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Space Station Funding Safe - For Now.

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the annual-space-budget-battle dept.

News 113

SRMoore writes "Some good news from Congress today. Looks like the International Space Station will get its funding this year. (At least from Congress)" Well, there are plenty of bloody battles to be fought before next year's budget is finally passed, but according to the CNN article SRMoore pointed us to, the House vote in favor of funding the space station was 298 to 121, so construction will probably continue for at least another year.

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113 comments

Not Quite Safe Yet... (1)

Rolan (20257) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691121)

Only the House of Reps. has passed the bill. The Senate is still reviewing it. Though it is unlikely that the senate will kill it, there is still the chance...

[And now for my rant]

I see some very differing opinions out there on the usefulness/worthieness of the space station. I have to say that personally I think it's worth the cost. With the science advances made in space and the research potential of the station it's well worth the cost. Not to mention that it will provide experience for the eventual move off the planet.

Yes I know that sounds really far fetched, and I'm not saying it's going to happen today, tomorrow, or even this century. But at the rate that we are destroying the environment, Earth won' tbe habitable for much longer.

Re:Finaly ! (1)

hodeleri (89647) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691122)

I have wondered just how to interpret this line from the constitution: (Article 1, Section 8, Clauses 1 & 12)
The Congress shall have Power To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
and this: (Clauses 15 and 16)
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
and slightly unrelated (Section 10, Clause 3)
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
I have always thought that the nature of my selections were meant to say that the US wasn't supposed to have a standing army, but if it needed one, it would raise and outfit one as needed.

Re:shafting NASA to pay for college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691123)

I support NASA funding as much as you do.

But I don't think there is anybody who doesn't belong in college (aside from those with severe learning disabilities). What this country needs most of all is an educated public.

Re:It should be our decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691124)

(with very little information about those candidates other than whatever can be gleamed from mud-slinging ads)
Speak for yourself. There is plenty of information available on just about every candidate available for anybody who wants to look for it. If you can't be bothered to even research the candidates before making a voting decision, then you don't deserve to have your views represented.

Re:Hooray... I think not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691125)

Oh no. Not the "don't you care about the children" argument again. Can't you be any less simplistic and cliche? How many children do you think die from malnutrition in this country? I don't know for sure, but it is damn few, if any.

Did you forget that education is already provided for? It does suck in many places, but lack of funding is only a small part of the problem. Yes, some school districts really do need more funding, mainly for facilities. But there is a larger problem and just throwing money at it won't make it go away. A large percentage of the worst performing districts (particularly in large cities) already spend more than the national average per student. And most studies indicate that student performance doesn't correlate well with per student spending.

I don't have a problem with soup kitchens and homeless shelters to provide TEMPORARY aid. What I do have a problem with are entitlements, especially ones that are available indefinately. Any program that makes it easier for people to live on the government's nickel than their own just deepens the cycle of dependency. The goal shouldn't be to make things more comfortable for the impoverished and unemployed but to give them the tools and incentive to pull themselves out of poverty. The only good welfare programs are ones that provide temporary benefits and spend their money turning people into stable, productive workers.

Re:Pork Barrel Bullshit! (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691126)

>>The practice of bundling appropriations is simply a convenient way to make compromises and create consensus. Plus, by combining appropriations bills it makes it a lot easier to focus debates on the more contentious appropriations rather than debating every single one - otherwise the Congress would never get through the budget.

If they had to spend more time talking about and working on each spending measure, they would have less time to spend our money. With that reduced amount if time they'd have to concentrate only on what is important.

"Whoops, we didn't have time this year to pass the funding measure for the Hatian clog dancing lesbian thesbian educational fund, well maybe next year."

LK

Re:Kill the station. (1)

Tim Behrendsen (89573) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691127)

Actually, you have a good point in the sense that space-based research is important. Probably the solution is to form a University-based consortium to handle space research. Perhaps tear off the research part of NASA into that, and send the other part into the military.

A university consortium wouldn't be perfect, but it would (probably) be far more efficient than the pure political entity that NASA has become. While Universities have a lot of politics, they wouldn't nearly be as subject to the pork-barrel pressures.

As far as exploration goes, that probably should be left to private enterprise. It's very difficult to make the case that the added benefits research-wise outweight the costs. The only way human exploration is going to be cost effective is if their is a profit-motive involved (probably through manufacturing; tourism probably won't pay enough).

Re:Engineering problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691128)

Depends on what your goals are. I personally want to spend less public research money on finding better ways to launch satellites. The private sector is starting to get into the satellite payload delivery business. Let them do it. I'd rather see NASA fund R&D that furthers other goals.

Re:shafting NASA to pay for college (1)

Tony Tastey (247) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691129)

Okay, educated public is one thing. But colleges aren't the place to do it for most people. How many people do you remember from your school days who just drifted through school, not really caring about learning, just because their parents told them they need a college degree to get anywhere in life?

Colleges right now are full of students that can be broken down into three categories

  1. people looking for a certificate to get them a job (the future workforce)
  2. people looking to further their knowledge in a subject in hopes of furthering that knowledge (the future academicians)
  3. people who couldn't come up with a better idea (the people who don't belong in college)

For group 1, I really wish the US could develop respectable vocational schools. The american public has too much of a derogatory opinion of these schools for it to ever happen, but it's a nice idea. In this category I include everything from doctors to programmers, electricians to pilots. This group should constitute the bulk of society who simply want to learn a skill and get a job.

For group 2, I include those people who are interested in pushing the boundaries of the fields they are interested in. I would also include some poeple who would like to eventually work, but want a really thorough understanding of their entire field. This group would include most of the full-time grad students and professors across the country.

For group 3, let them get a job and take night classes until they know what they want to do. Hell, let them sign up for something in one of the other two, and switch if they don't like it. Most of the people in this group would likely end up in group 1.

And as for needing an educated public, that's what reading is for. There's no need to have people going full-time to school if all they want to do is broaden their horizons by reading a few good books. Let them take night classes. Let them read the newspaper. Let them get together to discuss the issues that affect their daily lives.

The cold war is over, ditch the space station. (2)

Pinback (80041) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691130)

People in Turkey don't have safe houses to live in, and we're trying to put people into orbit?

Here goes the Mir all over again.

VentureStar.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691131)

The government is the ONLY entity that can afford a manned space effort.

Not according to everyone involved in the space industry. In fact, the goal you say in unattainable is the exact goal VentureStar is pursuing. They have received only nominal funding from the government.

Others are also following this goal.

Moderators... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691132)

Either this post is tounge-in-cheek, or it is just plain silly.

How did this get moderated up? Twice.

Re:Such a delightfully simplistic solution (1)

apocalypse_now (82372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691133)

you are the most evil person I have ever seen in my life. the hell with 25% of kids! they're better off than John D. Rockafeller was! Do you know how STUPID that sounds? And as for spending for a better future, I am all about that; I simply consider that to be investing in education and children, not fueling some pathetic sci-fi fantasy. You don't actually care about people, you are more interested in seeing a science flourish, no matter how many miserable lives there are. Excuse me for caring about other human beings - assholes like YOU really annoy me.
--
Matt Singerman

Re:Who said anything about space-based R&D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691135)

But why would a company put up Hubble?

To take a risk and try to make money out of the potentially highly lucrative satellite servicing industry.

Who is going to pay them to do that?

The owners of the satellites. Beats replacing them.

Space station secure to begin with (1)

Phil-14 (1277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691136)

The space station is pretty much secure right now, partly because of the enourmous sunk costs we've already spent on it. Congress is demonstrating its dissatisfaction with NASA over the station by cutting new programs, such as the unmanned ones, even though they're much less costly and more efficient.


In a way, I'd rather they'd cut station instead of all the science programs. Or maybe cut X-33 instead; it's going massively over budget by about the required amount...

shafting NASA to pay for college (1)

Tony Tastey (247) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691144)

So we should cut funding even further to an already severely underfunded NASA in order to try to put more people who don't belong there through college?

You can't be serious. The amount of money NASA receives is a piddling amount compared to the national budget as a whole. And because we're already committed to putting $X towards the ISS, any cuts in NASA's budgets mean that some other project has to suffer. As for not "needing" to be able to live in space in the next 50 years, what does that have to do with anything? The space race was a good way to spur us on, but we shouldn't be stopping just because we don't have any competitors any more.

And as for putting NASA's budget towards education, maybe we should first look at reforming a system that says everyone needs to go to college to get a decent job, and instead look at bolstering the quality of elementary and high school educations, as well as that of vocational schools. College isn't for everyone, and it sure as hell isn't necessary for a lot of fields we seem to think require it.

Re:Great! (1)

BugMaster ChuckyD (18439) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691145)

maybe when an individual's contribution exceeds the cost of actually getting that person there, but since NASA's budget is about 1% of the federal budget, unless you pay more than $200 million in federal taxs you'll never have contribitued enough even to simply cover the cost of launching you into orbit.

Re:Hooray... I think (1)

mattc (12417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691147)

Wouldn't it be easier to launch a shuttle to Mars from a space station than from the surface of the earth?? To me, this seems to be one of the biggest advantages of having a space station.. it will make exploration outside of earth a lot cheaper and easier.

Re:Set high goals, shoot for the stars (1)

mattc (12417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691148)

Why are "people" programs better? We can breed and feed the poor any time.. let's build a space station.. it would at least be some meaningful accomplishment in our lives besides just propagating the species. Any cave man can work for "people" -- it takes real intelligence to explore space.

I just have to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691149)

I am mixed on the ISS, but one thing that just bothers me is when people talk about killing NASA and letting private industry take over space development completely. I feel that very little good will come of it, for several reasons:

  • I'm sorry but corporations will NOT do research that has little immediate profit or utility. That's why so much basic research is done by the government, Nat'l Labs, and universities.
  • I won't fully trust spacecraft and tech built by private compaies where human lives are at stake. NASA stuff may be bloated and overpriced, but it's the SAFEST bloated and overpriced stuff you'll find. I don't want to ride on a rocketship whose safety systems were designed by a corporation who cut corners for profit margins.
  • Beyond satellite/communications/military, I don't see any real reason for many corporations to even get into space. If there's little immediate profit, all the companies look forward to is long R&D expenditures and investments with an unceratin possibilty of returns, and thus the only real corporations we'll see in space are those are are already there for the above reasons: Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Honeywell, Rockwell, etc.

I simply trust the goverment to do research for research's sake and to build safer technology.

Sure, you could say "Well if a company makes defective equipment, the market will remove them." But when lives are at stake, that's one accident too many.

Respectfully,

Kevin Christie

kwchri@maila.wm.edu

Re:Kill the space station and NASA (1)

mattc (12417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691150)

I'm not sure I see the advantage of handing space exploration over to big business. Besides satellites, why would businesses want to spend money on space exploration? There is no money in it for them, and the only purpose of a business is to make money.

Furthermore, there is nothing stopping business from exploring space RIGHT NOW... and they obviously aren't doing it, except for sending up a few satellites now and then.. which sort of proves my point. We need a government space program if we want any research to take place that is concerned with things beyond profit margins.

Space is cool (1)

whig (6869) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691151)

Space is cool. But that doesn't mean we should support NASA and the ISS. The net effect of government spending on space programs is to inhibit private sector spending on alternatives.

Want space elevators, interplanetary human exploration, and permanent space settlements? Do you want these to be available to ordinary people in our lifetime? Do you believe that they will be, if the government is the primary source of space research and exploration dollars?

No private entrepreneur wants to compete with NASA. It would be foolhardy in the extreme. Furthermore, the ISS is just bad science. No fundamental new principles of physics or engineering are really being derived, just recycled old technology from the 60s and 70s.

Finally, and while it may seem an archaic point, where in the Constitution is it provided for government to spend money on space programs? Apart from the "provide for a national defense" argument, there is none. Thus, it is not merely a misguided program on pragmatic grounds, but as a matter of principle should be ceased at once.

Re:NASA has nearly stopped progress in space..Bah! (1)

hodeleri (89647) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691152)

Cassini (sp?) was the last "big budget" space project to be launched. All recent exploration has been under the "smaller, faster, cheaper" motto. Gallileo was cheap and gathered a lot of data for its cost, same with Deep Space 1, which included a new cheap and light propulsion system (less $$ to launch) and an autonomous navigation system (less ground controllers to pay.) The mars explorer (name forgotten) used low-mass landing gear - aerobraking, parachute, airbags - meaning less money to launch. There has even been a proposal to replace the Russian-built habitation module with an inflatable device. Cheap, cheap cheap has been what nasa is doing..

Re:It should be our decision (2)

Eccles (932) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691153)

>There is plenty of information available on just about every candidate available for anybody who wants to look for it.

And if I do spend that time, there's a vanishingly small chance that my vote will affect the result. Moreover, the candidates that do appear by the time I vote (given that I don't live in New Hampshire or Iowa, and even the ones who show up there are the ones with big money orgs behind them) will be Tweedledee and Tweedledum as far as I'm concerned.

Read David Freidman's "Hidden Costs" for his analysis of why voter turnout is as small as it is here.

Re:Space station secure to begin with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691154)

Remember the supercollider? They sunk billions into that thing and scraped it.

I agree 100% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691155)

It seems NASA has been treading water for at least ten years. I know the Challenger disaster held things up necessarily, but they simply haven't taken the leaps forward that most 50+ year old people will remember from the 60's.

Then again, innovation everywhere is dying. Your personal computer has changed only incrementally since the 80's. Phones, TV's, music equipment - all basically stuck in an innovation rut.

Automobile technology is even worse - the pushrod engine still rules on one form or another since the 20's - meanwhile electric and fuel cell engines are clearly ready for prime time use with just a little more work.

Re:Who said anything about space-based R&D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691156)

The point that I was making is companies are not even looking at utilizing space, in any extent other than communications and military.

So? Why can't that be privatized? Private companies develop and service all other government technologies - including "secret" and "sensitive" stuff, so why not in space? Private companies build nukes, spy planes, and government spy gear, so its not like anything in space is a bigger secret.. Your government should not be in the satellite servicing or launching business, period. Private companies could easily take this over if given the chance.

Re:Kill the station. (1)

selectspec (74651) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691157)

no doubt. How much fruit can you grow in orbit. Space is really big, but we keep exploring the same stupid part of it (orbit). And guess what? There's nothing there (in orbit) of even the most trival interest to science. I am all for exploring space, but if spinning an 80 year old man around next to a third grader's cabage experminent is NASA's idea of exploration, we need a new program director.

WASTE of MONEY (2)

v0rteck (62611) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691158)

OK. I am the biggest fan of space you can find. There is nothing--NOTHING--I would want more than a healthy, amazing, mind-boggling space program. That is why this story strikes an emotional chord with me.

A few weeks ago the VA-HUD appropriations subcommittee slashed most of the good projects NASA is working on. It cancelled all Mars missions past 2001 or so, cut funding to the Deep Space missions that were SO great for science, and cancelled several future astronomy missions. Further, recent deliberations have failed to restore any of this fundin.

But it left two programs virtually unscathed: the ISS and the Space Shuttle, the two bloated NASA programs that matter the least.

I have a great fear that within a couple of years we will have a (so-called) space program consisting of only these two projects, and none of the bargain-basement science missions that give us so much gain for the buck.

I also have a fear that two years from now the taxpayers are going to be outraged by the failure of the ISS and the waste of BILLIONS and BILLIONS of their dollars.

My wish: NASA would cancel the ISS, free up 2.something billion dollars, and spend all that money on science missions and a manned mission to Mars. Yes, a manned mission to Mars--we could afford it without the ISS.

It's a sad time.

Re:Kill the station. (1)

selectspec (74651) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691159)

no doubt. How much fruit can you grow in orbit? Space is really big, but we keep exploring the same stupid part of it (orbit). And guess what? There's nothing in orbit that is of even the most trival interest to science. I am all for exploring space, but if spinning an 80 year old man around next to a third grader's cabage experminent is NASA's idea of exploration, we need a new space program.

Re:Such a delightfully simplistic solution (1)

apocalypse_now (82372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691161)

So if this bustling economy is such a great solution, then why do 25% of children live at or below poverty, and 20% of all Americans overall? Oh wait, because instead of having better schools and job training and drug treatment centers, we launch bits of metal into space so we can see what happens when a monkey shits in zero gravity.

Oh, by the way, don't confuse "poor" and "poverty"... "poor" is having trouble making ends meet; "poverty" is legally defined as a family of four surviving on less than $16,000 per year. So while you sit in your nice suburban living room, or your trendy urban loft apartment, arguing why we need to hand that much more money over to the aeospace industry, please try not to think too much about the chronically undernourished children in the US. Did you chronic undernourishment kills almost twice as many children worldwide than famine does? Oh, I forgot, we're so much better off here.
--
Matt Singerman

Re:Space is cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691163)

you are very wrong saying no entrepreneur wants to compete with nasa. There are infact several private ventures in space exploration, and they are not "competing" with nasa. Thats like saying kraft competes with the government because the government produces its own cheese. There are private ventures to build orbital resorts, a private colony for vacationers on the moon, and one other that I heard of that plans to land a rover on the moon and use its cameras to provide the imagery for a theme park ride where the view is projected live, along with motion seats I beleive. If what you said is true, NASA sure is getting its ass kicked in the entertainment sector!

Re:*sigh* (3)

evilpenguin (18720) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691165)

It is patently false that there was no opposition to going to the moon. There was considerable opposition from every end of the political spectrum. Kennedy himself found the idea causing him such political trouble that he even publicly offered to cooperate with the Soviets on the project (with, more than likely, the quiet hope that they could be blamed if the effort failed). While it is virtually impossible to find anyone today who was opposed, this is because the program became such a (short lived) popular success.

Now, I don't happen to think the fact that the world is not a utopian paradise is sufficient reason to scuttle the space program. Europe was no utopian paradise when the "voyages of exploration" began in the sixteenth century. Even so, I think we should be looking for ways to profit from manned space flight, otherwise we should leave space to the robots.

I've heard the argument about "machines can't think," and true as this is, you should take a look at what it costs to make a long space flight survivable for a human being. You can put a lot of brains in a robot for what that costs.

I laughed out loud at the scene at the beginning of the movie Apollo 13 when Lovell calls to his kids and they were all sitting on the stairs. I was a kid on the stairs those July nights in 1969, pretending I was down in my room, listening to everything as it happened on the TV. I will never forget it.

Apollo was lousy science (in space exploration terms, not in technological development terms), but it sure had me dreaming of the stars and dying to be a scientist/engineer.

I see the future of man in space in the very long term. It took almost 100 years for Europeans to follow the explorers into the "new world." The distances and difficulties and costs of this expansion are so much greater that I do no think 1000 years out of line for the length of time it will take to have interplanetary trade and civilization, but I think we should continue to try.

"A man's reach should always exceed his grasp." Help the poor, yes. But don't put everything on hold until poverty is gone. Society doesn't act. Individuals act. Select your priorties and put your effort in there. Give others the freedom to do the same. The world can and will become better if you do.

New 21st Century tech is cheap and accurate (1)

WillAffleck (42386) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691166)

You are so 1995.

Seriously, why should we blow money on F-22s when we can just take Stealth Fighters and equip them with JATO strap-ons (late 90s) for the dumb bombs? Cost is $2000 strap on to a $500 bomb, accuracy is 95+% (way better than those 75% smart bombs) and it works in cloud cover.

Fast and cheap, just like the space program. Sure, let's send people to Mars, but why not send robots to collect fuel for the return trip, establish the Mars base, and set up the solar collectors first? Way cheaper and we can send more people in the long run.

The GOP approach is throw money at it. Like buying Windows NT boxen when you could get Linux boxen that actually work and cost less. The Demos, because they're the party of fiscal prudence, insist on Linux boxen.

Me, I think the Demos have the right tack, but then, I'm biased.

And I sure don't trust my privacy to the GOP.

Hooray... I think (2)

rde (17364) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691170)

I've mixed feelings on this one; on the one hand, it shows that congress still has some interest in the space programme, but on the other hand the station is a phenomenal waste of money.
If I were Dan Goldin, I'd do my damdest to get together the $50 billion needed to establish a permanent base on Mars [colorado.edu]

*sigh* (4)

Enoch Root (57473) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691171)

It's such a pity that something as important as the Space Program has to struggle for survival. This is very good news.

During the Space Race, no qualm was made about going to the Moon. Politicians kept underlining how important the Space Program is for Humanity: it is an expression of our innermost desires for exploration, and a trait of curiosity that marks the entire race. In truth, they just wanted to win the pissing contest with the Soviets.

Is the Space Program important? You betcha. It's an inalienable right of Mankind to pursue it. In the long run, it can have a dramatic influence on the survival of Humanity itself as a species.

But the results don't come during a single mandate, so it keeps getting cut and cut again... Fortunately, it has also forced NASA and other agencies throughout the world to innovate and become more creative. We're far from sending another billion-dollar Viking when we can send a little robot that'll do just fine.

"There is no surer way to ruin a good discussion than to contaminate it with the facts."

space research = "well being" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691172)

Space research and exploitation will pay off in ways that we can't dream of today. This, in turn, will lead to more "well being" for us.

Finaly ! (2)

Murphy(c) (41125) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691173)

That's one done. Now all that needs to be done is to try and get the Miltary budget down to almost nothing. And we should be in the clear.




Murphy(c) 4 3l33t pReZi

Good to see it safe (1)

kyanite (73015) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691174)

I am glad to see that space station funded. I am tired of hearing from ignorant people who think spending money on space programs is silly. I especially can stand some of the short range thinking folks that we seem to have in Congress these days who feel they need to eliminate the space program. Space exploration is our future, and I am sure many here will agree on that. It's just sad to see people trying to stop a wonderful part of our scientific community.
_________________________
Words of Wisdom:

Re:Hooray... I think not. (1)

apocalypse_now (82372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691175)

If I was Dad Goldin, I'd use the $50 billion to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate the 25% of US children that live in poverty.

God bless America; the richest country in the world, and it can't even feed all its own children.
--
Matt Singerman

Kill the station. (0)

Tim Behrendsen (89573) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691176)

It would be much, much more useful to put the money in a fund to support tax breaks for putting private enterprise into space. The space station is a total joke and a waste of money. 98% of its purpose is a welfare program for engineering companies so that congressman can hold up a sign that says, "look at all the jobs I brought to the state!"

NASA should be immediately folded into the military, which is the only reason the government should be in the space business.

Get A Clue (1)

Snoobs (43421) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691177)

While the space station surely is a technical marvel. I believe that the well being of our people is much more important. What the space station can accomplish research does not equal the amount of money that is being invested into the project.

Anyway, they will probably dump it next year after putting wads of cash into the project.

mixed feelings for me too (3)

rhuff (22750) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691178)

I have to agree with the previous poster. I am greatly in favour of having a real space program, but what NASA has been doing for the past 15 years is not a real space program.

The ISS is years late, billions over budget, and will only have a fraction of the capabilities originally intended.

It's tragic to think that we have seen no significant advance in our space capabilities since the late 70s.

BTW, for a great novel that harps on the same theme, read Homer Hickham's Back to the Moon. It's a great story and it is very strong in the technical details (Hickham is a retired NASA engineer; his childhood was the subject of the movie October Sky - the absolute best geek movie ever).

Re:space research = "well being" (1)

PhuCknuT (1703) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691179)

They also pay off in ways we can dream of. There are thousands of spinoff technologies from the space program in everyday use by ordinary people. I can't remember the url, but nasa has a page listing some of the more major ones, including things (iirc) like artificial heart valves and velcro.

Crazy. (1)

CocaCola (30016) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691180)

They have 60m to spend on the porn^H^H^H^H Starr report, and they have no money for the only space station humanity has left?

Pork Barrel Bullshit! (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691182)

Why is the Space Station tied to veterans benefits and environmental programs?

If we're going to open the wallet for the space station, let's just do that. I support environmental protection and veterans benefits, but they should be handled on seperate bills and not riders on the space station's funding bills.

It's exactly this practice that gives people like this asshole Roemer the ammunition to attack the funding bill.

"My district isn't getting enough out of this, so I'm going to kill it." Screw that and screw him.

LK

Re:Space station = Jobs program (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691183)

I guess this post is flamebait but I would still answer it. Until machines will stop being stupid people shall be sent. And as further away from earth (light speed is finite) as more imperative will be sending something with brains not diodes.

Offtopic: Rob why did you remove HTML HR tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691184)

I notice that one can no longer use the horizontal line tag (HR) in comments. This was useful for setting off key points in a comment. What's the story here?

This is *good* news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691185)

The space station is a bloated monstrosity which has been sucking funds from other projects. Why don't they restore funds to the Mercury and Pluto probes and the Discovery program, and kill the station? (The answer is politics, of course. The space station is politically important to a lot of people.)

Re:Finaly ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691186)

I think you are misinterpreting almost every line.
The Congress shall have Power To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
This relates to the appropriations process only. Appropriations are categorized - each different type of spending is referred to as a "color of money" by people in government & defense. They all have different time limits and rules for obligation of funds. In particular, defense spending comes in several different "colors" which have time limits varying from 1 year to 5 years. This particular line means that any money appropriated by Congress for supporting troops and buying equipment must be obligated within two years - e.g. when they give you money you have two years to spend it. Similarly, money for military operations has to be appropriated every year but money for military construction lasts up to five years. The purpose of these limits is twofold. First, it is to make sure that Congress keeps control over the _rate_ of military spending so that the Treasury doesn't go broke. Without time limits the military can stockpile money from year to year, spend in spurts, etc. Second the rules make sure Congress has periodical oversight over how the military is doing at spending their money and make adjustments.
and this: (Clauses 15 and 16) To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
I don't see how these lines support your conclusion. At first glance, clause 15 seems to indicate that the uses of the military are just to repel invasions and suppress insurrections. However, I believe the "execute the Laws of the Union" statement is a blanket that covers just about any lawful use of the military. I do think that the founders of the nation didn't believe the country needed to maintain a large standing army. However they certainly believed in maintaining a small army of professional officers and soldiers and building up larger armies in times of war. There are statements and inferences of that all over various writings of the period, including the Constitution.
and slightly unrelated (Section 10, Clause 3) No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
This one is crystal clear. It specifically reserves the power to have a military, declare and wage war, and make treaties to the federal government alone. It prevents individual states from doing any of the above. These restrictions on the states were put in place specifically to prevent a civil war and to prevent certain states from supporting a foreign enemy that was attempting to invade the US.

The role of government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691188)

Government exists to take on the tasks that are necessary, but are necessarily unprofitable. Like running an army, and in some countries, running healthcare.

You can make money off of space - this is obvious.

The government is basically interfering at this point and should get out of the way so people can exploit space fully.

If you want smaller government, you have to make it smaller by getting the government out of certain businesses.

beg to differ (2)

chris.dag (22141) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691189)

If previous patterns hold true than the knowledge and technologies developed just to get the space station off the ground and running will spin off into the civilian world and drive all kinds of wild new innovations.

It's easy to diss the potential value of the pure research projects that will go on up there but I think just the technical achievements involved in getting the station up and running & supporting life will have all kinds of useful applications down on earth.

just my $.02

NASA' budget: ~$13billion, Cost of Kosovo ~$12 bil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691190)

NASA's budget is about $13 billion/year. The military recently got about $12 billion JUST TO PAY FOR IT'S INVOLVMENT IN KOSOVO. The military's space budget makes NASA's total budget look like a joke. Do you really know how little NASA gets? How can you complain the the ISS is "too little for too much"? What did the military do for you lately? You people are f'ing clueless.

NASA' budget: ~$13billion, Cost of Kosovo ~$12 bil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691191)

NASA's budget is about $13 billion/year. The military recently got about $12 billion JUST TO PAY FOR IT'S INVOLVMENT IN KOSOVO. The military's space budget makes NASA's total budget look like a joke. Do you really know how little NASA gets? How can you complain the the ISS is "too little for too much"? What did the military do for you lately? You people are f'ing clueless.

Re:Kill the station. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691192)

There already are tax breaks available. The current wave of companies producing imagery and communications satellites have taken advantage of tax breaks. For private enterprise to get involved in space, there has to be a compelling business model and strong profit motive. That severly restricts the number of space applications that private industry will involve themselves in. The whole point of NASA is to do things that private enterprise won't.

You seem to be implying that space based research and space exploration are not a worthy goals. If so, I don't think you will find too many people that agree.

Re:Pork Barrel Bullshit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691193)

I know how you feel. However, you have to accept that government depends on compromise to work. In a large, diverse country like this, political opinions, priorities, and positions are so varied that you can't pass any useful legislation without getting a lot of legislators to compromise on something. The practice of bundling appropriations is simply a convenient way to make compromises and create consensus. Plus, by combining appropriations bills it makes it a lot easier to focus debates on the more contentious appropriations rather than debating every single one - otherwise the Congress would never get through the budget.

It is sort of distressing to see so many legislators talk out of both sides of their mouth, complaining about this only when it is a convenient excuse to use when they get left out of the compromise.

It should be our decision (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691194)

Is the Space Program important? You betcha. It's an inalienable right of Mankind to pursue it.

And you have the right to make a donation to your favorite private space exploration organization. Alas, you don't have as much to give, thanks to taxes. We've settled into a situation where each of us pays money the government without getting to tell the government how to spend our money. Instead, we only have the crudest methods for influencing how it will be spent: we vote every few years among a tiny pool of candidates (with very little information about those candidates other than whatever can be gleamed from mud-slinging ads) for the one we hope will use our political and economic power the most wisely.

I say abolish NASA and most of the rest of the government, along with the taxes that support it. Let people choose directly for themselves how their own resources are spent (i.e. feeding the hungry, educating kids, exploring space, subsidizing tobacco farmers, etc) according to their own values.


---
Have a Sloppy day!

NASA is there to make research risks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691195)

...that corporations would deem unprofitable.

What the public doesn't realize is that there is a lot of technological and scientific advancement that takes place within NASA and space research that isn't high profile but in the end can benefit humanity.

The general public is only concerned with the present and how it effects them, and doesn't get to see the long term effects that NASA research does for them or research that they provide to the rest of the world (scientific community and corporations alike).

The statement that I see that is repeated over and over again is that the space program is "space travel and colonization". That is by far a large misconception. I could go into all the things that NASA does that is related to the space program (and a lot of research that isn't, like the Mission to Planet Earth) but has nothing to do with space travel and colonization. Take some time to search the NASAWeb.

I wish I could find the number that states how much revenue (for those that are too pragmatic for research for the sake of research) that every dollar put into the space program produces, but it was something to the effect that every dollar put in was doubled in resulting technology and information.

Possibly in the future corporations will be building space stations of their own, but right now it's just not feasible for them. Don't pass off the ISS as just an experiment to see how people live in space. It will also be the platform for many other research projects in addition to being a stepping stone for actual space exploration (research wise).

Why wait 20 years down the road for the first corporation to put a space station in space, when we can have one now and reap the benefits from it.

Re:Hooray... I think (1)

jimhill (7277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691196)

It sure would be easier to launch a shuttle to Mars from a space station than from the surface of the Earth. That's a fine idea you've got there. Before I write my Congressman and ask him to support it, though, can you please explain how the shuttle is going to get to the space station?

Re:Set high goals, shoot for the stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691197)

Where else besides the ISS can we do long term zero gravity research?

Re:Space: Missed potential (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691198)

Actually some people are rather the opinion the Apollo programme is one of the main reasons a space station still something exciting.

A scientific joke, pure politcs and a big waste of money.

It would be nice to know how many lifes on earth could be saved with half of the money too. Okay, it might be less nice and less impressive too. Be careful while walking as if you're looking in the sky you might not see the abyss in front of you.

Re:The role of government (1)

SRMoore (87075) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691199)

If companies can make money off space, then why don't you see the 'Intel Zero-G Chip Production R&D facility' for example? If there was enough immediate money to be made in space, you would see more companies there. R&D is expensive. R&D is necessary. To keep this country leading edge as it is, the government needs to provide a place to do R&D. Whether that is in a national lab, or in space. The government wouldn't be sending people into space for just the coolness factor. And companies can't afford to put people into space with no large short term return.

Just my 2 cents.

Re:WASTE of MONEY (1)

Kilzall (37495) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691200)

If your figures are correct, I completely agree about the manned mission to Mars. The l\only problem is that it's kinda hard to get the ship, crew, and supplies for a 6-12 month mission off the ground all at one time. It would be much easier to send repeated missions to mars, the moon, and other places if we could get around the problem of launching stuff from earth.

Re:Such a delightfully simplistic solution (1)

garyrich (30652) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691201)

So if this bustling economy is such a great solution, then why do 25% of children live at or below poverty, and 20% of all Americans
overall?


Maybe because we define "poverty" as "the poorest 25%"? Most of these people are living much better than a fairly wealthy person 100 years ago. Why? Investements that society made (one way or the other) in progress



Oh, by the way, don't confuse "poor" and "poverty"... "poor" is having trouble making ends meet; "poverty" is legally defined as a family of four surviving on less than $16,000 per year.


Spending or not spending $$ on creating a better future world has nothing to do with this. Maybe if we build a better world (a key ingredient to which is getting off this one limited planet) we can do better for these people's kids/grandkids. Face it, the fact is that there is no longer enough appropriate work for the 25% least intelligent/motivated/educated/responsible fraction of the population. There are not enough floors that need sweeping or fries that need selling to keep them all employed.

I think this poster is probably a pseudonym for Dr. Laura. Or at least a luddite, vegan, peta, Dr. Laura lover. There's goes a few points of karma,but these people really annoy me.

garyr

Re:Hooray... I think (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691202)

This idea is already NASA's preferred method for launching a manned Mars mission.

Final assembly of a manned Mars spacecraft would be done at the ISS. The completed major subassemblies would be flown to the ISS by the shuttle, and then put together there. Launching from orbit would be dramatically cheaper. If they launch from the ground, the vast majority of fuel required would just go to lifting the craft up to orbit. They would need a rocket several times bigger than a Saturn V to do the job. Not only is it much cheaper to bring a manned Mars spacecraft to orbit in a few pieces via the space shuttle, it is also much less risky than a new gargantuan rocket design.

Re:shafting NASA to pay for college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691203)

Lets face it, a lot of people aren't interested in learning. Are you suggesting that these people don't belong in high school either?

These same people aren't going to try to broaden their horizons or educate themselves on their own. They would rather just sit in front of the TV watching Springer, and if they talk to their friends it is about sports or hairstyles. These people need some encouragement and an academic environment to learn.

I think that anybody who is mentally able to attend attend some college should at least try.

Re:New 21st Century tech is cheap and accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691204)

Seriously, why should we blow money on F-22s when we can just take Stealth Fighters and equip them with JATO strap-ons (late 90s) for the dumb bombs? Cost is $2000 strap on to a $500 bomb, accuracy is 95+% (way better than those 75% smart bombs) and it works in cloud cover.
Umm, maybe because it would be hard to shoot down other aircraft with bombs (and no radar). The F-22 is primarily an air-air interceptor, not a ground attack aircraft like the F-117, B-2, and JSF. BTW, the acronym you are looking for is JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) not JATO (Jet Assisted Take Off), and the bombs cost more than $500.

Re:VentureStar.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691205)

Not quite. VentureStar is currently involved with developing and testing sub-scale technology demonstrators, primarily at the expense of industry. However, the full scale "real" VentureStar program would be nearly 100% government funded and government managed like the current shuttle program. The Air Force and Army have been doing this kind of procurement for a while: make the contractors pay the bulk of the cost for a technology demonstration program before the government invests in a full scale development program.

American science is suffering badly in Congress. (1)

Claudius (32768) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691206)

The space station is largely irrlelvant for science as a whole; much of its capacity for making a contribution to anything beyond being a "feel-good, high-tech, public works project" has been compromised in the interest of cutting costs and getting it up into the sky.

The real embarrassment in terms of scientific spending is how NASA, the DOE, and NSF must compete with the VA, HUD, and Americorps this fiscal year in a zero-sum-game for appropriations. The latter three have highly vocal constituencies, and will almost certainly gain significant amounts of revenue which would otherwise be used for R&D spending. Given that 50 percent of the US's GDP since the end of World War II has been the result of scientific and technical innovation (70 percent over the past few years), it seems ill-advised to accept such massive cuts in scientific spending.

Federal support of R&D is now only about 45% of what it was 30 years ago. This trend is unlikely to reverse itself anytime soon without the involvement of the (largely apathetic) scientific and technical constituencies.

Perhaps we could all devote 1% of the time we spend bashing Microsoft, Apple Co., intellectual property and patent law, GNOME/KDE, RHS, the NSA, AOL, the DOJ, and Sun Co., and instead write an informed letter to a congressperson or two in support of scientific and technical spending in this country. This would do much to give the impression that some are indeed concerned about these issues.

A Wash ington Post editorial [washingtonpost.com] by Allan Bromley, a former president of the American Physical Society, makes a compelling case for increasing science appropriations.

(My apologies for the non-USA readers for this USA-centric post).

Re:Hooray... I think not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691207)

So "to feed, clothe, shelter, and educate the 25% of US children that live in poverty" is a flamebait ? Dear Mr moderator, you cause me to throw up.

Re:*sigh* (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691208)

I look at the space-program of the 60's -> 80's as another side shoot of the cold war. Look what we can do -- we can do it better and faster. Now that most of that competition is over, we are looking for other ways to waste money...

The space station may be a way to explore future residence in space, but I really don't think that we will come to need that in the next 50 years.

Spend the money on education and schools. We have enough under educated people that need a college education. Stop the bullshit and get kids in school!

Set high goals, shoot for the stars (1)

eLore (79935) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691209)

There are so many worth while alternatives to spending money on the space station. It's true that the money would probably be better spent on "people" programs.

The research knowledge gained during the construction of the station could be gained through other research. *IF* people could remain focused on doing research for the sake of research.

Spending money on something like a Mars base, or the ISS is valid, because it gives us some high mark that is defined, and reachable. There are plenty of other ways to adjust the budget and our government programs which would make more sense.

Re:*sigh* (1)

substrate (2628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691210)

The Space Race was a product of the cold war or at least the cold war mentality though: We must beat those Ruskies to the moon because we've already lost the race into space! This is a fight for Truth, Motherhood, Apple pie and other American ideals. We can't let the communists win! The sentiment of the time allowed the American public to be charged up by the propoganda.

You're more or less co-operating scientifically with any country capabale of making use of the space station at this point, including those who don't currently embrace democracy. Things have changed a lot in thirty years. Because of this similar tactics won't work.

I feel that getting into space, both manned and unmanned, is an admirable goal. Exploration was a part of the human spirit and experience and we need to go that way again. Now anything that doesn't have immediate commercial or military application is considered a waste of money. Exploration is too fraught with danger to risk human life on and so on. The community at large imposes there own biases on people who would be willing to take risks to explore.

If the europeans in the 15th century felt the way we currently do North America would still be populated by aboriginals.

Republican Majority (1)

kevlar (13509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691211)

Not to bring politics into the issue... but the one thing I loved about Republicans was the fact that they'd blow money on the military and the space program until recently. Now we're making F-16's and stealth fighters based on 70's technology, and dump our 90's technology like the F-22, ISS, etc. down the sh1tter so that the average American can take home $40 at the end of the year. People tend to forget that if it wasn't for the space program, we would probably not have integrated cicuits... at least they wouldn't be comparable to today's standards. And who can ever forget Tang? I'm just wondering what good things aren't being developed because of this budget frenzy.

Re:Get A Clue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691212)

What exactly do you mean by "well being", entitlement programs? IMHO, the "well being" of our people is best served by furthering technical and economic advancement that fuels the strong growth in standard of living that _everybody_ has experienced in the modern age. Giving handouts only makes poverty more entrenched.

the space station is holding humanity back (1)

Zooko (2210) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691213)

Consider this hypothesis:

The fastest way to truly colonize space is not to fund ridiculously expensive and mostly useless corporate welfare projects like the space station, but to spend that money on education and growing the economy. In 20 or 30 years the Space Station will be just another sad reminder of the impotent wastefulness of governments, like the moon landings and Mir, but by that same time, a wealthy and educated Earth will be ready to begin actual colonization.

I haven't done the necessary research to actually convince myself of this hypothesis, but it seems more plausible to me than the viewpoint promulgated by NASA -- that we should give them half a trillion dollars and not worry about the fact that we're not actually getting any closer to space by it.

Zooko

Such a delightfully simplistic solution (1)

Tim Behrendsen (89573) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691214)

Couple things that can be said about this nonsense.

First, you do know that the US has transferred around 5 TRILLION dollars to the poor since the sixties? Clearly dumping more money into a corrupt welfare system isn't the solution.

Second, how many children actually die in the U.S. of starvation? Oh, zero? Not to say that some people couldn't live better, but the poorest person in the U.S. lives better than the average person in a lot of other countries.

The solution to poverty is 1) a growing economy, and 2) encouragement of people to get a job and support themselves (and sometimes this has to be "tough love"). Dumping more money has not been and never will be the solution.

But I'm sure screaming "more money!" impresses your friends with your "caring"."

Space Station Funding Never in Jeopardy (2)

goodviking (71533) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691215)

The proposal to kill the Space Station comes up and is killed every year. It was never a serious threat. What is a serious threat is that the $1 billion in cuts to NASA's budget were included in the bill and passed (here) [spacenews.com]. These were targeted specifically at the non-manned missions, so the NASA cuts we were all debating a few weeks ago went through.

Re:Space station = Jobs program (0)

Jimhotep (29230) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691216)

Machines have logged more time in space than
humans.

Probes send data back to humans. Humans that
can go home and sleep in their own bed at night.

Re:NASA' budget: ~$13billion, Cost of Kosovo ~$12 (2)

Garth Vader (75778) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691217)

It's interesting that nobody complained about the poor and education in the US while flinging $750k missiles at another country. Especially when you consider that the conflict was of little strategic value to the US and that they will probably pay a lot for rebuilding the area.

But when a historic project with plenty of scientific and economic spinoffs for the US costs a lot there is a lot of complaining and threatening to cut off funding.

This sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691218)

Damn! No cypherpunks account at spacenews.

Anyway, thanks for the info. This really does suck, what's worse is the /. headline makes it sound like a good news story.


Re:Finaly ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691219)

Good luck. First convince our allies around the world that they have to get together and provide their own regional security. I do agree that it isn't fair for the US to bear the burden of providing security for the world, but we can't just back out of our current committments without having others ready to fill the void.

Engineering problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691220)

It seems to me that the most pressing engineering problem of space flight is the high cost of placing any soft of satellite in orbit. Yet NASA's big ticket item, the ISS, does not address this problem at all. The ISS is a product of NASA's cold war mentality. NASA is still pursuing its PR role in showing that the US is better than the USSR. While the USSR no longer exists, the NASA inclusion of Russia as a junior and dysfunctional partner in the ISS serves NASA's primary cold war purpose.

OH MY GOD!!! (1)

asparagus (29121) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691221)

They're going to kill the space station! Quick, get some more funding for it. We must save this valuble portion of our national budget!!!!!

More taxes, you say? You'll need to use the budget surplus? Well, for a worthwhile project, I guess it's oaky. But only for space and the american dream.

(Meanwhile...)
Alright, you can have that defense contract for your home town. I'll take this education grant. Where will we get the money? Ah, just cut the nasa program. The people will always approve more spending for it. We do it every year, and they always write these "We do these things not because they are hard, blah, blah, blah" speeches urging us to please take more of their monye. Yes, it's funny. Yes, we'll play golf on friday. See you.

Re:Kill the space station and NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691222)

If the goal of space exploration is to launch more satellites, then you are probably right.

Personally, I have loftier expectations. And there is no economic incentive for any company to conduct any exploration or R&D of space.

Who said anything about space-based R&D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691223)

Of course R&D is a dead-end in space. It was discounted over a year ago when terrestrial methods got cheap and good. On the other hand, NASA still is choking out some payload-delivery businesses.

Why couldn't a private company deliver Chandra and even do spacewalks to service it?

Why couldn't Hubble be serviced by a private company?

Space: Missed potential (3)

Fish Man (20098) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691224)

Actually, the Apollo program of the 60's was one of the few examples in all of history of a government program running efficiently and effectively.

The Apollo program ran efficiently, made progress remarkably quickly, and truly pushed hard on the technology envelope of the time, all reasonably close to budget.

Had the congress not eviscerated NASA in the mid 70's, and NASA continued progressing at the pace and efficiency that it showed during the Apollo program, I'm convinced we would now have the following things:

  • A permanent research facility on the moon.
  • Perhaps even a vacation resort on the moon.
  • A space shuttle like vehicle to shuttle researchers (vacationers?)
    to and from the moon.
  • Numerous manned missions to Mars, maybe even a permanently manned
    station there.
  • At least one or two manned missions to Jupiter and to Saturn, perhaps
    even with landings on one of their moons.


Those who say that space research is a waste are just plain ignorant. The benefits to humankind that fall out of space research far outweigh any reasonable cost, if the research could be done as efficiently as the Apollo program was.

It is sad that NASA is now so under funded and that NASA along with the rest of government is so burocratic and lumbering that it can just barely manage to keep moving on a space station that is puny and unimpressive even compared to what we were accomplishing in space in the 60's!

And even the funding of the space station is a constant source of political fighting.

It is true that the space station is being handled so inefficiently and is such a token effort that the benefits if this particular station might not outweigh the costs.

This is a true pity, since it need not be that way.

Re:Who said anything about space-based R&D (1)

SRMoore (87075) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691225)

Well... Actually I was saying that why isn't Intel looking at producing chips in space.. perhaps the zero-g environment makes this easy.. or more specifically what about GaAs (I think that's Galium-arsinide) wafers? I remember that they were extremely hard to produce in a lab, but were a snap in space...

The point that I was making is companies are not even looking at utilizing space, in any extent other than communications and military.

But why would a company put up Hubble?
Who is going to pay them to do that?

Sure it would be nice, but it isn't going to happen any time soon.

Re:Who said anything about space-based R&D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1691227)

What do you mean R&D is a dead-end in space? Where the hell else do you propose doing zero gravity research?

In order for private companies to develop their own manned space flight capability, there has to be a strong profit motive. Right now (and for the forseeable future), there isn't enough demand for manned space flight to allow anybody to recoup the development costs and make a profit at it.

In order for a private company to deliver and service Chandra and Hubble, the private company would have needed to develop a shuttle program of their own. In order to do that, they would need to make a sufficiently large profit to overcome the immense development costs. Right now, private companies can barely break even delivering satellites by rocket. There is no way the private sector could afford to develop a shuttle program, and even if they did it wouldn't turn a profit. The government is the ONLY entity that can afford a manned space effort.

BTW, the current shuttle program has already been contracted out and is essentially run by an industry consortium.

NASA has nearly stopped progress in space (3)

rlglende (70123) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691228)


NASA likes everything gold-lated, large, late, over-budget, under-performing.

If we want space stations, abolish NASA and give the taxes back to ordinary people. Repeal the Treaty on Space/Moon, let people homestead the moon and mars the way they did Oklahoma.

Then we will have space travel.

Until then, don't hold your breath. The laws of bureaucracy are just as binding as the law of gravity.

Lew

good idea (1)

darklink (79588) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691229)

i think that space is a wonderful place to spend money , sorry to say that it is underfunded , most gov. programs are fighting hand and fist for a little green to line there pockets to get throw another year , we dumped the space station a few dozen times , it has almost died , but i think it is something that we need to explore for there is a ton of things we have learned and made that have helped out development of our as a ppl , we need to look to the future as well as the past for our answers , for one day space maybe the only place we can go , i am not saying that space should get more funding , but it needs to be open and explored , as do the ocians . i hope that funding will keep up becouse i am infavor of a space station , and even moon bases , and the mars colony are all good things , we also need to feed and cloth our own first and learn to stop reproducing at the rate we are . as a sociaty we need to grow up and advance . with out funding we cant get off this planet or under teh ocians , with out education our sociaty cant advance , schooling needs to be for front now. clothing and education , with the advancement as well, its a juggling act .for who knows when or how the next great technology will come.

geeks in space a look to the future!

Kill the space station and NASA (1)

binarybits (11068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691230)

Only the government would waste money on such a massive and unnecessary project as the space station. Yes, it's cool, but the billions of dollars spent on the station would be far better put to smaller, more effective space efforts, or more desperately needed purposes here on Earth. It is amusing that when you ask people why they need a space station, their answer is "to find out how you live in space." My question is: if that's the only reason to put people in space, what's the point. There is very little that cannot be done with machines and/or short trips aboard space shuttles or the like.

The future of space exploration would be much better off if the government stopped pouring money at failed space programs rather than let free markets and competition work their magic. There are enough private companies needing satellites that had the government not subsidized their travel on the shuttle we would doubtless have a private space industry putting satellites into orbit. And the government could then purchase space on those privatge carriers for their legitimate research and military needs, and at reduced cost due to competition and innovation. Only the massive subsidies of the space shuttle and other pork barrel projects (and regulation of private rocket launches) have prevented private firms from finding better, cheaper ways of getting into space. And only a private space market will help us realize the dream of cheap, reliable space flight as soon as possible.

So I say can the space station, and NASA with it. Yes, there will be a period of reduced space exploration while private companies gear up to start taking cargo. But in the long run both space exploration and the space industry will be dramatically improved.

Great! (1)

drwiii (434) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691231)

So when do all the people who are actually paying for this thing get to go on-board it?

Mars (1)

BugMaster ChuckyD (18439) | more than 14 years ago | (#1691233)

We should absolutely go to Mars. I would like to see alot more spent on space exploration, bigger & better Hubbles, space-based inferometers (sp?) to look directly for planets around other stars, a series of landers and orbiters to check out Europa, research into commercially expoliting the resources of asteroids etc.

The ISS is more of a political boondoggle than anything else, it doesn't seem to have a purpose (research or otherwise) important enough to justify its existance, the money could have been spent on other, more important, space exploration purposes.

On the other hand I think its important to establish a permenant human presence in Space, and in the near term thats not going to happen with out a LEO space station.

In the long run it might make more sense to establish a moon base to exploit the polar ics (if its really there) to produce fuel and maybe other material for trips to Mars and the outer solar system. It would be alot easier to boost the fuel into lunar orbit than to have to boost it into Earth orbit
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