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michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the insufficient-campaign-contributions dept.

Space 16

ruszka writes: "NASA is getting tossed further down the list again, it seems.. Now they're being hounded for the expenses of the space station.. CNN has the article."

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Nothing like wasting money. (0, Troll)

-douggy (316782) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515282)

Yeah billions on electronic monitoring stations. When the real evil in this world uses untraceable postal communication.

Missile defence systems that dont work

Science isn't important kids remember what uncle sam tells you

oh well

What does NASA want? (0, Troll)

yzquxnet (133355) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515333)

What do they want? A blank check? They were running major budget overages. I think it is a good thing for someone to tell them to keep it within what is budgeted. I as much as anyone want to see the space station thrive, but not if it is going to cost us an arm and a leg. Nasa is no different than any other government agency. They are money sucking mongrels.

Re:What does NASA want? (2, Informative)

Constellation (125410) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515478)

Before we get too critical of NASA on the buget overruns, let's keep a few things in mind:

1. The source of many of the overruns is the two year delay in the launch of the service module (NASA had to keep its entire workforce for that whole time, which they didn't orignally buget for)

2. Many of the components of the space station are already bult and are sitting in a hanger in Florida waiting to be launched (maintaining them in this state costs a lot of money)

3. ISS since its inception has been the victim of the whims of many polititions.

While I'm not saying that NASA is a pisine organization with out inefficentcies, we should keep in mind that the buget overruns on ISS are not entirely NASA's fault.

Before people start bitching (4, Insightful)

vectus (193351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515780)

about how we don't really need the ISS, I just want to say something.

When I was a child, I looked to the night-time sky in awe. My every last thought was about space. I badly wanted to become an astronaut and fly around the space shuttle. I thought about how much I wanted to go to the moon, or Mars.

I did not wish all these things because NASA did experiments in satellites, or because they were planning to send robots into space to do various missions. I longed to become an astronaut because of the pictures and video I saw. I wanted to stare in awe at the earth, while standing on the moon.

I did not become an astronaut, but I was inspired to love science and math. Now, I am earning my BSc. in Computer Science, and am hopefully going to end up with a PHD in Computer Science.

The science done on the ISS could surely be done more efficiently. Hell, we could explore the cosmos without ever taking a single foot off the surface of earth. I don't think that's the point of NASA, or the ISS. Behind all the research they do, there is the distinct presence of some basic human traits. We need to humanize the unknown. Space is vast and mysterious. We do know a lot about it, but it's just a drop in the bucket. There is so much we don't know, some of which could end up destroying earth (not likely, but possible). Having sent a man to the moon, probes to all the planets, and having satellites and a space station orbiting earth makes at least our corner of the galaxy seem a lot less hostile.

I also think that the space station serves as a marker for our technological prowess. Through architecture, expos, and vehicles, our society tries to assure itself that we are the peak of civilization. We want to prove that we are better than the ancient Egyptians, whose pyramids leave us in awe. We want to prove that we are better than every other group of humans that have ever existed.

Most importantly, and the point of this post, NASA serves to inspire youth. I'm sure that a lot of people on Slashdot, and around the world, have been inspired by NASA. Maybe you were around for the moon landing. Maybe you were around for Voyager. Maybe you were too young to remember Challenger, it doesn't really matter. You saw some awesome pictures, some awesome video, and you shit yourself. It probably inspired you to open a couple books, or to read the newspaper once and awhile.. maybe even to take up a career in the sciences. If it weren't for NASA, I'm sure that there'd be a hell of a lot fewer scientists out there.

Do we "need" the ISS? Not really. Should we cut funding, or quit making it? Definitely not. The implications of the ISS run far deeper than just some scientific experiments.

Re:Before people start bitching (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2516059)

This may all be true, but it misses the point. Our national budget is, in the final analysis, a fixed sum. Every dollar we spend on one thing is a dollar we can't spend on something else. Now there surely is lot of waste in the budget and there are things that probably aren't as worth while as NASA science. But it is a question of priorities. Every dollar spent on NASA is a dollar that can't be spent on feeding the hungry, housing the poor, and educating the young with more or better paid teachers(or both). I would much rather see science classes with 10 students to a teacher, rather than Al Gores "hey lets point a camera at the earth from space" crap. If you have ever worked with kids, as I have, you know that even in the small groups of 15 motivated kids such as I have worked with there is little time for personal interaction. Most of the time is spent just corralling them all into the same direction. (No I am not a teacher(with my spelling how could I be?), don't assume that I have a union agenda in hiring more teachers at higher slaries)

Re:Before people start bitching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2517437)

If you set the inspiration and pushing the
technical prowess envelop of the species
args(both of which I think are good).
Keep in mind that space is our future,
like it or not. Statistically it is
only a matter of time before we screw up
with nano tech, bio tech or generating black
holes, not to mention when the laws of
celestial mechanics decides to drop a two
mile brick in our laps.

That means the colonization and industrial
use of space, of which apollo and the ISS
are the long overdue frontier.

Maybe you should add up some numbers,
complaining about NASAs budget is silly its
small compared to defense and the corporate subsidizes. And both DoD and corporations
benefit from NASA research.

"I've eaten my fill, of your human FILTH"
invader ZIM

Re:Before people start bitching (2)

selectspec (74651) | more than 12 years ago | (#2517091)

I wanted to be the first "pirate-astronaut"

Re:Before people start bitching (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2517335)

Inspiration is not a justification for tens of billions of dollars of funding.

Re:Before people start bitching (1)

Rubyflame (159891) | more than 12 years ago | (#2517481)

Hell, we shouldn't be wasting time on the ISS, if you ask me. Not that I'm against spaceflight; far from it. But there are cheaper, more interesting, and more rewarding things to do in space than throwing junk into low orbit.

NASA should be mass-producing space probes. The big problem with NASA as I see it is that they don't mass-produce anything. It's the space station. It's the Mars probe. If we could just churn out a thousand identical rockets, well, we could really go places.

Re:Before people start bitching (1)

ddillman (267710) | more than 12 years ago | (#2518592)

Nice. Sums up many of my feelings about NASA and humans and space, and I'm old enough to remember lunar landings.

Fund NASA, let them continue to do research and exploration, both robotically, and with humans. Funding is not near the issue people^H^H^H^H^H^H politicians make it out to be. The few billion NASA gets each year is a miniscule portion of our national budget. Vastly more gets squandered in pork projects. More gets sent overseas in the form of 'aid' and 'loans' to countries that hate us anyway. How about giving ourselves that 'aid' in the form of larger NASA budgets?

However, I think it's high time we stripped NASA of total jurisdiction over our access to space! While NASA explores and researches, let's let commercial groups start getting some return on the investments. A commercial space station to foster tourism, and act as a staging platform. Robotic lunar or asteroid mining. Hell, why not a hotel on Luna? I hope they find someone more open and forward thinking to manage NASA as Goldin steps down. The way NASA is going, I'll never make it into space. :-(

Re:Before people start bitching (3, Insightful)

krlynch (158571) | more than 12 years ago | (#2523906)

Do we "need" the ISS? Not really. Should we cut funding, or quit making it? Definitely not.

Let me play devil's advocate for a minute here. At what point would you recommend cutting funding to ISS? The report discussed here shows conclusively that the ISS is vastly over its construction budget, vastly under capable, and vastly more expensive in terms of both astronaut time and NASA funding than anyone had ever dreamed possible. The report says that EVEN IF they cut back the plans by halting construction at the current, scientifically worthless state, and EVEN IF they only maintain a skeleton crew of 3, the minimum necessary to maintain the ISS at its current level of scientific uselessness (a crew of 3 can do less than 20 hours a WEEK of science according to the report), EVEN THEN the ISS will vastly overrun its OPERATING budget every year, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. And this doesn't count the vast cost overruns in the shuttle program for missions assigned to service ISS.

At what point do the immense cost overruns with no conceivable scientific return justify a restructuring of the program in your mind? Could the billions spent in cost overruns be better allocated to other scientific programs that have had to be cut as a result, both within and outside NASA? Seeing as the cost overruns CAN'T be fixed, would you really advocate just giving NASA what it needs to maintain the program it wanted when it promised it could do it for substantially less than what it is currently spending?

Another way to put it: how many years of delay in going back to the moon, or going to Mars is the ISS program worth to you? Or: how many unmanned deep space missions is the ISS worth to you? Or, if you advocate taking money out of non-NASA programs to pay for the ISS, how many years of delay in cancer research, or materials research, or faster computers, or smarter networks, or cleaner burning cars, or longer battery life, etc. are you willing to give up so that a few people can orbit the earth in a scientifically-worthless tin can?

I support manned exploration of space, and I support NASA science programs; I just find that the support for the current ISS program among the population to be bordering on ridiculous, since the money could be so much better spent on cheaper programs with real goals and a real chance to return on investment in both human and scientific terms.

Space expolration should be preformed by robots. (2, Informative)

CheezWizFire (534072) | more than 12 years ago | (#2517909)

At least for the time being, I think that NASA should be concentrating on exploring space by robots. I think that NASA may think that every americans dream is going to space. Because of that, and a lack of concrete motives for NASA, programs like the ISS happen. Sending humans to space is much more expensive than sending robots, and with todays robotic technology, I think that a lot more discovery could be made with robotic explorers. This may lead to sending humans to space, but the robots should go first. -CheezWizFire

Real value of the space station (1)

sigep_ohio (115364) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519737)

The space station's real value lies in its Ability to do research in areas such as zero-g manufacturing and stuff like that. Every time nasa sends a shuttle up it is pack with lots of little 7-day experiments. Well, thats all fine and good, but some things can't be explored that way. We need the space station so that more corporate and scientific research can be done. The space station will allow research to go on for monthes or years, and larger experiments can be done cheaper than on the shuttles.

Lots of people argue that NASA doesn't produce anything. This can't be farther from the truth, anyone know where Nike got the rubber for their sneakers? NASA. Well they certainly didn't think of it themselves. NASA does a fairly good job with what little money they receive. Those highly publicized failures with the mars probes stem from the fact that NASA is forced to work with such a constrained budget. Everyone thinks, 'hey, lets just send in robotic probes. They are cheaper than sending humans.' Yes, they are cheaper, but they certainly are not cheap. If you want NASA to send up a bunch of little probes, then they still have to find room for it by cutting other areas in the budget.

Do we need NASA? hell yeah. do we need the space staion? HELL YES. Why? Cause everyone benifits from it. Corporate america gets access to good research data, we get better pharmacueticals and the such, and maybe a few more kids get inspired to reach for something bigger than themselves.

A little bit of perspective. (2, Insightful)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 12 years ago | (#2519877)

I recall reading that one of the mars missions (failed or not) cost about $100 million. The laymen then gasp "A hundred million dollars! My god! That money should be spent elsewhere! What a waste for just a few pictures!"

There are about 150 million taxpayers in the United States. That means that each and every one of those taxpayers paid $0.66 for that mission. This is about the price of a can of Coke or a chocolate bar, and most of these taxpayers spend more money for both of those in a year than they do in money sent to NASA. NASA at least does real science - stuff that benefits humanity. What does Coca Cola Bottling Inc do? They sell fizzy sugar water. If you want to bitch about how much of your hard-earned NASA "wastes", maybe you should take a look at how much of that same money you waste yourself.

Check out Nasa Watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2521208) []

'nuff said...

Shuttle Sell-off (1)

nicklott (533496) | more than 12 years ago | (#2532090)

The BBC [] is also reporting that NASA is considering privatising the entire space shuttle fleet to save money (as well as having a funky new site design).
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