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NASA To Drastically Cut Mars Mission Funding

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the pick-a-new-genre dept.

Mars 191

DesScorp writes "Faced with budget cuts, and forced to choose between deep space observation or a mission to Mars, CBS reports that NASA will kill most of its Mars exploration programs. Sources in NASA say that of the $300 million being cut from the space agency's budget, two-thirds were for a joint US-EU program for Martian exploration. NASA spokesman David Weaver said that, just like the rest of the federal government, the space agency has to make 'tough choices and live within our means.'"

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191 comments

Noooooo (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004471)

Nooooooooooooo

This is why we need China.... (0)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004727)

With China rising and everything that comes with it, the U.S and Canada will realize they'll have to step up in order to maintain or become world super powers. The same rule applies here as it does in business. Competition is good for everyone.

Re:This is why we need China.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004777)

Yeah, when China becomes the first economy you can have (or force) Canada join the states so that your economy will get larger by about one Canada.
When then, China gets bigger than USA and Canada combined you can force (you have the guns) Europe to become one country and also join USA into one bigger yet country, so that you won't ever feel insecure about not living in the richest country in the world, because nothing could beat that economically.

Re:This is why we need China.... (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004847)

the U.S and Canada will realize they'll have to step up in order to maintain or become world super powers

Canada? I'm Canadian - We're fun and have good beer and all, but we'll never be a 'world super power.'

Re:This is why we need China.... (1)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004949)

Only time will tell my fellow canuck. The recent census put us at 33.5 million but give us a few more years and increase in population. Our politicians btw are just as corrupt as the states and civil liberties erroding just as fast. U can keep your face in that beer and ignore the reality of the situation: canada is just as bad as the states, with as much ambition. We march lockstep with them, for now though we're content to let them be the bad guys while we work on our own nefarious goals. Just ask Harper :)

Re:This is why we need China.... (5, Interesting)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005041)

Our politicians btw are just as corrupt as the states and civil liberties erroding just as fast

You, my friend, need to take out a subscription to Macleans and start reading - Canada's system is so much better than the USA in so many ways. Why is America so broken? Campaign financing rules that are illegal in Canada. Our judges aren't elected, which means they don't pander and our Supreme Court judges don't go through the wringer like they do in the USA. Most MPs are hardworking Joe and Jane Averages - I know mine is, and I don't even support his party. As for civil liberties, I can still leave my shoes on when I fly to Toronto - I ride the SkyTrain daily and I have never once seen the police looking through people's bags and on and on.... Could Canada do better? Sure, but so could every Western democracy.

However, the fact remains that we're no superpower and never will be, eh?

Re:This is why we need China.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005541)

Canada? I'm Canadian - We're fun and have good beer and all, but we'll never be a 'world super power.'

<auto-Godwin>
Anschluß [wikipedia.org]
</auto-Godwin>

Good lord. (5, Insightful)

breakspirit (827558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004473)

We're never going to Mars at this rate. Well, America isn't at least. Good thing there are other, less short-sighted countries that will inevitably get there.

Re:Good lord. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004493)

Then the Doctor shouldn't have killed the silence or else would be on Mars right now.

Re:Good lord. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004553)

Oh my god, someone else will walk on a dead rock that's really far away! Screeeeeee!!!

Re:Good lord. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004583)

i've no idea about you, but if another country manages to get humans there before the US does, it would be a slap in the face of the US when it comes to technological competence.

the past moon missions have birthed a lot of technology, and it actually played a critical role into cementing that the US is the forefront of scientific advancement (at least, to the world. correct me if i'm wrong)

Re:Good lord. (0, Troll)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004757)

So you want to go to Mars as part of a big national dick-waving contest. Because if someone got there first it would be a "slap in the face" to U.S. exceptionalism.

Re:Good lord. (4, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005031)

If that's what it takes to convince the politicians to fund NASA instead of the DOD and entitlement programs, then sure, I'll play along.
[/unzips]

Re:Good lord. (2)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005969)

It's one of the things I find most amusing about people's expectations with space. But when you think about it, they unintentionally prove their own point about how important it is to get up there. It's part of no longer thinking of humanity in terms of "us" being where some rich guy in a big building says "we" end and the other begins.

Apollo got kids interested in science and tech (3, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005575)

... the past moon missions have birthed a lot of technology ...

More importantly the Apollo program got a lot of young kids interest in science and engineering. Which led to a following generation or two's worth of technology and economic activity.

Re:Good lord. (3, Insightful)

fritsd (924429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005629)

i've no idea about you, but if another country manages to get humans there before the US does, it would be a slap in the face of the US when it comes to technological competence.

Naah.. speaking as a European, I think you shouldn't see it as "a slap in the face of the US when it comes to technological competence". It just means, that the cultural "focus" of the USA is not aimed at its own *technological* competence any more. You could if you wanted, but you don't want those kind of things anymore.

From our perspective, it seems you're currently more aiming for euh... let's label it juridical competence and financial world supremacy.

Hold a questionnaire amongst USA schoolkids, tally how many want to become astronauts or doctors, and how many lawyers / rich. I'm curious.

Re:Good lord. (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004645)

Clearly you missed the part which stated that two major manned systems are getting funding priority.

Re:Good lord. (5, Interesting)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006153)

The total 2010 US Space budget was $64.6B. The entire rest of the world combined spent only $22.5B, including military space spending. NASA, the US civilian space programs 2010 budget was $18.7B, 83% of the spending for the entire rest of the world. All of Europe spent a paltry $4.6B on the ESA. Where is the spending from these enlightened, long-sighted countries?

Consider this as well, many space projects aren't actually funded by NASA. For example, GPS is funded and operated by the Air Force Space Command. The United States is, by a massive margin, the country most invested in space exploration.

Mission creep (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004495)

I heard there is a US agency called the NRO which has a large number of Hubbles pointed the wrong way. - Could they not just start rumours about alien terrorists, and offload this task in question?

Maybe we kill one Alaska bridge project (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004501)

And fund a Mars program? No brainer, to me. (No offense, Alaska)

Sorry folks... (3, Insightful)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004537)

The days of America's manned space program are over now that Medicare and Social Security are running deep into the red.

Re:Sorry folks... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005027)

"The days of America's manned space program are over now that Medicare and Social Security are running deep into the red."

So much wrong with that statement.

Unless you count manned space-lab type programs as manned space program, manned space flight was over many decades ago after the last Moon landing. And cutting budget for a Mars mission does not mean space-lab type programs are over. So the days of America's manned space program being over is either not true, or is irrelevant to this budget cut.

Then the cause of the budget cut: although certain interests in the financial world would have people believe otherwise, everyone knows the current economic crisis was caused by the sub-prime mortgage shenanigans in the financial world. Medicare and Social Security are doing fine.

Re:Sorry folks... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005073)

If you cut the income level, where does the money come from?
The top tax rate in 1960 was 90%, now it is 35%. You need to pay and the Federal Government accomplished all of the great space goals like putting a man on the moon, building our highway system, and educating many.

Check out the facts:http://tcftakingnote.typepad.com/.a/6a00e54ffb9698883301543328d90e970c-popup

Medicare and Social Security are successful programs as well. You have plenty of opportunity to succeed in America and successful entrepnaures do not complain about the tax rate, they complain that we do not have enough skilled, educated workers to compete with other countries. Germany, which makes some great products has a higher tax rate than us and is still very competitive.

Blaming the decline of the space program on Medicare and Social Security is far too simple.

Re:Sorry folks... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005499)

Medicare and Social Security are successful programs as well.

Of course, they're successful. All they require is someone to write checks and someone to cash them.

Re:Sorry folks... (2, Interesting)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005571)

Medicare and Social Security are successful programs as well.

Sure. They didn't end poverty or provide medical care for everyone. And they're rapidly going bankrupt. Other than that, they're totally successful.

Re:Sorry folks... (2)

Doctor_Jest (688315) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005997)

The top tax rate in 1960 was 90%, now it is 35%.

There's a huge difference between MARGINAL and EFFECTIVE tax rates. Simply looking at that percentage gives you nothing in the way of revenue. When JFK LOWERED the top marginal rate in his first year in office, the Federal Government got MORE revenue through taxation than they had in the last 20 years.

And blaming the decline of the space program (which is a bloated mess in the first place, thank you Space Shuttle) on lower taxes is far too stupid. Most of the Federal Government's income is derived not from income tax, but fees and regulatory cash... But let's not let that get into a good whiny rant about how Germany pays more tax and is fine... right?

Re:Sorry folks... (5, Insightful)

TC Wilcox (954812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005227)

The days of America's manned space program are over now that Medicare and Social Security are running deep into the red.

Not that I particularly like Medicare and Social Security, but I prefer both of those to our huge military build up and foreign wars.

Re:Sorry folks... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005389)

"Not that I particularly like Medicare and Social Security"

Until you get ill or jobless.

Re:Sorry folks... (2)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005761)

Illness and joblessness aren't covered by either program for working age people. So your straw man doesn't even support your own point.

Re:Sorry folks... (2)

locketine (1101453) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005509)

Medicare and Social Security are funded separately from the rest of the budget and still have a hefty surplus of funds on paper but the federal government kept borrowing money from it until there wasn't any left. The payroll tax cuts are directly cutting funding from those two programs as well. How is the budget cut to NASA at all related to SS and M? Maybe you think they should have had MORE money available for the federal government to borrow to pay for other stuff like the NASA mission.

Re:Sorry folks... (1)

jmrives (1019046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005949)

Perhaps, you have a different definition of "running deep into the red". Currently, the Social Security trust fund is more than paying for itself. The latest report estimates that the fund will be depleted in 2037. By this, it means that the trust fund will only be able to cover 78% of the costs. That is up 2% over last year -- even with our current economic situation. There are even optimistic scenarios that show the fund will never reach depletion.

We just lost the Mars. (4, Insightful)

jimmydigital (267697) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004539)

If only there were a bank on Mars that needed bailed out... by god then we would get there! I wonder if there is enough atmosphere on the red planet to fly a helicopter from which we could drop money.. or lacking the funds... turkeys.

Re:We just lost the Mars. (2)

Oh Gawwd Peak Oil (1000227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004605)

If there were a civilization on Mars that had not yet been converted to Jesus . . . by god we would already be on our way there.

Re:We just lost the Mars. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004935)

Perhaps someone could fabricate a flying saucer the likes of the ones from The War of the Worlds and have it crash into the Twin Towers...you'd see how quick and easy it actually is to deploy units to Mars if you have the incentive. ;-)

Re:We just lost the Mars. (0)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005055)

GGP: Bank bailouts
GP: Religion
P: Terrorists
ME: If there was OIL on mars...
CP: If there were pirates...
GCP: Information wants to be free...
GGCP: (C) infringement is not the same as stealing...
GGGCP: Sure it is because you have denied them a sale...
GGGGCP: No it isn't, I wouldn't have bought it anyway...

this /thread

Re:We just lost the Mars. (1)

WSOGMM (1460481) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005171)

If only there were a bank on Mars that needed bailed out... by god then we would get there! I wonder if there is enough atmosphere on the red planet to fly a helicopter from which we could drop money.. or lacking the funds... turkeys.

"that needed bailed out"?

you don't happen to be from pittsburgh, do you? or maybe have relatives that are from there?

Just follow Double Fine's footsteps (5, Interesting)

retroStick (1040570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004577)

Put a NASA Mars mission on Kickstarter?

Re:Just follow Double Fine's footsteps (3, Funny)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004635)

Put a SpaceX Mars mission on Kickstarter?
FTFY.

Private citizens pouring money in the bureacratic maw of NASA is futility incarnate, though if you could channel it directly to JPL it might work. At least JPL still has technical and engineering competence, is somewhat isolated from NASA's bureaucracy, and gets things done.

If you could funnel a few billion to SpaceX they could do some exciting stuff aimed at Mars. Since Elon Musk is aiming there anyway he just needs more funding. SpaceX has a truly phenomonal efficiency in getting engineering bang for their bucks. As I recall NASA spent a team their to study how they were doing so much for so little compared to NASA. Of course, one answer they probably missed is SpaceX probably doesn't squander money on doing studies on why other organizations are efficient, they just build stuff, efficiently, economically and quickly.

Re:Just follow Double Fine's footsteps (1)

retroStick (1040570) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004737)

I was actually aiming for 'Funny', but you raise an excellent point - I'd forgotten about private aerospace ventures. Yes, they would be a much more worthy recipient. Not a bad idea, in fact.

Re:Just follow Double Fine's footsteps (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004921)

Actually, you miss some points as well.
NASA is pouring money into SpaceX and private space BECAUSE they want cheap redundant human launch, Falcon Heavy, and the RED DRAGON.
Cheap REDUNDANT Human launch should be obvious. It is not just for ISS access, but moon and mars. More importantly, if our launchers are busy and we have multiple companies launching monthly, then costs go down for NASA.
And for NASA, the FH and red dragon are HUGE to Mars. The red dragon is a contained landing system for putting more mass on Mars than we have total to date. And that is just with the first launch. In addition, with FH, we can send a larger number of sats in one relatively cheap launch.

Basically, by simply not starting new programs TODAY for about 5 years (hopefully less), we gain cheap access to LEO, Moon, Asteroids, and Mars. And by 2017, we will likely put a red dragon on mars, as well as multiple sats, all in one or two launches.

Re:Just follow Double Fine's footsteps (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005079)

I think you are being a bit optimistic, but I understand. Elon Musk has done wonders with SpaceX (and not too shabby with Tesla), it is hard not to hope he really can pull all this off. I hope it doesn't happen, but I think at some point SpaceX is going to go the way of Boeing and Gencorp, and all the other big players and just become another subcon for NASA.
-nB

Re:Just follow Double Fine's footsteps (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005163)

I hope it doesn't happen, but I think at some point SpaceX is going to go the way of Boeing and Gencorp, and all the other big players and just become another subcon for NASA.

As long as musk is there, it will not happen. HOWEVER, as the saying goes, all good things come to an end. Boeing and L-Mart became this way because they are able to control CONgress which controls NASA. If we can get private space to be honestly profitable and not just fleasing the feds, then we will see expansion and competition.

Re:Just follow Double Fine's footsteps (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005883)

With the single exception of launching satellites, practically all the money for say a Mars mission is likely to come from Congress one way or the other. What they must stay out of is the government's cost plus contracts. They're certainly useful sometimes for experimental technology no company would risk putting a price tag on, but they give all the wrong incentives. It reminds me a little bit of the state lottery here in Norway, I've been to their offices. All the profit is distributed to various organizations, the salaries are regulated but they practically have an unlimited expense account. That means the offices, facilities, meeting rooms, exercise room, cafeteria (heavily subsidized), training budget and so on is top notch.

Cost plus contracts I suspect end up the same way, everything you can get a refund for is fine even if it's excessive or extravagant, of course there's probably rules trying to curb this but I have a hard time thinking it works in practice. And you get busy trying to stuff costs into your cost plus projects, even if they're really more overhead or general costs of doing business, throw in a little Hollywood accounting to bill the project at inflated internal rates for various services and you're well on your way to becoming another government contractor. As long as they stay on normal contracts where a dollar saved is a dollar earned, I think they'll do fine even if the fraction of government contracts grow high.

Re: Kickstarter (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005937)

Actually, that is pretty much what the X-Prize does, except reverse the order to "do work first, then get money". You could use Kickstarter to collect money to establish a prize.

Shocked! (2)

lessthan (977374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004599)

I'm just shocked by this. Who would expect that NASA would be underfunded by Congress and have to cut the grandiose plans NASA has been telling us about?

Seriously, who expects anything out of NASA these days? Congress has been trying to kill NASA off since the 80s. Now that private space flight is looking more and more like a reality, what good is a government run space program? ( I say that as a cynic. I know NASA is good for science. When was the last time science was a priority for the US government?)

Re:Shocked! (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006135)

As a active supporter of commercial space efforts both within NASA and outside of NASA, as well as a someone who's paying job involves the unmanned Mars program, I will be the first to say that private spaceflight does not negate the importance of publicly supported exploration - they complement each other.

Government's job, in my opinion, is to do those things that private industry can't -- thinks that don't necessarily return an immediate profit (or shouldn't) but are nonetheless good or necessary for our society. For the space program, this means the 'Lewis and Clark' role, where the government funds a risky venture for the benefit of us all, leaving the infrastructure and knowledge for its citizens to follow.

Right now we're at a point where the government has demonstrated the abilities and technology required to get satellites and people to low Earth orbit. Most satellites, except those of actual use to other government agencies, have transitioned to private industry, which has worked hard to drive down prices and increase reliability. Now its time for the government to at least get out of the way, and hopefully help bootstrap (through COTS) the same transformation in manned flight. If there is no profit to be had, then we need to reconsider things, but apparently enough companies think that there is that we should let them have a chance.

Nonetheless, beyond Earth orbit is not there yet. There is not yet an obvious impetus for private individuals and companies to explore Mars or other planets, yet I think most of us (here at least) recognize that it is in the long-term interest of our society. Therefor this is the proper role of government, and something that should be supported -- especially since in the grand scheme of the US Federal Budget, NASA represents a few crumbs.

My hope is, though, that improvements in access to LEO encouraged by private development will truly complement the government programs, and allow the us to do more with the same amount of money.

1.7% cut? (5, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004603)

with 18 billion dollar budget you'd think there would be enough waste and nonsense to deal with that 300 million cut without cutting programs.

Re:1.7% cut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005093)

This is NASA we're talking about, not Greece or Italy

Re:1.7% cut? (5, Insightful)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005115)

There is, but I'll let you in on a little funding secret:
If you adsorb the losses by being more efficient then no-one notices and you can't use that money as a last ditch buffer (we forgot we need this widget, tighten up the ship, so we can buy it out of our existing budget). If you instead cut something noticeable you "make them pay" for cutting your budget. Happened to our IT department where I work. They had a 5% cut to their budget so they cut a service that saved labs all around the world untold $$$ by being essentially an internal craigslist to connect surplus equipment with labs that needed the kit. it was run by two dedicated staff, that's it. The rest of the 5% cut near as I can tell was adsorbed, but they made sure everyone noticed that this service was cut due to the budget constraints.
-nb

Re:1.7% cut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005175)

Or, how about they just ask the Navy to scrap one of the their 30 planned (6 delivered) shiny new Virginia class attack subs? That's a saving of 2.4 billion right there. Seriously, do you think you'll miss that one? What are they going to protect you from? The terrorist navy with their ballistic nuclear subs and their sophisticated surface warships?

Re:1.7% cut? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005733)

Apollo cost something like $150 billion in its entirety. The new Mars rocket projection was $35 billion, assuming there is any chance of it being built. That is $4 billion, or thereabouts, in Apollo dollars once they are adjusted for inflation. NASA has the funding now to go to Mars, especially considering it is probably easier technically than a trip to the moon was in 1969. The reasons there are not humans on Mars now, or in transit, are political and not financial.

Re:1.7% cut? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39006317)

not really easier, the energy requirement is *much* huger, not only delta-v wise but due to incredible mass of needed supplies. Sustaining a crew for over a year and a half is not as trivial as few days moon mission

JWST? (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004611)

Not too sure why JWST is being blamed for this. JWST does impact support for other astronomy missions, but planetary exploration is its own program. Might just as well say that not closing the space station is to blame if these kinds of games are going to be played.

Re:JWST? (4, Informative)

hde226868 (906048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004875)

JWST's funding crisis does not only impact astronomy missions, but all of science funding. This includes planetary missions and also the manned space program. The space review (http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1926/1) has a good summary.

Re:JWST? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005549)

That is a good summary. The main thing I take from it though is that slow funding has been the most important recent cost driver. Brinksmanship in Congress imposes extra costs as money is delayed. So, the question is, why does Congress not pay for its grandstanding?

Not surprised. (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004615)

I expected the colonization of Mars to start in the 60's, atmospheric mining on Venus to start the 70's, and the U.S. to become proficient in math and science by 80's. Sadly, I have come to believe none of the above will ever happen.

Re:Not surprised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005173)

So what? Now we get to have xboxes and iPods, which are made by happy highly paid workers who love their jobs and their lives. Could it have been any better?

Re:Not surprised. (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005543)

If Americans had become proficient at math, they would have realized that landing on the moon wasn't nearly as big a step towards colonizing Mars and mining on Venus as they (and their favorite sci-fi authors) had assumed.

Re:Not surprised. (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005785)

What do you mean? After the Moon, Mars is the next major astronomical body out, right? That means it's like halfway!

budget cuts? (1)

multi io (640409) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004649)

Didn't Obama repeatedly say in the past that he was going to increase [reuters.com] NASA's budgets over the next five years? What became of that? Is it all going to be funneled into earthbound stuff? Or into that heavy-lift launcher that congress demanded?

Re:budget cuts? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004843)

Obama has pushed hard to increase the NASA budget. It is the house republicans that have been gutting it.

The Mars mission was a distraction anyways (1, Insightful)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004651)

The real priorities of NASA should be to inspire kids to learn math and science, expand our international relationships, and to get involved in Muslim outreach.

How can NASA inspire children to be interested in math and science when NASA is busy wasting time on some Mars mission? You think any kids in this country cared when we landed people on the moon? Or that the moon landings inspired hundreds if not thousands of hours of films and documentaries and books that have immeasurable academic value especially for kids.

And how does going to Mars help NASA with its international diplomatic goals? When is NASA going to become IASA? We need to reach out to other countries with diplomacy before we can reach out to Mars.

And there are no Muslims on Mars. (Or are there? I'm not really an expert). So that's not going to help with the critically important 'Muslim outreach' program that is a top priority for the space teams. How can we possibly waste the time and effort of our nation's leading scientists and minds when the Muslim world doesn't feel good about its contribution to science.

Let's face it. NASA is slowly, or rapidly, becoming nothing more than a political punching bag to beat up on during election cycles. The government floats the organization enough to keep a lot of people in work but won't commit to anything extraordinary like the Apollo Program. And every few years a politician gets to make some insane claim like 'Moon Bases' to excite people into getting out the vote.

Re:The Mars mission was a distraction anyways (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005481)

Wow, the mere mention of Muslims really got your goat, didn't it? Here's what that entire flap was based on (from csmonitor):

In an interview with Al-Jazeera last month [Jun 2010], NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said that President Obama charged him with reaching out to Muslim nations. The White House corrected him, saying that NASA's core mission is space exploration.

If you're so upset about it, why don't you document how much of Nasa's resources were actually spent on that? Any at all?

Your broader claim is that Nasa is focused on diplomacy. And yet, in the face of this 1.7% budget cut, what actually got cut? A joint US-EU program for Martian exploration. It was the first to go. It's like you purposely base your opinion on the opposite of the facts.

Managerial Incompetence (2, Insightful)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004683)

NASA is a bankrupt bureaucracy plain and simple. Instead of axing the funding (many billions) on space adventures for man (mars, moon, whatever) and 'heavy lift' vehicles they axe funding in the one area where one could say they have a legitimate role - pure scientific exploration. There are no good reasons to race to get men on Mars. And there is no reason any longer for NASA to be developing rockets when private industry can take over and perhaps profit now that the government funded competition is out of the way. Imagine taking just 25% of what is planned for manned missions and associated vehicles and applying it to basic exploration like voyager, cassini, etc. NASA would have more than enough funding to focus on the things they do best.

Re:Managerial Incompetence (1, Flamebait)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004863)

The problem is that the house republicans are pushing for the SLS. O fought against this waste of money, but he has enough issues to fight. Hopefully, on the next term, when the house reverts back to dems, then O will be able to kill SLS once and for all, and increase NASA's budget for doing private space.

Re:Managerial Incompetence (3, Interesting)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004869)

If people are interested, you can find the actual figures here:http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516674main_NASAFY12_Budget_Estimates-Overview-508.pdf [nasa.gov]

The 2012 budget request is $5 billion for science (Earth Science, Planetary Science, Astrophysics, Heliophysics, James Webb Space Telescope) versus $9.6 billion for the manned program, which includes $3 billion for the International Space Station. That's a pretty staggering figure considering that NASA won't actually launch any manned vehicles into space in 2012.

There's your problem: everything meaningful that NASA has done in the past 20 years has come out of the science program- the Hubble, the Mars rovers, monitoring the earth from space- but we spend almost twice as much on the manned program, which has produced no meaningful science to speak of. Even from the whole inspiring-future-scientists standpoint, I would suspect that vastly more children get interested in science because of Spirit, Opportunity, and the Hubble than because of the International Space Station. At this point, the manned space program really serves no purpose, it is nothing but an entitlement program for the defense industry- welfare for aerospace corporations.

Re:Managerial Incompetence (1)

defcon-11 (2181232) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005473)

To be fair, the manned program (i.e. the shuttle) launched Hubble and many of those Earth monitoring satellites.

Re:Managerial Incompetence (4, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005863)

All of which could have been done cheaper with unmanned rockets.

The only really significant thing the manned space program has done in 20 years is fix the Hubble. That was pretty awesome, and you couldn't have done that without a manned program. But according to the numbers on Wikipedia, building the Hubble cost around $2.5 billion, whereas the Shuttle program cost around $170 billion. For the cost of two shuttle missions you could have built a replacement Hubble.

Astronauts are basically a PR stunt, a way of literally putting a human face- and in particular, an *American* face on space exploration. Putting a man on the moon was a PR stunt, a way to show off America's power. The Saturn V was a monument to the power of the United States in the same way that the pyramids were a monument to the dynasties of the Egyptian pharaohs. I'm not arguing that this kind of stuff is meaningless. On the contrary, it's really important. The space program is a form of soft power that compliments the aircraft carrier. The aircraft carrier projects power in the form of threat; the space program projects power in the form of inspiration. The aircraft carrier says we're more powerful than the other guys, the space program says that we're ultimately about something more than just brute force.

Here's my argument: the manned program has outlived its usefulness as an instrument of soft power. When you're flying Lord British and the dude who developed Microsoft Word on the ISS, the manned space program has degenerated into a form of adventure tourism for the superrich. That doesn't inspire the nation, and it doesn't inspire the world. The unmanned program, however, continues to project what's best about the United States as a country- our ingenuity, our creativity, our daring, our need to explore, and our refusal to settle for second place. I'm not arguing we should give up on space- I'm saying we should double down on the unmanned program, because that's where the real exploration, inspiration, and science is all happening.

Re:Managerial Incompetence (1)

defcon-11 (2181232) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005457)

Sadly, with the current budget, there will not be another outer solar system mission for at least a decade...

So, how much do they spend on... (1, Informative)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004699)

"Anti-Piracy" campaigns, handouts to religious organizations, wellfare for illegal aliens who don't even pay taxes, bailouts, corn/pork/cheese subsidies, etc.

But fuck it America, throw away the future! Live in the now! Run up your debt while you throw away anything related to education and science. Maybe you could go loan some money to the arabas again and then start some wars with them again. How about you keep bitching about communist China while you increasingly become a socialist nanny-state. Set your future on a whole generation of poorly-educated obese children who write in texting abbreviations and speak like they gangstas. That'll totally work out!

Re:So, how much do they spend on... (4, Insightful)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004823)

Illegal aliens can't take advantage of welfare, if by welfare you mean TANF [wikipedia.org]. They pay property taxes, sales tax and the federal gas tax. Existing outside the federal income tax system they're also unable to take advantage of the EITC [wikipedia.org], which many would qualify for if they were filing federal returns.

I also like how you simultaneously complain about a lack of federal education spending and rail against the socialist nanny state. What do you think free, compulsory public education is?

Re:So, how much do they spend on... (4, Informative)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004995)

They only pay property tax if they own a place. They do pay sales tax, if they buy locally. However, in most states, the main money is from income taxes, not property taxes.

In addition, by having illegals work here, they lower the salaries/wages, which lowers the taxes paid.

Finally, look at alabama. [google.com]They enacted a anti-illegal bill. Now, I am not in favor of how harsh it is WRT privacy. The ability to stop a car and haul ppl in just because they 'look' illegal, is just plain wrong. BUT, the requirement of e-verify on ALL businesses has had a telling impact. Namely that for the last 6 months, they have fallen from 10% unemployment to 8% unemployment. In addition, gov. assistance PLUMMETED. Not only is taxes up, but they have said that they can now start increasing money back to education and other programs that had to be cut before. So, to say that illegals are useful to America, is just plain wrong.

Re:So, how much do they spend on... (4, Informative)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005183)

They only pay property tax if they own a place.

Wrong. If they occupy space in a rental or apartment the owner pays property tax and rolls that into their rent. If none of them had ever immigrated then the overall population would be lower, less apartment complexes would have been built, meaning less property tax would be collected.

They do pay sales tax, if they buy locally. However, in most states, the main money is from income taxes, not property taxes.

This may not be true for those states with the largest illegal immigrant populations. Texas, for instance, derives almost all its revenue from sales and property taxes. There's also the question of how much income the state would actually collect from illegal immigrants if they filed, given the prevalence of low incomes among that population. The biggest "hit" would be that they'd have to pay federal payroll taxes. However, since they can't take advantage of SS or Medicare anyway...

In addition, by having illegals work here, they lower the salaries/wages, which lowers the taxes paid.

And by lowering wages they increase the profit margins of their employers and lower the price of goods to consumers.

Finally, look at alabama.

Driving out the illegals may also put many Alabama farmers out of business. You point out that unemployment is down and revenue is up. That's the case everywhere. The national unemployment rate is down as well, and most of the illegals who left Alabama are still living in the U.S. Another thing to consider is that the effectiveness of Alabama's new policy is enhanced by the fact that none of its neighbors have a similar policy. Illegals are leaving Alabama because there are better options nearby. If such a policy were enacted at the federal level, and enforced, then it would probably result in fewer illegals in the country, but the steady-state level would not be as low as it currently is in Alabama.

Here are a couple articles that allege the new law has had less than beneficial effects:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec11/alimmigration_10-13.html (See Jerry Spencer's comments)

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-15/alabama-s-imperiled-immigration-crackdown-clogs-machinery-of-government.html

Re:So, how much do they spend on... (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005385)

I meant things like this: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/4132598-california-has-quarter-of-the-american-illegal-immigrant-population-an-essay-on-healthcare-and-illegal-immigrants [allvoices.com]
That's just the first hit on a google search. There's plenty more.

And you can have free education without the nanny state. But my point on education wasn't that it was a "socialized" venture it was that the education in America has become increasingly more awful, especially when compared to the rest of the world.

we should pick a planet.... (1)

devkrev (1973778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004707)

that has more oil on it...

Re:we should pick a planet.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004743)

Been there, done that. When Huygens landed on Saturn's moon Titan it verified the presence of oceans of liquid methane. All we need now is a long pipeline.

Kickstarter (2)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004799)

Sounds like someone needs to start a new project on Kickstarter. The lander will be covered in GoDaddy and IBM logos, and the astronauts will be drinking Coke (tm) and eating Hormel Chili.

Budget constraints and people persons (1)

baffled (1034554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004827)

I suspect it's being strangled, like most oversized organizations, by people in the administration who focus on preserving jobs, salaries, and benefits of all the little people whose fate is in their hands, rather than the goals of the organization.

Re:Budget constraints and people persons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004907)

if NASA was a company it would have died 15 years ago

They have no clear goal, no plans, no products, and no accomplishments, its a welfare program.

Some of you are too excitable (1, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004835)

Look, we have republicans working to gut NASA, but at the same time, trying to keep the SLS going. The problem is, that space launch is no longer about capabilities, but about economics. As such, we NEED cheap redundant launch systems. The SLS is NOT IT. It is a 20 Billion boondoggle with a 1-2 billion launch cost, and that is just to get 70 tonnes to orbit.

OTOH, if we halt major projects for a short time, AND get private space going, THEN, we can obtain CHEAP ECONOMIC LAUNCHES. In addition, we would have red dragon quickly available. With red dragon and Falcon Heavy, we can send new missions to mars every 2 years for less than 300 million. Keep in mind that falcon heavy will allow MULTIPLE sats and a lander to go to mars. That is huge.

If you are going to whine, then whine about the fact that neo-cons are gutting NASA by turning it into a job's bill, rather than keep it as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Re:Some of you are too excitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005337)

Who developed the science and the technology to be able to develop the the red and the falcon? Was it business? or was the technology given away after development. Remember the first rule of business is profit, not the science, or the development of a system, but profit. Will an american be the first to get to mars, no. Will the Chicoms get there first, or India? unknown. But their science, taught by the americans will get there. We as all great nations go, are on the way down. We squandered our lead of the world by Regan and Nixon. We are on the way of the middle romans, to servitude to other countries. Your poor children.

Late-Breaking News from NASA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39004881)

Spokesman for NASA, David Weaver said that, just like the rest of the federal government, the space agency has to make 'tough choices and live within our means.' [ ... ] NASA is reassessing its current Mars exploration initiatives to maximize what can be achieved.

Today marks a glorious day of initiative reassessment! Rejoice, Democrats, Republicrats, and Bureaucrats alike, for today, NASA embarks on a new mission - the maximization of the achievable through the reassessment of initiatives! ONWARDS TO RE-ELECTION! VICTORY IN 2012!

When a former associate administrator for science named Edward Weiler, suggested that the cuts were "totally irrational and unjustified. We are the only country on this planet that has the demonstrated ability to land on another planet, namely Mars. It is a national prestige issue", Speaker Weaver reminded him that "having one's title removed was a dignified means of ending a career, certainly less painful than having one's gelsac.... no, wait, you call them something different here... what's the word... nerds, narf, na-- ah, there we go! ...less painful than having one's national prestige fall to the floor", other members of the press corps stared in blank confusion, and omitted the mysterious comment from the CBS news report.

Re:Late-Breaking News from NASA! (2)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004917)

Spokesman for NASA, David Weaver said that, just like the rest of the federal government, the space agency has to make 'tough choices and live within our means.' [ ... ] NASA is reassessing its current Mars exploration initiatives to maximize what can be achieved.

Today marks a glorious day of initiative reassessment! Rejoice, Democrats, Republicrats, and Bureaucrats alike, for today, NASA embarks on a new mission - the maximization of the achievable through the reassessment of initiatives! ONWARDS TO RE-ELECTION! VICTORY IN 2012!

When a former associate administrator for science named Edward Weiler, suggested that the cuts were "totally irrational and unjustified. We are the only country on this planet that has the demonstrated ability to land on another planet, namely Mars. It is a national prestige issue", Speaker Weaver reminded him that "having one's title removed was a dignified means of ending a career, certainly less painful than having one's gelsac.... no, wait, you call them something different here... what's the word... nerds, narf, na-- ah, there we go! ...less painful than having one's national prestige fall to the floor", other members of the press corps stared in blank confusion, and omitted the mysterious comment from the CBS news report.

(And when a junior reporter from Slashdot realized he forgot to uncheck the "Post Anonymously" button one Saturday morning, he blamed it upon invaders from Mars stealthily occupying positions of high import within the Terran economy, including a range of positions from his local bartender to high-ranking positions within the NASA bureaucracy. Seems the most likely hypothesis these days, doesn't it?)

It's Disney's Fault (3, Funny)

Toad-san (64810) | more than 2 years ago | (#39004891)

They released that damned "John Carter" trailer. And now it's perfectly obviously that there won't be ANY naked slave girls [sniff].

Adios, Barsoom! Alas, we'll never see those wondrous canals, the city ruins, the four-armed barbarians, Dejah Thoris in all her buxom fleshy glory ..

http://www.cartermovie.com/borisjc10.jpg

Sigh ...

actually, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005215)

Obama to drastically cut mars funding

Mars in our lifetime (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005233)

I think the only reasonable expectation of seeing humans on Mars any time soon is a one-way trip. There must be husband-wife geologists of retirement age who would like to live out their days in a low-gravity marsological paradise.

How about cutting the budget of some Bureaucrats? (1)

cowtamer (311087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005375)

I think NASA should get rid of its cadre of bureaucrats who do NOTHING but squabble over budgets, kill programs, and buy staplers. That way, they can let the brilliant (and I do NOT mean this sarcastically) engineers who still work there do their job.

Here's a rule of thumb:

If you're a civil servant and you have not worked on anything that has left the ground in the last 5 years, you get fired, and the engineers you manage get assigned to someone who HAS worked on something that has gone into space.

Thus the cycle repeats (2)

izomiac (815208) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005401)

10 NASA cuts projects laypeople can relate to in favor of obscure ones that only astronomers care about
20 Come budget review time, constituents aren't asking their representatives to fund NASA, corporations aren't lobbying for it either
30 NASA's budget is again cut
40 GOTO 10

Now, to be fair, NASA is favoring more cost effective programs. Discovering planets lightyears away is of great use to fields outside of astronomy and causes advancement in human-usable technologies I'm sure. But garnering funding requires appealing to the masses, and I doubt many laypeople would be able to name even one of NASA's currently planned projects.

Welcome to Third World USA... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005799)

You idiots. You'd rather die than be called a 'racist'. You'd rather your own children die than be called a 'racist'.

Non-whites are INVADING your country and DESTROYING it, or hadn't you noticed?

Are blacks going to put a man on the moon any time soon? Ever? How about build a plane? Or a computer?

The bleeding continues. (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005801)

We're sacrificing every great thing we have in this country. Never the military though. We need to have a bigger military than every country on earth x 2.

In other related news ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39005939)

... Well-funded Black Projects from shady Corporate entities in the military industrial complex continue to make routine space trips to Mars daily.

Solution (1)

prehistoricman5 (1539099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39005983)

All NASA needs to do is author a report about the possibility of oil on Mars. I'm certain a few companies would then pay to have some drilling rigs sent over there.

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