interesting)

u17 (1730558) | about 3 years ago | (#37688750)

We don't need any breakthroughs; we already have good plans to get to Mars with existing technology. Have you heard of Mars Direct? It's a plan for routine manned flights to Mars accomplished with existing chemical rockets (actually the Shuttle launch stack), artificial gravity induced by spinning the spacecraft linked with a tether to an empty rocket stage around the common centre of mass, and using chemically propelled cars (why would we use electric if we can have something better?). If we had wanted to, we would have sent people to Mars by now. All the things you mention are completely unnecessary.

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#37688608)

Get use to poverty, food shortages, riots and general decay

It's not like you all haven't played Fallout. Now you get to play the Massively Multiplayer version!

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 3 years ago | (#37688142)

Sure, create jobs. And pay them with...? The government's running out of money, and reinventing the wheel (and face it, unless you're changing the energy source, that's EXACTLY what this is), is the real waste. To generate more wealth, America should focus on offworld mining. Introducing something of value to the economy, and selling it.

Re:Waste of time and money (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688202)

Why do we need to harvest a bunch of rocky or iron astroids when all that stuff is right here?
We need to break the iron grip of the controlling class on the resources that are our countries birthright.
I'm not talking about "owned resources", we're not going to get that, But the resources the Gov gives away
with cheap leases to corporate scum must be stopped.

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | about 3 years ago | (#37688298)

I'm just saying, in a capitalist democracy, money talks, and consequently votes. What is space WORTH to the US Government? What money can they make from it? What exploitable resources does space have? First, the obvious one: space. Offworld residence, tourism, storage. Not much reason to go into low earth orbit right now though. Second, space doesn't have a great deal of gravity. Zero-G manufacturing of larger equipment, for instance, is something that can't be done on Earth. Thirdly, you have mineral resources. The only way the US Government will invest in space is if they can get a financial return from it.

Re:Waste of time and money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688378)

Apart from communications, TV broadcasts, weather forecast and GPS localization what has the space program even done for us?

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#37688456)

Cordless drills.

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

unencode200x (914144) | about 3 years ago | (#37688578)

Don't forget Tang!

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

jschen (1249578) | about 3 years ago | (#37688816)

Zero-G manufacturing of larger equipment, for instance, is something that can't be done on Earth.

Suppose you can build some large equipment in space with manufacturing advantages. (Never mind all the effort to set up such a manufacturing base.) How exactly would you get it back to earth where it's needed? It's not like you can just give that fancy gas turbine that you just built a slight retrograde nudge and let it fall back down to earth.

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | about 3 years ago | (#37688894)

and reinventing the wheel (and face it, unless you're changing the energy source, that's EXACTLY what this is), is the real waste

Agreed. It would be MUCH cheaper to partner with Chinan, Europe or Russia to lift cargo. (or to come up with a joint-program with Europe to design the next generation craft). Even investing or offering engineers to private space agencies (spaceship ONE) would be astromnomically cheaper and much more productive.

The potrayed advancement in technology and advancements are null, even animation shows a design that's quite simular to what we've seen around for a long time.

Re:Waste of time and money (3, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#37688294)

You think this is about jobs?

Please ponder the following:

* Realistically,m how many jobs can NASA create?
* How much does it cost to create each of those jobs? (NASA doesn't do cheap stuff)
* What's the intersection between "people who are qualified to work for NASA" and "people who are having trouble finding work"?

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

myurr (468709) | about 3 years ago | (#37688450)

You think that the money stops with NASA's direct spending? Some goes on people, some goes on raw resources, some goes into the profits of contractors, etc. but all of that money is then spent or invested by those recipients passing it through to new recipients, who then spend it or invest it, etc.

Make an engineer richer and he'll spend his money on commodity goods made by the people who do fit into your "people who are having trouble finding work" category.

Re:Waste of time and money (1, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#37688492)

Conversion efficiency is low (an engineer can only eat so much pizza) and there's some leakage (most of the toys an an engineer is tempted by are made overseas).

Nope, it's mostly a PR circus for the masses - just like those F22 fighters, etc.

Re:Waste of time and money (0)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 years ago | (#37688566)

Conversion efficiency is low (an engineer can only eat so much pizza)

Where is CowboyNeal when we need him

Re:Waste of time and money (1)

u17 (1730558) | about 3 years ago | (#37688702)

Considering the fiscal climate we are in I say the government should forget about going to Mars and just pick the project which would create the most high paying jobs. It seems like the new rocket will create the most and will greatly ease launching more satellites for both private and public use. The only thing on Mars is dirt and sending another probe wont change that.

This is exactly what NASA should not be doing. If you want to know why, you should read the 2003 testimony of Zubrin on the future of NASA [spaceref.com] .

PR (5, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 3 years ago | (#37688028)

Like it or not, NASA requires the PR that a rocket provides.
NASA uses a lot of tax money and, with a population whose general impression of resemasearch is that it just giving money to boring nerds in labcoats (ignoring the economy generated by products of past research), they must do regular "America #1, Yihaaaa!" performances in order to keep the population from objecting too much against NASA funding.
Sending robots to a planet that doesn't even have a baseball team is a waste. Launching what looks like a giant bullet shooting large flames from it's back is cool.

Re:PR (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 years ago | (#37688076)

Even on Slashdot, which you'd think would have a more enlighted audience, you have people going on and on about how it's shameful that we don't have an Apollo-style program, and the ISS isn't getting used as much as it should, and robotic probes don't really compare. It's tragic. I had no idea they'd shit-canned the Europa mission, that was potentially world-changing stuff.

Re:PR (1)

dcollins (135727) | about 3 years ago | (#37688264)

Agreed.

Similarly, there's a libertarian blog that I read occasionally, and once when this came up there was an outpouring of "I loathe all government expenditures, but NASA rocketing men into space is the one exception, that's one thing we should definitely be doing". Pretty funny.

Re:PR (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#37688324)

Even on Slashdot, which you'd think would have a more enlighted audience, you have people going on and on about how it's shameful that we don't have an Apollo-style program

Don't get your hopes up too high for Slashdot readers. A few days ago there was one about an eight-year old math prodigy who builds DNA analyzers out of LEGO and what to do with him. The most common suggestions were to make sure he plays plenty of sports and maybe join the boy scouts.

Re:PR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688356)

Even on Slashdot, which you'd think would have a more enlighted audience, you have people going on and on about how it's shameful that we don't have an Apollo-style program, and the ISS isn't getting used as much as it should, and robotic probes don't really compare. It's tragic. I had no idea they'd shit-canned the Europa mission, that was potentially world-changing stuff.

That is either a massive oversimplification or you have too strong opinions to care about the other sides point of view.
The Slashdot crowd as far as I can tell are indeed divided in a robotic vs. human camp. (There are a few people who says that space exploaration is pointless since you can't profit from it directly but I consider them to be mostly trolls becasue if we apply that argument to everything all research will pretty much grind to a halt.)

The thing with robotic vs. human is that neither idea is wrong, they just have different end goals.
The aim of robotic space programs is to aquire more information about nearby planets.
The aim of human space programs is to get better understand to how humans can live and adapt to extreme environments. (Something that will be pretty useful when this planet passes the sweet spot it is in right now and enters into another ice age or a warmer period, hopefully humankind will survive to experience both.)
Both are very technology driven and both drives progress forwards. Neither gives a direct result that benefits average Joe.

Pretty much everyone I have seen that claims that Slashdot are abundant with ignorant people or people that say that the Slashdot crowd is anti technology or anti sience fail to understand the arguments of the other side.

Re:PR (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 years ago | (#37688780)

You make an important point. I don't want to suggest for a moment that Slashdot has a homogeneous audience. However I really doubt you'll see any of the manned flight proponents people coming forward in this thread and saying "well, this is a good thing on balance". It always seems that there's plenty of people around to argue down the alternative, but never somebody with a strong positive attitude to their own preference.

Re:PR (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 3 years ago | (#37688634)

I had no idea they'd shit-canned the Europa mission, that was potentially world-changing stuff.

Me neither. I'm seriously blown away that that's even happened. I mean life on Mars once upon a time maybe whatever - but Europa is potentially liquid oceans and volcanic vents - the likely origins of all life on Earth, found somewhere else in the solar system.

Re:PR (2)

jafiwam (310805) | about 3 years ago | (#37688858)

What, "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE." means nothing to you?

There's really no reason to tempt fate you know. ;)

Re:PR (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 3 years ago | (#37688892)

What are they going to do, ignite Jupiter? Puh-leeze.

Re:PR (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37688964)

I had no idea they'd shit-canned the Europa mission, that was potentially world-changing stuff.

Same here. Europa and Enceladus probably both have life (and possibly complex life), in terms of finding life in our solar system they're the "low-hanging fruit" so we should be putting all effort into exploring those first, rather than Mars which is mostly a dead dirtball with a few traces of surface ice which might harbor some traces of bacteria if we're really lucky.

Re:PR (3, Insightful)

RoLi (141856) | about 3 years ago | (#37688114)

NASA uses a lot of tax money and, with a population whose general impression of resemasearch is that it just giving money to boring nerds in labcoats (ignoring the economy generated by products of past research), they must do regular "America #1, Yihaaaa!" performances in order to keep the population from objecting too much against NASA funding.

Well, what do you expect [in-other-news.com] ?

Also, it's pretty clear that Obama's core voters don't see space exploration as a priority or even a necessity.

Sure, Obama told the public that he will start a program for Mars and some gullible voters actually believed it. Of course anybody paying attention and having a memory realized back then that Obama's Mars-landing was even more unrealistic than Bush's Moon-landing.

Think of all the subsidized housing and foodstamps that can be bought with just one rocketlaunch. Americans want subsidized housing and foodstamps and that is exacly what they will get in the future.

Also, NASA lags behind [dailykos.com] in what really counts, so of course they deserve rigid cuts that hurt. Otherwise they will not learn their lesson.

Re:PR (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 3 years ago | (#37688974)

Starting a program for Mars is an easy job for a President. He didn't make any promise that he'd ensure it was completed, either by himself or his successors. That's the beauty of the political system: science and medicine operate on such timescales that you can pretty much do whatever you like, knowing the practical consequences are distant.

Re:PR (-1, Flamebait)

Coward1 (2483012) | about 3 years ago | (#37688400)

I love how you liberals denegrate everyone that don't think like you, not everyone in america is a potbellied, beer swillin, john deere hat wearing IDIOT. However I digress, right now however you want to look at it nasa is a luxury people getting kicked out their homes, not having enough to eat, and the economy on fire the way it is should take first priority over everything non essential, are you serious a baseball team on europa you are truly an ass to the power a gazillion moron.

Re:PR (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688592)

"I love how you liberals denegrate everyone that don't think like you, not everyone in america is a potbellied, beer swillin, john deere hat wearing IDIOT. "

"denigrate", "...like you; not everyone", "America", "John Deere hat-wearing", "idiot".

The medium may not be the message, but it undoubtedly influences it.

Re:PR (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 3 years ago | (#37688692)

I love how you liberals denegrate everyone that don't think like you

People normally don't do it when they can back up their beliefs with fact-supported reasoning. Unfortunately, most people arent informed enough to actually be able to back up their beliefs, instead simply parroting the group-think of their peers. The group may be right, but the typical individual is still ignorant so must resort to name calling. This is true on both sides of the liberal-conservative fence, but liberals seem to do it as an opening-move much more frequently than conservatives and I'm not sure why..

Re:PR (1)

coastwalker (307620) | about 3 years ago | (#37688668)

Stuff the manned space program, no one can afford to do anything useful with it except waste humanity's money - and that includes the Chinese who will shortly 'win' the 'space race'.

Get on with the science and send robots.

America is becoming the laughingstock of the world because of its useless politics driving everything the wrong way. Makes you wonder is democracy is actually a complete failure.

Blaming the wrong people (5, Insightful)

PeterBrett (780946) | about 3 years ago | (#37688032)

It's not the administration's fault, it's Congress. NASA HQ and the administration didn't even want to build SLS -- they wanted to bolster the commercial launch market instead -- and were forced to do it by the Congressional committee.

If there's someone Lou Friedman should be complaining about, it's Senators Nelson and Shelby and their fixation on providing pork to large aerospace contractors in return for bribes, I mean campaign donations.

I would have hoped that someone in his position would be better informed, frankly.

Money, money, money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688034)

This is probably going to be marked as flame-bait, but I will say it anyway.

What is the Obama administration supposed to do? They are battling a large deficit, a reduction in tax collection, and a Republican party that won't pass anything. They can only give NASA so much money, as congress has to pass everything, so there is not much NASA or the White House can do.

I'm guessing NASA has to pick between their projects and the new rocket is a bigger priority. Lou is getting the short end of the stick and is pissed, so he's blaming Obama.

Oh well.

Re:Money, money, money (5, Insightful)

Ice Tiger (10883) | about 3 years ago | (#37688270)

They could learn to go to war less and have a smaller military maybe?

Re:Money, money, money (2)

MBC1977 (978793) | about 3 years ago | (#37688398)

You do realize that one of the reasons why more countries don't attack the USA is because our "larger" military and our perchance to whip it out if provoked. Smaller military means that every anti-American country waiting to attack us (i.e. ideologically, militarily, economically, etc.) would have a better chance at winning should they decided to do so.

There are some cultures out there for which live and let live does not exist; and look at the USA's culture as an anathema to be crushed.

Re:Money, money, money (0)

Albinoman (584294) | about 3 years ago | (#37688590)

Just who do you think would try to invade the US? It's citizenry alone are the most well armed in the world. We have 89 guns per 100 citizens, beating #2 Serbia (big threat there!) at 58, China has 5. It's suicide. Our biggest threat is ourselves. How does a smaller military weaken us ideologically, or more absurdly, economically? Has it occurred to you that we are so despised in so many places because of our large military and its pervasive grip? This citizen doesn't want an empire or all the economic and moral baggage that goes with it.

Re:Money, money, money (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 3 years ago | (#37688656)

Even if you think a large military is necessary, the incestuous relationship between the government and military contractors is *still* a colossal waste of money. It's not going to be broken by regulation (too much money already going around) so some nice hard cuts targeting "useless" things for modern American operations would be a great place to start. If it's bad, then raise the budget later when you need it - but there's enormous merit in keeping the purse-strings tight to promote efficiency.

There's a reason that despite the massive differences in funding Russian scientists produced some of the best designed weapons AND spacecraft in the world.

Re:Money, money, money (1)

unencode200x (914144) | about 3 years ago | (#37688642)

Who's waiting to attack us?

Re:Money, money, money (1)

killkillkill (884238) | about 3 years ago | (#37688648)

You can take that a step further. The larger military of the US keeps many other countries safe from attack.

Re:Money, money, money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688672)

Yes......that of course explains why Norway, Denmark, Australia, Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand etc etc etc are always being constantly attacked by all those nasty types out there who hate their "Freedoms"......seeing as they only have defence forces capable of actually, you know, defending themselves and not bankrupting their entire economies in the process.

You're a fucking clown.

And yes, what passes for 'culture' in the USA is a bit of an anethema, but the rest of us in the civilised world have high hopes.................

Re:Money, money, money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688718)

Smaller military means that every anti-American country waiting to attack us (i.e. ideologically, militarily, economically, etc.) would have a better chance at winning should they decided to do so.

Perhaps you should be asking why they would want to attack you, and whether it is a better investment in humanity to arm yourself to the teeth in preparation for a military offensive from a hypothetical enemy or to explore the solar system and have nice things like universal healthcare.

Re:Money, money, money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688786)

They discussed this logical fallacy in the Simpsons episode where they pay a Bear Patrol tax. In order to make the allegory as explicit as possible they even gave the Bear Patrol a B2 bomber, but I guess some people still managed to miss it.

Re:Money, money, money (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 3 years ago | (#37689002)

I have an enemy-repelling rock you could replace at least half of your military with. I'll give it to you for free.

Re:Money, money, money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688570)

What is (the) Obama (administration) supposed to do?

Perhaps (it) he could start by doing what he promised us [youtube.com] ...

Re:Money, money, money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688948)

The title of that video is inflammatory - especially here - but it makes some really good points. All of that much-hyped "Hope and Change" has gone the way of dinosaurs and NASA rockets...

And nobody cares, they just give him a "by".

Acronym (4, Funny)

Wandering Idiot (563842) | about 3 years ago | (#37688038)

It would have been nice if the summary had stated what OMB stands for somewhere (Office of Management and Budget). I was trying to figure out if it was some wacky new term for Obama or his administration.

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688054)

It would have been nice if the summary had stated what OMB stands for somewhere (Office of Management and Budget). I was trying to figure out if it was some wacky new term for Obama or his administration.

But what does NASA stand for?

Re:Acronym (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | about 3 years ago | (#37688086)

But what does NASA stand for?

Nary A Successful Activity.

Re:Acronym (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | about 3 years ago | (#37688136)

Eh? National Atmospheric and Space Administration. Resistance is futile.

Re:Acronym (1)

Kentari (1265084) | about 3 years ago | (#37689014)

Nope, it stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The atmospheric research is handled by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

Re:Acronym (1)

Tim C (15259) | about 3 years ago | (#37688168)

NASA is at least a long-standing, internationally-recognised acronym; you might not know what it stands for, but (in the developed world at least) you've almost certainly heard of them and have an idea of what they do ("space stuff, yeah?").

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688758)

Need Another Seven Astronauts...right after 1986 and then again in 2003.

Re:Acronym (1)

Vanders (110092) | about 3 years ago | (#37688280)

You need to watch The West Wing.

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688386)

It would have been nice if the summary had stated what OMB stands for somewhere (Office of Management and Budget). I was trying to figure out if it was some wacky new term for Obama or his administration.

This has been modded "funny", but seriously, no-one outside the US is going to know this.

Re:Acronym (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#37688496)

It would have been nice if the summary had stated what OMB stands for somewhere (Office of Management and Budget). I was trying to figure out if it was some wacky new term for Obama or his administration.

This has been modded "funny", but seriously, no-one outside the US is going to know this.

A lot of people inside the US don't immediately know what OMB stands for either.

Re:Acronym (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688510)

It would have been nice if the summary had stated what OMB stands for somewhere (Office of Management and Budget). I was trying to figure out if it was some wacky new term for Obama or his administration.

Same here. I read it as an exclamation: "Oh my Bama!"

Re:Acronym (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#37688528)

It would have been nice if the summary had stated what OMB stands for somewhere (Office of Management and Budget). I was trying to figure out if it was some wacky new term for Obama or his administration.

Wait, you mean it isn't Obama's Money Bomb?

Re:Acronym (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688838)

Exactly. Slashdot editors are massive, soggy, scrabies-infected pussies.

Re:Acronym (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 3 years ago | (#37688972)

Well, you would not have been too far wrong. The OMB is a branch of the Administration. As such it is directly answerable to the President. So the headline of this story, "Is the OMB Trying To End Planetary Exploration?" would have almost exactly the same meaning if it read "Is the Obama Administration Trying To End Planetary Exploration?" althought that headline would be significatly longer (which is a negative in good headline writing).

OMB, that band from the 80s? (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 3 years ago | (#37688980)

"If you leave
Don't leave now
Please don't take my heart away
[etc]

Answer: No, it isn't (4, Interesting)

F69631 (2421974) | about 3 years ago | (#37688044)

Look, we're in a debt crisis and cuts must be made, everyone agrees about that. What we don't agree about is what to cut: Some people say "Cut a lot of military spending", others "Cut a lot of social security" and still others "Both of those are more important than planetary exploration". If I were to support significant cuts to social security, it wouldn't be appropriate to ask "Is F69631 trying to end welfare?" as that certainly wouldn't be my motivation. It might be appropriate to ask "Does F69631 consider social security to be less important than our continued presence in [sandy country]" but even that would be questionable as the situation obviously isn't "either-or". It would be appropriate to ask "Does F69631 believe that it's better idea to cut that amount of money from social security than to cut only some of that amount there and cut the rest from [another program]?"...

I'd bet a month's wage that Obama administration has nothing against planetary exploration. It's always easier to create provocative straw-man arguments than it is to actually engage in a civilized discussion in which everyone acknowledges the facts (=the fact that in a democracy we need to make compromises and other people might have different values and opinions than you do). We need some sort of rally to restore sanity or something...

Re:Answer: No, it isn't (1)

epine (68316) | about 3 years ago | (#37688108)

In politics, people have memory. Deals are made. Losers sit tight. Times change. Deals forgotten. Sharp headlines ensue.

The SFS page is completely useless in not provided the least explanation about why we need all this launch tonnage.

I read this change in budget priority as being driven by technical continuity. With the Shuttle shut down, you have find some way to keep this kind of expertise assembled and moving forward, or you lose a lot. Must be galling for the planetary explorers to be stuck carrying The Load [tvtropes.org] of covert tonnage requirements. Still, times are tough and planets can wait.

NASA budget is two days expenditure by the US (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | about 3 years ago | (#37688190)

NASA has a budget of under twenty billion dollars. Since the US budget is a deficit busting 3.8 trillion it takes less than two days to cover NASA. Some will actually say that amount is far too much. Which is odd because we are spending so much we don't have, if we consider that we spend over three billion a day we don't have we deficit spend NASA's budget in a week.

We lose an estimated hundred billion dollars a year is medicare/medicade fraud. When you combine all levels of government we spend over six trillion dollars.

We have over TWO THOUSAND SUBSIDY programs. That is methods of getting money into the hands of people based on arbitrary requirements.

Any attempt to cut one item is usually met with an irrational comparison which puts the person suggesting the cut on the level not much higher than mass murderer. Yet the if we are going to fund science like NASA, and note we need to find all the programs the US funds not just including NASA to get an idea of how much is truly spent, we have to get expenditures under control. NASA isn't the only government player in space, the Air Force does a good amount there as well.

I agree with the person I am replying too, Obama and many Democrats and Republicans have nothing against NASA but one simple fact remains, it garnishes very little votes for them. So the money is better spent on other programs which keep them in office.

The three big forces in American politics are are all self supporting, Big Business, Labor Unions, and Politicians. The rest of us are played all the time and only given two choices because they have effectively shut down third party options.

Re:NASA budget is two days expenditure by the US (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 3 years ago | (#37688464)

We lose an estimated hundred billion dollars a year is medicare/medicade fraud. When you combine all levels of government we spend over six trillion dollars.

While I agree with your post I really wonder about that number: that would be $300 per citzen and year. That sounds unbelieveable high.

Re:NASA budget is two days expenditure by the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688594)

We lose an estimated hundred billion dollars a year is medicare/medicade fraud. When you combine all levels of government we spend over six trillion dollars.

While I agree with your post I really wonder about that number: that would be $300 per citzen and year. That sounds unbelieveable high.

That's only half an hour of regular doctor hourly rate. It's not "sick" people conning the system, it's doctors and their buddies in pharma, testing and equipment.

Re:NASA budget is two days expenditure by the US (3, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 3 years ago | (#37688680)

Don't kid yourself: it's almost entirely pharma, especially since the US government refuses to actually negotiate drug prices. Which in a market system is batshit crazy since it amounts to a massive handout to pharmaceutical companies.

Re:NASA budget is two days expenditure by the US (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 3 years ago | (#37688862)

With a budget of ~$500B covering ~50 million people, thats an average of ~$10K per recipient per year, and only $2K of which needs to be fraudulent on average to get to ~$100B/year in fraud. With medical costs the way they are, $2K could be a fraction of a single unnecessary (perhaps not even performed) test procedure, and a single day in the hospital also costs more.

Remember that its pretty much impossible to police the incredible number of claims made per year, and claims originate from so many different medical practitioners so its not really possible to audit even a single claim per practitioner per year.

I would say that the chance of significant fraud is quite high.

NASA *is* a vote-buying enterprise (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 3 years ago | (#37689012)

Sure, NASA gets them votes. It gets them votes by passing around large amounts of money to contractors in key Congressional districts. Like the company in Utah that manufactured the segmented solid-rocket boosters for the Shuttle. Funny, how those same boosters are *required* for the new rocket - over the screaming objections of anyone who knows anything about rocket design.

Planetary exploration missions just cannot serve the same vote-buying purpose.

Re:Answer: No, it isn't (1)

unencode200x (914144) | about 3 years ago | (#37688708)

Look, we're in a debt crisis and cuts must be made, everyone agrees about that.

No, not everyone agrees on that. Noble prize winning economists such as Robert Reich and Paul Krugman, our current fed chairman the Secretary of the Treasury and many others in congress and even some of the leadership of the current administration do not agree with that. Their point is that we need to increase government spending (think Milton Friedman-style... of Reagan fame...) to stop the snowball effect we're in and increase revenues to pay down our debt. Some have stopped short of saying we need (except for Krugman) a Keynesian-style approach, but it's basically what they're saying.

There are many facts to discuss here, but the point is lots of the people that do this for a living who's life's work depend on this do not agree. So please do not say everyone agrees.

Re:Answer: No, it isn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688804)

No, not everyone agrees on that. Noble prize winning economists such as Robert Reich and Paul Krugman, our current fed chairman the Secretary of the Treasury and many others in congress and even some of the leadership of the current administration do not agree with that. Their point is that we need to increase government spending (think Milton Friedman-style... of Reagan fame...) to stop the snowball effect we're in and increase revenues to pay down our debt. Some have stopped short of saying we need (except for Krugman) a Keynesian-style approach, but it's basically what they're saying.

There are many facts to discuss here, but the point is lots of the people that do this for a living who's life's work depend on this do not agree. So please do not say everyone agrees.

Nope! The science is settled, and anyone who doesn't agree with the consensus is wrong and should be sent to a reeducation camp!

Oh, wait, I thought this was a thread on Global Warming! Never mind!

Re:Answer: No, it isn't (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | about 3 years ago | (#37689020)

The complete Apollo programme, which was horrifically expensive compared to today's NASA budget, was the Defence budget for a week ,,,,

The NASA budget is a pittance, it's something we should be spending money on, rather than sending troops to random countries ...

Future of Space Exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688048)

Here's the deal, in my opinion.

Aside from small communities like slashdot and some other nerd forums, there is very little public support for space exploration, and the billions it costs. This is caused by the recent endless string of 'There might be life/water on , so give us more funding', without any results.

This will only change when deep-space telescopes find a definite extrasolar planet for human resettlement.

Because, seriously, why the fuck would we want to get to Mars?!! Would you start training today for a race that might not have to be run in your lifetime?

Re:Future of Space Exploration (1)

Jiro (131519) | about 3 years ago | (#37688102)

Because, seriously, why the fuck would we want to get to Mars?!! Would you start training today for a race that might not have to be run in your lifetime?

You've got it backwards. The expensive "exciting new rocket" that the administration likes would be able to take people to Mars ("The Space Launch System, or SLS, will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment and science experiments to Earth's orbit and destinations beyond.") The robotic space probes (the only ones that mention Mars in the Slashdot summary) do not--they're robotic. (And they'll get there in your lifetime, too).

You're supporting the wrong side.

Re:Future of Space Exploration (2)

PeterBrett (780946) | about 3 years ago | (#37688130)

This will only change when deep-space telescopes find a definite extrasolar planet for human resettlement.

We've found a huge number of candidate planetary star systems, with confirmed planets in the habitable zone, using the Kepler telescope. But now we need JWST to look more closely at them. But JWST was underfunded, so it got delayed and went over budget, which caused it to get delayed some more, in a sort of destructive spiral. And now NASA's caught between a rock and hard place. Congress orders NASA to build SLS and JWST and run the ISS and collaborate with other countries and do technology research and do educational outreach and launch and run geoscience projects and... Congress doesn't provide the funds necessary to do all those things.

It's a "No bucks, no Buck Rogers" situation. And then people have the gall to blame NASA, rather than Congress.

Because, seriously, why the fuck would we want to get to Mars?

Because, seriously, why the fuck would we want to climb Everest?

Mars is the most hospitable planet in the solar system for Earth life, and the best place available to practice and refine the technologies needed for interstellar travel and colonisation.

Re:Future of Space Exploration (1)

Arlet (29997) | about 3 years ago | (#37688292)

Because, seriously, why the fuck would we want to climb Everest?

We don't. Some people do, but their missions are privately funded.

Mars is the most hospitable planet in the solar system for Earth life

No, Earth is absurdly more hospitable.

and the best place available to practice and refine the technologies needed for interstellar travel and colonisation.

No, even if you wanted to pursue the fantasies of interstellar travel, doing it on Earth is much preferred.

Re:Future of Space Exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688172)

I hope you're kidding. Ether that or you don't understand the distance and time involved in extrasolar travel.
Unless you have some trick and you are a theoretical physicist, We are STUCK here.
Get over it and make it a better place.

Re:Future of Space Exploration (1)

Zocalo (252965) | about 3 years ago | (#37688176)

Because, seriously, why the fuck would we want to get to Mars?!! Would you start training today for a race that might not have to be run in your lifetime?

Because you have to learn to walk before you try and run. What hope would our distant descendants have of surviving on an extrasolar planet lightyears from Earth if we (or more likely our grandchildren/great-grandchildren) don't see what the problems are and try and solve them? One things for sure, if we don't move beyond Earth soon we are going to have serious problems with feeding, and houseing our ever growing population. Problem is, that may not be as "simple" as building ships and packing off a billion or so people to Mars or wherever. Far from it.

Bill Bryson made a point I hadn't come across before I read it in "A brief History of Everything"; our bodies are incredibly fine-tuned to life here on Earth at this particular point in time. As little as a few fractions of a percentage point change in the composition of trace elements in our environment - atmosphere, water, food chain, everything - could easily turn out to be fatal. That's potentially going to be a huge hurdle before even a tentative colony can be established off world. If we can't even grow food locally and have to ship everything from Earth, let alone having to live in a bubble. Short of viable terraforming, I don't see any easy solution to that, but the sooner we get started the sooner we might figure it out.

Re:Future of Space Exploration (1)

Arlet (29997) | about 3 years ago | (#37688746)

One things for sure, if we don't move beyond Earth soon we are going to have serious problems with feeding, and houseing our ever growing population.

Space travel isn't going to solve that. 3rd world mothers can pop out babies out faster than you can put them in rockets, and shoot them across the galaxy.

Re:Future of Space Exploration (1)

happy_place (632005) | about 3 years ago | (#37688970)

Transporting people to other planets is not a cost efficient method of population control, and never will be. That (pretended) problem should be solved on earth, not in space.

Find another way to fund it (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 3 years ago | (#37688232)

The space program made sense in the cold war when there was a lot of competition for access to space and each side was afraid of the other. Even now the US has a strategic need to be able to put hardware (both manned and unmanned) into low earth orbit. But I don't think this requirement extends to the moon and beyond. If we want to send humans to Mars and beyond it will not be funded by the US taxpayers. The money will have to come from elsewhere.

Re:Find another way to fund it (1)

Ice Tiger (10883) | about 3 years ago | (#37688312)

Well once you start mining asteroids [wikipedia.org] your budget worries are over!

Re:Find another way to fund it (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 3 years ago | (#37688402)

Sure, ultimately it will be big business, but which established business wants to upset their nice market niche to go after it? The only way it will get started will be for somebody to start from scratch. Buy launches from SpaceX, etc, and ship their product back to the market. Its not the job of the US Government to fund exploration for resources outside the US (okay ignore Iraq). If fossil fuels start to seriously run out I would expect the US to build their own solar power plants in orbit, with materials mined on the asteroids.

Pork Pork Pork (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688242)

Congress determines the budget, not the Obama administration. NASA can't get anything done unless the project can be porked out to 10 different states.

If China gets their space station started and going, maybe that will trigger Congress to actually back NASA in a meaningful way again. Hoping for Space Race Part 2.

Conspiracy (2)

lucm (889690) | about 3 years ago | (#37688302)

Maybe They know something, or someone, is coming. Maybe They know that we will need a reliable space shuttle to do something (like go pick up beacons on each planet). Maybe They know.

I sleep better at night know that They know.

Hey, that rings a bell (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about 3 years ago | (#37688328)

The thing looks like a souped-up Saturn V. Has the exact quincunx config. of gimballing exhausts under it. They did a nice piece of work with AutoCAD and posted that. Didn't cost very much, as compared to a real rocket. I mean - hey, what this thing does can be done by our very own European ( sorry, Frenchies ) Ariane V. So where's the scoop ??

Public funding of research is a bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688448)

Why? Read this for starters: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=6168

Re:Public funding of research is a bad idea (1)

Shadowmist (57488) | about 3 years ago | (#37688584)

The fact that it comes from the CATO organisation. (You know them, the folks that would to find a way to microcharge you for every breath you take) is enough comment in and of itself.

Expensive new rocket and nothing to do with it (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about 3 years ago | (#37688474)

The way things look, is that there will be funding for the rocket, but no mission to go with it. There is no concerted effort to make a manned mission to anywhere. There is neither a moon, nor a mars nor an asteroid lander in the work. There is no plan for a new space station that require regular launches of 100ton+ payloads. There are no plans to build satellites that mass 100ton+ in LEO or 50ton+ in GTO/GSO.

In other words, we're talking about another white elephant like the Space Shuttle - made for the singular purpose to finance ATK and a slew of other corporations. And of course to "provide jobs" (at a cost of over $1mio per job per year).

Re:Expensive new rocket and nothing to do with it (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about 3 years ago | (#37688738)

I'm surprised space solar power doesn't get pushed more heavily, though I'll give you 1 guess as to why: no one in coal, oil or gas would want to hear about it.

I mean, a 100 ton launch payload sounds very much like the amounts one might want to launch to put collectors into geostationary (or I guess maybe even Earth-Sun Lagrangian) orbits. The technology to beam power around with microwaves was pretty much ready to go in the 80's, and it's completely safe even at ground level - antennas can be built over farmland with low microwave intensity at ground level.

Not to mention the obvious spin-off benefits - for example being able to power military bases remotely without fuel transportation costs. Or the development benefits - electrifying remote regions without having to put generators on the ground.

But good look actually funding that with coal interests around.

Can not understanding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688540)

What does it mean? I can not understand it. www.371fanyi.com

NASA needs a new business model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688646)

I have nothing against NASA and the money they spend. I just wish they would consider a new mandate. For years money has been wasted in the quest for Mars. We aren't going to get there in the next few decades...and if we do I can't see we will get much return for the money. Rovers are cheaper and more practical for a Mars mission right now.
The challenge I would like to see NASA take on is a permanent base on the moon ( a good stepping point to Mars) AND how to use that base as a model for future commercial exploitation of the resources up there.
Face it, at the rate we are going the Chinese will probably get to the moon first and I somehow doubt if they can turn it into a commercial operation that it will be a benefit for all mankind.
It must have been 15 years ago I read an article where someone had laid out a nice approach to returning mined minerals from the moon using electo-magnetic launchers to toss payloads back to earth on a free return trajectory. Even back then it seemed a daunting task but well within the technology of the times.

C'mon NASA, I want some moon cheese and I'm even willing to pay for it at my local grocery store!

NASA has just gone rotten... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37688850)

The operational US Federal science agency I work for has recently hired a number of former NASA program/project managers to "help" us "mature" and "professionalize" our traditionally homegrown project management systems and processes. We were forced to do this by OMB who would not give us money unless we followed an established PM system. I now have a much better understanding of why NASA is in the shape that it is in. The NASA PM process encourages as much back stabbing and finger pointing as possible through the guise of "risk management". It pushes technical expertise away from Government employees and into contractors. It leaves the Govies as the PM experts, who then hire contractors to do the actual PM work. The resulting lack of technical knowledge from the Government employees then allows the contractors to run amok. This, combined with the PM methodology, ends up in the contractors over staffing to support endless meetings that nothing more than arguments over the risk matrix that will be reported to management. There is no leadership and few resources are actually bending metal or writing computer code. It is amazing. I don't know if our agency will survive this new approach given our budget concerns. The sad thing is when my agency fails, people - you may - die. When NASA fails, we learn less and throw money down the can.
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