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Space Science

USA To Return To Moon By 2015, Then Mars 1480

Posted by simoniker
from the privacy-of-mooninites-violated-yet-again dept.
securitas writes "This afternoon George Bush announced space exploration plans for the USA to return to the Moon by 2015, the design and construction of a new space vehicle fleet by 2014 (called the Crew Exploration Vehicle) to replace the aging space shuttles which will be retired in 2010, and the construction of a permanent Moon base, followed by manned missions to Mars. The initiative begins with a $1 billion increase to NASA's budget and $12 billion in new space exploration money over next five years. However Congress is concerned about how to pay for the new space policy initiative in the face of a $500 billion national budget deficit. AP via Yahoo has a Moon/Mars/space policy FAQ, and there's more at NASA and the New York Times among others."
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USA To Return To Moon By 2015, Then Mars

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  • by kippy (416183) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:20PM (#7980036)
    This argument never fails to frustrate me and I'm sure it's going to come up in this discussion.

    Here's the thing, the federal budget [whitehouse.gov] is well over a trillion dollars. NASA's budget is around 17 billion. It's roughly 1 percent of the national budget. People get so scared about the word billion that they forget the scale of cash that the US has to allocate.

    Does anyone honestly think that putting that bit of money elsewhere would solve whatever domestic problems you want fixed? Have we yet cured hunger, poverty, or undereducation? No? Well, we've been throwing billions at them so far. If you're looking for funds to cut and inefficiencies to uproot, look in defense and welfare. Diverting funds from NASA to domestic programs will not change anything except to kneecap our development as a multi-planet species.

    Another misassumption is that if money is cut from one department, it automatically gets redistributed to others. That's not the way it works. And yes, I know we're running a deficit but a 1 billion increase over the next 5 years isn't going to contribute significantly to it. And IIRC, every administration except for 1 (maybe 2) has run a deficit and the country has not yet fallen.

    But won't this cost a trillion dollars? No, not if done right. Father Bush's plan was scrapped because the estimate he was given was based on an outmoded model for Mars exploration. On top of that, it was subjected to a committee that took it as a chance to write themselves a blank check with their 90-day report [pescu.net]. Bust the first was ignorant to any alternatives so he abandoned it. Read up on Mars Direct [nw.net]. It's a plan to do Mars missions on the same budgetary scale as the Apollo missions. Those were done for about the same budget that NASA currently gets. NASA doesn't need more money, just proper direction and it looks like they're finally getting some of that.

    See my other post [slashdot.org] for more on the case for Mars and space exploration.

  • by PatrickThomson (712694) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:20PM (#7980041)
    It's about time too. The current shuttle fleet has computers less powerful than the modern car and structural materials about as sophisticated as a shopping trolley.
  • Money Better Spent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lukior (727393) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:22PM (#7980072)
    I am a big proponent of the space program but i think money would be much better spent developing resources on the moon as opposed to going to mars. I am not saying mars should not be an eventual goal but im much more interested in the moon as a future energy resource.
  • Timeline hole (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doorman (61472) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:24PM (#7980094) Homepage
    IF we retire the shuttle fleet by 2010 and bring the new vehicle on by 2014, what exactly do we do for the grounded four year? Don't see any other option offered, and hitching a ride with the Russians only goes so far.

  • How to pay for it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:24PM (#7980095)
    Well, stop bombing people would be a good start.

  • by hirschma (187820) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:24PM (#7980102)
    Let us not forget that the first President Bush suggested much the same thing: let's go back to the Moon, let's get ourselves to Mars, etc. He did it in the waning days of his presidency, to help boost his decreasing popularity, and to take attention away from the declining state of the economy.

    Now, Bush II does the same thing. First, he tried the immigration proposal, and that went over like a lead balloon. Now, he's throwing the next shiny toy in front of us, hoping that we'll forget the issues that his administration are glossing over.

    This is not a Kennedy-type announcement. We are not going back to the Moon, we will not be going to Mars, and more than likely, we will not be replacing the space shuttles.

    Headline from 2012: President Jeb Bush announces that we're going back to Moon, and then on to Mars...
  • by Dirtside (91468) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:24PM (#7980104) Journal
    Hooray, if it happens. As many people pointed out when this announcement was, er, announced a couple weeks ago, this is basically a no-lose proposition for Dubya. Even if he actually does approve a massive increase in NASA's budget this term, and even if he does win a second term as President, there's no guarantee that the subsequent administrations (or Congresses) won't reduce NASA's budget or otherwise do something to kill the project.

    So Bush gets to look good to everyone who like space exploration -- which is most people -- without having to necessarily live up to his promise. Given Bush's track record as president and as a human being, I'm inclined to believe that he doesn't personally give a rat's ass whether we get back to the moon or Mars -- he knows that this is a simple campaigning trick (make a fantastic promise that you can't be held accountable for).

    Yeah, I hope it does happen -- but I'm still not voting for the guy.
  • by ParadoxicalPostulate (729766) <saapad AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:26PM (#7980125) Journal
    Eh, in my opinion its all a ploy to get people hyped up for the elections. Sure, you may argue its a little early but I will just say "NO."

    I'd say its pretty damn obvious he has no interest in the space program itself. Besides, it seems like a really bad time considering the economy + iraq + afghanistan. Then again, since most of the Iraq/Afghanistan money was conveniently left out of the budget, I could see how Bush plans to pay for this.

    What saddens me is that, even though the majority of informed individuals can see right through this, there's not a damn thing we can do. There's no powerful candidate to oppose him. Odds are that he will win, and that'll serve as a pat on the back for all the stuff he's done since he entered office (in his mind and that of his administration).

    Anyway, I would welcome a space program if it was sincerely intended. But I don't think this particular thing will amount to much - its very easy to plan something that'll cost hundreds of billions of dollars in the future, because you're not the one who's gonna be in office when the time comes to commit resources!
  • by Ryan Stortz (598060) <ryan0rz&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:26PM (#7980129)
    $12B is chicken scratch compared to all the revenue NASA's advances will create. If you compared NASA's budget from it's inception until 1980 againist the money made by all their advances. The price would be moot. The companies who NASA outsourced to are now using what they learned and discovered to create newer and better products.
  • Budget (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AtariAmarok (451306) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:27PM (#7980137)
    Now, I'm strongly in favor of the program. However, about your statement " NASA's budget is around 17 billion. It's roughly 1 percent of the national budget."

    The entire budget, and debt and defecit mess is made up of nothing but "oh, it's only a few billion. It won't matter." That's what everyone says about their favorite pet spending program.

    It does make a difference.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:28PM (#7980149)
    Has it occurred to anyone that this is just a way of diverting large quantities of money to Bush's corporate friends?

    Not that I object to going to Mars, far from it. Just the 1 trillion estimates I see really make me wonder just how much is going directly into people's pockets.
  • Why so long? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thesupermikey (220055) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:28PM (#7980155) Homepage Journal
    We got the the moon the first time in less then 10 years. We have much more advanced rockets and computer technology then we did in 1969, so it doesnt make sense that it is going to take that long to work program back up.
  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:29PM (#7980166)
    And people need to remeber how big the American economy is, even during a dip in the economy.

    $10.45 trillion (2002 est.)
    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factboo k/geos/ us.html#Econ

    The money Bush is proposing, even if the amount goes up is minute compared to the Federal Budget and the GDP of the US.

  • by Leebert (1694) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:29PM (#7980170)
    OK. So here's the 86 billion dollar question: Who is going to pay for all of this? I'm as much for space exploration as the next guy (Heck, I *work* for NASA), but let's be honest: BUDGET DEFICIT

    Here's the scariest part of Bush's speech: "NASA's current five-year budget is $86 billion. Most of the funding we need for the new endeavors will come from re-allocating $11 billion from within that budget." Hey other NASA folks out there, you know what this means: The return of the "ISS Tax".

    Developing a new vehicle, returning to the Moon, going to Mars... This is all going to cost a lot of money, will it be fully funded? Part of the reason that the Space Shuttle is such a failure is the fact that it was not adequately funded*. One of the contributing factors to our ability to go to the moon the first time was that NASA had a blank check.

    * This is addressed in the CAIB report, if you haven't read the section on the history of the politics of the STS, it's worth a glance.
  • by mooredav (101800) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:30PM (#7980175)

    Diverting funds from NASA to domestic programs will not change anything except to kneecap our development as a multi-planet species.

    "multi-planet" species? We can't handle one planet.

  • by Quirk (36086) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:31PM (#7980197) Homepage Journal
    ...Bush's space exploration initiative is a deflection of media attention away from a steady diet of the overall cost of war and occupation.
  • by garcia (6573) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:32PM (#7980208) Homepage
    remember, paying cable is a small part of my yearly budget but I still don't see a need to waste $59.95 a month on it... Amazingly enough I have the self-control not to needlessly waste $60 a month and I get to spend it on other things!
  • by mellon (7048) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:33PM (#7980215) Homepage
    Funding for welfare, etc., isn't designed to wipe out poverty. You can't wipe out poverty. It's designed to mitigate the damage caused by poverty, to wit, lawlessness, public health (poverty makes life dangerous for everybody) and human suffering (and it's no fun).

    Taking money away from those programs to pay to go to space is dangerous. That's not to say we shouldn't pay to go to space - the question is which budget to cut, and my point is that cutting public service and public assistance budgets isn't likely to be cost effective.

    The place to cut is in military spending. The war in Iraq would have paid for a lot of space travel, unfortunately it paid for blowing up buildings instead. We have lots of highly specialized weapons that are very expensive - millions of dollars per explosion. Military aircraft are not built using standard parts. Everything is custom. So everything is brutally expensive. Cut back on the custom nature of this hardware, and you'd save a lot of money. Cut back on unilateral foreign wars, and you'd save even more.

    We could also eliminate a lot of special-interest tax loopholes that Bush introduced in his "tax cut." But for some reason, it's always public services and public aid that get cut, not corporate welfare, and not military spending.

    Sigh.
  • by CriX (628429) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:33PM (#7980216)
    Exactly, funds removed from NASA won't necessarily be reallocated to fix "leaky school roofs."

    Many say we just wasted at least 80 billion dollars on the Iraq War and what do we have to show from that besides several hundred dead American bodies. Now I'm expecting that we're also assuring ourselves a lot of oil so that 80 billion may not all be a waste.

    But damn, it annoys me so much when people rat on the space program! Someone at work was saying about the Mars Spirit Panorama, "What, we paid 300 million bucks for a pikcha?" AH!!!

    This moon proposal is space infrastructure. It is an investment in humanities future in this solar system.

    Also, the Moon seems like a much better place to start. It's close, we can do a lot of equally inspiring stuff there that would just be more expensive, dangerous, and would take longer if attempted on Mars.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:33PM (#7980218)
    > "multi-planet" species? We can't handle one planet.

    And the dinosaurs couldn't handle one asteroid.

  • Re:4 years? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sdriver (126467) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:35PM (#7980245) Homepage
    They will begin testing the Crew Exploration Vehicle in 2008, and will start using it by 2010 if it is ready. 2014 is the deadline to get it ready and doing maned missions. The old shuttle fleet may be used thru 2014 if the new one is not ready.

    ISS is supposed to be done by 2010 and moon base in 2015.

    The bummer part is redirecting 11 billion of the current budget todo this. That means about 6-10 other missions will be canceled. Maybe it will be the Hubble space telescope replacement JWST [nasa.gov]. :(
  • by Atryn (528846) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:35PM (#7980246) Homepage
    I cannot agree more and this is precisely what I thought upon hearing this announcement. The fact that he doesn't anticipate a moon landing until at least 12 years after the end of his NEXT term indicates that he could probably care less if this ever actually happens... What is frustrating though, is that in the meantime we will see the gutting of projects we have huge investments in (with our allies).

    The other piece I don't understandf is, if we have been to the moon before, why will it take us 16 years to return? I'm sure by then the Chinese will have landed.
  • by dustinbarbour (721795) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:37PM (#7980265) Homepage
    And did you conduct a study or have some data to back up your claim that most of us in the country don't have any desire to become a multi-planet species...?

    Also, why spend money to determine if life can survive in a desert when we already know it can? I happen to live in a desert.. there's plenty of life here. There's life in the Sahara.. Antarctica, ocean vents.. The point is, getting life to survive on this planet is fuckin' easy.

    Humans are an exloratory species.. always have been. We've spread across the entire planet, have we not? So to continue our exploration, we need to go into the Great Unknown.. space! And that starts with Mars.
  • by the_2nd_coming (444906) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:37PM (#7980267) Homepage
    look around you....tell me how many things you have and tell me the number of materials you have things made of that did NOT come from Nasa.

    is manned space exploration worth it? yes.....when we want to go to Jupitor, the weight costs of the food alone would be emence....now just think what figuring out how to feed the astronaughts on a Jupitor trip with out packing the ship full of food would mean to world hunger.
  • by tipsymonkey (710561) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:38PM (#7980286) Homepage
    Just give me $200,000 to help out my state and keep my public library open 7 days a week. Or how about just a few hundred thousand to keep my fire station open [mercurynews.com].
    I mean that's nothing compared to the billion or trillion dollars right? Its chump change.
    Why do I suddenly feel like a beggar asking for pennies....
  • by FerretFrottage (714136) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:38PM (#7980290)
    I think if you read between lines, Bush is saying we need to invade the moon because it has WMDs
  • by dougermouse (581787) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:40PM (#7980307)
    Go ahead call me a troll, mod me into next week, but the technologies needed to go to Mars are the same as needed to survive on the earth without oil. The attacks on Iraq was the first move, and now he's moving to get the technologies ready for when the oil to run out in 2010-2020. Remember kids, its not _IF_ the oil is going to run out, its when. With China and India getting fully addicted to the black gold, its going to go fast. I would guess that 2010 is probably the start of the "crash" curve and 2020 is the expected bottom. Just google on Peak Oil if you want to educate yourself and not sleep for week or two.
  • Simply Put (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:41PM (#7980329) Homepage Journal

    The program is the right thing to do.

    It should have been started long ago, it's overdue.

    Now is a bad time to do it, thanks to reckless spending and slashing revenue.

    The motivation isn't purely political, it's because China and India are expressing interest and it 'looks bad' if the USA lets anyone get a leg up, in short it's for selfish pride.

    This isn't the leader to kick it off, but he's the only one who has.

    I feel the same frustration and exasperation, it comes with being educated.

  • Was anyone else horrified to read that this "$12 billion program" is only going to cause an increase in the NASA budget of $1 billion? As a strong supporter of all the recent advances in cosmology and observational data, this greatly concerns me and others in my field. Does this mean that $11 billion which would be otherwise spent on exploring the cosmos is now going to be redirected to funding a long-range plan that will need countless presidents and congresses to approve it?
  • by n0mad6 (668307) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:43PM (#7980345)
    I agree, great advances were made by scientific advances and offshoot technologies from the space program, however, as you point out, they were made before 1980, during the cold war, at a time when NASA's budget peaked at four precent of the entire federal budget . Today's announcement seemed to indicate that the effort to get to the Moon/Mars will only require an additional $1bn to already allocated dollars to NASA. Can this be done? perhaps, but only at the expense of many other programs within NASA that are producing useful advances.

    IMHO its very hard to view this as anything but a political move.

  • by Acidic_Diarrhea (641390) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:43PM (#7980364) Homepage Journal
    Why is it going to take 16 years to return? Because the original Apollo missions had much different goals than establishing a base there. Haven't you listened to anything coming out of NASA? They're talking about taking the next step in craft development and finally retiring the space shuttle, which has long been an idea whose time has come and gone.

    It's great that you are you hateful towards George Bush and you couldn't agree more and everything but why don't you try to read the news. You might be surprised that NASA is pretty pleased about this announcement and many at NASA have long wanted to go in a new direction, away from the space shuttle, but since the space shuttle was seen as a very popular program to the public, it was not possible. Bush has stepped up and made the way clear for NASA scientists to do what they need to do.

    And you can't understand the issue, so how can you be so sure that it is all about politics?

  • by Anonymous Squonk (128339) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:44PM (#7980373) Journal
    Whatever you may say Bush's motivation is or what you think of Bush, this is a great announcement! I don't care if we are in a deficit. I don't care how much this costs. We MUST boldly go where no one has gone before, for the rest of the time our species exists.

    This isn't mankind's idea, this is the idea of a United States president searching for ways to get himself re-elected without actually having to do anything, by setting crowd pleasing goals decades in advance that he will ultimately have no responsibility for.

    How many technologies we are using toady are based (somewhere in their roots) on the Apollo missions or shuttle missions? What a great advancement for mankind!

    The problem is that there is still no person or organization that is qualified to speak for mankind, nor does mankind have an unified message it wishes to convey to the universe. Mankind's current technological maturity is already thousands of years more advanced than its social maturity, causing all sorts of problems from the vast inequities in use of the earth's resources, to the constant threat of planetwide annihilation. Unless we spend the next few hundred years building a more mature society that is capable of handling the technological advances it has brought upon itself, mankind is going to burn out (figuratively and literally) much sooner than you expect. You might even live to see the end yourself...

  • by pcraven (191172) <paul@crave n f a m i l y.com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:44PM (#7980377) Homepage
    I think Mars is premature until we have something like a space elevator [space.com] going to get stuff into orbit. Or something to get the cost of getting to orbit under control.

    With that, we can afford to take a big ship there. We can put in some infrastructure on Mars ahead of the astronauts getting there.

    To send a person to Mars doesn't make sense to me. Spend the money on the space program, but not for this project please.
  • by B.D.Mills (18626) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:46PM (#7980395)
    It is a bold initiative to announce a return to the moon and then go on to Mars, but it will be expensive. It might turn out to be too expensive for one nation alone.

    To save costs, China, Russia and the ESA should also be involved in the missions. China has announced its own plans to go to the moon in a similar time frame. Russia has some lunar experience, especially with their robotic craft in the early 1970s and their sample return missions at about the same time.

    Joint missions to the moon are not a new idea. The Soviet Premier Khrushchev proposed a joint effort to go to the moon with the Americans in 1961 and 1963. It was rejected by JFK in 1961, but JFK was more willing to consider the idea when it was proposed again in 1963. Had JFK not been assassinated a few weeks later, a Russian might have walked on the moon in 1969 with an American.

    If Bush is talking about "humanity", he needs to involve more of humanity in this new space exploration initiative than just Americans.
  • by hplasm (576983) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:47PM (#7980401) Journal
    And the dinosaurs couldn't handle one asteroid.

    but we, on the other hand....

  • Re:4 years? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvanED (569694) <evaned@ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:49PM (#7980421)
    "That I could get excited about, backed by real funding now."

    And there's the key. NASA had a budget of about 70 billion dollars in the 60s IIRC. Now it's about 15. Bush wants to provide another $11 billion for the moon and mars programs. That's still well under half of the *yearly* budget of NASA when we made it to the moon.

    Getting a base there in 4-6 years would probably require funding back on that level. I don't think even *I* could support that when we're already have a deficit the size of Jupiter.
  • by Wakkow (52585) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:49PM (#7980425) Homepage
    As a comparison, 3.5 Billion dollars [wired.com] were spent on ring tones last year.. Personally, I think that money would be better spent by NASA.
  • by be-fan (61476) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:50PM (#7980434)
    I'm tired of us paying for science that gets exported all around the globe.
    ---------
    That's complete crap. That's not how science works. Science is for the good of humanity, not one specific, transient country. Long after the US has gone the way of the Roman Republic (and it will, it is the nature of such things), its contribution to science and technology will endure.
  • Re:Mars (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Witsu (741228) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:50PM (#7980436)
    Going to Mars would probably cost far more than that. considering all the new tech than has to be developed, such as the new crew module, the lunar base, and whatever other vehicles it would take to go and land on Mars. From what i've heard it takes 9 months each way to get to Mars, plus they need to stay on the surface for around 2 years to wait for the next launch window to open. That's 3 1/2 years worth of food, water, and air they will need to either haul with them or figure out how to grow.
  • Re:It sucks. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheOnlyCoolTim (264997) <{ten.nozirev} {ta} {kcorblob.mit}> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:50PM (#7980441)
    I wrote it.

    Tim
  • by Chump1422 (196125) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:52PM (#7980452)
    What kind of world do you live in where a budget doesn't have to take into account the current economic situation?

    Tax cuts have reduced government revenue -- they haven't paid for jack. And the "stimulus" they've provided (much like the stimulus your lifestyle gets if you max out your credit card debt in a month) has not grown enough to cover the cuts themselves, let alone the drastic increase in spending Bush has overseen.

    See this article [washingtonpost.com] for starters.
  • by ljavelin (41345) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:53PM (#7980468)
    I'd rather see a couple small teams be organized to pull off incremental science missions. When their work looks promising, and we have the technology and reason to sit on Mars or the moon, great!

    If we spend $1 billion this year on this goal, then I want SOMETHING that we can show for it. Either a fleet of moon landers that do real science, or a working, low-cost rocket system that can carry nice sized payloads outside of earth orbit, etc.

    I just don't want to spend $1 billion for a bunch of soon-to-be-obsolete technical drawings of a prototype lander that'll bring 2 guys to poke around the moon for a few days and then call it quits.

    In other words, this should be about the science of it FIRST. We need practical deliverables OTHER THAN just being able to watch TV on Mars or the Moon.
  • by m11533 (263900) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:56PM (#7980491)
    You asked:

    Has almost ANY NASA project survived intact 12 years?

    The answer is that not even shuttle survived intact. Go back and look at the initial plans. It was for a flexible launch system that was fully reusable with a wide range of achievable orbits. What we got was a crippled alternative, with very high cost of turnaround, SRBs that must be almost completely rebuilt before reuse, and a maximum of Low Earth Orbit. Not much return on the dollar if you ask me.

    I am also concerned that this announcement will drain all remaining funding from the current unmanned exploration programs. These are the programs that have been the greatest successes of NASA... and they are the ones learning to go with reusable designs, small and light, lots of flexibility. If we're being asked to drop those and pursue a single exploration strategy of manned missions, first to build a permanent presence on the moon and then a trip to Mars, it seems wrong. Let's not put all our eggs in this one basket.
  • by (54)T-Dub (642521) * <.tpaine. .at. .gmail.com.> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:56PM (#7980494) Journal
    Yes, in general this is a poor argument to use. However in this case the additional spending is far out weighed by the economic advantages [permanent.com] of space exploration. Instead of building a bomb which has a negative economic impact (not to mention cost) we are building spacecraft that have the potential to generate huge economic benefits.

    Not to mention the advances in science and technology that the program alone generates. One example of technology developed from the Apollo program is the circuit board which of course led to the personal computer.
  • Re:Mars (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fatwreckfan (322865) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:56PM (#7980497)
    And what about the over 12% [census.gov] of the population of the US that live under the poverty line? It's easy to say "That's $67 a year..." but in a country where poverty is a way of life for so many, how can you justify taking even more money away from people to give Bush a tribute to himself?
  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:58PM (#7980504) Homepage Journal
    If you are going to waste $820 million dollars why not build sh!t right here in our deserts on THIS country? Let's see if we can get life to survive in the harshest areas RIGHT the fsck here.

    Have you ever been to the desert southwest? It's already taxed and the water is about to run out (no fair trying to drain the Great Lakes or divert Mississippi river water.) Growth in the southwest has boomed in the past two decades. Las Vegas is over 1 million and litterally living off the Colorado River. You can drill wells, but the water still has to come from the same place.

    Not too likely people will want to live on other planets, but you know industry is just itching to get a peek at any advantage to be gained by getting something somewhere else, cheaply and selling it here. Seems a long way off to get make money in space, but someone will find a way and take advantage of economy of scale. Then people will simply follow to live near work.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:58PM (#7980512)
    > Funding for welfare, etc., isn't designed to wipe out poverty. You can't wipe out poverty. It's designed to mitigate the damage caused by poverty, to wit, lawlessness, public health (poverty makes life dangerous for everybody) and human suffering (and it's no fun).

    Like crack, the first hit is free.

    Funding for welfare, etc, isn't designed to wipe out poverty or mitigate its effects. It's designed to perpetuate poverty, because a permanent underclass of non-producing food tubes dependent upon the government to steal wealth from the producing food-tubes can be relied upon to always support the government.

    If you're at the top of the food chain, the more poor, and the worse off they are, and the faster they breed, the more power you have over producer and parasite alike.

    Consider the relationship between shepherd, sheepdog, and sheep. Sure, the sheepdog gets to have lots of "fun" by running circles around the flock. The "fun" the sheepdog has is immaterial to the farmer's purpose for the sheepdog, namely to have a few animals running freely enough to keep the flock in a predictable state, grazing contentedly until harvest time.

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:59PM (#7980518) Journal
    He can make grandiose claims for plans all he likes, and this being an election year he will, but his "plans" will never come to fruition. Congress has to first approve the budget, and then approve the appropriations before NASA would see a dime. With a trillion dollar deficit staring us in the face, there's no way any congresscritter is going to paint themselves with the dark side of the paintbrush Bush is handing them.

    And even if they DID pass it, a future president with more sense (one who can actually count and doesn't believe in imaginary money) will be forced to cut back or cancel this, unless the deficit is fixed first.

    Bush has no more intention of seeing this carried out than his father did in 1989. Remember what Bush Sr. did to the space program. He put Dan "Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe" Quayle in charge of it. I'm still shocked over that blatant slap in the face, and the audacity it took to claim to be pro-space afterwards.

    This is apparently obvious to a lot of people already. Stock in space program contractors dropped today.

    It's an election year. Wait until December before you start the count down.
  • by devphil (51341) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:01PM (#7980542) Homepage


    Build the biggest coolest shit you want, in the deserts or anywhere else, and one decent-sized asteroid will take it out at the same time it kills everything else above the level of the cockroach and creates long-term nuclear winter for the lucky roach..

    If we don't get off this planet, then one simple day of cosmic bad luck is all it will take, and everything -- the $820 million dollars building cool desert shit, the wars fought, the ideas created, everything -- all of it will be for absolutely nothing. The only way we'll be able to leave then is if we start working on the problems now. The asteroid with your name on it does not give one single flying high-impact shit about your way of life, nor your fears of alien invasion, nor your "not giving a fuck".

    Ever think of that? Apparently not.

  • by cmowire (254489) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:02PM (#7980553) Homepage
    Consider the Galileo probe, which lasted for 3 times as long as it was designed for, taking several times as much radiation as it was designed to and was built with 1980s technology and was only crashed because they didn't want to chance it crashing into a potentially-inhabited moon. Or Magellan, which was also built with similar technology, used aerobraking (which it wasn't designed for), similarly had an extended mission using 1980s technology. Or Mars Global Surveyor, which was built with 1990s technology and has similarly been doing research beyond its design lifespan.

    They do, in fact, build them just as good, if not better, than they did in the 1960s. The shuttle's problems are design and engineering issues, not anything to do with what generation of technology they are.

    In fact, overall, the whole "they don't build them like they used to" is just a case of survivor bias. Everything from the 1940s that still works is on the mutant end of the MTBF curve and everything that didn't has been junked.
  • Re:Budget (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LnxAddct (679316) <sgk25@drexel.edu> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:03PM (#7980559)
    That's right. A few billion here, a few billion there. Pretty soon, it starts to add up to real money.

    It's sad that some people really think like that and ironic how we take such things like this for granted. Some countries would kill for a 50 billion or even just a one billion dollar national budget, and in many countries (i.e. Japan, America, Germany, England...) your not even considered a major contender as a company unless your bringing in a billion a year. Just something worth thinking about that most people don't.
    Regards,
    Steve
  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:05PM (#7980574) Homepage
    Given Bush's track record as president and as a human being, I'm inclined to believe that he doesn't personally give a rat's ass whether we get back to the moon or Mars -- he knows that this is a simple campaigning trick (make a fantastic promise that you can't be held accountable for).

    That's it. That's just about all there is, and yet millions of Americans are going to run around cheering at what a great idea it is. It doesn't matter how realistic a project it is, or whether there is any point in doing it. Nor does it matter that it will take money away from successful and cost-effective unmanned projects, let alone that we're already hundreds of billions of dollars in the red every year.

    There is one more key reason for this proposal, aside from it being an electoral politics trick: it will pump hundreds of billions of dollars towards the same "defense" and aerospace companies that are currently being subsidized with the conquest of Iraq, itself a gift to energy trading companies looking to control the world petroleum market.

    The American public, in the eyes of our heavy-hitting political elite, resembles the Roman public in the film Gladiator. Just provide enough circus, and the public will approve or believe anything, and apparently that means anything. For example, the alleged economic recovery we've been going through. Yup, nothing like prosperity. Pretty soon we'll all be rolling in the dough. Any minute now, yessir, the big economic indicators prove it! Don't pay any attention to the whiners and unemployed losers, they don't know what they're talking about. If there was no recovery, "they" wouldn't "let" the government say there was, right? Right?

  • Re:Simply Put (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shanen (462549) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:08PM (#7980610) Homepage Journal

    This isn't the leader to kick it off, but he's the only one who has.

    No, the leader who kicked it off was JFK. The last White House resident who sort of made big mumbles about it was actually Poppy Bush--but most people don't even remember his Mars by 2035 mumble. Dubya is just trying to get it back on Daddy's schedule.

    In terms of doing something useful in space, probably the strongest claim would be the international space station--but Dubya is destroying the international cooperation that depends on. Only natural, since Dubya's real motivation for supporting space flight is military dominance.

    Actually, I'm a big supporter of real science, including the space program. However, you also have to deal with the economic realities, and if Dubya keeps losing 20% of the dollar's value every year, the US won't be able to afford anything remotely resembling a real space program.

  • by SpacePunk (17960) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:09PM (#7980619) Homepage
    "Does anyone honestly think that putting that bit of money elsewhere would solve whatever domestic problems you want fixed? Have we yet cured hunger, poverty, or undereducation? No? Well, we've been throwing billions at them so far. If you're looking for funds to cut and inefficiencies to uproot, look in defense and welfare. Diverting funds from NASA to domestic programs will not change anything except to kneecap our development as a multi-planet species."

    I've been saying this for years. The increasing expendature on domestic issues will increase exponentially untill there are no money and/or resources for any real space program. It's got to be done now. The 'public' might think that the money should be spent on domestic issues, but the 'public' is full of complete fucking morons.

  • by hummer357 (545850) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:14PM (#7980655)
    i think that most of the debate here is a bit off point...

    yes, 17 billion isn't a gigantic sum, and yes, nasa brings good to all people, but has anyone thought about comparing that measly sum to the proposed 15% increase in the defense budget, that will bring it up to an amazing 380 billion?

    i don't think that those brand-new small-scale nuclear weapons bring good to people...

    and remember the 'project for a new american century'-stuff, you know, the paper from the end of 2000 that, besides talking about the need to invade iraq, also talks about starting a new 'space' branch for the military. what could the plan be? turning the moon into some kind of death star?

    h357
  • by petabyte (238821) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:16PM (#7980666)
    A country that can't pay its bills; has millions of people without access to healthcare and has a substantal amount of money allocated to Defense spending is now going to spend a fortune on manned spaceflight.

    I just graduated from college with a terrific debt and the first thing I thought of when this proposal came up was how we would spend money to go to space but not to assure college education to anyone who wanted it. Then I thought about how my generation was going to pay the bills to support the retiring baby-boomers. Then I thought about how many friends / family members are having trouble finding jobs in this economy.

    I guess solving real problems doesn't get any attention in an election year.
  • by hirschma (187820) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:16PM (#7980673)
    Dustin,

    You seem pretty smart. Let me walk you through it:

    * 2/3 of the economy comes from consumer spending,
    * Growth last quarter was 8.25%, but,
    * Consumer prices went down at the same time.

    Well, that certainly defies supply and demand. How can high growth in a consumer-driven economy lead to lower prices?

    Answer: it can't, knucklehead. I don't care what about 8.25% - if it was all in Rolls Royces and Tiffany (which it more or less was), than it didn't do the economy a whole shitload of good. Please stop being so simplistic.

    Oh wait, now you're going to say: but the unemployment rate went down! Ah, no, only those _reporting_ as unemployed went down. If you look at the REAL unemployment rate, and include those that gave up, and those that took part time jobs, it'd be over 13% nationwide. 20% in NYC.

    If you can find a real Bush achievement, I'd love to hear about it. And no, Saddam doesn't count.

    Jonathan
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:17PM (#7980680)
    Ladies and gentleman, one way or another we as a species are going to have to band together and figure out how to get off this lovely little rock we call Earth or our species will eventually go bye, bye. Granted we have billions of years before the sun engulfs the Earth in flames but it's eventually going to happen. The Sun won't last forever, all stars die. When the Sun enters it's latter stages it's going to expand and engulf the Earth, killing everything on it. That is, if we can even make it that long without a really big asteroid heading our way and colliding with our planet taking us all out first.

    We've got to figure out a way to get people off of Earth and Mars is pretty good way to start. I mean just think of what a great accomplishment it would be for humanity. No human has ever set foot on another planet before and after hundreds of thousands of years humanity is finally very near the point where we are finally ready to do so. What an absolutely amazing accomplishment considering that a few hundred years ago the vast majority of us still though the Earth was flat.

    We finally have a president that is going to set out a proposal for getting us to Mars and half of you poo poo it because you don't like the guy. While I'm no huge fan of Bush, I don't really care who the heck proposes the trip to Mars. At least it's out there now; at least it will be talked about. At least there is a possibility that it will happen. 10 years is a realistic goal considering how much it will cost. Even if it ultimately takes 15 - 20 years, so what? If NASA starts now and plans correctly, there will be plenty of money available. It just won't be there all at once. It will require careful planning and probably scaling back and eventually ditching the aging shuttle fleet, but again, so what? The current shuttle fleet has nearly outlived it's usefulness.
    Perhaps many of you don't like the idea because we've already been to the moon. Well I was born in 1981 and there hasn't been anyone on the Moon in my lifetime, nor in the lifetimes of subsequent generations. I, for the life of me, cannot figure out why, after so many successful missions, we would stop sending people into space with the hopes of going father and farther and exploring more and more. Heck, I would be happy just to see us send someone back to the moon so I could witness it with my own eyes (via TV that is). Think of all the good things that could happen if we do send someone to Mars. Think of all the technological advances that are sure to arise as a result. Think of all of the children that might be inspired to become engineers and scientists.

    American scientists and engineers are a dieing breed. There were very few from my graduating class in high school that planned on studying science or engineering when they went to college. A manned mission to Mars could provide an inspiration to all of the young kids out there to become interested in science and engineering. Hey, it happened during the space race in the 50's and 60's and it could certainly happen again.

    In short, don't shoot down the idea because it comes from Bush. A manned mission to Mars wouldn't require a huge increase in funding if it is something that NASA starts planning for and funding now with the goal of getting someone there in say 10 - 20 years. We have absolutely nothing to lose by trying to go and we have quite a lot to gain. With all of the things that presently divide this great nation, a manned mission to Mars is something that almost every single American man, woman and child could get behind and be excited about regardless of who the president happens to be and regardless of what other circumstances we may find ourselves in. In my humble opinion, something like that is definitely worth pursuing, no matter the cost or the time it actually takes to get it done.
  • by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:17PM (#7980684) Homepage Journal
    He won't. Read up a bit on his history, both as Texas governor and as US president.

    His MO is to announce big, impressive new government efforts, get them passed - and then block their funding.

    If his history is any guide, here's what he'd planning: He will get bills passed declaring missions to the moon, Mars, whatever. He'll get lots of publicity from this. Hidden in the bills will be the elimination of existing NASA programs. Then, when the funding bills come up, he and his cohort will work hard to make sure that the funding isn't passed.

    The end result will be to terminate most existing NASA programs, and fund no new programs. But he'll talk loudly and often about the great space programs that he has established.

    For further details, google for the phrase "starve the beast".

    (But the US military will get funding for an expanded space effort. That should reassure everyone in the world.)

  • by goofballs (585077) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:25PM (#7980745)

    To perhaps put a more direct example in the light, the US has (by civilian knowledge) 21 plane B2 bomber bomber (mostly built in the last 3 years or so).

    uhh, not even close. bomber #21 was delivered in 1997.

    In fact the US General Accounting Office found the B2s actually have trouble doing even those missions; since they where originally designed to fly a single M.A.D. mission, they are not very sturdy. In fact every mission they fly causes extensive and expensive damage because of moisture in the air damaging the stealth covering.

    the issue w/ the stealth coating has nothing to do w/ how many missions it was designed to fly- it's simply the nature of the technology at the time.

    The cost for the handful of B2s was $45 billion (even if you exclude research costs and assume mass production, each plane costs over $1 billion to produce, let alone actually maintain). What worse is that the B2 is a somewhat cost efficent project as compared to others in the military industrial complex.

    the reason the per plane cost for the B2 was so high was that gov't approval kept shrinking regarding orders; the fewer the planes built, the higher the per unit cost (since you were wrong about the $45b figure- that cost *does* include development, as well as procurement and military construction costs). it's a fact of life that the gov't is fickle, constantly changing requirements, making it likely you'll run over cost. this is applicable to space programs, and social programs as well. it's funny how you keep saying "in fact" when you don't appear to know about the facts... =)

  • by markprus (83297) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:28PM (#7980766)
    Problem: Incompetance
    Solution: Use terrorist as a scare tactic to use Congress for his own personal agenda.

    Problem: "War on terrorism" not working
    Solution: Distract people by invading a country under false pretenses.

    Problem: Occupation a complete failure
    Solution: Distruct people with promises of space travel and extra terrestial habitats.

    It's reassuring to know we have some real bright people governing this country.

  • by salimma (115327) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:29PM (#7980777) Homepage Journal
    After Rome fell, much of its science and technology was preserved. It was not widespread, but mostly carried along by the scholars of the Church.

    And before the Middle Ages, by the Arabs [wikipedia.org], used in a generic sense the way Europeans were classified as 'Latins' or 'Greeks' at that time.

    The church had its history of book-burning [wikipedia.org] as well, and let's not forget Galileo [wikipedia.org].

    The existence of multiple civilizations make it possible for knowledge to survive the destruction of Rome, and later, the stagnation of the Arabic world. Makes one shudder to contemplate the consequences of having One Global Culture.

  • by GeoSanDiego (703197) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:31PM (#7980810)
    I believe you see the big picture when you speak of the inevitable all high level life destroying asteroid.

    But I cannot agree with your logic of spending billions to create some sort of extra planetary outpost of fornicating repopulators in order to expand the existence of the human species beyond its inevitable demise on earth.

    The earth is ideally suited for human life because we have evolved within it over the last 200,000+ years.

    Any outpost created will inevitably fall to murphy's law. I say within 50 years on the outside. Especially without base station support from mother earth.

    Spend the billions on earth I say. So what if the potential for the discovery of the next "tang" is lessoned.

    I am amazed that congress would vote to spend BILLIONS revisiting a SINGLE stupid rock orbiting our earth while they scoff at and cut off funding in the MILLIONS for a project that is scanning BILLIONS of solar systems for signs of intelligent life (SETI).

  • Re:Simply Put (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoraLives (622001) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:35PM (#7980840)
    Now is a bad time to do it

    Now is always a bad time to do it.

    Do it anyway.

  • by John Harrison (223649) <johnharrison AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:39PM (#7980865) Homepage Journal
    Remember the hydrogen infrastructure announcement a while back? That within 10 years we'd have a hydrogen based economy? Seen any progress towards that?
  • by burns210 (572621) <maburns@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:39PM (#7980867) Homepage Journal
    No, 'no child left behind' sounded horrible to anyone who did anything more than look at the cute name. It is an education program where we lower our standards until some slacker kid who doesn't give a damn meets the dimished requirements to get a diploma. That diploma now then mean less overall, because every employer would know that to get a diploma, you just had to show up enough for them to lower the standards and squeeze you in.

    1 billion a year is a start. a small and slow start. over the next 16 years, I (for the first time in his presidency) will give George W. the benefit of the doubt and will hope he continues along his roadmap to the red planet.
  • by thales (32660) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:46PM (#7980933) Homepage Journal
    " Funding for welfare, etc., isn't designed to wipe out poverty. You can't wipe out poverty. It's designed to mitigate the damage caused by poverty, to wit, lawlessness, public health (poverty makes life dangerous for everybody) and human suffering (and it's no fun)."

    No, it's designed to purchase some people's votes with other people's money. The art of governmet consists of taking money from those who aren't going to vote for you anyway, and using those fund to purchase votes.
  • by soft_guy (534437) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:49PM (#7980955)
    He doesn't have any intention to go to the moon, or mars. He'll be out of office by then even if he gets elected. His dad suggested the same thing and it didn't happen. It isn't going to ever happen. We don't have the money and it isn't worth it anyway. Congress is never going to vote for it.
  • by jasonditz (597385) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:49PM (#7980957) Homepage
    The money was stolen in the first place.

    I sure wouldn't have given it if they didn't threaten me with violence... sounds like extortion to me.
  • Questions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djeaux (620938) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:51PM (#7980983) Homepage Journal
    Will the contracts all go to Halliburton?

    Will the initiative end when they discover that there is neither oil nor Al Quaeda operatives hiding on the Moon or Mars?

  • by geekee (591277) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:51PM (#7980988)
    You are contradicting yourself. First you say taking money away from welfare type programs is bad for numerous ethical and practical reasons. Then you say we're wasting money in Iraq blowing up buildings, and that we should cut miltary spending. Now, removing Saddam from power allows a more humane govt. to be put in place in Iraq, which allows all the ethical and practical benefits for the people of Iraq that you claim we need domestically. So, by ignoring Iraq, we are doing the same thing as cutting the budget on domestic social programs, which you argued against. So either you're arguing the US should remain an isolationist nation that ignores world problems, or your arguements contradict each other to some extent.
  • by RatBastard (949) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:55PM (#7981022) Homepage
    Played like a trout.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:55PM (#7981023)
    Microwaves (communications and food preparation)
    Satellites
    Advanced medical telemetry
    Food preservation
    Composite materials research
    Composite fabrics research
    Aircraft communications
    Aircraft course tracking

    Probably half a trillion $ worth of economic benefit, for openers.

    Nice troll.
  • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @09:58PM (#7981056)
    You always hear this argument about space advancing technology but every time you hear it the advances cited seem to came from the Apollo era. I'd really like to see a list of advances, with earth bound applications, that have come from the space program in the last 10 years. I really doubt there are many. NASA simply hasn't done a whole lot worthwhile in a long time, especially in the context of the space shuttle and the space station.,
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:00PM (#7981075)
    Economy's going great, Iraq's doing well, and Afghanistan was a success when seen with proper perspective.

    Perspective? You mean inch-thick rose-colored glasses? Iraq is going real well if you're Halliburton. The objective in Afghanistan remains unfulfilled. And the only way you can say the economy's going great is if you say that a man who loses a $75K job & ends up working for $6 an hour at WalMart is "employed".

  • by wolf- (54587) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:00PM (#7981076) Homepage
    While the parent was marked funny, it is laughable that throwing more money at education might result in smarter kids.

    Extra money seems to go to football stadiums, and condoms, and milk programs and extras and not to actual education.
  • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:06PM (#7981131) Homepage Journal
    "So, guess where the money is going? To the kids that lack textbooks, healthcare and lobbyists or to the slick, plausible, verbose representatives of millions of dollars in campaign funds?" Well... As a recent student in the Arkansas school system, with my father being a teacher, i can assure you there is PLENTY of money out there for text books... The problem is how the schools are organized. We need reform, not more money. Before you mod me off topic, this applies to ALL areas of government. In the school instance, i was in a small rural school, and we borrowed math textbooks from a neighboring school because we "couldn't afford them". Yet, during that same year, the school began construction on a $2,000,000 Gym and put $45,000 of new sod on the baseball field. We need to restructure and reorganize most of the gov't. And o yeah - Go Bush! :) Flame away libs :)
  • by sangreal66 (740295) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:09PM (#7981159)
    A lot of that defense budget _does_ bring good to all people. Wasn't it just the other day that there was a slashdot article about USAF grants? Doesn't DARPA fund several open source projects, not to mention their role in creating the internet? Then you have cases where, like NASA, military funding leads to breakthroughs in technology that have multiple applications unrelated to weaponry. There is also the fact that a ton of money is spent on the non-military education of soldiers.. Just because the ultimate goal of the military is to kill people, doesn't mean everything associated with them is evil.
  • by demachina (71715) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:23PM (#7981288)
    Making it an international program would be another disaster just like the ISS. Instead of one set of politicians to keep in line you have 10 who randomly fund and defund their part of the program. You get massive infighting just like the ISS where the Russians are of the opinion the Americans dont know what they are doing and the Americans dont think the Russians know what they are doing and you spend all your time traveling half way around the world trying to make peace and get something done.

    If you are serious about this set up a lean, mean organization like the old Lockheed skunkworks and tell them to go out and hire the best engineers they can find wherever they can find them, and put them all in one place (unlike NASA with a center everyplace a powerful politician managed to put one). I'm certain a whole lot of Russians, Indians and Chinese will flock to US payscales, except where their government stops them( and I imagine only China would successfully stop them). They would also be diverted from making ballistic missiles.
  • by aled (228417) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:24PM (#7981296)
    That's ironic, the Taliban and Osame Bin Laden started that way.
  • by grozzie2 (698656) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:35PM (#7981390)

    To save costs, China, Russia and the ESA should also be involved in the missions.


    This announcement basically guarantees that'll never happen. 'Abandon the iss' is the tone of the announcement, and sets the tone for all other organizations on what to expect when co-operating with NASA.


    This whole announcement is a wonderful example of pork barrel politics, with a wonderful spin for the media. There's a billion dollars in pork there, and it's all gonna get spent on beaurcracy within the program, the majority of it in the Houston area. By the time that billion dollars is spent, NASA will have a lot more managers, a few more engineers, and they _might_ be halfway thru feasability studies. That billion dollars is gonna have to increase annually, just to keep the beaurocracy running.


    If Bush was serious about going to the moon, and not about pork barrel politics, he woulda handed that billion dollars to Rutan and his crowd, the folks now creeping up on claiming the X-Prize. Give them 5 years and a billion dollars, they'll bring you back the steering wheel of a lunar rover. NASA wont even get past 'studies' with that kind of funding.

  • Bush v. Kennedy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by istewart (463887) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:41PM (#7981448)
    I'll probably get modded through the toilet or flamed in the replies for this, but oh well.

    I'd like to lift a 2-paragraph or so quote from the CNN article [cnn.com] on JFK somebody linked to earlier:

    "Some derided the dream as lunacy. Others viewed it as just another strategic move in the Cold War chess match between the United States and the Soviet Union.

    Kennedy had just been humiliated in the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba, a communist ally of Moscow. In his speech, he called for many measures to combat communism, requesting billions, for example, to stop red insurgencies in Southeast Asia."

    Now granted, in this day and age it's going to be pretty damned easy to beat the terrorists (in place of Communists) to the moon if the terrorists have no intention of going there in the first place. But still, both administrations had a chosen enemy: Kennedy the Communists and Bush Muslim extremists. One could argue that Bush also has an enemy in red China (and that they are the space program's intended target), but that seems less likely considering our trade volume.

    Also, both presidents were coming off a controversial military action. America had the need for the containment of Communism drilled into its collective skull ever since Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech (if not before), and America has had the "War on Terrorism" drilled into its collective head ever since late 2001. Both presidents were realizing that military action was losing popularity, and both needed something to invigorate the national imagination (to paraphrase the CNN article's title). Now, I'm too lazy and this forum is too casual for me to research specifics of federal budgets and electoral politics during the Kennedy administration, but there may well be some similarities there, too.

    In summation, my basic point is that it's possible Bush's intentions may be no less pure than Kennedy's were. Bush is certainly a popular target now, but he's still a part of current events and we don't have 20/20 hindsight through which to evaluate his actions. Current politics taint (or add flavor) to any discussion of this space plan, but only time will tell how it will be remembered.
  • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:49PM (#7981508)
    Years of posts on how woeful the US space program is, and then something like this happens, and there's 600 posts of how Bush is just doing to distract us from Iraq/look for oil/shovel money to Haliburton.

    Unfrickin' believable. You want Star Trek to happen for real? It has to start somewhere, and here comes the best thing to help that along, and all you can do is bitch

  • Re:WMD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MouseR (3264) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:49PM (#7981516) Homepage
    Wallets of Mass Destructions?
  • It's a ruse (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DeepEyes78 (551679) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:51PM (#7981523)
    As pointed out in the CNN article [cnn.com], the overall NASA budget would stay at about 1 percent of the federal budget. Yes, Bush is contributing an additional 1 billion, but that's chump change considering what the military gets [clw.org] ($379 billion in 2003 and growing). NASA's total budget is less than the cost of one attack aircraft. As far as I'm concerned, this is a ploy to make Bush Jr. look generous. While everyone is looking up at the sky thinking of how great it would be to land on the moon again, Dubya and his cronies will be busy manipulating things on earth for their own benefit. [cnn.com]

    Open your eyes people. While I think it would be great to return to the moon and visit Mars, this isn't anything more than a PR tactic for re-election. The numbers speak for themselves.
  • by fejikso (567395) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @10:54PM (#7981544) Homepage
    Eventually this planet will die

    However, Eventually != soon.

    I completely support space exploration, but I think that Bush's deadline is more about his reelection than about cosmic adventures. He's just trying to be a second JFK and that's laughable.

    From my point of view, space exploration should be done carefully and I don't see in the immediate future the need of a manned mission to Mars. In the short term, it is dangerous, too costly and unnecesary. We should continue with unmanned missions for quite a while.

    Setting these deadlines is just a proof of the political motives behind his speech.
  • by shubert1966 (739403) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:12PM (#7981664) Journal
    That's complete crap. [I'm tired of us paying for science that gets exported all around the globe.]?

    No. It isn't. Several other countries do develop technology, but for instance, take pharmeceuticals - who foots the bill for research and development? The good ol' USA. And besides, what did the space race do to the C.C.C.P? If you answered "Bankrupt" and or "cold" you iz just about right.

    Science is for the good of humanity, not one specific, transient country.

    I agree. Science (should be) is for the good of all, but have you ever heard of patents? How about gouging American customers for research and development. Spending on NASA DOES achieve stuff, no question, but we want the payoff, not some pie-in-the-sky promise about trickle-down science. There is progress, but lets slow down (R&D) and bring the price to deploy currrently possible products to the masses. Let's build up the Sustenance Infrastructure, thereby feeling good, and producing even more scientists.

    Long after the US has gone the way of the Roman Republic (and it will, it is the nature of such things), its contribution to science and technology will endure.

    Again, I agree. We're still using fire and electricity and that is likely to continue. However, Rome had little more than brute strength, borrowing their logic and math and religion from Greece and the East. We are much like Rome to be sure. Anyone with enough capital and enough minds can develop new stuff - why they should constantly do so is the question. The law of diminishing returns comes to mind.

    I just think we have SO MUCH technology that we should slow down. A hundred and fifty years ago, and all time prior, you and I would most likely be farmers or hunter gatherers. Not such a bad life except that it was only, on average, 335-50 years long. That 150 years of preogress has brought us light years ahead, and I for one don't need much more stuff.

    Colonizing other worlds is on my agenda, even if I never live to see it - I think it's neccesary for the survival of the species, but we gotta pay to play, and I'm one for paying as you go. If we secure our sustenance infrastructure first, feed, educate, etc., then we can more readily pay for space travel. In the meantime, why not let other countries figure stuff out? Or, just wait for supercomputing to really develop and alot of stuff will figured out for free over time. While we perfect WHO is going to rule/live in space. Comparing us to Romans in this way could easily be construed as an omen to slow the fuck down.

  • by mooredav (101800) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:19PM (#7981716)

    You want Star Trek to happen for real? It has to start somewhere, and here comes the best thing to help that along

    No, Bush's proposal will not help you get Star Trek technology faster.

    Star Trek occurs several centuries into the future. In the meantime, we will deal with ordinary issues like rising retirement and health care costs. We need a balanced budget, a sustainable environment, and peace. Otherwise, you may end up with NO space program.

    The key word here is "sustainable". NASA may get an extra billion $$$ now, but what will happen to that Star Trek future when the deficit gets out of control?

  • by Ironsides (739422) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:19PM (#7981717) Homepage Journal
    A) There is a direct correlation between the health of the U.S. Economy and the budget of the U.S. Military. So, the more the DoD gets, the better.

    B) We wouldn't be having this discusion right now if the DoD didn't get DARPA to figure out how to make a computer network work (Other than mainframes and dummy terminals).

    C) There is no need for weapons on the Moon, if the UN even allowed them.

    D) The first successful rocket launch NASA had was using a MILITARY ROCKET. The DoD and NASA have a nice good relationship, or have had ones at times.
  • by gangien (151940) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:21PM (#7981727) Homepage
    You know, I wonder if that had some kind of factor to this decision. That GWB took a look at how he would be remembered by future generations, especially if he lost this election, and realized he didn't like what he saw - First attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor, erosion of constitutionally granted rights, 2 wars, an ugly occupation, an economy that just will not recover, and critics that grow louder as election time grows nearer. Maybe he saw a gambit like this as his only means of redeaming himself in the court of public opinion. That if he sets us out on a long term project, like going to Mars, then perhaps he will be remembered more favorably in the long term - even if he doesn't look so good in the short term.

    COuld be, or also possible is that he has tried to do the right thing in all cases regardless of how people view him. Whatever way is true, we'll never know.
  • Re:WMD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_mad_poster (640772) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:21PM (#7981728) Homepage Journal

    Weapons of Mass Distraction is more likely...

  • Election Year (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RickHunter (103108) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:23PM (#7981740)

    Don't be fooled. This is an election year ploy. If Bush gets re-elected, expect it to either quietly disappear from the media (like so many of his other lies) or get held up due to funding problems, insurmountable technical difficulties, and the like. Sure, it sounds good, but so did No Child Left Behind (which has rapidly become No Behind Left), all his "small government" talk (increasing the budget by over $300 billion from the height of the Clinton era is by no means small), individual rights...

  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:23PM (#7981747) Journal
    Speaking of bringing "good to people", not only does the War on Terror bring such goods as new nukes, but your old-and-busted War on Drugs (remember that?)

    How about funding a plan in Colombia to use an untested pathogenic fungus -- fusarium oxysporum -- to wipe out coca. Critics say the plan proposes illegal acts of biological warfare, poses major ecological risks to Colombia -- one of the world's most bio-diverse countries -- and will increase suffering, by wreaking havoc with human health, water quality and food crops.

    But hell, what is one out-of-control war-on-%something% from our well-meaning leaders like the Good-ol USA?
  • by f97tosc (578893) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:27PM (#7981765)
    "multi-planet" species? We can't handle one planet

    I am sure we all agree that things aren't handled too well on earth. However, your argument goes one step further by saying that we should stay away from other planets, in order not to spoil them also.

    I disagree with that view, because it assumes that pristine planets have value in themselves. IMHO other planets are just a bunch of rocks in space - they are valuable only when we enjoy them. If we stay away from Mars until a big rock falls onto our heads then Mars will be preserved in its original form. But what is the value of that if no one will ever see it?

    Tor
  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:45PM (#7981898) Homepage
    OK, you don't like deadlines? How about this. If we have a self-sustaining colony on the moon and some good ships for getting us there and back, we could sell several million dollar vacation packages there. The space program would be MORE than self-funding in 30 year's time. If you look at it that way, the sooner we do this, the more money we SAVE. And when I'm old, retired, and realizing my mortality, I think I would be more than willing to give my entire net worth just to be able lie down on the moon and watch the Earth spin by, framed by the blackness of space and the overwhelmingly bright and numerous stars.

    Oh, and a place with really low gravity would make a great retirement community.
  • by Atryn (528846) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:55PM (#7981963) Homepage
    Why is it going to take 16 years to return? Because the original Apollo missions had much different goals than establishing a base there.
    Bush didn't say that we would have a base on the moon in 16 years. In the long term goal of having a base there, our first manned mission landing on the moon would be in 16 years. I'm all for "doing it right", but the fact is that right now people question whether we can do it at all. We need to motivate the public. 16 years is not very motivating.
    Haven't you listened to anything coming out of NASA? They're talking about taking the next step in craft development and finally retiring the space shuttle, which has long been an idea whose time has come and gone.
    I have listened, and yes, I agree with this.
    It's great that you are you hateful towards George Bush and you couldn't agree more and everything ...
    Hmm... Just went back and re-read my post... nothing about hating Bush in there... However, I do disagree with most of his policies. His direction is positive, his timeline and budget are terrible. The latter leads me to believe he isn't really serious about the former.
    Bush has stepped up and made the way clear for NASA scientists to do what they need to do.
    Bush has, indeed, cleared some roadblocks for NASA. However, what NASA needs, IMHO, is leeway to take risks, an aggressive timeline that challenges them, and a mandate to also focus on the facillitation of private ventures in space.

    Lastly, I am hesistant to support Bush on yet another example of abandoning our allies and international partnerships. I would hardly be surprised if he also favored pulling out of the moon treaty and declaring our stake and property when we get there.

  • by bishop32x (691667) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:12AM (#7982095)
    Have you looked at welfare in the past 10 years?
    Most of the progams require you to a)get a job, b)being training for a job or C)looking for a job. Not exactly food-tubes, although it does say something about the wealth distribution in this country if the people working on the lowest rungneed government assistance in order to survive.
    Also, welfare beifits 1) do not cover all of the cost of living, just some and b)often have cut off dates, so much for unending support of the government.

    And just one question, how much does a secretary produce? or a storew clerk? or a CFO?
  • by jasonditz (597385) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:21AM (#7982140) Homepage
    First of all, explain how it's theft exactly.
    Money was taken from people without their consent.

    The government has the right to do whatever it wants with the taxes it collects. If you don't like what they do you elect someone else, but that doesn't make unwise expeditures theft.
    So when Nazi Germany spent its tax dollars exterminating Jews, that was legitimate? After all, if the Jews didn't want to be extermined they shouldn't have let Hitler win the election.

    Second of all, it's not a "what-if", it's an eventual certainty. If we live long enough, a giant asteroid will hit the earth, or something else of that nature that will kill everyone on the planet.
    I think somebody needs to look up the term "certainty". Unless you can point to an asteroid presently on a collision course, its just a question of probability. Since the universe is finite, there's no logical reason to suggest another asteroid "must" hit the earth.

    Of course it's possible that we'll kill ourselves off before that happens, but if so, then what does it really matter what we spend a few extra billions on right now?
    I know its a radical suggestion, but how about each person spends their own money on what they want to spend it on, rather than what you think they should, or even what a voting majority thinks they should?
  • by benjamindees (441808) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:23AM (#7982152) Homepage
    You tout the economic benefits of GPS yet doubt 2D barcodes have one? Believe me, the manpower saved using online postage stamp systems *alone* (both by users and by the postoffice) trumps any amount of GPS-enabled tractors that could possibly be in use.

    I could be wrong, but I'm not seeing *any* productive uses for GPS, which, btw, wouldn't exist if it weren't for lots of technology that NASA pioneered to begin with. Prove me wrong.
  • by lambsonic (512680) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:44AM (#7982283) Homepage

    The earth is ideally suited for human life because we have evolved within it over the last 200,000+ years.

    Any outpost created will inevitably fall to murphy's law. I say within 50 years on the outside. Especially without base station support from mother earth.

    The scope you use, "Earth", seems arbitrary. One could say that human life evolved within the Universe. Really, we mostly evolved in one small area of the planet. We just learned to deal with the conditions of other places. It is quite possible that we will learn to deal with the conditions of other planets as well.

  • by miu (626917) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:46AM (#7982298) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I would prefer to enjoy air and water here on earth as opposed to sitting in a bubble on the moon refining minerals for the sake of doing so. Think about it, trekkie.

    I'm glad you are in no sort of position to decide how funds are spent or what projects are worked on. People like you never bother working on anything that lacks immediate gratification - since that sort of behaviour is self limiting the people who actually create things with long term value can get on with getting things done.

  • by pNutz (45478) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:03AM (#7982375)
    I think a much more urgent concern, more than relocating the species before the 3 billion year solar apocolypse, is advancing humanity socially by education, health care, food, tolerance, unity, and other such wonderful hippee crap so we don't annihilate ourselves in the next 50 years.

    Of course that simply won't happen. Humans are greedy and wastefuls creatures and we probably aren't going to last long as technology keeps advancing faster than society.

    In 3 billion years, as the sun swells and consumes the Earth, the super-intelligent arachnid overlords will have left and colonized 2/3 of the galaxy, long since having learned to live in harmony with each other and harvest the energy of black holes.

    May doom greet us with open arms.
  • by mellon (7048) * on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:07AM (#7982393) Homepage
    Funding for welfare, etc, isn't designed to wipe out poverty or mitigate its effects. It's designed to perpetuate poverty, because a permanent underclass of non-producing food tubes dependent upon the government to steal wealth from the producing food-tubes can be relied upon to always support the government.


    Conspiracy theories are great fun, of course, but I'm skeptical that there's any cohesive force acting to make anything like this happen. It sounds like there is from time to time, and I'm sure there are people who do actually make it their goal to make this happen. But they're isolated idiots, not a vast global conspiracy.
  • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:14AM (#7982429)
    Military innovation is usually classified, non-exportable, insanely expensnive, etc, etc, for years...

    NASA innovation is most often rapidly usable.

    I'm guessing they see it as a source of funds, wereas the military see it as a potential weapon.
  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:26AM (#7982499) Homepage
    I realize I'm off topic here, but anyway...

    Just because the ultimate goal of the military is to kill people, doesn't mean everything associated with them is evil.

    Last time I checked the goal of any military was to protect the country and it's government, at any means necessary. Killing people may be the means, but not the end.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:36AM (#7982548) Homepage Journal
    A> The only correlation between "the" US economy health and the US military budget is how the military saps the strength of the economy. The minimal efficiency of the military in defense of the US and our economy are obviously correlated, but not the profligate waste beyond that.

    B> If DARPA hadn't produced the Internet, someone else would have - it was an idea whose time had come. Even if your tired old saw were true, if we had spent the entire $4 trillion coldwar defense budget on the Internet, it would be a *lot* better.

    C> The need for weapons (in US or even enemies hands), or the UN allowing them anywhere, has been proven to be a total nonissue for Bush/Cheney. As has "deficits", which according to Cheney, "don't matter".

    D> NASA had always been R&D for ICBM research. Sensible capitalists (not "state capitalists", mafiosos indistinguishable from "communists") want to dissolve that vampiric relationship, and fund just the lucrative NASA.

    Drop the rationalizations, back the drive to explore space, and leave the deathstar behind in favor of growth.
  • by the gnat (153162) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:40AM (#7982577)
    In the meantime, millions upon millions of dollars are being wasted on pseudoscientific programs such as space-based protein crystallography. This is all in order to justify the bloated ISS (and shuttle) budget, since most laymen don't know a thing about protein crystallography and wouldn't understand that it's much better done here on Earth.

    My point is, the spinoffs from manned space exploration do not by themselves justify manned space exploration and its absurd budget. Why not try to invent these advanced technologies without spending billions attempting to shoot people into space? If they're useful here on Earth, odds are they'll be available soon anyway, without flushing all those tax dollars down the tubes.
  • Some thoughts (Score:2, Insightful)

    by streak (23336) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:42AM (#7982589) Journal
    I've always held the belief that the ISS shouldn't have been created, and instead a Lunar base of some sort should have been constructed.
    The ISS has become a huge money sink. The Russians really need to get their act together money-wise (though in the delivery department they are currently better than us considering the shuttle fleet is grounded).

    More money up to this point should have been put into low gravity (and zero-gravity) manufacturing.
    In order to even conceive of building a lunar base at this point, a lot of money is going to have to be sunk into researching this. Manufacturing at low-G in hostile environments is not the same as manufacturing here on earth.

    For any of these plans to succeed, NASA needs to get it through their heads that wings are a bad idea for orbital/lunar space flight. Why? The benefits are more negative than positive.
    They are only used on landing - therefore on takeoff (where weight is a very important factor) they are the most inefficient waste of mass because they aren't used at all! I also believe that a reusuable, technologically sophisticated, recoverable capsule (similar to Apollo) will be cheaper to build, cheaper to launch, and cheaper to recover than any winged craft will be.

    There needs to be a another X-prize, but this time its for building the cheapest, most efficient and economical manned reusable space (not near-space) vehicle. I think that if NASA licenses a technology developed in the private sector we actually have a chance of making some of these timetables that have been put forth, instead of new technology being bogged down by bureaucracy and stubbornness.

    In this day and age, the part of NASA that manages manned space exploration is all about not taking risks but ducking their heads and making sure nothing disastrous goes wrong. The Apollo missions were a HUGE RISK undertaken by NASA. But since the last Apollo mission hardly any risks are taken any more because of fears of spending being cut, etc...
    NASA needs to return to being able to take calculated risks for the good of exploration. I think this lack of any risk-taking has also stifled any new technology from going into current spacecraft.
  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:51AM (#7982655) Journal
    Hey, it's not like they take billions of dollars and send them to the Sun.

    That money is spent here, in the USA, on engineers and such - right on down to the guy who sweeps up the turnings from the lathes at Boeing.

    At the very least, that money has a chance for spin-off benefits.

    If you think of it as "welfare for the military industrial complex", at least it has a chance of a payback. I'd rather give hard-working engineers "welfare" rather than "poor" people.

    Pure social spending of Gov't dollars is money down the drain (unless you are trying to create/reinforce a dependent class of "citizens").

  • Tax cut economics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beakburke (550627) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:00AM (#7982727) Homepage
    Compare last year's government revenue to this year's. Economic activity has a multiplying effect. Thus a tax cut can increase tax revenue, by increasing incomes. If the economy grows more than the rate is cut. The point isn't that most tax cuts pay for themselves, but a 6% tax cut doesn't result in 6% less money. Read up on some Keynes. Deficits aren't always bad, just that our debt should grow slower than the economy, on average.
  • by Wargames (91725) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @02:48AM (#7982945) Journal
    I think that Earth is void of reason so naturally we seek it in space. I think we need to exhaust our search of the space between our ears before we inflict our brand of love on the universe at large. Once we have discovered ourselves, we will then be better suited to share with others we might find.

    I think about our so-called Judeo-Christian values. The cognitive dissonance between our idealized values and our actual values are lightyears apart. We polute our water and land and it has now it full-circle accumulates in our bodies. We idle by and by while the fruit of our labors supports those who will efficiently (and honorably) KILL innocents in their sleep (eg. on an airplane flight) when told to do so. These same leaders presume holy relationships: praying, visiting churches, and "God Bless" a common phrase ending many a speech. I think we need to close the gap between what we say and what we do before we spend our billions exploring half-heartedly.

    How many billions are spent the world over in all countries on doublespeek "defense" and "peacekeepers"? Why not brand these with words with real meaning "KILLing" and "KILLers".

    We infight like Clark/Kubrick's 2001 hominid ancestors while the next asteroid, CME, errant black hole (or other as yet to be discovered nano-dna-phenom) comes to take us to be one with God.

    Nature is a terrorist with superhuman powers! If this isn't a reason to fear God and love one another... well I don't know a better one.

    Evolve! GROW UP!

    We share 99.9%+ DNA. We are all related. We are all family. We are all brothers and sisters.

    There is a message "Do not Kill!" it needs to be taught at birth and reinforced in childhood and enforced as law. Killing is senseless and stupid.
    Solutions abound that cost no thing "do unto others as you would have others do unto you", "love thy neighbor", "be nice".

    Happy Valentines Day!

    If you send this post to a friend, you will increase the love in the world, if you send it to ten friends...

    they will want to kill you.
  • by Dolly_Llama (267016) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:13AM (#7983055) Homepage
    I'm going to guess that you've never been on welfare. Maybe you can't empathize with what it is like to be seven years old and living out of a car with your mom and your sisters because your dad took off and mom couldn't cover the rent. Or maybe the years after that on government cheese and food stamps because mom's waitress job could barely keep a roof over our head.

    Welfare is a *SAFETY NET* for *REAL PEOPLE* It's not the stereotype of cadillac driving welfare queens or the projects that has been forced in to your skull. If you think the tax burden of social programs is too great, imagine the nation without them. Imagine soup kitchens and Hooverville shantytowns.

    Non-producing food tubes my ass. Eat shit and die. Please. Now.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:13AM (#7983056) Homepage Journal
    From the blog of Kurt Nimmo [kurtnimmo.com]:

    Bush Mission to Mars: it's all about militarizing space

    Excerpts from Bush's "space exploration" speech delivered earlier today:

    America is proud of our space program. The risk-takers and visionaries of this agency have expanded human knowledge, have revolutionized our understanding of the universe and produced technological advances that have benefited all of humane's (sic) doing an excellent job.

    Certainly, some of it has benefited people who live in affluent nations -- most notably, the aerospace industry, otherwise known as the "defense" industry. The vast majority of mankind, however, lives under conditions of grinding poverty and the advances gained from the space program do not benefit them in the least. In fact, many of the "technological advances" of the aerospace industry have resulted in widespread death and destruction -- for instance, the development and use of stealth bombers and cruise missiles. For untold numbers of Iraqis and Afghans, the American space program translates into GPS guided bombs killing their children.

    Our investment in space exploration helped to create our satellite telecommunications network and the Global Positioning System.

    See the previous comment.

    Our first goal is to complete the International Space Station by 2010. We will finish what we have started.

    Bush's "first goal" is to realize plans spelled out by the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization [thirdworldtraveler.com], chaired by Donald Rumsfeld in 2001. A report issued by the Commission demands the US "have the option to deploy weapons in space to deter threats to and, if necessary, defend against attacks on U.S. interests." In other words, the US will build a new generation of space-based weapons to further realize Pax Americana. Of course, this will motivate other countries (most notably China) to waste money and precious resouces on developing space weapons of their own, initiating an arms race.

    In fact, China has already started its own space weapons program, according to a report released by the Department of Defense. "The report focuses on the current and probable future course of that country's growing military-technological prowess, including the use of space to assure military advantage," Leonard David [space.com] writes for Space.com. "This year's report cites a comment from Captain Shen Zhongchang from the Chinese Navy Research Institute. He envisions, according to the DoD, a weaker military defeating a superior one by attacking its space-based communications and surveillance systems." For more on the strategic thinking of the Chinese, see Chinese Views of Future Warfare [af.mil].

    [Secretary of the Air Force Pete Aldrich] has tremendous experience in the Department of Defense and the aerospace industry. And he is going to begin this important work right away.

    Aldrich does have "tremendous experience" -- he is the overseer of the Defense Departmenta(TM)s Missile Defense Support Group (MDSG) and reports to the DoD's Senior Executive Council (SEC) and the Missile Defense Agency. "The SEC, which is chaired by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and includes the service secretaries and Aldridge, recently was assigned the task of considering whether elements of the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) should move to production and deployment," writes Alaska Missile Defense Early Bird Weekly [akrepublicans.org].

    In other words, Reagan's Star Wars reinvented.

    "[The] real scandal [of BMDS is] that the defense being developed won't work -- and few in Washington seem to know or ca

  • by Inspector Lopez (466767) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:20AM (#7983071) Journal
    The fact that the GPS satellites are in "space" is sort of a NASA technology. However, the other key technologies,

    (*) extremely accurate clocks
    (*) special waveforms with nice correlation properties
    (*) ionospheric correction (dual frequency L1, L2)
    (*) tropospheric correction (pressure, water vapor)
    (*) general relativity correction

    ... this stuff was all invented either decades before NASA existed, or by different entities entirely (such as DOD or NIST). GPS has proven to be extremely useful, but attributing GPS to NASA is a bit of a stretch.

  • by BTWR (540147) <americangibor3@NoSpAm.yahoo.com> on Thursday January 15, 2004 @03:26AM (#7983094) Homepage Journal
    Unfair...

    First attack on the United States since Pearl Harbor

    Bush being president had nothing to do with 9/11. Are you saying that had Al Gore won in 2000 Bin Laden would not have killed those 3,000 people? Right...

    an economy that just will not recover

    I believe the economy is much better than it was in 2001 when Bush took office. The Dow is now back to 10,000 range, unemployment is the lowest in years and economic growth is climbing...
  • Re:Meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tmortn (630092) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @04:31AM (#7983373) Homepage
    http://www.oilcrash.com/cheep.htm

    Thats not the article I wanted to refference but I can't find the one I liked so much right now.

    In short start searching for actual new oil fields being found over the course of the last 20 years or so.

    Demand is growing, finds of new sources have severely declined and exploration is getting more costly with less returns.. Ie we are spending more and more to find less and less. The idea represented in that discussion and others I have read is that discovery rate is not even close to keeping up with the current growth, and with India and China comming online as serious energy consumers that growth rate is going to expand in a hurry while all current indications are new sources/production will be declining, possible at an even greater rate. The two together will be devestating.

    Thats where the close term predictions are comming from. Thats the worst case scenario. The more immediate fear is that even if we should find significant new fields all of the current major oil fields including those in the middle east are crossing the line, IE they have reached peak production and we will now see those oil fields decline as production rates go down as more and more effort must be made in the extraction process. The experiences with the north sea oil fields has shown that while technology allows us to get at the dregs it dosn't really help production all that much, IE its harder to get at and takes longer to get it, the technology just means we can get at it eventually but nothing replaces a natural gushing well for production.

    Thus without finding new substatial fields our capacity to produce is going to be rapidly and continually outstripped by the increase in demand. Free market economy principles are pretty fuckin darwinnian in that scenario and it is a situation that will rapidly worsen until not only are new fields found but brought online.

    The direst prediction of that scneario have it already begining, others think 2010-2020 time frame. In either case it is paramount to find new sources or a viable alternative primary energy source.

    synthetic oils have a problem... they cost more energy to create than you recover. They also tie our biomass/foodstuff production into our energy needs. So far farming advances have kept us ahead of the nunmerous population crisis predictions with regards to providing food... but if the results of farming also has to provide the primary source of energy for machienary as well as for food will it be able to do so ?

    I havn't completly given up on the idea.. waste recylcling shows promise and evidently not all of the synthetic production need take away from food stuffs. So it may work, but the discussions I have seen say its far from a certain thing. In the end regardless the problem of it taking more energy to make than it produces means it will always be a more expensive source of energy than naturally occuring oil.
  • Wrong wrong wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anenga (529854) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @05:48AM (#7983640)
    Ah, let me fix this for you.

    Well, stop liberating people would be a good start.

    There you go.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:13AM (#7984117)
    3.5 billion dollars on ringtones at $3.50 per tone is 1 billion ringtones, or 1 for every 6th person on the planet. Doesn't sound right to me.
  • by FatherOfONe (515801) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:38AM (#7984256)
    Well if he is black then they have improved his rights a ton.

    If he is an illeagal alien then he has a far easier time getting employment and citizenship.

    His average household income has gone up dramatically in his life. (NOTE: the average american home now has less people than in 1960)

    The court system in America if FAR FAR FAR more liberal than it was in 1960, and tends to find in favor of ridiculous lawsuits against major companies.

    America the most feared country in the world.... Well I guess you and I saw something different on TV when the U.S. came in and freed Iraq.

    They have increased terrorism.... Umm.... let's see , you can either attack terrorist or be attacked. You obviously believe in negotiating with terrorist, and the current administration doesn't. Let's see now... negotiations has worked sooo well for Israel in the last 40 years... Please understand that I am not saying negotiate with other countries, but terrorist. There is a differece.

    The U.S. is cutting back on... WTF? What do you call a cut? When the program gets $1 Billion a year and they don't get $2 Billion the next. Name a MAJOR program other than the military and NASA that has actually been cut. What people like to do is ask for a 100% increase in spending for their program and then when they only get 10% they say the administration CUT the budget.

    You are either with us or with the terrorist.... Yep that is correct. It seems fairly clear. How many first or second world countries do you know that openly support terrorism? Why would they want to? If they do then aren't they basically declaring war on the U.S.? Should the U.S. wait until they kill another 3,000+ citizens before doing something? So to the previous poster... you are actually safer now, because the U.S. is not sitting by waiting for some governement funded terrorist to slam a plain in to your building.

    They personally profit from the war... The U.S. and every other country that helped should gain some money back if possible. I understand that this is different than what you would do, i.e. give the terrist money and hope (but not pray) that they don't hurt us.

    I could go on also.

    The posters previous comments were on the mark. He has been given an opportunity to improve his social status with little true intervention from the government, short of possibly being drafted (he is too young for this).

    Other things I can think of.
    He has not had to worry about being gased. (Iraq)
    He has not had to worry about starving. (Africa)
    He has had one of the worlds best medical care.
    He lived in a society that works to achive equality among it citizens.
    His economy isn't run by the mob. (Italy)
    His water is clean. (Africa and most 3rd world)
    His information isn't driven by the government. (Many) Heck in this case it is just the opposite.
    He could choose what type of career he wanted, and even still at 40+ could change it completely. (Ton)
    He could get in to politics and drive the future of his country.
    He could openly say how bad the U.S. is and how he hates our president. (kind of like you).
    He has the ability to worship God freely.

    America is a government by the people for the people... If you don't like it run for freaking office. Change it.

  • Its about time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FURY13RT (723819) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @08:46AM (#7984305)
    I disagreed with bushes election.
    That said, Im not unhappy with his performance. I believe anyone who makes it to the presidence, sets out with the best of intentions. (even tho thats not where things always go) I think he knows, like the rest of us, that nasa has been in need of a clear mission for far too long.
    The space industry has changed our lives more than any other in the last fifty years. It seems to me that investments in apollo have paid us back ten fold...
    So why is nasa, this powerhouse of world change, sitting on its duff carrying out (seemingly) useless experiments?

    Their new mission is clear even if the details are vague.
    I think its a good thing.
  • by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:15AM (#7984897) Homepage
    Points:

    This is the wrong way to go to space again. The nadir, the opposite, the way it shouldn't be.

    I've been a space fanatic for 35 years. And emulating the Apollo model of spectaular and ultimately useless manned shots was proved a dead end thirty years ago. It is a dead end now.

    We should go to the moon, but to establish mining and material processing plants. We should use mass drivers on the moon, rather than rockets, to move material into L2, L5, or earth orbit for contruction purposes. Using the moon for a launching platform for Mars is a terrible idea -- if you are in orbit, in zero G, you can use an ion engine to get to mars in weeks. But to launch from the moon, you have to use a high energy rocket, which actually gets you to Mars more slowly than the high-efficiency and always-on ion engine.

    Build in space, not on the moon. Move lunar materials to Earth-moon space using an electric mass-driver on the surface, and make aluminum, steel, and titanium by the thousands of tons in lunar orbit or L5.

    If you want to go to space as a nation, you go BIG, which means you proceed deliberately. No spectacular space shots of interest to geologists only. You build up industrial capacity in orbit and on the moon, and after that you can go anywhere at a much cheaper cost than lifting tons of miniaturized and fragile components from Earth, because you simply make what you need at the launching complex from raw materials. It's more expensive in the short term, but it the long term it pays for itself in materials and energy (powersats), AND you get the solar system as a bonus for cheap.

    Additionally, if you industrialize near Earth, it means normal people could go and live off planet, because there would be enough resources to actually build habitats, regular shuttle services, make powersats for selling juice back home. Launching it all from Earth guarantees that although the "mission" of landing some miltary pilots on Mars would be accomplished, that no one else could go, and ultimately the whole program would be shut down because,and it pains me to say this, all we would have for our money would be some rocks, some video, and a small cadre of semi-military men who actually got to go to another world. It didn't work for Apollo, and it won't work here. This idea is pure Old NASA, and should be stopped immediately. Space should not be the province of ultrahealthy supermen who go up and come down. It should be about resources, economically sound exploitation, and the ability of a normal human to participate someday.

    And finally, Bush's (Old NASA's) dream is a crock. The money will not be there after Supply Side 2, the Looting. The old dream will die again as the neocon party ball goes dim in the next ten years and all the bills come due.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @10:53AM (#7985287)
    Given that (from your own post) China thinks it could defeat a superior army by destroying it's space based com system, wouldn't it be appropriate for USA to take some measures to defend it? Or are you suggesting that USA roll over to China?
  • Re:It sucks. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jasenj1 (575309) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @11:30AM (#7985676)
    In 1961, when shit wasn't invented yet and people fought bears for vital food, President Kennedy had the balls to give NASA less than nine years to get to the moon.

    And today Congress would have told such an uppity President where to stick those balls and not passed his budget. And vast numbers of hyper-cynical citizens would have called Kennedy's challenge empty political posturing to woo the ignorant come next election. And every politician from the opposing party would have cut off one of their balls to keep the plan from working lest someone other than they look good.

    The race to the moon was all about proving that the USA was better than those stinking commie Russians. Without that, we'd still be bickering amongst ourselves.

    - Jasen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 15, 2004 @12:37PM (#7986451)
    I recognize that there are many things in heaven and earth that bear merit for our efforts and resources, but the task of space exploration is of an entirely different magnitude of value.

    What could we accomplish with the resources that will eventually be absorbed by space exploration?

    Issues of social service, government subsidies, military spending, tax rebates or decreases seem to eat most of the budget of the United States. We certainly should not abandon spending on these issues - they are the bedrock of the functionality of our government.

    On top of those issues are the United State's humanitarian responsibilities. Fighting disease, hunger, poverty, oppression, etc. these are the measure of our humanity.

    I can't discount the importance of these items. I encourage you to think, however, about the merit of space exploration. Imagine the world a thousand years from now. What will remain?

    If any country that exists now can still exist in that far future the effort expended to remain viable will have been well spent. Certainly the continued existance of the United States must be paramount in it's own budget creation. But the projects that hound our space program today will have vanished like dust. This blip in the economy, that pork barrel project, social spending here, military spending there. Some politician and his desire to strip money from our space program in order to buy something that will get him re-elected. All will have been lost to time. As the events of the year 1000 effect us in a 'butterfly effect' manner so will we control the future in an unpredictable, unknowable, and anonymous fasion.

    Space exploration is an entirely different sort of undertaking. In the bright future I imagine humanity is in several locations in our solar system. The Moon, Mars, the Jovian system, who can say what humanity will manage to adapt to. Perhaps they eye the edge of our solar system as the next frontier, or perhaps we will have managed to grow beyond that as well.

    As a species we will no longer fear the simple destruction that befell so many forms of life previously on Earth. It's easy to be unconcerned about the threats to our species' continued existence. Asteroids, plague, environmental collapse, world war, overpopulation, none of these are going to happen tomorrow. The individual generally need not act upon their threat at all. I imagine not one dinosaur ever gave it a thought.

    Further, in the future I propose, imagine the variety of human experience. Humans may paint landscapes under the light of Jupiter. Art and philosophy will be profoundly effected not only by the fact of it's own existence remote from Earth, but by the existence of other thoughts and philosophies developed in other environments. This variety, this ocean of experience will be a benefit to humanity that the people of 1000 years from now could not imagine being without. As the peasant of the year 1000, (never travelling more than 20 miles from his home!) will those who live in a future containing space travel look back upon those times when man dwelt only upon the Earth.

    This is all to say nothing of the benefit to science and technology. Benefits and resources so unimaginably vast that words fail and I can only write this short paragraph about them.

    Little will survive the next 1000 years in any recognizable form. We must continue to attempt to mitigate suffering and maintain the well-being of our nation, but individual efforts will swirl and vanish in the chaos of human progression. In the future, space travel or no, there will still be those who have and those who have not. In 1000 years people may die still from hunger or disease, or from lack of as-yet unimagined medical techniques or they may lack access to some future life-improving technology.

    In contrast to all else that we may do in this time, 1000 years before that future, the development of space travel will stand out. The colonization of the universe off of this sphere will be like the development of FIRE, or the invention of the WHEEL. It will be of fundamental imporance to the entire human race.

    Adam Thorne
  • by RobertFisher (21116) on Thursday January 15, 2004 @01:20PM (#7987057) Homepage Journal
    I totally agree with you. NASA is an enormous enterprise, and although the manned spaceflight missions get most of the attention (and budget), the unmanned missions and satellites and hard astrophysics funded by NASA make a vastly more significant science impact. This is coming from someone who got his graduate research supported by a generous NASA fellowship under the GSRP program.

    Just the great observatories program alone -- Compton, Hubble, Chandra, and now Spitzer -- each constructed and launched with roughly $1 B, underline the point that when TENS of billions of dollars get shifted around, science could very well be left out in the cold.

    Moreover, the THEORY portion of NASA's science is peanuts of the overall science program, which is itself peanuts of the overall NASA budget. Each year, over a hundred PIs go all out to fight for the few million dollars provided by NASA's Astrophysics Theory Program (ATP). About a dozen are actually funded, to the tune of about $100 K each. The irony is that after all those tens of billions of dollars are spent on launching people on top of firecrackers and designing and building telescopes and satellites, only a miniscule amount is devoted towards our physical understanding of those observations.

  • Is this rhetoric or reality? George Bush (the first one; Sr) also made similar proclamations and it went nowhere. George Bush Jr also makes similar gestures but it is questionable if this will amount to anything. My personal opinion is that nothing will come of this.

    First of all, only $1b is new money being allocated. You cannot do anything for $1b. The increase just covers inflation. As Bob McDonald of CBC remarked on tv yesterday, the $11 billion is just reshuffling existing NASA money and this may damage other areas of NASA. Bob was concerned about sacrificing robotics at the expense of human missions. Even with that amount of money, nothing major will be accomplished.

    You basically need hundreads of billions to do anything major. This money hasn't been allocated.

    Secondly--and most importantly--the only major endeavours in the past have been due to political reasons. Let's face it: As long as there isn't a political threat (however bogus), the public isn't going to be too keen on supporting any major projects. Unless USA initiates some massive propaganda campaign and brainwashes people into thinking that China, Russia, India, Japan, Europe, or whoever else you can come up with is a threat, nothing is going to be done.

    Lastly, USA is running a massive deficit. The deficit is around $500 billion this year and unless the economy picks up, it might even get worse. Granted, this isn't a big deal for a big country like USA (at least according to theory), but nevertheless it will have SOME impact. Getting to public to support a massive tax cut for the wealthy is easy (just initiate some propaganda and you'll be ok). It is also easy to increase the military budget by claiming the imminent threat of others. Similarly, increasing budgets for DEA, CIA, and others is pretty easy--you just have to claim you are fighting a very important "war" (in these cases, drugs, and terrorism). You can also get the public to support a missile shield (which in all likelihoods won't work (automatically, the effectiveness against terrorists is 0% since terrorists use asymettric covert techniques)). HOWEVER, getting the public to support a scientific mission is pretty tough.

    So to summarize my thoughts... not enough money is allocated... there is no political will... US fiscal situation isn't good enough to get public support... All this can just mean one thing. This is political rhetoric before an election. Nothing more; nothing less!

    Sivaram Velauthapillai
  • by jasonditz (597385) on Saturday January 17, 2004 @02:57AM (#8005783) Homepage
    If all else fails, the sun will expand and destroy the earth in a few billion years. It is not "statistically likely" it is a certainity as much as anything in life can possibly be certain.
    I don't know that I'd classify the sun as "an asteroid or something of that nature" but lets not quibble.

    You seem to be confusing legality and morality. Theft is a legal term.
    Ummm... no it isn't. It has a legal context, but there are plenty of definitions of theft which do not reference "what is legal". Try a dictionary... you might like it.

    What the government does with the money may or may not be morral, but the way they got it was legal,
    Since the government itself gets to decide what's legal that seems a pisspoor way to determine the morality of a thing.I've provided previous examples, but "if you don't like it, get out" is a logical fallacy that has had holes shot into it a dozen times, so I don't feel like rehashing tired old arguments.

    It's generally accepted that paying money for services is not immoral.
    Argumentum ad populum. Somebody should put all these fallacies in a book. It was generally accepted 300 years ago that slavery was not immoral, did that justify it?
    At any rate, the statement is flawed. It is not paying money for a service that is immoral, its stealing money and trying to justify it by providing a service that is immoral.

    The US government is paid money to give services. Everyone in the country benefits from the services, so consenting to pay the taxes is required to live here. You don't like it? Stop immorally and illegally ripping off the government and leave.
    An argument that is not only tired and predictable, but dead wrong. The mafia could use the identical argument to justify "providing protection" to everybody in the neighborhood. Don't like it? Move.

    Sorry, that's not the way democracy works, sorry. Putting aside for the moment the legal complications in the system (constitutional rights, 2/3rd majortiy issues, representative democracy, etc) if 51% of the people want things a certain way, that's the way it goes.
    That says nothing about the morality of the situation. Can you even talk about that or is rehashed civics lessons all you've got left?

    Again, pretending for the moment we don't have the constitutional rights intended to prevent abuse of the system, if 51% of the people think it should be illegal to analy rape people with wolves, then it's illegal
    And if only 49% think it should be, it magically stays legal and we have tens of millions of people like you arguing that its therefore justified. Its amazing how easy it is for you to take consent totally out of the equation and just replace it with "what the majority wants" (even if the majority happens to be only the majority of those that the remaining majority feel should be allowed to vote)
    Don't want to be raped? Move.
    But then that brings us to yet another interesting caveat. What about if 51% of the people decide I shouldn't be able to leave? Its happened before, often in fact.

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

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