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NASA Pulling Out of ESA-led ExoMars Mission?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the why-buy-one-when-you-can-get-zero-for-a-big-discount dept.

Mars 144

astroengine writes "It's a strange irony that to afford the expense of space exploration, international collaboration is often sought after — spreading the cost across several international partners means the biggest space missions may be accomplished. And yet in times of austerity, national budgets balk at the prospect of investing in international projects like ExoMars. Sadly, that's exactly what could be facing the ambitious ESA-led Mars rover/satellite mission if NASA's Science Mission Directorate budget is slashed in the next financial year. NASA may pull out of the project, leaving ExoMars with no rockets or a means to actually land on Mars. Could Russia help out? Possibly, but it will still lead to ESA taking on more cost than it has budgeted for."

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If first posts were money (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945117)

I would fund them!

Free market to the rescue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945123)

Save us, Invisible Hand Man!

Re:Free market to the rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38946283)

Save us, Invisible Hand Man!

I'm trying - please get this boot off my face!

Re:Free market to the rescue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38947117)

Already done. Curiosity was already launched using commercial services and should be on the surface in August. ExoMars is (presently) an unnecessary redundancy. If the existing mission fails for some reason, the situation will be reevaluated accordingly.

Anything else I can help you with today?

Stating one of the obvious comments (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945141)

Russian tech and systems seem to have a hard time achieving a safe Martian landing, so the program may really be screwed.

Re:Stating one of the obvious comments (0)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945167)

Russian tech and systems seem to have a hard time breaking orbit, so the program may really be screwed.

FTFY

Re:Stating one of the obvious comments (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945227)

What better way to secretly test ICBMs than claim they're supposed to go into orbit?

Re:Stating the OTHER obvious comment (4, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945851)

NASA/JPL have already solved most of the problems that this project is trying to replicate, launch, descent, landing and roving.

The Curiosity Rover [nasa.gov] is already en-route to mars.

NASA and JPL will have a full plate managing this rover along with the existing rovers over the next few years. The rover was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida managed the launch. NASA's Space Network provided space communication services for the launch vehicle, and the rover.

Dealing with yet another program would be a huge distraction, entail a large resource drain bringing ESA up to speed, and transferring a lot of technology to them in the process, and being asked to pay for the privileged of doing so.

Re:Stating the OTHER obvious comment (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946301)

Umph! Way to put a damper on our government-funding-cuts-will-cause-disaster hyperbolefest!

Re:Stating the OTHER obvious comment (1)

capedgirardeau (531367) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946787)

We have yet to see how well Curiosity Rover will do once it reaches Mars.

The system they have devised to land the device on Mars is pretty complicated and there are a lot of places for something to go wrong.

Re:Stating the OTHER obvious comment (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946967)

Its not dramatically more complicated than the 1970s era Viking spacecraft, Phoenix (2008) used rocket motors for its final descent. NASA has tried 3 different landing systems already, and Curiosity will be yet another variation.

Cool Simulation here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqqBy7C8gyU [youtube.com]

Re:Stating the OTHER obvious comment (1)

trevelyon (892253) | more than 2 years ago | (#38947195)

Sure but don't you think NASA should have made that decision back in 2009 BEFORE promising to deliver on the project?

Re:Stating the OTHER obvious comment (0)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38947293)

Sure but don't you think NASA should have made that decision back in 2009 BEFORE promising to deliver on the project?

Oh, of course, lets totally rewrite out constitution and let NASA determine its own level of funding just to please ESA.

But the military... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945147)

In the meantime, the military will continue receiving their annual $5 Billion budget because having the firepower to burn entire countries to the ground is more than space exploration and science in general.

Re:But the military... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945243)

We must be prepared in case we're ever involved in a land war in Asia.

Re:But the military... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945299)

a land war in Asia.

Those are conceivably the best kind, of course.

Re:But the military... (1)

Tyrannosaur (2485772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945945)

that word... i do not think it means what you think it means

Re:But the military... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945259)

at least the military accomplishes its goal

Re:But the military... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945855)

Which goal? The World War II Memorial? Or "Free Democratic Kuwait"?

Re:But the military... (2, Funny)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945297)

"annual $5 Billion budget"

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! You fucking WISH the number was that low! $5 billion per year is NOTHING compared to the actual military budget.

Wow, thanks for that. I really needed a good laugh.

Re:But the military... (1, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945339)

They spend that on Pop Tarts every morning.

Re:But the military... (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945719)

The Defense budget hasn't been a mere 5 billion since, oh, 1948, IIRC. The current 3 wars we're involved in (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya) each suck up about 5 billion a day thereabouts.

Re:But the military... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945955)

The Defense budget hasn't been a mere 5 billion since, oh, 1948, IIRC. The current 3 wars we're involved in (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya) each suck up about 5 billion a day thereabouts.

Hmm, at $5 billion per day for each of three wars, we're talking $5.5 trillion or so annually. Which is rather larger (about 50%) than the ENTIRE Federal budget.

In other words, your numbers are off. By about a factor of six, I think.

Re:But the military... (1)

Flaming Troll Shill (2565309) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946575)

You do know we've been spending more than we have since (after) Clinton, right?

Re:But the military... (0)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946667)

Ok, how about actual numbers [wikipedia.org] ?

Total spending, 2012: $1.030-1.415 Trillion. Depending on a number of factors.

Anyone else think that's completely fucking insane?

Re:But the military... (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38947029)

Why we would argue about this when the internet knows all the answers, I don't know...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Us_military#Budget [wikipedia.org]

A little shy of $1 trillion in 2010, apparently. (530 + 130 + 30 + 260).

Re:But the military... (1, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946623)

Sad that this got modded troll. For the cost of just one of the military's insanely expensive, never used "next generation" airplanes that get crashed by trainees more often than they see battle, entire NASA projects could be funded for a decade...

Re:But the military... (1)

Columcille (88542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946705)

We have to be ready in case we tick off the Martians.

They probably don't see the value in it (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945153)

NASA has limited funds these days, and there isn't much to gain for them in a mission which they can't even take full credit for or get much PR out of.

This is hardly anything new. NASA has always been very isolationist when it came to working with other space agencies. ISS was a very rare exception, and there has been tension even in that case (with NASA and the Russian butting heads [go.com] over space tourism, for example). They've just never played well with others.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (4, Informative)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945345)

Parent comment is plain wrong. NASA is desperate for funds, happy to work with any capable and trustworthy collaborators. Cassini-Huygens is an example of a working collaboration.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945453)

Is your implication that they're walking away because they consider the ESA incapable and untrustworthy?

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (2)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945773)

I don't think ExoMars' defunding, if the rumor is true, would be an example of a choice NASA has made, but rather a budget choice coming down from higher levels in the administration. If all that is true, it's really unfortunate, because, in the long term, its in America's interests to engage with other competent space programs, and to prove ourselves to be a trustworthy partner.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (3, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946053)

Assuming there is any competency worth engaging. We have landers and rovers on mars and another one (Curiosity [nasa.gov] ) enroute.

Why isn't ESA buying into our program instead of relying on us to fund theirs?

 

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946441)

Well, there's plenty of competency in ESA, I think. Space is hard. More than half the missions sent to Mars don't arrive safely, that's one data point. ESA has a list of successful missions also - Mars Express is a good example, and an example of what makes ESA a stakeholder in Mars exploration. ESA contributes a lot of good instruments to missions we fly. Also, SpaceWire (and its follow-on, SpaceFibre) is an example of a technology in which Europe has taken the lead, and NASA follows. And, in fairness, ESA operates under a certain brain drain, as I know a fair number of scientists at NASA (Goddard) who are expats from Europe (and Japan).

Ultimately its in NASA's interest to enlist all friendly countries' space programs in planetary science and exploration, even if the overhead costs are higher in the short term. These efforts are towards answering questions that all humanity is trying to answer. Everybody will benefit. This is one way in which the human race will grow.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946341)

and to prove ourselves to be a trustworthy partner.

I think the ship has already sailed on that one.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

Mojo66 (1131579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945549)

NASA has limited funds these days, and there isn't much to gain for them in a mission which they can't even take full credit for or get much PR out of.

My thoughts exactly. Whereas NASA usually lets us europeans pay and take all the PR and credit to themsleves, this one is ESA-lead so as soon as budgets get tight this one is the first to get abandoned. The saved money is much better spent on a new war, I suppose.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (0)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945877)

Not to mention the ESA project is redundant [nasa.gov] .

Its got nothing to do with taking credit.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946383)

What? Another rover on a whole planet is redundant? You could launch a fleet of them and barely (ahem) scratch the surface.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945769)

There's more value in blowing people up, instead of learning about our solar system!

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

letherial (1302031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945861)

or we could tax the rich 3% and have them both, woohoo!!

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946125)

Taxing the rich?!? That's COMMIE talk!

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (2)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946699)

Or we could have them both without taxing anybody. NASA funding is trivial. If you look at a pie chart of government spending, you'll see all the science/roads/infrastructure/etc spending - all the funding that actually does something - in the "other" slice. Check my sig for the 6 biggest expenses, you might be surprised.

It's a good thing the defense department does research spending - it probably funds more research than the rest of the government.

Re:They probably don't see the value in it (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946819)

you dare devalue the moon landing? That's COMMIE talk!

Space/X (4, Insightful)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945159)

Space X [slashdot.org] has some ideas on how to land a rocket on Mars, and is already testing some design principles, like the SuperDrago rockets for landing its Dragon capsules.

If I were the Europeans, I would be contacting them. The cheapest and best original thinking in the space race is currently at Space/X.

Re:Space/X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945295)

Space X [slashdot.org] has some ideas on how to land a rocket on Mars.

Ideas are cheap. How much experience do they have in planetary probes? Well, so far: none.

Lots of people have ideas.

Re:Space/X (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945931)

"Lots of people have ideas."

And not many have rockets. SpaceX does, NASA doesn't.

Re:Space/X (0)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945625)

The cheapest and best original thinking in the space race is currently at Space/X.

And the biggest schedule slippage.

Re:Space/X (5, Funny)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945675)

The cheapest and best original thinking in the space race is currently at Space/X.

And the biggest schedule slippage.

Yeah, its amazing how NASA hit its goal of men on Mars in 1984, got the shuttle flying on time and under budget, AND had the ISS finished before the start of the 90's at cost! Why would anyone look anywhere else!?

Re:Space/X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38946437)

NASA would have gotten to Mars if congress would have approved it. But instead what we have seen is that if NASA gets close to attempting to put a man on mars NASA will get a major budget overhaul. See Nerva [wikipedia.org] Congress is actually quite scared of the cost of going to Mars. Maybe, we could get some billionaires together to make it happen but it would probably cost over a trillion to do it day especial with mammoth staff needed to deal with just the EPA.

Re:Space/X (1)

kubernet3s (1954672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945897)

How much they paying you, hoss?

Re:Space/X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38947285)

The cheapest and best original thinking in the space race is currently at Space/X.

Dude, this totally address the problem.

Have you tried to RTFS before knee-jerking a SpaceX advertisement?

Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (5, Insightful)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945173)

I think it's disingenuous to say to ESA "hey, we can't cover this, hope you can find another partner" this far in. Maybe one can look at the overruns for MSL and JSWT and say that this is the responsible thing to do, to allow those two programs to finish, but in the middle and long term, this is going to prevent any further NASA-ESA collaboration. Where is the big dividend from having shut down the shuttle program?

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945431)

One of the articles talks about rumors [nasawatch.com] of MAJOR cuts forthcoming at NASA (in the 50+% range) for the 2013 budget. If that's true, it explains why they've been gutting so many programs recently. It's likely that the administration has had this in the works for at least the last year or two. And with cuts like that, it's not like NASA is going to have much choice. They've already cut the shuttle program and taken a big hit on the Webb telescope. It's likely they'll cut a bunch of other stuff before they're done (wouldn't even surprise me if they abandon ISS ahead of schedule).

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945929)

It has nothing to do with that...

This is the "US Outrage" over ACTA starting to die in the EU.

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945455)

US needs to take $5bn out from any federal budget, even war funds would suffice and use it for NASA. NASA barely hits 1% in the federal budget

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946031)

US needs to take $5bn out from any federal budget, even war funds would suffice and use it for NASA.

Unfortunately, the US Deficit [wikipedia.org] is $1.56 trillion dollars on revenues of $2.314 trillion and with expenditures of $3.36 trillion. Huge budget changes need to happen to correct the imbalance. Compared to this, NASA is small potatoes, and will probably get severely cut as it is "low hanging fruit."

No other federal government in the world could run the deficits that the U.S. is currently running. It is amazing we get away with it.

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946759)

"Compared to this, NASA is small potatoes, and will probably get severely cut as it is "low hanging fruit." "

But if you cut all of NASA's funding it would barely pop a pimple on the butt of the budget deficit.

If you're not going to slash the big programs, you might as well just party on to bankruptcy... a few billion here and there would only delay it a week or two.

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945491)

It's already preventing collaboration. ExoMars has been in trouble on the US side for a long time now, and ESA has been planning appropriately. On some of the more recently accepted project proposals, such as the Euclid telescope and the Solar Orbiter mission, NASA have approached ESA wanting to participate and essentially been told to fuck off until they get stable funding.

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (0)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946089)

And while ESA gets petulant about being able to pick USA's wallet, NASA quietly launched the Rover that obsoletes ExoMars, and which will arrive in August.

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 2 years ago | (#38947081)

Wake me up when that Rube Goldberg gadget they designed actually works.

Re:Amounts to sacrificing the mission - (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38947153)

You mean like the last several NASA rube goldberg gadgets that worked perfectly or the rube goldberg gadget that ESA augured in on their last mars landing attempt?

Military black space programs (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945183)

If I were paranoid, I might say somebody doesn't want landings on Mars. But I'm not paranoid. Why are you looking at me like that?

Re:Military black space programs (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945209)

The aliens warned us that if we didn't back off they would come back with much bigger probes.

Re:Military black space programs (2)

Miseph (979059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945327)

And if that doesn't work, they'll stop coming back with bigger probes. Something's gotta work...

Re:Military black space programs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945443)

Keep watch of the livestock, Gary will probably get 'cow-lip gathering' duty again.

Re:Military black space programs (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945603)

The aliens warned us that if we didn't back off they would come back with much bigger probes.

I've seen the goatse; he was neither black nor (visually obviously) military. Just saying.

Public interest (3, Insightful)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945235)

Practical issues like the availability of rockets are in the end just a matter of finances, both Russia and Europe have rockets large enough to support a Mars mission, because the US has more expertise they have a better chance of success.
The biggest problem for all participants is public interest, without it politicians take the easy road and cancel science missions.
With the present status of education in many EU countries and the US there is little chance to get the population interested, science loses from real time trash TV.

Ok Alanis.. (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945265)

How is international collaboration 'ironic'?

Re:Ok Alanis.. (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945481)

How is international collaboration 'ironic'?

I believe it's because international collaboration is meant to save money, but in order to save money, NASA is cancelling the international collaboration.

I'm no English major, so if you have a term that better describes the situation, I try to add it my vocabulary.

Re:Ok Alanis.. (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945615)

I'm no English major, so if you have a term that better describes the situation, I try to add it my vocabulary.

How about "American". Its right up there with the old "we had to burn the village to save the village" from the Vietnam war.

Re:Ok Alanis.. (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945715)

International collaboration, particularly with space-related activities has almost never been about saving money. Its either been about cold war competition and posturing with "enemies", or international political bribery with "allies". (This is particularly true of manned spaceflight, where projects amounted to corporate welfare for defense contractors, billion dollar bribes to partner nations, and other such shenanigans... do you really think the ISS would've taken 20 years and $100b to build if we just wanted a research space station!?)

Re:Ok Alanis.. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945517)

I think it was the "pulling out of a cost-saving strategy to save costs" part that was ironic. Don't let that stop you from continuing to believe that people communicate in mechanically parsable language with a consistent order of operations. And that falling objects experience linear motion under normal Earth gravity and atmospheric conditions. And that the world is flat. And that P = NP. And that the halting problem will be solved some day.

US Pulling Out - Lions and Tigers, Oh No! (1, Interesting)

NReitzel (77941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945287)

So, isn't this going to be a whole lot like the US pulling out of the LHC project, when they thought that by doing so, it would torpedo the whole project?

And as for "Leaving ESA with no rockets" -- whose rockets are going to space station? In fact, whose technology was vital to the space station, what country flew the first piece of the US "origami" space station? It wasn't the US. NASA is great at viewgraphs and theme parks, but as far as science goes, they're rapidly falling behind.

Re:US Pulling Out - Lions and Tigers, Oh No! (5, Informative)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945731)

Comments like the parent here just drive me nuts! I should give up even reading much less replying to any space-related items here. "NASA is great at viewgraphs and theme parks, but as far as science goes, they're rapidly falling behind." Where does this kind of sentiment come from? Is it in any way bounded by reality? NASA's recent track record for planetary science is pretty good, held up to that of other national space programs (not to disparage those other programs, but just as a point of comparison);

  - JAXA's Akatsuki-Venus mission failed to enter orbit around Venus last year
  - Russia's Phobos-Grunt mission to Martian satellites failed to escape Earth's orbit
  - ESA's Mars Express mission lost it's Beagle-2 lander (crashed?)
  - Cassini's Huygens probe had a fair number of problems, including, at one point, its spinning in the opposite to intended direction during descent
  - India's Chandrayaan lunar probe operated for 312 days before failing , rather than its nominal 2-year mission (probably for thermal reasons)

Compare with
- NASA's MESSENGER, in orbit around Mercury for a year and producing a ream of science data
- NASA's Kepler mission, boosting our count of exoplanets by something like an order of magnitude
- NASA's Mars Rovers, 8 years into a nominal 30-day mission
- NASA's Juno probe, on its way to Jupiter
- NASA's Cassini flagship mission, far into extended mission already and aiming to keep working through 2017
- NASA's MSL, over budget but successfully on its way to Mars
- NASA's New Horizons, now closer to Pluto than any other man-made object, and moreso every day

For the record, other current missions up for extensions include EPOXI, GRAIL, MRO, Mars Odyssey Orbiter, and LRO.

Yes I'm cherry-picking a bit here, but overlooking dozens of other programs also. It's not my job to document all this - but before posting snide little "NASA's good at viewgraphs" comments, maybe do a minimal amount of search.

Re:US Pulling Out - Lions and Tigers, Oh No! (0)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946119)

THIS!

Re:US Pulling Out - Lions and Tigers, Oh No! (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38947299)

Budgets:
US military 25 billion (80% of world military space spending)
NASA 18 Billion
ESA 5 billion
RFSA 4 billion
JAXA 2.5 billion

America spends more on space than the rest of the world combined.

Re:US Pulling Out - Lions and Tigers, Oh No! (1)

ah.clem (147626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946017)

I think that the US is having a hard time understanding just how irrelevant we are becoming in the sciences, something we used to be a world leader in. But this is the country we wanted; if not, we wouldn't have let things slip as badly as we have. I am just as guilty as the rest; I didn't get involved in local politics, school boards, grass root initiatives, etc. after the 60's. I thought it was enough to pay taxes, contribute money to causes I believed in and vote in every election. I don't know if I have the energy to help pull the pendulum back and most of my kids and grand kids worry more about Facebook than politics. Nothing like conscription to get and hold your political attention... chuckle.

Just my opinion.

Less Expensive?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945311)

Collaboration efforts are MORE expensive. Not less expensive. Look at the space station! It cost the US more money to bring in the Russians, Europeans & Japanese and have to deal with the crap of talking several languages, negotiating everything... Don't fool yourself...
I work for a subcontractor in the states and we contracted out work for the JEM through the Japanese who were subs to the prime Boeing... Talk about a very expensive cluster f*&k. Less expensive my a$$ HA!!

Hugely misplaced priorities in US budgets (4, Informative)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945319)

This is quite outrageous these cuts, and the mission is a good is a very good value. It is simply a terrible state of affairs that high value and relatively low cost probe programs are being cut when we have politicians talking about a much more expensive manned mars mission, if we can't afford unmanned probes we have no business contemplating a much more expensive and much worse cost-benefit wise manned mission,. Ask scientists and they will say unmanned probes are the best value, give us the most data for least money and have best scientific value compared to manned missions, which are vastly more expensive. It is indeed almost a twighlight zone insanity and backwardsness when we have people talking about spending massive amounts of money on a hugely expensive (hundreds of billions) human mars mission programme, which has terrible comparative value and return on investment to unmanned probes, and we face this kind of cuts to real science probe programs.

Unfortunately, US space exploration policy is driven more by buzzwards and hype than it is by real science. A human mission to mars would be very expensive and would, considering we can get a lot of data from unmanned probes, have very little additional value. For many people an manned mission is for entertainment value, it would be a very expensive and entertaining stunt. There is room for entertainment but spending hundreds of billions for this really way over the top.

It has mostly been Republican politicians who threaten huge cuts to the space probe programs and to NASAs science missions but then they see to have these crackpot ideas of sending a manned mission to mars just after they have attacked much higher value probes. ThIs i think speaks to the immaturity of them and the lack of understanding of science and the finer points of what are actually the most cost effective ways to obtain data. Republicans are simple minded, they are too ignorant to understand the value of a probe mission and satellites and unfortunately it takes a glitzy circus like manned mars mission stunt which has comparatively little science value, it is because they dont understand the science and what the probes are doing. It is similar to how they view foreign policy, they don't have any like of anything that requires the use of the mind rather than muscle,. such as diplomacy, the only thing that stimulates the Republicans is outright aggression, bombs, missiles, fighting etc, so GOP foreign policy is full of wars and plans for wars but with very little room for diplomacy.

The US clearly needs better leadership that is scientifically acute, that will continue to fully fund satellites, space probes and so on and is less aroused by stunts and entertainment that woujld be a manned mars mission,.

Re:Hugely misplaced priorities in US budgets (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945683)

It is simply a terrible state of affairs that high value and relatively low cost probe programs are being cut when we have politicians talking about a much more expensive manned mars mission

I bolded the key word there. Politicians know damned well that no manned mission is ever going to happen. They're just talking about it for show. Take a hard look at what's actually happening on the ground at NASA and you'll get a sense of the REAL situation. Looks like someone (the President or Congress, or both) is preparing to take a serious axe to NASA's budget.

Re:Hugely misplaced priorities in US budgets (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946757)

Like they said in 'The Right Stuff', 'No bucks, no Buck Rogers!'

Re:Hugely misplaced priorities in US budgets (-1, Redundant)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945979)

This is quite outrageous these cuts, and the mission is a good is a very good value.

The ESA mission is a largely redundant funding grab.

NASA and JPL already have a more capable [nasa.gov] lander enroute to mars. [nasa.gov]

Re:Hugely misplaced priorities in US budgets (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946457)

Will you stop that? Curiosity is a great concept, a great rover but:

1. It isn't there yet.
2. 'There' is Mars that eats satellites and probes for breakfast.
3. Even if it accomplishes 300% of design objectives, it is one tiny little probe on largish, unknown planet. ExoMars and Curiosity have somewhat different science packages. It's not like every good experiment got sent up on Curiosity. Even if it were a clone of Curiosity, it just might be nice to get additional data from said largish planet.

Re:Hugely misplaced priorities in US budgets (4, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945997)

Unfortunately, US space exploration policy is driven more by buzzwards and hype than it is by real science. A human mission to mars would be very expensive and would, considering we can get a lot of data from unmanned probes, have very little additional value.

US space exporation policy has always been hampered by two fundamental, and diametrically-opposed priorities. The first (and MASSIVE majority) is projects of specific strategic value to national security. The space shuttle, the ISS, the technology behind the hubble, most of the launch systems, weather satellites, GPS -- these are all developments that were purely based on national security interests. They were about keeping particularly important contractors in business, about political back scratching, testing launch hardware needed for weapons systems, detecting NBC weapons testing around the world, etc.

A *tiny* amount of the budget has been focused on pure science. International partnerships are, generally speaking, never a priority for those projects. The overhead is too high, and costs too high. Its cheaper to do it ourselves if you don't have some other political justification for the partnership. You may have contributing scientists and engineers, but you won't see billions being spent on something internationally for pure science coming out of the US.

That's the reality of space flight in the US. That's why talk about expanding the manned space program always comes up during election years, when people are standing on podiums in Houston or along the east coast in Florida. There isn't even a fraction of the budget that is needed for the programs the politicians are talking about coming out of that "non-political" budget. They know that, but the hope and promise buys votes.

You're not going to see any major progress on BIG space technology in the US until we have a real enemy the politicians can rally the public behind, and can justify hundreds of billions of dollars for national security reasons. If you want to see the US get behind space exporation, what you really want to hope for is a permanently manned Chinese base on the moon, or a space station more sophisticated (in the public's eye) than a bunch of modules bolted together.

Until that happens, its all just fantasy.

Necessary long-term investment (2)

concealment (2447304) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945483)

If disease, global warming, nuclear proliferation or political catastrophes manage to destroy humanity, we will see what a sound investment space travel would have been.

Having only one planet for our species means we're only one disaster away from extinction. No other species (on earth) has this ability.

If our scientists agree that our best efforts will not stop global warming, only lessen it, we might consider transferring that money into space programs. That way even if we destroy our climate here, our species will persist.

Re:Necessary long-term investment (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38945665)

It's very clear the only reason humanity has been so tame has been the consequences of high-yield war on this one, lone, home of humanity. Add another colony and pretty quickly some faction or other will implement a scorched earth policy with the reasoning: 'we can just flee to our Ceres habitat and get ready to rebuild.'

I also contend that being greeted by some form of extrasolar sentient life will not have any great benefit. I expect 20% to want to kill it on sight, 60% to be uninterested and want to be left alone, and another 20% wanting to play Kirk. I'm fairly certain that the morphology of such sentience does not change the percentages, only which individuals fall into which group.

Re:Necessary long-term investment (1)

32771 (906153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946501)

Solving our problems here means solving our problems in space:

http://www.nss.org/settlement/nasa/spaceresvol3/pmofld1a.htm [nss.org]

"This discussion of geochemical availability and extractive metallurgy implies that extraction of minor elements in space is questionable unless specific natural concentrations are discovered or energy becomes very inexpensive. The relative costs of scarce and abundant metals will become even more disparate in the future on Earth as well as in space."

Coincidentally this substitution frequently means higher energy requirements, there is a paper called "The Age of Substitutability" that makes this requirement. Solar power may not even be the cheapest way out, given its thin distribution. I would expect us to go to space once we have solved the energy problem we are facing on earth. This isn't even just energy availability but also the decreasing ore concentration that requires greater energy inputs, even as far as abundant metals are concerned.

Also don't forget that ores in space probably are less concentrated in space, because hydrothermal processes aren't available to the degree we have them on earth, yet another reason to look for watery planets out there.

Anybody notcing a trend here? (2)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945589)

As the United States tries to get their out-of-control spending more in-line with the rest of the world, what seems to be first on the chopping block? Basic research and science. Meanwhile, the government is doing everything is can to limit the freedoms of citizens and making it more difficult to enter or leave the country.

It looks as though America is on a fast-track to going from superpower to third-world nation. Oh yeah, it'll still be the bully of the globe militarily, but that will be at the cost of the entire middle class, and frankly, that enormous military will be turned against it's own citizens when the riots start.

With religious zealots running the show, it won't be long before we're talking about how great it was when the USA had electricity, and the Middle Class enjoyed a lifestyle that was the envy of the world. You guys are turning into Romania, but with nuclear weapons.

I fear for our planet.

Re:Anybody notcing a trend here? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945849)

Yeah, I vaguely remember the US having a middle class. Been awhile, though...

Re:Anybody notcing a trend here? (4, Insightful)

geegel (1587009) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945909)

Hey, I'm from Romania you insensitive prick.

P.S. Since Romania IS part of ESA it will participate in ExoMars and we have no legal concept of illegal download, so maybe US turning into a balkanic country isn't such a bad idea

Re:Anybody notcing a trend here? (1)

poity (465672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946161)

Hey it could be pretty smart, why throw money into research when you can let others do it? The US can surreptitiously hack into ESA's servers later like China and take whatever they want, or maybe just pick up the "information wants to be free" banner and take it publicly without compensating the EU. How many people on Slashdot would oppose sharing ESA's data with the US? Probably not many. Maybe it's time for others to take the lead and for the US to coast along and reap the benefits with minimal investment. :)

Re:Anybody notcing a trend here? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946805)

Just gotta remind the politicians that we gotta convert from metric, the data should be ok.

Re:Anybody notcing a trend here? (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946789)

they're talking about or have proposed military cuts, cuts to programs for the poor, cuts to social security, medicare, and medicaid, freeze/cuts on federal pay and benefits, amtrak subsidies, national endowment of arts, repeal healthcare, and on and on and on.

Just because NASA is your pet project doesn't mean it's immune from the budget problem.

Here's a fact: NASA received 18 billion last year. ESA: 5 billion. JAXA: 2.5 billion.

Europe has 1.25x the number of people, but gives ESA less than 1/3rd the funding. Japan - 50% of the people, 1/7th the funding.

So shut up about "America not caring about science." You would never say that about Europe or Japan, yet from the budgets, they care even less than America does. It's just ignorant, stupid, anti-americanism.

Don't confuse NASA with JPL (5, Interesting)

Squidlips (1206004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945725)

JPL is responsible for many successful planetary robotic mission including collaborationsas happened with Cassini and MSL. JPL has executed a many highly successful missions such as Voyager and MER2 (Opportunity) while never killing anyone or blowing huge budgets. Do not confuse JPL with the manned scapeflight porkbarrel in Houston. JPL does science; Houston does hugely expensive stunts and kills people. Unfortunately NASA is run by ex-pilots and astronauts; when robotic missions are cut, which happens all the time, Houston is usually behind it. The amount of money spent (wasted) on the spacestation and the shuttle dwarf the amount of money spent on Mars missions.

Re:Don't confuse NASA with JPL (1)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946147)

It's well known in the community that MSL blew a huge budget on the way to being launched. From 'Space News', 28 January 2011, : "MSL’s price tag has grown by more than $660 million since 2008, according to a February 2010 audit by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which attributed much of the increase to a 68 percent rise in hardware development costs since the program’s 2003 inception. Although NASA had planned to launch MSL in 2009, technical setbacks forced the agency to postpone the mission two years, the minimal delay for any Mars-bound craft missing its launch window. "

Dick waving (4, Insightful)

kubernet3s (1954672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38945993)

Why does every discussion of a space program devolve rapidly into people calling every space program that isn't their favorite a bunch of incompetent jerks. Guys. Space travel is fucking HARD. There is no agency with any kind of pedigree that doesn't also have a lot of embarrassing screwups. SpaceX is just as bad as any of them: if it has fewer failures, it's because it has fewer successes.

Everyone working in any kind of aerospace program is very intelligent. They are doing something very difficult, with very little room for error, in a room with a lot of different people. I think it's safe to say that space travel has a fairly consistent success rate across agencies, at least up to a reasonable error.

No subject (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38946077)

In soviet russia, rocket launches you!

Nasa on the cheap (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | more than 2 years ago | (#38946391)

They've apparently made arrangements with the Martians so they'll
come visit here. Let's hope their weather balloon technology has
evolved a bit.

Title fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38946763)

The tile of this article is pretty misleading. You only have to read a few paragraphs in to realize that the funding hasn't been cancelled and the article is mostly speculation.

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