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NASA Faces Major Budget Cuts

Hemos posted more than 14 years ago | from the write-your-congress-person dept.

Science 309

jfoust writes "A House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee approved Monday a nearly 10 percent cut in NASA's fiscal year 2000 budget, with most of the cuts in science and aeronautics. If approved, it would mean most of the currently-planned space science projects, including missions to Mars, Pluto, Europa, and comets, plus new space telescopes, would be canceled. Check the details at NASA Watch and SpaceViews. " If you're a US citizen-write your Congressperson. This is idiocy.

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Mars (0)

semicolon (72059) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781831)

As long as we get to mars in my lifetime, and I can vacation to the moon between contracts. :)

First post :)

This is just sad (1)

inetd (21373) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781834)

One would think in todays modern society that space and space research would be at the forefront of technological advance and funding. What happened to ALF?

how to stop this idiocy.... (4)

great om (18682) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781837)

you know how on tax forms it has a little check box (give $1 to Democratic or Republican election cpagain) I think that all of the major orgnizations that get their funding from the federal goverment should be listed on the tax form (i'd give a buck a year to get us into space --hell, i'd probably give 100 bucks a year for it)

thiis would also allow other groups to get funding based on their popularity (don't like literacy programs or the NEA --don't check that box)

Shame. (1)

Kamelion (12129) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781843)

It's a shame that few of our politicians are interested in exploring new frontiers these days. What's worse is with goverment regulations I doubt it is possible for a publicly owned space agency to make it based in the US. Or so the National Space Society has always lead me to believe.

At least this will give the Democrats more money to spend on social programs. That will make them happy.

Why don't we have a political party that is friendly to Space exploration? A lot of Republicans think it is a waste while most Democrats would rather take the money and stuff it into tree saving programs. No trees in space so it isn't worth the money I guess.

I'm depressed.

wasn't this the same goverment that had ... (1)

great om (18682) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781846)

...a budget surplus? what happened to it?

probably flushed down the toilet on the war on drugs

(those stupid cartoons are not going to stop kids from doing drugs, Mr. President)

Ludicrous cost savings; false economy! (3)

Jerf (17166) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781848)

If cutting 10% costs you every major mission that NASA is going to fly... don't do it.

Either kill NASA, or disband it. But you won't save any money simply crippling it. You'll throw away a lot of money that will never be useful, because we can't fly those major missions upon which all depends. It's a false economy.

It's time for an asteroid to directly impact Washington DC... a nice, small one... it only has to kill a few thousand people... THEN NASA would get any money they wanted... for a year or two, until the beaurocracy forgot... again... (pardon my spelling of that blasted "B" word)

the greed based anti-culture (0)

harenet (53151) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781849)

In a time pronounced by the BSmediaHYPE machine as the height of economic prosperity, we will stand by as our REAL accomplishments are declared irrelevant so megaslothgreedmongers can avoid paying taxes on their ill-gotten gains.

also noteworthy, recent legislation (already passed in NY) makes it ok for banks to peruse your medical records to determine your bankworthiness. another crime against us all, in order to feed the machine.

It's EASY to blame, WE are responsible. WE have put our well being in the hands of megamaniacal greedmongers. WE appear to be too busy running for our options, to even complain as our rights are discarded.

there WILL be reprocussions. fortunately, some dogooders are STILL able to influence the tide of the infowars.

Boneheaded Idiots (1)

Rellon (28691) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781852)

I think that in todays times and in looking back upon ALL the advances in science that our pursuit of space has given us then this budget cut and any others like it are totally irresponsible. Our science program is responsible for some of our greatest breakthroughs in material sciences and others. To see thier budget cut is a very sad day indead and a signal that all sanity has finally left our goverment.

Really sad (3)

dattaway (3088) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781927)

I remember the space program as inspirational and brough at many times brought this nation together and helped us appreciate the pretty skies at night in a special way. Now it may be other countries that will take the lead. The countries that fund this research will motivate their people in ways nothing else can. Its all about reaching for the heavens and advancing the sciences. Its to go where no man and woman has gone before.

Recent History of the US (4)

foxtrot (14140) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781929)

Two weeks ago: "Hey, we've got a budget surplus! What will we spend it on?"

Last week: "Thirty years ago, in his greatest moment, man set foot on the moon"

This week: "Hey, let's take some money away from the guys who put a man on the moon."



... Americans (1)

RabidMonkey (30447) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781931)

Its truely disturbing, the the country the rest of the world relies on, and watches/learns from, is cutting back on it's space budget. As the only country in the world to have a space program worth it's salt (with rockets that don't explode on liftoff, generally speaking), the international community should start looking at possibly funding NASA, or starting up their own space agency. The world relies on NASA (and the US) to be their 'space embassaders' (god, I wish I could spell), but they are cutting their budget during a critical time in the Mars project.

I think it is incredably short sighted of the US Congresspeople (or however your system works) to cut funding to what could be considered one of mankinds greatest projects.

Todd - The pissed off Canadian.

Re:This is just sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1781933)

If I were rich I'd give lots of my money to NASA for the simple enjoyment of learning what the heck is out there...

NASA Budget Cuts (2)

Aero Eng. (54854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781936)

Considering all of the advances made in engineering and science due to the work done at NASA one would think that Congress would view the money as an investment. Instead Congress has decided to take the short term view once again, this is espeacially troubling considering the budget surplus.

While I personelly am a big supporter of NASA, I just hope that Congress will use the money for something more lasting than a breif tax cut.

boo-hiss (1)

kevin lyda (4803) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781939)

for 25 years the internet was "useless." it was only the domain of academics and researchers providing little of any value.

now i can research multiple sclerosis in minutes if i learn a friend has just been diagnosed with it. or keep in contact with friends from when i was 6. or parents can watch their kids at daycare, and extended families can see pictures of the newest members of their family. people can telecommute reducing traffic congestion and pollution. we can search for aliens and crack keys. we can collaborate and creat art, literature and operating systems.

all that from a 25 year program that for most of it's history has been a useless gov't funded program useful to only researchers and academics.

as we bask in an internet boosted economy, i wonder just what it would be like if we seriously invest in space exploration for the next 25 years. if instead of constantly checking the bottom line we just tried to explore, learn, research and build.

From the other side (2)

Geisel (12180) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781942)

It appears as if the article from SpaceViews was a little slanted . Of course NASA is going to wine if their budget gets cut, I'd wine if mine got cut. In reality do you really think all the programs will be cut that they say will be cut? Origianally anyone flipps and says, "We lost 10% of our budget and now we can't do 90% of what we were going to do". When in reality they actually will probably do some of their own budgeting and end up doing 90% of the projects they claim will be absolutely cut.

The next point is, do we really need all this stuff. Yeah, it's really cool and all... To boldly go to pluto, where no man has gone before. Ok, that's great, but if I (as a US taxpayer) am paying for it, I want to know why. It's a great achievement, but what's it for. I think we need to at least consider the validity of some of these projects before we get all flustered that they're getting cut... and maybe they do have some grand purpose, in which case they're worth supporting to some point. What that point is? ...

Ok, last point. This one really kinda made me chuckle. The article from SpaceViews claims that we got so much surplus that we don't even know what to do with it! hello!? Can anyone say Multi-Trillion dollar debt? Could some one do a bar chart between "dozens of billions of dollars" and our multi-trillion dollar debt? I can at least assure you it would be a very un-interesting chart. I think it's great that the government is finally being respoinsible and starting to resolve this huge debt. Now the question...

What is NASA doing that is beneficial and why is it work 13.? billion instead of 12.? billion. I'm interested on views and info on what NASA is doing and potential benefits. I realize there have been many in the past, but what are the current benefits?


I LOVE this! (1)

BNL Psycho (28888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781944)

What a great freakin' idea!

I'd rather all our taxes were like this. How many of us REALLY are gonna get any of that welfare money? Or social security? I believe we should have a choice in where our money goes, since we don't have a choice about giving it up.

Hell, I'd probably pay all my taxes to NASA, except that I like having drivable roads and military protection and all that...


Re:wasn't this the same goverment that had ... (2)

bungalow (61001) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781948)

..a budget surplus? what happened to it?

the guise of the budget surplus was achieved by mis^H^H^Hreappropriating funds that SHOULD have been used to stabilize social security, thus leaving anyone who would be elegible after 2020, out in the cold. I'm not especially FOR or AGAINST social security persay, but I'm steamed that I will continue to pay this tax when it's common knowledge that no one in born after 1970 will be able to collect a reasonable benefit amount.

Same old BS. Congress lies to us. Surprise!

Aerogel (1)

BNL Psycho (28888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781950)

Possibly one of the coolest things to come out of NASA in years!

Re:I LOVE this! (1)

davedavedave (27890) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781957)

Great idea, but no-one (or very few) who pays taxes would claim welfare, so wouldn't tick that box. The only people who would think it a good idea are the ones who need it and don't pay taxes, so welfare would cease to exist.

Whether this is a good or bad thing is left as an exercise for the reader.

ESA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1781959)

European Space Agency.

Quit Spending MY Money! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1781960)

I'm sick of the billions and billions of dollars being spent on the space program. If the technology being gained out there is so great... let private industry pay for it. I'm sick of my hard earned money being spent. Privatize the thing or let it go bust.

Way to get the money back (1)

davedavedave (27890) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781963)

Just let the Russians do something in space the americans can't, then it'll be back to the competition, and everyone will love NASA again. Course, Russia's in a bit of a state right now, so it probably won't be happenening. I wonder if there's a launchpad in Wales....

Money for war, but not science? (2)

John Zero (3370) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781964)

Do you remember the 'strike' against Kosovo?
That costed a lot of money for the US (and other countries), but no one protested. And at the end of the war, the military asked for more money, and I think that they'll get it...

What about NASA? Is the solution crashing an asteroid somewhere in USA? Or waiting for one, to crash...

Short-sightedness sucks ;((
(And we didn't even speak of the rainforests.)

I don't even dare pose the question that says: Where would be we if all military funding was redirected to science research....
Oh I know... Then probably we wouldn't have an A-bomb, and our power plants would operate by using nuclear fission.

More NASA idiocy... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1781966)

A 10% budget cut should not cause the loss of every space science program, period. If this is NASA's claim, then one of two things are true.

  1. This is a publicity stunt to get the budget cut repealed. By choosing a budget that will kill lots and lots of the tiny little space science projects, they hope to bully Congress into restoring their budget. ("If you don't give me that money, I will stab myself in the stomach.")
  2. Or NASA is treating unmanned space flight as the red-headed stepchild, as usual. Never mind that manned spaceflight is expensive, of no scientific value, and crowds out the budget for really useful projects. Astronauts are cool, right?

Congress should ignore NASA's threats. If they go through with it, NASA will end up shooting itself in the head and maybe will be replaced by a space agency with a clue.

NASA Should Consider going private!!! (1)

javatips (66293) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781968)

Maybe it's time for NASA to consider the option of going private.

Considering the lack of goverment involvement in the Space Agency, NASA should explore all the possibilities it has to keep it's budget from the control of uninterested politicians.

Right now NASA is probably the biggest player in space exploration, but other agencies, like the European Space Agency, are getting really close to NASA. The lack of endorsment from the congress will weaken even more this position.

What NASA could do is to negociate with the goverment a path to privacy. The goverment could still subvention the space agency, with less and less money over the years, and the space agency could gain money from investisor and from other countries who want to become player in space exploration. There is already different kind of deal for sharing ressources with other space agencies, so it will not be that different.

This could shift the focus to programs that cost less and have a better return value on the investement (less human in space, more robots in space). And this could be a good thing (I don't think it requires human intervention to put a payload into orbit). The developement of more cost effective space transportation system will also be required (they are already under developement).

This would not be an easy path, but it is a good one. Look at the Seti project. It has gone from a public budget to 0$ to a private generated budget and it's alive and kicking! (I know that the NASA budget is a lot bigger than the Seti budget, but this example shows how the private sector is interested in space related science).


Maybe It's Not All Bad News. (3)

Bucko (15043) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781971)

I'm a former NASAite, so I've sort of seen it from the inside. My take is that NASA isn't necessarily the best vehicle for Space Exploration anymore, and perhaps, never was.

Don't get me wrong. What NASA did in the 60s with Mercury, Gemini and Apollo was magnificant. And the shuttle ain't a bad feat either, considering the effects of politics on the whole thing.

But that's the whole problem. NASA has always been a political creature, and did it's cold-war job of brute-forcing our way to the Moon very well. It's the wrong organization for today, I think.

I suspect that the very presence of NASA hampered other groups from trying alternatives to get into space reliably and cheaply. At least, that seems to be happening now. The need to get to space exists (more than ever!) and the means exists. The systems, organizations and "institutional knowledge" does not, because NASA has pretty much kept it locked up.

The g'ment did a great job bootstrapping space exploration. It's time for private enterprise to carry this burden farther, and although NASA may have some appropriate role in advancing to our goals, our tax money may be better spent elsewhere.


Re:ESA (1)

RabidMonkey (30447) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781972)

Yes, but when was the last time they launched a shuttle into space, or sent probes to mars, etc?

They don't seem to be quite as high profile as NASA, nor as active. Yes, there have been some experiments done by the ESA, but not on the scale of NASA.


Re:From the other side (2)

TerryMathews (57165) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781974)

To boldly go to pluto, where no man has gone before. Ok, that's great, but if I (as a US taxpayer) am paying for it, I want to know why.

The whole point of NASA is that we don't know whats out there. Maybe going to Pluto is a waste of time. The point is, we won't know until we actually go. For God's sake, man, people believed the moon was made of CHEESE until we actually went. We can't just sit back on Earth and hope to learn much about the universe.

sounds good (2)

bright moments (19053) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781977)

Hey, I live in DC so I can't write a Congressperson, even though I'm only 4 blocks from the capitol. I gots yer taxation w/o representation right here, but seriously . . .

I think they should cut NASA's budget. The appropriations bill in which it's funded is facing a huge cut in its allocation this year from fy 1999 funding levels, down 12.9 percent in the House 302(b) allocation. That bill also funds labor, Veterans, housing and community development programs as well as the EPA and other independent agencies. These programs shouldn't carry the load of the cuts so NASA can keep showboating. I mean, NASA has it down with gimmicky space shots (first female commander, big deal, first teacher in space, oops, that one didn't work) timed to launch during the appropriations process. And wasteful space shots as well; we don't need to send a manned mission to launch a satellite. That's a waste of resources. Plus, like any good defense contractor, they've spread their facilities and suppliers across the country so darn near every congresstool can vote for saving jobs in her/his community.

One of the reasons we have a budget surplus is discretionary spending was placed under spending limits in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, and those caps get tight this year. In a show of political impotence last year, Congress crumbled under the weight of having to enforce the caps and lost in a last minute spending frenzy label "emergency spending." It will happen again this year and the needed rethinking of NASA's mission will be postponed yet another year. Face it, when it comes down to big roads, shinny guns and tanks, and super dooper spaceships, we have essentially 535 little boys on Capitol Hill who will bend over backwards to buy the latest prettiest toy while needed programs in other parts of the federal government go wanting, but don't get me started on that . . . . .

Re:how to stop this idiocy.... (1)

YogSothoth (3357) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781978)

Indeed, I once had an idea that on your tax form you'd have an empty circle that *you* are allowed to draw a pie chart in to indicate how you'd like your tax dollars divided up. Not only would my pie have about a 90% slice going to nasa but imagine how tiny the cumulative slices for, say "higher salaries for congress" would be ;-).

Re:how to stop this idiocy.... (2)

Floris (21037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781980)

What we -need- is not some silly new taxing scheme.
We need some way to defend this kind of interests (OUR interests) in the senate/congress/wherever.
We need to be able to stand up for this kind of things.

The problem is that minority viewpoints are not being heard in a major way. Why? Because the voting system doesn't allow it. What does a political party want? Well, for the majority to vote on them. How does it achieve that? Trying to satisfy everyone at once _AND NOT OFFENDING THE MAJORITY IN ANY WAY_.

That is clearly wrong. It should be possible for a political party to represent a minority that disagrees with the majority, and still thrive.

This is not impossible. But it does require a major overhaul of the voting system. It can be done.

What do you expect from them? (1)

jocknerd (29758) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781982)

Elections are coming up and the Republicans are doing their usual "Lets cut taxes" campaign. So in order to justify this, they have to cut something. So they've decided to cut out the F-22 program and cut back on NASA spending. Aren't these the same people who criticized Clinton for slashing the military?

Clariffication.... (1)

great om (18682) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781985)

I didn't mean that "all" of everyone's taxes be paid in a self parcelled out manner. Wha6t i meant is that a small percentage of one's taxes (at most maybe 6-7% maybe more for small incomes) be parcelled out this waý.

Re:Money for war, but not science? (1)

bungalow (61001) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781987)

...and we's all be singing the Russian national Anthem. Our greatest achievement against the Russian Communist/militairistic/totalitarian machine is that THEY went broke FIRST.

Of course, here I am, running SETI@Home (3)

AlexZander (33064) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781988)

I find it terribly curious that NASA needs that top 10% of its budget to do anything remotely productive with itself.. I mean, what is NASA going to do if it doesn't fly major interplanetary missions? Sit there and develop new rockets that it doesn't have the money to launch?

I've noticed some comments that the government is using the money against the national debt.. let me tell you, that kind of money is going to make no difference in the huge almost bottomless well that is our national debt. Of course, the world owes US so much money that nobody really cares either way..

And of course, what good is a debt-free nation going to do on a burned out used up asteroid that will be Earth if we don't do something about it, or get the hell off it.

I am thoroughly impressed by the government's shortsightedness.. but I suppose I should expect it. Not only was it idiocy to even PROPOSE such a budget cut, it's stark, raving mad to actually approve it.

I hope that this issue creates enough turmoil in the techie pool (because you know that we care and it's hard to say outside of us who doesn't) to get this budget cut reversed. Hell.. I'll pay MORE taxes to get to another planet in my lifetime..

Expect a new Tom Hanks space movie within 1 year.. (1)

V. (1057) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781990)

and probably a whole slew of new Discovery channel

Re:Maybe It's Not All Bad News. (1)

Phil-14 (1277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1781992)

I think that with the recent news of NASA working to discourage investment in private RLV ventures not connected to the traditional MIC old boy network (see http://www.sas.org [sas.org] for more information), they shouldn't complain if their own budget gets cut. I believe it's just karma, and perhaps a form of karma we need.

BTW, Rob, when are you going to cover the Roton hover tests here?

Phil Fraering "Humans. Go Fig." - Rita

Not Idiocy (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1781994)

Firstly, it is time for the government to quit with its virtual monopoly of the space industry.

There are a number of private companies who are capable of handling the deployment of satellites.

There are a number of private companies who are capable of developing reusable launch vehicles.

I'm frankly quite excited about the new emphasis on private investment in space, as oppsed to government investment. Outside of Hubble and John Glenn, NASA has done little to forward the exploration of space in the last ten years anyway.

Its time for change.

Re:From the other side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1781997)

Bring me some Brie from Pluto

What drugs are they on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1781999)

At this point in time:

1. The US federal government is projecting the budget surplus to continue for the near (10-15yr) future.

2. NASA is one of the only government institutions whose work benefits society as a whole and is generally popular with most citizens regardless of political orientation.

3. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Apollo 11, the first manned moon landing.

I already get sick to my stomach listening to the debates about how to spend the budget surplus when we should be paying off the national debt.

Now this?

The actions of the US government (legislative and executive branches) piss me off so consistently that I'm almost numb to it, their actions rarely surprise me anymore. But I certainly didn't see this one coming. Both major parties are so out of touch, it seems like they live in a differently country entirely.

Re:From the other side (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782001)

I suggest you go read A Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. Do you realize that much of our understanding of how the Earth works comes from studying the other planets? Is knowing about the Earth not a worthy task? Not to mention all the technologies the space program has produced. Did you know that NASA has recently been testing a new Ion engine (low thrust, high escape velocity) on their Deep Space 1 probe? That kind of engine is much much more efficient than traditional rocket propulsion. NASA may not seem to return any immediate benefits, but the knowledge and technology produced after a few years is invaluable.

Obvious Idiocy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782003)

Yes, this is obvious idiocy. And quite typical of a Congress that, against the advice of over 30 world reknowned economists including 6 Nobel Laureates is currently attempting to cut taxes by around $750-792 billion dollars. If Congress wasn't so busy selfishly lining their own pockets, maybe some of our most important programs wouldn't end up doomed in this way. I urge every /. reader in the US that cares about the quality of life, education, research and just about any important Federal program to (in the next election) vote _AGAINST_ the scoundrels who are trying so hard to undermine American intelligence, and indulge the wishes of many highly ignorant people by helping to spread ignorance around. Notice how the current Congress is so quick to say "Oh, these tax cuts are beneficial, they will put money back into the pockets of Americans" .. and you know what? That is not entirely untrue. However, that comes at a very significant price. This is one of the outcomes of such a scenario. The inability to fund important public programs such as _EVEN_ NASA! All the current Congress wants are a bunch of wealthy idiots who sing the praises of the Congress that enabled them to end up not only wealthy, but weak in the mind and incredibly ignorant. Furthermore, the "wealth" in that particular scenario is most likely to simply end up in the hands of the filthy rich as usual and I think we all know how well "trickle-down" economics works. Perhaps if we are really lucky, we will end up with 5% of the population as filthy rich, 95% as below the poverty level. SO much for the middle class. Thanks again Congress!

(P.S., I think its beginning to look like a good time to move OUT of the U.S... For real wisdom, listen to Alan Greenspan)

NASA cannot become private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782005)

Nor could the FBI, CIA, EPA or any other government agency. Its illegal.

A Reality Check (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782007)

Firstly, I notice many contributors complaining that the government has a surplus and this should hence obviate any need for cuts. A few points:

1. The U.S. is in severe need of some sort of tax relief. The U.S. is now approaching European levels of taxation, without any of the public services offered in those countries. Understandably, this upsets people.

2. The budget surplus vanishes if you put it in context of the national debt.

3. NASA needs to get out of the way and let privatization of space begin in a meaningful way. Space does not belong to the government of the United States.

4. If you've worked in the government, you'd know that most agencies should have a hell of a lot more than 10% of their budgets cut. 50% is probably more realistic to truly trim the fat of this dinosaur.

Slashdot effect and Congress (5)

RenQuanta (3274) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782008)

I think it's about time that our boys and girls in the House [house.gov] , and the Senate [senate.gov] , felt the full brunt of being Slashdotted. Follow those links to immediately find your local Representative and Senators' home page (don't forget each state has two senators, write them both). Email addys shouldn't be but three clicks away.

I'm not talking about flames, mind you. But let's show them how digital democracy can work. If everyone reading my comment were to email their congressman, maybe even send some snailmail (that may actually recieve more attention) perhaps they'd get the message. I suppose non-US citizens could email too, the more the merrier. (My only concern is that such folk aren't their constituents, ie, hold no power over them, but it never hurts to try)

I pay pretty close attention to politics, and not to try and start party wars with other /.ers, but I expect this is a Republican thing here. Since part of their party platform is tax cuts, they have to pay for it somehow. The surplus is needed for Social Security & maybe Medicare, but if the Repubs want to have a hope at passing the size cut they just did ($700 billion, which Clinton has declared he will veto) the Appropriations committee is likely looking for any way it possibly can to scrape together more funds. The fact that Republicans have never liked any public works doesn't help. Remember when they wanted to slash funding for PBS? They think the private sector (one of their main voting bases) can do everything. I don't agree, which may explain why I'm a card carrying Democrat. If any Democrats on the committee were involved, though, I'm just as disgusted at them.

Just as a closing point, to me this underlies the very reason why nerds need to stop living in such an insular world, ignoring things that aren't directly very techie. This comes as no surprise to me, but perhaps does to others. I wonder how many Slashdotters knew the reasons before I put forth my explination, or how many others have realistic explinations of their own. Perhaps if we all got more involved in politics, then such incidents would occur less often. At the very least, we wouldn't be be bowled over by them.

Re:how to stop this idiocy.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782009)

This selecting where your money goes is just
libertarianism. Someday we'll get it.

Individuals assigning a 'proxy vote' to exactly
one representative in Congress. Geographic
representation is so... unrepresentative,
especially in the Senate.

Search for "L. Neil Smith" for more...

Does anyone know.... (1)

MagusOceanus (61084) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782011)

...If there are ANY thrid parties that want to support space exploration? It doesn't seem to be that the "Reform" party has a postition on anything to do with the space program but are more concerned with cutting tax spending as well. The green party is afraid of any contingency where a rocket blast might potentially kill an endangered bird and wants to return technology to ecologically safe sticks, twigs, hemp, and granola. Libertarians also seem to want to cut it. Other parties out there seem to look like scary militants of one kind or another. Can anyone tell me why our constituency is being ignored so profoundly? We can't be in that much of a minority, Star Trek conventions look pretty full to me, should we march on washington from a Con?

If we are not going to utilize our aerospace technology we really shouldn't get bent out of shape when China steals it and tries to do something with it. If our leaders forget that China is trying to develop their space program agressively, I think I we should consider taking a Berlitz course in Conversational Chinese (At least we will have plenty of choices in ordering Take-out).

This is not anti-communist paranoia BTW, it's just a simple fact that whoever develops something first and claims it gets to reap the benefits and call the shots. Interesting that our politicians will give dominion of space away to other nations.

Re:More NASA idiocy... (1)

K. (10774) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782013)

"Or NASA is treating unmanned space flight as the red-headed stepchild, as usual. Never mind that manned spaceflight is expensive, of no scientific value, and crowds out the budget for really useful projects. Astronauts are cool, right? "

Read the articles. ISS and shuttle funding is
being shielded from the cuts, and is actually
going up, so the losses are concentrated in
the scientific programs, and are in fact
greater than the 1.x billion figure being

But you can see the US Congress's point. America
needs to divert even more funds to the military,
to protect against the planned UN black
helicopter invasion of 2003. We're coming for
your spleens!

How come there's an "open source" entry in the

Write Your Congressperson -- here's how! (1)

kramer (19951) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782017)

If you want to change this obvious stupidity, or any other government stupidity (there's so much), write your congress person. If you don't know who your congress person is go to Vote smart and enter your zip code at the bottom of the page. It'll give you your congress person's name, snail-mail, and e-mail address. Write them, but PLEASE be polite. It doesn't help things to call the congress-people names.

Re:More NASA idiocy... (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782018)

If you read the stories, the congressional committees are the ones who are marking up the NASA budget, not NASA.

The problem is that the two biggest money sinks in the NASA budget, Shuttle and Space Station, are being put off-limits for budget cuts. That means much more severe cuts for the rest of NASA's programs.

Re:From the other side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782019)

Yes, it is true that we do have a debt, and it would be very nice to pay it down. If you notice, though, our bonehead congress isn't planning on spending the money that way. So, that is kind of the unfortunate answer to part of your gripe. However, I must say that time and time again, education and research have proven to be two of the most important areas for society to invest in, and two of the areas that _our_ society is so often unwilling to invest in. Many people are simply more interested in becoming rich idiots, and are more than happy in general with the idea of a very select few being at the same level, and everyone else being poor and completely ignorant. People in the U.S. often do not look at _ALL_ of the benefits research has given us. Yes, in the past it has also contributed to some problems, such as destruction of the environment. However, if you notice this, you must agree that this is hardly the time to stop research. As we make progress towards addressing our previous errors. And this is, in essence, the spirit of learning and exploring anyway. And, as is typical, you can probably count on the money diverted from NASA to be spent in some really ludicrous way, such as buying a couple of more B2 bombers. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that Defense is not important, however, it is just bloody typical of Congress and certain ignorant people to downplay the value of research and educational programs and play up the more doubtful value of increased defense spending. I would urge you to go back and look at all of the amazing progress that has been made in the past century. Do you really believe that any of that might have occurred without the relatively good educational opportunities people have in this country? Or the availability of money for research? In 100 years we have come a long way, and a bit of comparative history (our country vs. other countries etc..) will reveal some of the serious benefits of government funding and involvement in reserach.

F-22 go bye-bye (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782020)

With the F-18 E and the JSF both in the queue, the F-22 is quite unnecessary. Its a classic pork-barrel project that would set new records for cost. Sorry, but I don't pay taxes just so boys can get new toys - some of this money has to start flowing back to the taxpayer in the form of useful domestic services.

Just look at the boondogle of the B-2. Most of the fleet will never see combat, but they cost $2 billion a piece.

Linux Networking (2)

goodviking (71533) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782021)

As for one of the small ways in which basic research at NASA has impacted your life, see the June 1999 issue of Dr. Dobb's Journal. One of the recipients of the "Excellence in Programming" awards is Don Becker, who works with CESDIS at the Goddard Space Flight Center. The whole article can be found at http://www.ddj.com/articles/1999/9906/9906a/9906a. htm , but here is just a snippet:

"To implement such a system, however, Becker, who is a staff scientist with the Center of Excellence in Space Data and Information Sciences (or CESDIS, part of the University Space Research Association, a nonprofit consortium of universities that sponsors space-related research), had to come to grips with Linux's unstable networking capabilities, and the lack of Linux support for off-the-shelf network cards. Consequently, Becker ended up writing enhancements to the kernel network subsystem to support faster I/O on high-speed networks, device drivers for countless Ethernet cards(see http://cesdis.gsfc.nasa.gov/linux/drivers/index.ht ml), and a distributed shared memory package."

In short, basic research rarely seems like a good investment in the face of countless current, legitimate priorities because it's payoffs aren't immediate or predictible. However, if we stop doing things just to test our own limits, then we are freezing our current state of advancement as a species and saying that we don't need to progress any further. Where would we be today if we made these decissions 50 years ago, or 100, etc.. ?

Re:NASA cannot become private (1)

javatips (66293) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782022)

This is not true, congress could pass a law that will make the agency private. It is not a big deal.

And congress will pass that kind of law if it will reduce the need of spending more money on the space agency.


Really sad... (1)

Philageros (57698) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782023)

I'm writing this from a British/European perspective so can't criticise too much as my tax bill doesn't help NASA, but this is incredibly sad news.

NASA is probably the only government-linked organisation - American, European or otherwise - which many people over here have any respect for, and it really cuts when something you believe in gets shafted like this.

NASA is also the only organisation, public or private, which is doing anything meaningful in space at the moment, the ESA trails NASA by decades, and the Russians are crippled financially. Very disappointing.

Re:Money for war, but not science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782024)

Nuclear fission is a lie anyway. In the end, Nuclear power plants cost far more to operate then their coal/oil counterparts. In a sense, they may be "cleaner", however, looking at it economically, it is far more productive to attempt research into developing cleaner burning oil/coal plants and in our best interests to really start looking into alternative energy sources in the first place. I urge you to simply take a look at how much it costs to commission a Nuclear Powerplant.. and they only last about 30 years anyway. Then they _must_ (in general) be shut down. Plus, there are 2 serious side effects to Nuclear power (among other things). First (and most important), the economic costs rise sharply when you consider that NO state really wants to be a storage ground for nuclear waste. Therefore, it must be shipped all about the country, an expensive proposition to say the least with nuclear waste material. Is must then be stored for many many years (depending on the fuel and byproducts) before it is even marginally safe. Second, with most conventional plants, the possibility of a failure is still a reality. And a nuclear powerplant failure has the potential to be far more of a disaster than say a coal plant going up in smoke. If you look at the numbers all around (for example take a look at France), I think that you will find that the "miracle" of nuclear power is one of the biggest myths of the 20th century.

Re:Not Idiocy (1)

Paulo (3416) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782025)

> Outside of Hubble and John Glenn, NASA has done >little to forward the exploration of space in the >last ten years anyway.

Funny you say that. Just the other day I was browsing through the JPL webpage (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov); do the words "Galileo", "Magellan", "Mars Pathfinder" and "Cassini-Huygens" sound familiar to you?
Of course, robot probes are less flashy than sending a 70-something guy to space, but they are what bring us the real knowledge. And those missions aren't going to be funded by short-sighted private investors ("landing in Titan? Why? Are there oil reserves there?").
As for the budget cut itself, I personally find it disgusting, but I also think that NASA could be doing much more with their money if they decided to spend it in things that are actually useful, rather than PR stunts. After all, the Magellan spaceship was built with spare parts from other missions...

Re:Maybe It's Not All Bad News. (1)

RenQuanta (3274) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782026)

The need to get to space exists (more than
ever!) and the means exists. The systems, organizations and "institutional knowledge" does not, because
NASA has pretty much kept it locked up.

Perhaps this is because of national security? What would happen if private companies had this technology, and suddenly wanted to do a deal with China? Sound familiar? It wouldn't be too hard, I expect, for a rocket that can get into space to be turned into an ICBM with whatever chemical, biological, or nuclear payload that your favorite dictator of a rogue state cares to greet a US city with.

Complete Idiocy (1)

Shafe (72598) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782027)

I can't believe in this day and age Congress is still trying to cut NASA's budget, after all it's done for us. I think NASA is necessary to pave the way for commercialization of space, and cutting NASA even in the smallest amount will affect our species' future tenfold.

Costly Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782028)

Ha! it would have been far cheaper to just farm out the job of creating the networking code to a private company than to push all of that pork to NASA and hope that some of it comes back.

By the way, its not like this was pioneering work. All of those networking features existed elsewhere.

NASA budget cuts (1)

thebiglebowski (53724) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782029)

What a load of crock is this complaining about the proposed budget cut.
In the US a lot of things aren't taken care of well like the war on poverty, the legelization of canabis;), the environmental polocies which in real life mean didly squat. And you want to maintain projects which have virtually no effect on the quality of the lives of all those impared people?

I say cut the budget even more, also cut the defense budget even more and let those damn Europeans take care of their own crap (Kosovo for instance), and yes I know I'm a European myself but I think we should take care of our own business so the US can take care of its own business better.

Question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782030)

How much does the U.S. spend on its millitary every year?

Re:sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782031)

Yeah, but have you noticed the obvious idiocy of promising the American people $750-792 billion worth of tax cuts, and then turning around and as usual slashing what are actually far more important programs than you seem to imply? Give me a break.

Re:What do you expect from them? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782032)

Bloody typical.

Re:Expect a new Tom Hanks space movie within 1 yea (1)

kevin lyda (4803) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782033)

gee, i would have expected anti-nasa people would appreciate privately financed advertising...

Re:Not Idiocy (1)

great om (18682) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782034)

furthermore what abbout all the engine reasearch they are doing. (venturestar, ion drives)

i thinkk what nasa is doing with venturestar is what they are going to have to do from now on. develop the prototype themseles and get paid to do it by aerospace firms.

what happened to all the libertarians around here? (1)

kaisyain (15013) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782035)

Usually it seems that, no matter, what the article is about there are dozens of posts on /. from the neo-libertarians. The recent post office one springs to mind.

I find it funny that as soon as the question becomes "space exploration" (a question near and dear to the hearts of all geeks no doubt) the same people who were crying for government to stay out of licensing software professionals or taxing internet commerce or whatever suddenly turn into bleeding heart tax and spend liberals.

I mean, how do they justify the hypocrisy to themselves?

I agree with this anonymous coward. If private industry is better at technological innovation than government (which is what all those Silicon Valley execs are always telling us) then stop funding NASA completely and let private industry pick up the slack. Hooray for allocative efficiency!

The ESA does do stuff (0)

Rocket Boy (34136) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782037)

But most of the time, it is in conjunction with NASA.

Rabid's right, NASA is the world's space agency. I know that sorta sounds Nationalistic but ESA, NASDA (.jp), RSA (.ru), and others all look towards NASA for help and technology for projects. Cutting NASA back hurts the rest of the world in terms of space flight and exploration. When NASA does something, they see if anyone else is doing it. If another country is doing something, they see if NASA is doing it.

Politicians should love the idea of space science. They have their head up their ass so much it should be second nature to explore other dark places.

Re:From the other side (1)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782038)

NASA generally puts the cuts with the projects. All the advanced flight projects have been scrapped, because of the last budget cut, so forget seeing safer, larger, luxury-liner-sized aircraft in your lifetime.

Re:Question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782039)

Very good question, I think that hits the nail on the head so to speak.

Re:wasn't this the same goverment that had ... (1)

angelo (21182) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782040)

"Saving" social security will never be fully realised. It started out, and always will be a Ponzi scheme. Every generation supposedly pays into it, then they see the next generation pay theirs. Inflation and other issues are partially to blame, as is the fact that it exists in the first place. The government doesn't want you investing your hard earned cash.

Re:Way to get the money back (1)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782041)

No, but there is in Australia, and the amateur Australian rocket program is going extremely well, from what I've heard.

nasa is pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782042)

If nasa's is going to be doing idiotic things like the pointless John Glenn return to space pr stunt they deserve to get thier budget cut. I'm sure people will point to tech advances of the space program (velcro, tang etc.) but wouldn't that money be better spent if it went directly to a cause like medical or tech research instead of overly expensive manned missions to space?

Re:From the other side (1)

fireant (24301) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782043)

I'm sure that I don't have to tell you that humans have made important discoveries by accident. Why go to Pluto? I don't know... think back about 500 years. Why sail west from Spain? We already know a good way to get to India, what possible good could it do to try to cross the Atlantic?

As for the surplus, I'm all for beginning payments on the national debt, but how exactly is cutting US$1.3 billion from NASA going to help when the debt is at US$6 thousand billion? NASA has had their budget cut over and over. They were already tightening their belts and were having to cut missions like the Champollion mission to land on the nucleus of a comet. I don't know if that sounds useful or not, but that's what science is all about! Plus, it sounds pretty damn cool.

Well, I've interrupted my letter to my congresspersons, so I'd better get back to it.

Mission Shares! (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782044)

Do what they did with the early explorations of north america and sell shares in the mission. I'd throw money in it just to see if it would go... The rest of the Idea i leave up to you cause it just slipped my mind. (heavy objects contacting the floor at a high rate of speed do cause distractions...)

Re:ESA (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782045)

Actually, ESA DOES put a fair bit of cash and resources into NASA programmes. The solar arrays on Hubble are made by British Aerospace, for example. As for probes to Mars, the first (Mars Express) goes up in a couple of years. (There was actually an earlier, failed Euro-Soviet attempt.)
ESA's launched probes into areas NASA's never managed: comets (Giotto) the Sun (Ulysses) and so on.
Americans shouldn't get the idea that space exploration will end without them. The rest of the world will go on without NASA. It'll slow things down, but in twenty years no-one will notice.

Re:A Reality Check (1)

Exanter (2171) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782046)

3. NASA needs to get out of the way and let privatization of space begin in a meaningful way. Space does
not belong to the government of the United States

Says you. No one said it does. But NASA's existance doesn't preclude the existance of privatized space programs. This is not to say that privatized space programs would be good either, because they wouldn't.

The fact that no other country (sans Russia/Soviet Union) has much of a space program to speak of isn't NASA's fault for cripes sakes.

Re:wrong, mate (1)

alexeiko (40436) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782049)

If I read it all correctly, manned missions and ISS are not cut, so that gimmicky space shots will continue. The purely scientific ones are, so no more nice pictures of Mars or comets or whatever.

NASA is going private in a way (1)

Rocket Boy (34136) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782056)

NASA use to do an amazing amount of stuff for the Human Space Flight program in house and did not farm activities out to contractors. More and more, private contractors are running the day to day operations of the HSF while NASA itself focuses more on the science aspect of its mission.

If you want to see the main contractor that runs the HSF, go here [unitedspacealliance.com]

NASA is already Privatized (1)

goodviking (71533) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782057)

Who is it that build the spacecraft, launch the satellites, plan the missions, man the trackers, analyze the data, and support most other phases of the space program? Lockheed Martin, Boeing, CSC, Allied Signal, GTE, and countless other companies. The NASA civil servant today serves as either a top level contract manager or is a research scientist.

Re:Does anyone know.... (1)

cale (18062) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782058)

it's just a simple fact that whoever develops something first and claims it gets to reap the benefits and call the shots.

Thats a great point, I don't know much, but from what it looks like, the us contols a good chunck of the satilite space, just by the virtue that we put up a good number of them before anyone else ( I know technically the USSR had the first satilite) If we want to continue this leadership in space, and maybe even in technology in general we need to give nasa more money to do cool but useful things, like build telescopes, try and land someone on mars, figure out what the deal is with pluto. There is nothing wrong with "pure" science, because all of these missions involve a great deal of advancement of current technologies that will eventually filter down into the market. Velcro anyone? :)
When corporate america is SO detemined to stay ahead of its competitors, both national and international, I can't believe they are short sighted enough not to see how having nasa do the research on new ideas/concepts/designs will save them money and let them get products out much faster.
Making cuts in the space program is probably one of the worst idea's someone in congress has had in a long time. Cutting the space program will most certainly affect the technology that we can produce in the long term, short term there will probably be very few effects, but maybe 15 or 20 years from now, thats when we will start to see the effects of elimintating pure science research for short term make money fast schemes.

Privatization, please no! (1)

StoneDog (28523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782059)

As a Canadian slave to the US space program I may be biased here but I really must say that the idea of privatizing NASA makes me cringe. All that idea will do is turn it into a for-profit venture like all the others out there. More harm has been done to the world by "Profit at any price" mentalities than can even be measured. Would you really want one of the best things to come out of the US to be turned into a TV satelite launching tool that can't dredge up the will to make a step beyond our own small sphere? At the moment the gravity well is an expensive place to live, yes, but if you look at the statistics, private enterprise is *awful* at finding new technologies. Using/perfecting them? Excellent, but finding? Terrible. Most companies work on patents and developments from universities and other "free" sources. Invention with an eye to profit seldom ventures far from the bottom line.

- Hope this doesn't fly, or we won't.

Re:Quit Spending MY Money! (1)

Spyky (58290) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782060)

Unfortunately private companies have a sole purpose of making a buck. If they can't see any useful return on their investments (space research is VERY expensive) they aren't going to invest in it. The benefits of space research are long term, and broad reaching, with no immediate incentive for investors. Does that mean they aren't valueable? Certainly not. The very silicon chip that you are running on right now is a spin-off of space research.
In addition, I would argue that it is also a great benefit to have these technologies "open source". Much of NASA's research is publicly available and has helped to spin off many more technologies in recent years by private companies, like exotic lightweight alloys, etc. What's good for linux is good for research too!and we aren't going to get public research from private companies.
Private space companies are not interested in the kind of scientific research that a gov't funded organization like NASA is. They build rockets and communication satellites, but if they can't make a buck off it, they aren't going to send it in to space, or build it.
The problem is not so much that they are cutting 10% of NASA's budget, I'm sure that not all of the projects NASA is whining about will really be affected, presumably they will only be able to complete 90% of their projects. The problem is, its a step in the wrong direction. In another 5 years it will be another 10% cut. Support gov't funded NASA, its a small price to pay for great things down the road, and compared to other gov't projects, NASA is CHEAP!


go libertarian, and this wouldn't need to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782061)

become a libertarian, and this sort of thing would stop.

Under the system, NASA would naturally be disbanded.

"waitaminute!" you say? That's right there would be no more NASA, but there would also be no more income taxes (cool huh?). If there are enough people that think a NASA-like orginization should exist, it will be funded privately by donations etc.

I work @ JPL, and I can honestly say that I DO see a lot of wasteful activities going on. This would be just fine if it was private, but it's not...I'm using your money when I have nothing to do @ work...

As unbelievable as it may seem, there are people out there that DON'T want to invest in space exploration..taking money from those people and funding NASA, while "corect" in your mind, is against the liberties of that person that doesn't.

then again, we don't live in that sort of society, so let's all write out congress ppl ;)


The person responsible is Bill Young R - Florida (1)

JohnnyCannuk (19863) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782063)

Bill young is the Chair of the House appropriations committee. All of you Americand let him know what you think here:

Congressman Bill Young
U.S. House of Representatives
2407 Rayburn Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5961
Congressman Bill Young
Suite 1480
360 Central Avenue
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 893-3191
Congressman Bill Young
Suite 606
801 West Bay Drive
Largo, FL, 33770
(727) 581-0980

Ironically, while screaming about the need to cut the budget of NASA, he also approved this (from his own website):

"Congressman Young announced relief for the Defense Department included in H.R. 1141, A bill Making Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for 1999.

"This $15 billion bill is all about helping people," said Chairman Young. "American farmers, American troops, storm victims here in the U.S. and in Central America, and Balkan refugees will all immediately benefit from passage of this
essential aid package. Despite our differences over the Administration's Balkan policy, this bill sends a strong message to our
troops in the field that the Congress supports them.

"It also takes an important first step toward reversing the dangerous 10-year draw down of our nation's defenses by providing
additional funding for readiness, recruitment, munitions, and force protection. And, $1.8 billion for military pay raises and
retirement benefits will go a long way toward addressing critical retention and recruitment problems. We have worked hard to
keep this bill as clean and tight as possible, as well as provided offsets for $2 billion of the costs. Press Release)

Watch this site for more updates on America's Defense Readiness"

I guess if his son David were an astronaut or NASA scientist, NASA may have gotten this cash (he's a fighter pilot stationed in Saudi Arabia, BTW).
As a Canadian, I can't do much (although I did write Bill C. and ask him to veto this bill), so it's up to you Americans to let him know what you think. His e-mail address was not posted anywhere so if anyone out there has it, post it and lets have everyone let him know how stupid this is by every means of communication.

Don't let the Republicans get away with this.

Chop! Chop! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782065)

NASA has been incredibly wasteful and inefficient for some time. Soon it'll be obsolete.

Quit acting like a bunch of LordyLordy-what'll-we-DO??? welfare queens and instead point your enthusiasm towards private space efforts.

USA has higher priorities than space exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782068)

In the USA we clearly have higher priorities than space exploration. Just look at where we spend our money.

Tobacco, alcohol, drugs - and the extra money we throw away cleaning up after these problems.

Don't forget the movie and music industries, either. Or how about junk food, and the amount of money we spend trying to chase the fat away from turning ourselves into couch potatoes.

Any one of these vices approaches or exceeds the Nasa budget, and the 'cleanup spending' is just as big. But we have no money for space.

As for private ventures, I don't know that we're ready, yet. Really, there's only limited money to be made at the moment in satellites, and no money in manned space until we can begin to tap into moon-and-beyond resources. Current technology just isn't up to manned moon-and-beyond yet, and private industry either can't afford such a long-range vision, or simply won't because quarter-to-quarter profits are SO important.

There's a big gap between Earth orbit satellites and manned moon-and-beyond. NASA may be the only agency we have that can bridge the gap. Maybe THEN private industry can start driving things.

Re:NASA cannot become private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782074)

Congress would pass no such law.

Why would it? There is already a flourishing abeit nascent private space industry. There is no need for the government to create one.

NASA does more than fly rockets (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782075)

It =HAD= advanced flight research programs. It =HAD= research into hypersonic flight. It =HAD= considerable research into Earth's environment.

Some of these programs have been scrapped entirely, others will probably be abandoned in this round of cuts.

You want to know what NASA could have done that would have been useful? Look at the advanced passanger aircraft they were developing, with a blended wing body. No private company is going to foot the bill for resaearch of that kind. It's cheaper to build things that crash than research new designs that might not.

You want to know why it'd be useful to go to Mars, or Pluto? Because new conditions require new technologies. Your non-stick frying pans, velcro fasteners, and pens that work upside-down weren't made for the fun of it. Those were necessary technologies for space.

New things are invented out of necessesity. ALWAYS. That's why wars tend to spur so many inventions. I'd rather see the world encourage more peaceful incentives. If that means sending men to the furthest reaches of the solar system, so be it!

Then, there are the finite resources of Planet Earth. I don't like seeing entire mountains vanish off the map, forever, because construction workers want a gazillion tonnes of cement to build stuff that's going to get demolished ten years down the road. It would be environmentally, geographically and archaeologically better to mine asteroids than consume the planet we're standing on. But nobody is going to start doing that, if organisations such as NASA don't produce the technology needed to do so. Private companies aren't going to be willing to invest in research like that.

Is it short-sighted to whittle away NASA? YES! Yes, NASA is top-heavy with beaurocracy, which it needs to do something about, urgently, but without NASA and other space agencies leading the way, nobody is going to follow into space. We only have telecom satellites because the Russian space agency and NASA showed that it was possible. Arthur C. Clarke's famous letter was important, but on it's own, would have just been ignored as idle fantasy.

Uh, try the Republicans (1)

fuckwit (30610) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782076)

They control the house and the senate, so if the funding is being cut, it's at their behest.

It never ceases to amaze me what people are willing to lay at the feet of the Democrats when the house and the senate are controlled by Republicans. They're probably using these cuts to fuel their giant tax cuts for the rich... :)

Re:ESA (1)

RabidMonkey (30447) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782077)

no one will notice, as long as another country is willing to begin a whole new space program from scratch to cover for them. Yes, the ESA has done some things, I can't deny that, and they continue to grow and send off new experiments, but again, not on the scale that NASA does. Don't get me wrong - as a Canadian I'd like nothing more than to see NASA fail and the CSA (Canadian Space Agency) start and takeover, but you and I both know that won't happen. We, the populas of Earth, generally rely on NASA for all our space exploration needs, as well as space station construction (although the Russians seem to have done a pretty good job), sattelite launching, various probes etc.

A multinational space exploration team/project would be the best solution, in my oh so humble and mis-informed opinion. Something all countries can contribute to, financially and technically.

My $0.02


If you want something done (1)

infojack (25600) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782078)

If you want the goverment to spend more money on space this is what you have to do.
1)Have a 3rd party is money build a small orbiting space station
2)shoot the earth with missels with this new space station. (the white house and stuff)
3)The goverment will give 100trillion dollars to defense to build a space ship.
4)in about 20 years it will be de-clasified and nasa can have the technology.

the only way to get something done in this country is to blow stuff up.

Re:... Americans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782079)

I think Americans are getting kinda tired of
supporting the United Nations, Space Exploration, and every other would-be dictator that is US
They should gut the space program, the new
military hi-tech toys, most of the money
give-aways, then maybe Americans would be able to
take home more than 60% of their paycheck.

Re:Money for war, but not science? (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782080)

If you had taken ALL the moeny from the military, we would still have massive weapons of destruction, they would just belong to whoever took us over... A military is necessary. If you don;t think so, just start a game of Civilization up and never build any miltary units and see how far you get :) keeping NASA in the green is one thing, but completely screwing over what keeps us from being taken over is another..

Hey!!! (1)

jtseng (4054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1782083)

I live near DC! Just use a pair of laser-guided 2klb bombs on each Capitol chamber and spare the rest of us who like NASA!!!

Today's English Lesson: Oxymorons

Idiots in congress. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782084)

This happens quite often...Nasa has some spectacular successes (and even manages to trim their own budget), and then some thick-necked bible thumper in congress decides that NASA is a waste of money. Why is it they always make assinine comments about "little green men" as well? Considering this is happening right after the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, it's downright disgusting.

Bottom line: more human beings are needed in congress (as opposed to the sub-human lawyers and affiliated scum that populate it now).

write Congress (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1782086)

You've all taken time to read/post here, so why not write to your senators and congressmen?
Go to www.senate.gov [senate.gov] and www.house.gov [house.gov] . Both make it exceptionally easy to write the people representing people. All you need to know is your state and zip code!

For the first time in my life, I've written to Congress. (It took less than five minutes.) I think you all should too, whether you support or hate the proposed cuts. If you choose to write, please be civil (i.e. avoid swears and direct insults.)
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