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SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the only-tax-dollars-after-all dept.

NASA 114

MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "While participating in a panel called "The US Space Enterprise Partnership" at the NewSpace Conference that was held by the Space Frontier Foundation on Saturday, SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell opined that NASA's budget should be raised to $22-25 billion, according to a tweet by Space Policy Online's Marcia Smith. The theory is that a lot of political rancor has taken place in the aerospace community because of the space agency's limited budget. If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

The statement represents something of a departure of the usual mutual antagonism that exists between some in the commercial space community and some at NASA. Indeed Space Politics' Jeff Foust added a tweet, "Thought: a panel at a Space Frontier Foundation conf is talking about how to increase NASA budget. Imagine that in late 90s." The Space Frontier Foundation has been a leading voice for commercializing space, sometimes at the expense of NASA programs."

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don't have money to waste (1, Offtopic)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 months ago | (#47544099)

we're still paying down the 4 to 6 trillion our wars of choice have cost, we can't spare a half of a percent of that for space

Re:don't have money to waste (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544141)

we will also be paying off the trillions obamacare has cost us, we cant spare any of that either....

Re:don't have money to waste (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about 4 months ago | (#47545319)

At least Obamacare benefits Americans.

Re:don't have money to waste (0)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#47546549)

Thats debatable. I'd argue removing personal responsibility for lifestyle choices and giving society a say in them weakens America.

Re:don't have money to waste (2)

postbigbang (761081) | about 4 months ago | (#47547173)

Some people get a lifestyle choice with ACA coverage that's impossible without the ACA: they can breathe.

Others might remove that choice. There's a civics lesson there. If you're talking about covering people with HIV, or who were smokers, then please charge admission for the times when you walk on water. I genuflect.

Re:don't have money to waste (1)

SeaFox (739806) | about 4 months ago | (#47547501)

I'd argue removing personal responsibility for lifestyle choices and giving society a say in them weakens America.

People unable to get coverage for cancer they developed through no fault of their own will be interested in your opinion.

Re:don't have money to waste (1, Funny)

dryeo (100693) | about 4 months ago | (#47547713)

Life style choices start with being born in a good environment. If someone is stupid enough to be born in a toxic dump. well tough.

Re:don't have money to waste (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 4 months ago | (#47549065)

Your statement has no bearing on reality let alone the ACA.

Re:don't have money to waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47545437)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will reduce health coverage spending.

So net gain, since we'd be spending money on health care anyway.

Unless you were planning on going for the Christian Scientist plan?

Re:don't have money to waste (2)

dywolf (2673597) | about 4 months ago | (#47549061)

Actually the ACA doesnt cost even close to trillions.
Simple fact of the matter is it doesn't "cost" anything.
It makes more money than it spends.
That's right: it actually turns a profit and REDUCES THE DEFICIT.

Re:don't have money to waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47551263)

I'll add that little lie to "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" and "It will save the average family $2500 per year".

Re:don't have money to waste (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544197)

Soon we'll have spent a trillion for a fighter jet that doesn't even work.

Re:don't have money to waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47545157)

That the Air Force didn't want.

Re:don't have money to waste (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#47550769)

The Air Force isn't the only entity who's opinion matters. Did the Navy want it?

Re:don't have money to waste (4, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47544227)

It should be noted that deficits for Obama's years in office amount to $4T to $6T. And those had nothing to do with our wars.

It should also be noted that unless we're counting Vietnam, Korea, and WW2, we haven't had $4T to $6T in war costs. Military budgets were higher as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan, but you'd have to count the entire military budget as "war costs" to reach even $4T, much less $6T.

It should also be noted that we're making absolutely no attempt to "pay down" our debts. The National Debt goes up every year, by rather more than $500B (rather more than $1T during most of Obama's terms).

Well, hold on. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544365)

Here's Heritage's numbers. [heritage.org]

Federal entitlements are driving this spending growth, having increased from less than half of total federal outlays just 20 years ago to nearly 62 percent in 2012. Three major programs—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—dominate in size and growth, soaking up about 44 percent of the budget.

BUT interest on the current debt is also increasing the debt and along with entitlements, it is crowding out other spending.

The thing with entitlements though, is that most of that spending is on old people and is increasing due to our changing demographics. [wikipedia.org]

But we also need to keep in mind that Medicare was expanded greatly under Bush in 2003, greatly increasing the costs [wikipedia.org] . So lets not put all the blame on Obama.

We should also realize that the old people have considerable political clout - hence why you NEVER hear ANYTHING about Medicare or Social Security when the Tea Partiers are demanding budget cuts. That is why you can keep going back and every President of both parties has tapped into taxpayer money to buy the old people's vote.

Poor people on the other hand, have virtually no political clout and are looked upon as lacking moral fiber and deserve to have their programs cut. And why the attacks are continuing on "Obamacare". As a side note, my wife's clinic has actually started doing MORE business (and actually getting paid) because of Obamacare. See, when a medical provider doesnt get paid, they just pass the costs on to the rest of us in the form of higher fees. But that another post .....

Never the less, I see many many criticisms about government spending and vague references to entitlement programs and no mention of the true burdens on our government.

OH! War spending. Here is an interesting article about that and to make it short: nobody knows how much or how it is afftecing the economy. [cfr.org]

Re:Well, hold on. (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#47546335)

Here's Heritage's numbers

Why not give us Marvin the Martian's numbers too? For all the time the Heritage Foundation has cooked the books on their reporting, you might as well just give us Glenn Beck's numbers.

"Figures don't lie, but the Heritage Foundation Does"

http://mythfighter.com/2014/01... [mythfighter.com]

Re:It should also be noted (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544541)

It should also be noted that excessive use of a single phrase repetitively can be quite annoying. Ever heard of bullet points?

Replacing temporary with permanent ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 4 months ago | (#47544545)

It should also be noted that we're making absolutely no attempt to "pay down" our debts.

And using cuts in temporary wartime spending to "pay for" new permanent spending, and calling the new spending "deficit neutral" since its "paid for". Political math is amazing.

Re:don't have money to waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47546191)

>It should be noted that deficits for Obama's years in office amount to $4T to $6T. And those had nothing to do with our wars.

Right, all those wars were fully paid for in advance, right? (Including the increases caused to the VA budgets and the disability payments to LOADS of vets. Horsepucky. Neither of the wars was paid for in advance, and we will be paying for them for many years to come, no matter who is President. (Unless we decide to default on our loans and obligations to veterans.)

And how much money did we spend on that embassy in Baghdad? (750 mill?) With operating budgets of over 1 bill? And we're still paying for it, and will be for years.

Re:don't have money to waste (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#47546283)

Military budgets were higher as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan, but you'd have to count the entire military budget as "war costs" to reach even $4T, much less $6T.

Well, it adds up pretty fast when you look at the lost productivity of the men and women who went to fight and the fact that now we're on the hook for a lifetime of medical care for every single one of them, plus other benefits, and a lot of them came back very broken, with pieces missing and will require expensive medical care for the rest of their lives.

When you see the $4-6 trillion figure for the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, you're looking at more than just the cost of bullets and MREs. The notion of True Price Accounting, where you look at the externalities of a product, service or government policy, is actually quite useful. It gives us a good idea of the true costs of things. A former CIA guy named Robert David Steele has written a few books on this topic and they're quite illuminating. He's also the guy who wrote a book called "Open Source Everything" which is a very interesting take on government and information.

Re:don't have money to waste (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#47547833)

those expenses are not considered part of the proper military budget, and can be cut at will.

Re:don't have money to waste (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#47548799)

The discussion wasn't about the military budget, it was about the cost of the wars.

Surely, when you want to know how much it costs to drive a car, you want to include gas and maintenance, right? Insurance and parking costs. Even the cost of traffic tickets.

The Council on Foreign Relations, who likes wars, tried to minimize the cost of the war just to the line items in the budget. It's worth having a more realistic estimate.

Better wash your hands (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544265)

We know where that number came from.

Re:Better wash your hands (0)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 months ago | (#47544425)

Brown University isn't named for what you think it is. Go back to your German niche porn.

1 1/2 trillion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47545097)

I thought that Iraq cost $1 trillion, and Afghanistan cost $1/2 trillion. That is with Obama pulling out, thanks to the stupid Iraqis not agreeing to conditions for stationing troops. We should have pulled out of Iraq sooner, so Iraq could have fallen to ISIS sooner. Where did this 4 to 6 trillion number come from?

Re:don't have money to waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47553589)

Sorry, the 2009 Stimulus bill cost more than what was spent on Iraq since 2003. Afghanistan is slightly less and combined are a little over 1.5T. Anyone who says it is over 2T is talking out of their ass. Given that we spent nearly a trillion on 120+ different "anti-poverty" programs _each year_, that's not too much in comparison.

Why stop there? (1, Insightful)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about 4 months ago | (#47544103)

If 25 billion is good, surely 250 billion is better right?

And if 250 billion is good, why not just hit 25 trillion?

We live in a world of scarce resources - sometimes that means that expensive government programs can't be funded.

Re:Why stop there? (4)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47544153)

with ALL the other stuff our government funds, we should be able to kill some other programs to keep NASA alive. We should not be in this situation where we are dependent on russia to bring our men and women to space and back home.

Re:Why stop there? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544329)

why should we fund NASA at all?

Some politicians are just like wall street ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 4 months ago | (#47544605)

why should we fund NASA at all?

For exploration, for technology development. Some things are too big, too risky or the return on investment too long for commercial space companies.

Contrary to some of its critics beliefs, some NASA spending does have a return on investment, a benefit to the U.S. economy and U.S. society. Much like some investments in basic scientific research. The problem is that some politicians are just like wall street, they want to see the payback in a fiscal quarter or two -- well unless their district provides something to NASA. Sometimes budget cuts are a politician's way of saying "I didn't get my piece of the pie".

Re:Why stop there? (2, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | about 4 months ago | (#47545081)

Probably one of the best things NASA could do at this point is abandon ISS, stop paying for it, and tell the Russians its all theirs. There is a fair chance they would fly Americans to it for free rather than get saddled with that boat anchor.

If the Russians don't want it either its time to deorbit it. It would free up a LOT of money for more useful endeavors. Its never been good for much of anything, certainly nothing to justify the staggering price tag

SpaceX will have the ability to put astronauts in to LEO in a few years. Its not like its a crisis, there is very little for people to do in LEO at the moment other than to be lab rats for zero G physiology studies. You would think they would have done most of that work by now.

About the only point in putting people in space at all is as colonists, persumably on Mars. You can do just about everything else way better and cheaper with robots.

So until you are ready to fly people to Mars to stay, stop getting your panties in a bunch about getting them to LEO.

Re:Why stop there? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47547329)

Probably one of the best things NASA could do at this point is abandon ISS, stop paying for it, and tell the Russians its all theirs.

The ISS isn't the sole property of NASA.

Re:Why stop there? (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about 4 months ago | (#47546593)

If there are programs out there that can be killed, why not just lower the tax burden on the citizens, instead of just transferring it to another government program?

Sometimes, governments can't afford things.

Wow, Stunning Conclusion (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544115)

If you give NASA lots more money, they'll bicker and complain less? That's amazing news. You can really apply that to every federal agency. Raise taxes boys!

And honestly, what are they going to do with a few extra billion? Probably not a whole lot of Mars landings, but more Muslim outreach and climate change propaganda.

U had me at "US space ENTERPRISE" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544117)

rly!

everyone knows (4, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about 4 months ago | (#47544125)

everyone knows that NASA is the red headed step child of the government. they are the face of the government that kids love, and encourages science and technology research, there is no better government agency that I can think of that has more good will with the kids

but for some reason, they dont get funded, everyone acts as if NASA wastes money left and right and they get nothing done. I blame congress and the president for always interjecting. They are politicians, not scientists. We should give nasa a blank check and let them do their thing.

Re:everyone knows (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47545003)

It's because NASA doesn't have any lobbyists. They are viewed as "luxury" spending and their budget can be cut without anyone complaining.

perfect solution. Bureaucrats won't find ways to (1, Troll)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#47544137)

> The theory is that a lot of political rancor has taken place in the aerospace community because of the space agency's limited budget. If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

That will definitely work. Government agencies can never find more ways to spend money.
I bet if we handed 43% of everything we produce to the federal government, they'd stop having budget problems.

Re:perfect solution. Bureaucrats won't find ways t (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 4 months ago | (#47544461)

Like they say: "The first rule of economics is that everything depends on scarcity. The first rule of politics is to ignore the first rule of economics."

Why, so we can hand the money to you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544145)

Why not just cut out the middle man and make SpaceX NASA and just give you the money. Thank you for your concern for the public, SpaceX!

What is the business case of SpaceX? (1)

satuon (1822492) | about 4 months ago | (#47544173)

Since we're talking about SpaceX, what is the business case of the first "private" space company? Do they plan on being a space tourism company? Or do they intend to make all their money being a government contractor? I fail to see any other possible customers for their services, unless space mining is something more than a pipe dream.

Re:What is the business case of SpaceX? (4, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47544247)

SpaceX has scheduled eleven launches over the next several years with the US Government as the customer (ISS resupply missions).

In addition, it has 17 launches scheduled for other customers (private satellite launches).

So, no, SpaceX doesn't have to do space tourism, nor do asteroid mining, nor make all their money being a government contractor. What they are is a LAUNCH company. They don't do payloads, they just put other people's payloads into orbit for them cheaply.

Re:What is the business case of SpaceX? (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 months ago | (#47546545)

They don't do space tourism yet, but once they got the Dragon man-rated I don't see why not. The seven people who've been space tourists so far have in total paid $170 million, while SpaceX has quoted $140 million for a crewed Falcon 9 launch so they're at a price at least some is willing to pay. If they can make the rockets reusable it could significantly increase their launch volume even if only a few hundred super rich want to go. It would be real space flight in LEO and make you a genuine astronaut, not just "pop your head in" suborbital flight. Maybe they could even use the cargo room of the Dragon to hold some kind of deployable/inflatable mini-hotel for the stay. 100 mile high club anyone? ;)

Re:What is the business case of SpaceX? (1)

satuon (1822492) | about 4 months ago | (#47547459)

That's great, it means they have an independent source of demand that's relatively stable (unlike space tourism where you depend on just a few very rich people). So they could theoretically grow on their own even without the government contracts.

Re:What is the business case of SpaceX? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544295)

Right now, it's communication satellites. Take a look at the current launch manifest [spacex.com] .

They haven't shown any interest in space tourism, but they would probably be happy to provide launch services for a company that would arrange it. Bigelow Aerospace is another space startup working on flexible space station modules, which could be used on a NASA space station or a commercial/tourist station.

Long term, in order for SpaceX to realize their dreams of transporting passengers to Mars, there will probably need to be a new major industry in space. I have no idea what it will be. Space mining, maybe. The main problem is that most activities in space, such as mining asteroids, have the potential to make space exploration a lot cheaper (refuel in orbit rather than launching a huge rocket to get a tiny amount of fuel into space) but don't provide any economic benefit back on Earth.

Re:What is the business case of SpaceX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544319)

They launch a lot of private customers satelites in to space, telecom stuff, planetary observation for various interests like mining, etc They also get some things from NASA because they're cheap and have been quite reliable up till now. Basically there's already many billions going in to launches for private ventures every year already, one just doesn't really realize any more how many rocket launches there are in a year anymore as it isn't news any longer. (Some more info on it here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_spaceflight )

In any case their portion of the launch marketshare seems to be enough to make a profit.

Re:What is the business case of SpaceX? (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 4 months ago | (#47549097)

spacex is commercial space.
NASA is federal space.
they are not mutually exclusive.

NASA shouldnt really be in the business of boring day to day work, ie, space trucking.
That role should fall to commercial enterprises, or at least public/private partnerships.
NASA itself should have as its core responsibility research and exploration.
Pushing boundaries, trapping/visiting asteroids, etc.

Re:What is the business case of SpaceX? (1)

satuon (1822492) | about 4 months ago | (#47551509)

The way SpaceX was asking for more funding for NASA made it look like they themselves are counting on that government money.

Stop the Rancor! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544211)

If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor [wikia.com] will cease.

I'm not sure that throwing around space money will make him stop...

It will be used as a trough for political cronies (0)

schwit1 (797399) | about 4 months ago | (#47544215)

This is just more SLS type pork.

Another example (1, Redundant)

epyT-R (613989) | about 4 months ago | (#47544219)

Another example of corporates telling the taxpayer what he should pay. Fuck that. Spacex should fund the 25billion itself.

Re:Another example (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544389)

ROFL you're amusing.

You're paying what the current breed of democrats or republicans(let's pretend they're not the same thing as far as decisions go) says, for example the 4 TRILLION (thats 2(TWO) orders of magnitude over) you spent so far to fuck up another country searching for oil^H^H^H imaginary WMDs.

This suggestion, corporate or not, would actually do something that's beneficial, and not fuck up another country.

Re:Another example (3, Insightful)

Ecuador (740021) | about 4 months ago | (#47544407)

Yeah, it is a deplorable thing when a company suggests that you spend an extra $30/per capita for science, but it is fine when your politicians at the same time have you spending $2100/per capita for the military. Unless your problem is not the proposal itself but who makes the proposal. Perhaps you are more comfortable with the established method of only lobbyists being able to affect where taxpayer money goes. So SpaceX should hire lobbyists and pressure the house and the congress instead of participating in "panels".

Re:Another example (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#47550871)

"/" and"per" mean the same thing in that context, so "$X per per capita" doesn't make sense.

Re:Another example (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544521)

Another example of corporates telling the taxpayer what he should pay. Fuck that. Spacex should fund the 25billion itself.

You are aware that ULA, the current American launch monopolist has succeeded, via lobbying, in having the Senate insert a poison pill rider into a bill [chron.com] that seriously harms SpaceX prospects. ULA is deeply afraid of how SpaceX has repurposed older but reliable technologies to create a launch service that is an order of magnitude cheaper than anything they can even imagine providing. SpaceX is hardly a villain here.

Re:Another example (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47546221)

No, the article said if we give NASA more money, all those companies will just get along like buddies. It's only our stinginess that has them act nastily to each other.

Please, take our money so that you can behave civilly.

Anti-SpaceX Propaganda Campaign (3, Informative)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about 4 months ago | (#47545725)

As this article indicates, United Launch Alliance, the principle competitor to SpaceX has hired Shockey Scofield Solutions [s-3group.com] to initiate a propaganda campaign against SpaceX. You can see ULA listed as a client in the website listed above. The campaign is indirectly mentioned in the following very informative article [defensenews.com] , just past the halfway point in the article. You will also notice another client to Shockey Scofield Solutions as Koch Industries, which is a company notorious for its deceptive propaganda campaigns against action on global warming.

Given this fact, I would tend to suspect many of the anti SpaceX comments as being part of an astroturfing campaign. To be honest, I really don't understand why an actual thinking person would have any problem with SpaceX. They build reliable rockets quickly and cheaply. What on Earth is the problem with that?

You having problems, John Galt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544255)

Apparently, it turns out that Hank Reardon and John Galt are finding space to be a little harder than it first appeared. Perhaps with some _more_ help from the statist parasites they might make it there yet.

Re:You having problems, John Galt? (2)

trout007 (975317) | about 4 months ago | (#47544499)

I always pictured Elon as Francisco d'Anconia.

Re:You having problems, John Galt? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 4 months ago | (#47547199)

I always pictured Elon as Francisco d'Anconia.

No, that was Alan Greenspan.

Re:You having problems, John Galt? (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47545089)

Interesting you should say that when Musk has the cheapest space launch capabilities in the world, is in the process of making his first stage reusable (and thus cheaper still), is in the process of man-rating a seven-man capsule that will be reusable and will cost less to launch than the three-man Soyuz, and is developing a heavy-lift launcher that can put more payload into orbit than Shuttle ever could.

And all on his own dime....

Re:You having problems, John Galt? (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 4 months ago | (#47549323)

Sure about Space X being the cheapest? If I remember correctly, Zenit is yet cheaper.

Re:You having problems, John Galt? (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | about 4 months ago | (#47550391)

"And all on his own dime...."

"As of May 2012, SpaceX had operated on total funding of approximately $1 billion in its first ten years of operation. Of this, private equity provided about $200M, with Musk investing approximately $100M and other investors having put in about $100M"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]

I think SpaceX is doing some neat stuff, but let's not pretend they're any different than any other government contractor.

More money won't help (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544275)

In the same way that plunging 2bn on... I think it was Ohio's public education system resulted in more admin buildings but worse sat scores, just more money to NASA won't help. The problem isn't the money, it's the failure to have a goal, as was already argued elsewhere. This is easy to see: After the apollo program the budget didn't change that much (adjusted for inflation), but without structure NASA has done nothing but pursue unconnected tidbits and flounder in its poor management structure.

Besides, SpaceX' raison d'être would be to do better on less money, so it complaining NASA has not enough budget is disingenious and indicative of complete failure of that experiment. Best get rid of both, and be done with it. Neither is going anywhere.

Re:More money won't help (2)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 4 months ago | (#47544409)

They have excellent goals, mostly scientific in nature.

The moon shots were a dumbed down jock goal. Who's got the biggest rocket?

The problems in space science are almost completely different to the problems in education. In both cases, money could help if they spent it on the right things.

Look out for the rancor! (1, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#47544363)

If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

That won't be enough. You need to drop a heavy door on it's neck.

National Academy of Sciences Says ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544417)

50 years.

As of 2014 the United States of America, NASA and NASA's contractors are not capable to mount a valid effort toward a human space flight mission to the Moon or Mars or an astroid.

Why ?

USA does not have the people, education, engineering, industry, science and technology that would be capable of accomplish such a mission, and furthermore, will not have for another 50 years at least.

The people for the mission in education, in engineering, in science, in technology and those at NASA and its contractors have not been born.

Therefore, NASA's budget can be flat-lined, i.e. zero, until 2064 and likely a few decades after that until a valid, educated and trained workforce and the industrial infrastructure and national economy exist.

Re:National Academy of Sciences Says ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544971)

Which National Academy report says that, especially the extrapolation in your last sentence?

We went from launching our first satellite on January 31st 1958 to landing a man on the Moon on July 20th 1969.

Don't tell me what we can and can't do based on not having the properly trained workforce. We have brilliant people at NASA and America's private space companies.

What we don't have is the budget and the political will to go to Mars.

Re:National Academy of Sciences Says ... (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 4 months ago | (#47547755)

We went from launching our first satellite on January 31st 1958 to landing a man on the Moon on July 20th 1969.

Don't tell me what we can and can't do based on not having the properly trained workforce. We have brilliant people at NASA and America's private space companies.

With all due props to USA-trained contributors to Apollo and its predecessors, it's worth noting that many of the contributors came from outside the USA, particularly from Canada and the United Kingdom.

That said, I agree with your point: you don't need to wait more than a generation to find the talent you need to achieve great things in space.

Re:National Academy of Sciences Says ... (1)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 4 months ago | (#47547771)

Sorry, I forgot the Germans, and probably some others.

Real Money? (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about 4 months ago | (#47544445)

"A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money."

  - Everett McKinley Dirksen

When I was born... (3, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 4 months ago | (#47544555)

When I was born Mankind had not set foot on the moon.

By the time I was five, we had been there, done that and decided to never go back again.

If aliens do exist, they are sitting back saying "What the f?ck man, you want to meet us but don't have the energy to get off the couch and answer the door?"

Mankind does not deserve space travel. We had our chance and refused to take it.

We spend less than 5% of our national budget on space travel. Whoops, sorry make that less than 0.5%. It is a joke.

Science and technology have funded our industry for hundreds of years - yet we refuse to spend more on space industry than we do on our aircraft carrier program (old Nimitz class cost about 4.5 billion - and we have 11 of them).

25 billion? Double that and make it a real scientific program. 50 Billion is a reasonable price to pay. Not the paltry less than 20 we currently pay

Re:When I was born... (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47545153)

yet we refuse to spend more on space industry than we do on our aircraft carrier program (old Nimitz class cost about 4.5 billion - and we have 11 of them).

The Nimitz program [wikipedia.org] produced ten carriers between 1968 and 2006. That is 38 years for a yearly budget of $1.8B. That is approximately 10% of the NASA budget. There are now also 10 large carriers in service. Comparing a long project with a single year budget is inaccurate.

Re:When I was born... (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 4 months ago | (#47546275)

When I was born Mankind had not set foot on the moon. By the time I was five, we had been there, done that and decided to never go back again. If aliens do exist, they are sitting back saying "What the f?ck man, you want to meet us but don't have the energy to get off the couch and answer the door?" Mankind does not deserve space travel. We had our chance and refused to take it.

By the time you were five, we had been (384 400 kilometers) / (4.2421 light years) = 9.57827017 x 10^-9 = ~0.000001% of the way to the closest star. Eight years later they launched the Voyager 1 which is now about (127.98 Astronomical Units) / (4.2421 light years) = ~0.05% of the way. And it's probably uninhabited. What chance did we miss to go visit aliens? Do you think if we just put enough money in it we'd invent the warp drive? Chemical rockets can't do it, it'd be like trying to ride a horse to the moon. The ban on nukes in space kills fission, we still haven't got a working fusion reactor here on earth and antimatter only exists in extreme lab experiments.

True, we don't care much about developing the propulsion technology but we sure as hell would like the energy generation technology so to pretend we're not working on it is false. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to try building the applied technology before we got the basics working, if we can make a fusion reactor here on earth then maybe we can turn it into a fusion drive. Trying to skip that step earns us nothing, it doesn't bypass any of the problems we already have and creates a whole set of new ones which makes it that much less likely to succeed. The only tech that's pretty much ready to go is fission, but good luck selling a rocket that'll nuke its way through space.

Re:When I was born... (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 4 months ago | (#47549175)

Fusion drive is not the only technology we need. We need a lot more technology to live in space. The problems of radiation, bone-loss due to low gravity, recycling air, water and food all need a lot more work.

As for what we would invent, the thing about research is if we knew what we would invent, we would already have it. Research is a surprise. It always has been and always will be.

Einstein did not know he was inventing GPS, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, etc. etc. when he figured out relativity. Tesla had no idea he would invent, well, basically our entire electrical world.

If you fund it, we will INVENT. If we don't fund it, we don't invent.

Space travel isn't feasible. (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#47544719)

Reality check: space travel with chemical fuels just barely works. It takes huge rockets to launch dinky payloads, and that hasn't improved in 45 years. Satellites and probes are useful. Man in space has just been a boondoggle.

If fusion ever works, this may change, but with chemical rockets, it's not getting much better.

Re:Space travel isn't feasible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47547539)

We already know how to do fusion-powered spaceflight [wikipedia.org] , although perhaps not in the way you were thinking.

Re:Space travel isn't feasible. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#47550961)

Project Orion would have been fission-powered, not fusion. This [wikipedia.org] is fusion-powered!

Re:Space travel isn't feasible. (1)

NoImNotNineVolt (832851) | about 4 months ago | (#47551373)

Proposals for some of the larger vehicles indeed featured fusion-boosted fission bombs. These are generally called fusion bombs.

Re:Space travel isn't feasible. (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 4 months ago | (#47551691)

Well sure, but the post would have been less amusing if I added that extra detail.

Re:Space travel isn't feasible. (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 4 months ago | (#47549239)

only if you think in terms of leaving the Earth's gravity well every time.

we could, right now, with todays technology, begin exploring.
it would be hard.
it would expensive.
but we could do it.

it starts with learning to harness the resources already in space.
then turn those resources into ships. some of the mterials would have to come from earth, at least initially.
hell, we could turn the moon into a manufacturing and launch facility.
and just being 1/6th the earth's gravity leads to expenentially lower fuel requirements.

the problem is we dont even have the collective will to start.
because "its too hard" "its too expensive".
we went to the bloody moon for chrissakes.
ya ya, to beat the commies. but also because we could. to prove it could be done.

even then we could have started this greated of all human endeavors: conquering space.
but we didnt.
and its stupid.

but point is once you get going, the easier it is to keep going.
and we could do it today.

but if we keep waiting "for the right moment", for it "become easier", with the right "magic tech"...IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.
over time we will develope better tech. but the thinking of waiting for tomorows tech is a trap, an endless cycle.
so start now, start today with todays tech.

So fund NASA.
And get us off the rock.
Before we make it uninhabitable.

Re:Space travel isn't feasible. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47549507)

I've also used the word "boondoggle" as a means of describing manned exploration of space.

The moon is a gift. It's tidally-locked and 2.5 light seconds away. It's the perfect place to work on robotic construction of habitats. Yet we seem to look at it as nothing more than a tourist destination; been there, done that, next. Instead of shooting for Mars (God bless Elon Musk), let's start putting machinery on the moon. Soil collectors. Soil processors. Printers. Solar panels. Reflectors. Plants. Put things on the moon that can be remotely controlled today, semi-autonomous tomorrow, and fully-autonomous someday. We can do all the research here on Earth to make them as small and light as possible. Make it all standardized and modular. When the next mission package arrives, it can cannibalize parts from prior missions, even if that only means structural components. Send software to make the processors do things they couldn't do before. And so on. Just get going on it, for crying out loud.

When that's working, two things can happen. First, the Moon can become a research station for a manned presence because we can build a usable science station there before ever setting foot on the moon (though with a 2.5 second signal delay, why bother?). Second, the techniques can be applied to other destinations such as Mars.

Get the bulk of the mass for a colony from the destination. The only things we need to send are things that cannot be manufactured there. Today, nothing can be manufactured on the moon. In time, anything could be.

The only thing worth going into debt to fund... (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 4 months ago | (#47544725)

Nothing else we've done in recent memory is as important.

Enabling wasteful spending on SLS? (3, Insightful)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 4 months ago | (#47544771)

It has been said by many close to these matters that part of the drain on NASA is SLS. Just throwing more money at it could continue to enable the boondoggle. Maybe the money should be contingent on funding launch platforms that can and will compete with other commercial systems to lower cost, to actually compete with Soyuz on cost. The criticisms are that it is a very poor value, and not well designed for reducing cost and efficiency. The result is a launch platform that is far too expensive. One of the core problems is developing a launch platform that is SOLELY for use by the government, this pretty much prevents the market from driving down costs, unlike other launch platforms such as the Ariane and Soyuz which service private companies and thus are incentivized as a requirement to develop better, cheaper technologies.

Maybe someone else can comment on this, but it looks like SLS will be more expensive and costly than anything else, giving us less for more money. Why even waste time developing this when we can use SpaceX, the Deltas, Atlas and so on, perhaps human rated versions of these.

SLS could not compete on price with Soyuz, which is a good sign it should be scrapped. The Soyuz so far has us beat on reliability, cost, performance. If we continue to fund white elephants which are more driven by beauracracy and pork rather than driven by technical innovations to lower cost and improve reliability, we will continue down the road of stagnation and falling behind.

It has often been said that if someone wanted to kill the US space program, the Shuttle and Space Launch System is exactly what they would do, to basically suck all of the resources dry on a far too expensive launch platform that is superior to everything else on the market, thus pulling resources away from the science and exploration missions.

It is true that SLS is a drop in the bucket compared to the F-35 and welfare programs, yet if its still more expensive than everything else for less than what you can get from other launch platforms, why waste the money? Why not go with a human rated SpaceX?

Re:Enabling wasteful spending on SLS? (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 4 months ago | (#47544779)

Inferior to everything else on the market I meant to say.

Re:Enabling wasteful spending on SLS? (4, Informative)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about 4 months ago | (#47545083)

Why even waste time developing this when we can use SpaceX, the Deltas, Atlas and so on, perhaps human rated versions of these.

Because the Senator from Alabama wants to keep the NASA center in Huntsville busy.

Re:Enabling wasteful spending on SLS? (1)

Pandemis (31296) | about 4 months ago | (#47547905)

Soyuz is a LEO launch system, whereas the SLS is heavy lift for moon/mars/asteroids/Lagrange. The Commercial Crew Program is what should be compared to Soyuz. Currently Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada are competing to develop a new U.S. crew to LEO capability--Boeing and SN launch with AtlasV, SpaceX of course has it's own Falcon launcher. The SLS is a completely different critter. Not saying it doesn't have it's issues.

What to cut (4, Informative)

scotts13 (1371443) | about 4 months ago | (#47544773)

Give NASA the $14 billion spent in fiscal 2013 training foreign armies and providing them with weapons. That'll make up the difference nicely. Not enough? Move on to the $24 billion spent on the "National Drug Control Strategy." Two things we don't need more of are dead bodies and prison inmates.

What to cut (2) (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47544977)

Mothball or scrap at least two aircraft carriers, leaving ten, still far too many.

Draft all neocon nuts under 40 for five year terms into the infantry, Marines, or similar; give them fancy uniforms and good rifles and plety of ammo for practice, in between tough language lessons in Russian, Ukranian, and Mandarin.

Re:What to cut (2) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47546249)

And have their only pay be minimum wage with no benefits, as they think the government is too big anyway. And none of them gets discharged without front line war experience, since they think war is so important.

Neville Chamberlain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47545215)

The theory is that a lot of political rancor has taken place in the aerospace community because of the space agency's limited budget. If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

Yeah, just like if we allow Hitler to take Czechoslovakia, the result will be peace for our time.

Not out of the goodness of their hearts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47545845)

The more space tech developed with government funding the R&D,
the more SpaceX can take that tech for free and use it for making Phatt L00t profits.

All the gain, none of the expense.

Increasing private profits through public funding,
oldest trick in the book, just ask the big bailout bankers,
loan begging auto makers, power and telecom companies.

Shifting costs to the public...sweet deal for them!

NASA Use Renewable Resources (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47546015)

How much of that $25 Billion should go towards NASA reseach for renewable energy and resources on planet EARTH that it seems to have no problem using up in space?

Self service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47546615)

Isn't Space X a government contractor? A bit self serving don't you think?

Profits (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 4 months ago | (#47546881)

Usual trick: have taxpayers subsiding the support stuff you need, and make profit with activities on top of it. If you can afford a law preventing public service from competing with your business, it is even better.

25 Billion is a start (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47547521)

How about diverting all the money used by the NRO, CIA, and DOD space programs back to the civilian side, NASA? Their budgets are an order of magnitude larger than NASA's. If NASA had that kind of money they could actually come up with a propulsion system that isn't based on 16th century technology.
   

Fly More Missions and Purchase Launch Services (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about 4 months ago | (#47551455)

Necessity and Incentives Opening the Space Frontier
Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Space
by James Bowery, Chairman
Coalition for Science and Commerce
July 31, 1991

Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:

I am James Bowery, Chairman of the Coalition for Science and Commerce. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to address the subcommittee on the critical and historic topic of commercial incentives to open the space frontier.

The Coalition for Science and Commerce is a grassroots network of citizen activists supporting greater public funding for diversified scientific research and greater private funding for proprietary technology and services. We believe these are mutually reinforcing policies which have been violated to the detriment of civilization. We believe in the constitutional provision of patents of invention and that the principles of free enterprise pertain to intellectual property. We therefore see technology development as a private sector responsibility. We also recognize that scientific knowledge is our common heritage and is therefore a proper function of government. We oppose government programs that remove procurement authority from scientists, supposedly in service of them. Rather we support the inclusion, on a per-grant basis, of all funding needed to purchase the use of needed goods and services, thereby creating a scientist-driven market for commercial high technology and services. We also oppose government subsidy of technology development. Rather we support legislation and policies that motivate the intelligent investment of private risk capital in the creation of commercially viable intellectual property.

In 1990, after a 3 year effort with Congressman Ron Packard (CA) and a bipartisan team of Congressional leaders, we succeeded in passing the Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990, a law which requires NASA to procure launch services in a commercially reasonable manner from the private sector. The lobbying effort for this legislation came totally from taxpaying citizens acting in their home districts without a direct financial stake -- the kind of political intended by our country's founders, but now rarely seen in America.

We ask citizens who work with us for the most valuable thing they can contribute: The voluntary and targeted investment of time, energy and resources in specific issues and positions which they support as taxpaying citizens of the United States. There is no collective action, no slush-fund and no bureaucracy within the Coalition: Only citizens encouraging each other to make the necessary sacrifices to participate in the political process, which is their birthright and duty as Americans. We are working to give interested taxpayers a voice that can be heard above the din of lobbyists who seek ever increasing government funding for their clients.

Introduction

Americans need a frontier, not a program.

Incentives open frontiers, not plans.

If this Subcommittee hears no other message through the barrage of studies, projections and policy recommendations, it must hear this message. A reformed space policy focused on opening the space frontier through commercial incentives will make all the difference to our future as a world, a nation and as individuals.

Americans Need a Frontier

When Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon, we won the "space race" against the Soviets and entered two decades of diminished expectations.

The Apollo program elicited something deep within Americans. Something almost primal. Apollo was President Kennedy's "New Frontier." But when Americans found it was terminated as nothing more than a Cold War contest, we felt betrayed in ways we are still unable to articulate -- betrayed right down to our pioneering souls. The result is that Americans will never again truly believe in government space programs and plans.

Without a frontier, for the past two decades, Americans have operated under the inevitable conclusion that land, raw materials and wealth itself are fundamentally limited and therefore to be hoarded and controlled -- rather than created. Out of this post-Apollo mentality, a deeply rooted cynicism has led young people into careers as lawyers and financial manipulators rather than farmers, inventors and engineers. It has led to an environmental movement which loathes humanity's natural capacity to transform hostile environments with technology. It has led to cartels, wars over energy and a devastatingly expensive arms race. It has led businesses and investors to remain averse to high risk technology development even as they issue billions in high risk debt vehicles for corporate take-overs. It has led to a preference for real estate speculation over job creating investments, making it nearly impossible for most of those born in the mid-to-late baby boom of the 1950s to establish stable careers, homesteads and equity for retirement, even with two incomes.

In short, the lack of a frontier is leading us away from the progressive values of the Age of Enlightenment, upon which our country was founded, and back to the stagnant feudalistic values of the middle ages. We look to the Japanese for cultural leadership. We forget the rule of law and submit to the rule of bureaucracy, both corporate and governmental; for in a world without frontiers, the future belongs to the bureaucrat, not the pioneer.

No where is this failure of vision more apparent than in our space program where the laws of human nature and politics have overcome the laws of nature and the space frontier as in "Take off your engineering hat and put on your management hat."

First Apollo failed us. Then the shuttle raised and dashed our hopes by failing to provide easy access to space. We now look forward to the proposed space station as the last vestige of a dying dream written of by Werner Von Braun in Collier's magazine during the 1950's, even as its costs skyrocket and its capabilities dwindle into a symbolic gesture of lost greatness.

The pioneering of frontiers is antithetical to bureaucracy and politics. The greatest incentive for opening frontiers is to escape from calcifying institutions. We betray our deepest values when we give ownership of our only frontier to such institutions.

Therefore, these hearings on incentives to open the space frontier are among the most hopeful events in recent history. Those responsible for holding these hearings and acting to create pioneering incentives to finally open the space frontier, are to be commended for their insight, courage and leadership. They are earning for themselves and our entire civilization a place of honor in history.

Incentives Open Frontiers

Over the past few years the Coalition has worked with Congressman Ron Packard and a broad spectrum of other Congressional leaders to introduce and pass a bill providing the most significant incentive for opening the space frontier to date: The Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990. Similar to the Kelly Act of 1925, which created incentives for pioneering aviation, the LSPA seeks to synthesize a commercially reasonable market from existing government demand for launch services. Lowering the cost of access to space through incentives for commercial competition is the most important goal in our space policy because launch costs dominate all others.

Although extensively amended from its original language, the LSPA remains a symbol of pioneering spirit, democracy in action and American values in the one place it counts the most: The Space Frontier.

Congressman Bob Walker's Omnibus Space Commercialization Act of 1991 contains two important provisions which will expand and empower the incentives of the LSPA. The first provision is the return of language in the LSPA to cover the Department of Defense as well as NASA, and to cover all space transportation, not just orbital launch. The second is the substantial funding authorization for launch and payload integration service vouchers under the Department of Transportation. The independence of the Department of Transportation's Office of Commercial Space Transportation creates exactly the kind of checks needed to avoid conflicts of interest. Private investors can trust their capital with such carefully constructed incentives.

Another important provision of the Omnibus Space Commercialization Act is the encouragement of many Federal agencies to participate in space activities. Such variety of funding sources further inhibits the politicization of space by replacing political competition for centralized programmatic control with incentives for performance in technical and commercial competition.

These incentives are helping to open the space frontier because they discriminate on the basis of actual achievement rather than political savvy and psychological appeal. By acting as a market instead of a monopsony or as a source of capital, government funding ceases to control or compete with the initiatives of our citizenry. Instead government rewards viable citizen initiatives with the profits needed to further capitalize space services, while punishing failed management and technology with bankruptcy; conditions virtually impossible to replicate within the space paradigm of the past.

Profit and bankruptcy are as essential to technical progress as mutation and selection are to biological evolution. They are the "invisible hand" that guide private investors to create viable solutions to our needs. Just as mutation and selection led life from water onto dry land, so profit and bankruptcy will remove the earthly limits on life and open to life the limitless ecological range of space.

Distribution of funding in peer-reviewed grants to scientists which patronize commercially competitive companies not only utilizes market forces to optimize infrastructure design and operations, but it also spreads space dollars out to all Congressional districts without multi-year authorizations, technical prejudice or political gamesmanship. This apolitical cashflow creates commercial incentives and it builds solid justifications for the use of our space dollars with a hard-core nation-wide constituency.

But robust justifications and hard-core political constituency pale in significance when compared the explosive energy of Americans challenged by the incentives and freedoms of a frontier.

Americans can best be challenged by the following policy measures:

* Distribute space funding to multiple independent agencies for the funding of unsolicited scientific proposals.

* Require that the experiments be designed to fly on existing commercial services.

* Expose the proposals to review by a patent examiner to ensure the work is genuine science, as defined under intellectual property laws, and therefore not in competition with private sector technology development.

* Require that the principle investigator make the primary procurement decisions free from Federal Acquisition Regulations.

* Minimize abuses and avoid multiyear authorization by keeping grants relatively small.

* As commercial companies establish space operations, support their property rights.

Comprehensive legislative language drafted for discussion by Dr. Andrew Cutler details many of the Coalition's ideas on procurement, property rights and transitional policies. This legislative language is available on request.

Stated simply:

Fly lots of scientific missions using commercial services. Base them on fresh ideas. Let unfashionable ideas find funding. Decentralize procurement decisions. Avoid competition with the private sector by focusing on research rather than development. Enforce new property rights in space as they are defined.

Give Americans a challenge and trust them to react with the resourcefulness and courage of our ancestors who risked everything to cross the oceans to settle a hostile continent. We won't disappoint you.

Conclusion

The space frontier is a hostile environment with unlimited potential that demands our best. We can meet such a challenge only with the strength of our traditional American values -- values uniquely adapted to opening frontiers.

This Subcommittee is in a position of great privilege. The next millennium could witness the restoration of Earth's environment and the transformation of space into an new kind of ecological range, virtually limitless in its extent and diversity. Those creating the incentives that open the space frontier now will be responsible for the fulfillment of this vision which appears to be the ultimate destiny of Western Civilization's progressive tradition.

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