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Space The Almighty Buck United States Science

NASA's Finances in Disarray 234

Posted by michael
from the once-the-money-goes-up-who-cares-where-it-comes-down dept.
mwolff writes "Yahoo News has an article about the 'financial disarray' NASA seems to be in after a recent audit showed horrible documentation of funding. 'As NASA sets course for the moon and Mars, the space agency's finances are in disarray, with significant errors in its last financial statements and inadequate documentation for $565 billion posted to its accounts, its former auditor reported.'"
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NASA's Finances in Disarray

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  • Question (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:05AM (#9159751)
    Does this mean I won't be getting my flying car this year?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:05AM (#9159752)
    NASA = Need A Second Accountant!
  • by General Sherman (614373) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:07AM (#9159762) Journal
    NASA: "The 360 ate our paper tape"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:09AM (#9159768)
    So their annual budget this year is $14 billion or so.

    Where does the $565 billion come from?
    • by gclef (96311) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:26AM (#9160431)
      From the article:

      Under the new system, Ciganer said in a telephone interview, errors that were discovered in the transition could show up multiple times in the accounting process: once as an erroneous credit in one column, then as a debit to delete the error, then as a credit in the correct column. By this reckoning, a $40 billion contract that stretched over nine years and several separate NASA centers generated $120 billion worth of entries, and these were turned over to the auditors.


      Basically, it's not that they lost 500 billion, it's that the total number of accounting errors totals 500 billion...I think this is a silly way of counting errors, as it grossly inflates the size of the problem by automatically tripling the size of a problem for every mis-classified entry.

      Honestly, this looks like headline-grabbing by their auditors. (Who, it should be noted, lost the NASA contract to keep doing their auditing.)
    • Where does the $565 billion come from?

      Mostly legitimate double-entry bookkeeping, I would imagine. As others have pointed out, it's one of the right ways to do your books. Every transaction generates two corresponding entries, in such a way that the balance at the end of the day comes to zero. Railroad Tycoon is a good place to get a handle on the basics. :)

      So--if you spend one billion dollars on a rocket, then you generate two billion dollars' worth of transactions--the billion dollars out to Lockheed Martin, and a billion dollars on paper for the assets received.

      Lather, rinse, repeat. Take some hypothetical cases to illustrate the accounting. If NASA receives a bundle of cash from the federal government, that's two entries. If it transfers the funds internally from its general accounts to its satellite launching division, that's two more entries. If the satellite division subcontracts part of the project to an outside company, that's another two entries. You get six dollars in apparent traffic for one real dollar actually spent.

      If someone makes a typo somewhere, then it gets even worse. Someone inadvertantly records a transfer to the satellite division as being transferred to the Shuttle. Oops--wrong expense code or something. A routine check catches the error a week later. Since you're not allowed to delete entries from the ledger--it makes it too easy to cheat--you now have to generate two more pairs of entries: one to reverse to original typo, and one to record the actual transfer.

      If NASA amalgamates two programs into one, or splits a larger program into two or more parts, then reassigning the assets also generates transactions.

      The $565 billion figure is an artifact of good accounting--it has precious little real meaning.

  • Here's the solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nate nice (672391) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:12AM (#9159778) Journal
    Simply outsource the work to cheaper markets. I've heard China has really good aerospace engineers and programmers that will work at disproportional wages for the products market.

    -How long till this is modded -1 Troll?
    • Or better yet, lets outsource the US Army! We can save loads of cash if we just get some kung-fu fighting chinese and arm them with a pistol made in russia in those child labor camps!
  • by beeplet (735701) <beeplet@gmail.com> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:12AM (#9159779) Journal
    From the article:

    Under the new system, Ciganer said in a telephone interview, errors that were discovered in the transition could show up multiple times in the accounting process: once as an erroneous credit in one column, then as a debit to delete the error, then as a credit in the correct column. By this reckoning, a $40 billion contract that stretched over nine years and several separate NASA centers generated $120 billion worth of entries, and these were turned over to the auditors.


    If I understand it correctly, that paragraph would make it seem that the number $565 billion actually double- or triple-counts the amount of money that is poorly accounted for. Of course, $200+ billion is still not pocket change...

    I'm wondering though - they don't actually say what part of that process was the problem. Making appropriate debits and credits to correct errors seems reasonable to me, but all I have to balance is my checkbook. Is there some other way to correct errors in the books? Or should NASA presumably have not been making errors to begin with?

    Maybe they should have been using some of that $565 billion to hire better accountants?
    • Yes, actually going back and finding the source of the error, and doing it again and again and again until there are no errors and the books balance. The same way you SHOULD be handling your checkbook ;)
    • > once as an erroneous credit in one column, then as
      > a debit to delete the error, then as a credit in
      > the correct column.

      Although this makes more entries, the end result is correct. In fact, GNUCash (http://www.gnucash.org) does this for ALL your entries, and calls it double-booking or something. Maybe they just need to upgrade to the latest build?
      • by wowbagger (69688) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @09:55AM (#9161074) Homepage Journal
        The term you are looking for is

        double entry bookkeeping

        and simply means that for every credit, there must be a corrisponding debit.

        As a result, if you sum all the books, the answer should be 0.00 - if it is NOT, then there was a misentry somewhere.

        For example, using GnuCash, every time I get paid, an entry debiting an account called "Paycheck" is created, and an entry crediting "Checking" is created, and the two entries are tied together. So over time the "Paycheck" account grows more and more negative. However, this allows me to see exactly how much I've been paid over time.

        It's a form of error dectection and correction.

        I've a cousin who is a certified bookkeeper and how has been a comptroller for several small companies - I told her about GnuCash and she was VERY interested. Pity I cannot convert her system to Linux at this time, or run GnuCash under Windows (last time I checked).

        "Double-booking" is a criminal activity in which a company maintains 2 sets of books (possibly using double-entry bookkeeping on each set), in which one book is the version that gets shown to the auditors and IRS, and one actually has the real facts in it.

    • Going back and overwriting the old entry is obviously a bad practice. For example:

      For example, I generate a report at the beginning of the month: A $100 + B $200 + C -$100 = $200

      The next month, we discover that product B didn't wasn't $200, it was actually $300. Whatever. The point is, that the total as of now is $300, except that I have all these old printouts up till today that say it was $200.

      If I go back in my ledger and change "B" with no audit history, then what happens to all those hard copies
  • by Flounder (42112) * on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:12AM (#9159780)
    SAY IT AIN'T SO!!

    All the more reason for private companies to get into the space business. I'm not saying that private companies can't cook the books, but at least there's laws in place to handle that.

    • Let's be realistic, here; we're talking about the USA, where corporations are, by and large, getting off the hook one way or another left and right. Prominent examples of this can be found in Enron (barely a slap on the rist of those most responsible), Microsoft (a slap on the wrist, at most), Martha Stewart (convicted, but sentenced to a minimum security prison that seems to have been the inspiration for the no-security facility Sideshow Bob was sentenced to do time in), Halliburton (yet to face any sort of prosecution whatsoever, to my knowledge), and Wal*Mart (they find out in a self-audit that they were abusing labor laws... and the governments of those various states let them off after they promise to fix it).

      I'm not sure which is more easily and quickly held responsible, but I'd still rather have NASA around, trying to do the job. I'd explain further, but my mind is all discombobulated from lack of sleep.

      ~UP
      • Martha Stewart (convicted, but sentenced to a minimum security prison that seems to have been the inspiration for the no-security facility Sideshow Bob was sentenced to do time in)

        Martha Stewart didn't do anything illegal financially. In fact, the government dropped the charges of financial wrong-doing because there simply was no evidence that she did anything wrong. What Martha Stewart was actually eventually convicted of was attempting to cover up the alleged wrongdoing - in other words they convicted

  • by auburnate (755235) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:12AM (#9159781)
    This is simply the AREA 51, Roswell, UFO, X-Files budget.

  • by TrevorB (57780) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:18AM (#9159801) Homepage
    $565 billion posted to its accounts?!?

    With that kind of cash, screw Mars, let's go straight to Europa.
  • by SharpFang (651121) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:19AM (#9159802) Homepage Journal
    Gosh, you'd think it's the EASY part!
    If their MONEY calculations are in such condition, how do their spaceships even rise off the ground?
  • umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HBI (604924) <kparadine@gmail.cTEAom minus caffeine> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:19AM (#9159806) Homepage Journal
    NASA's whole budget request for 2004 was 15.5 billion.

    At that rate, it'd take them oh, say 40 years to save up 500+ billion.

    Something does not compute.

    Check it here [aip.org].

    I was going to say something about the editing, but what's the point? Like it's going to change at this late date.
    • Re:umm (Score:5, Funny)

      by Prof.Phreak (584152) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:35AM (#9159854) Homepage
      NASA's whole budget request for 2004 was 15.5 billion.

      At that rate, it'd take them oh, say 40 years to save up 500+ billion.

      Something does not compute.


      Unless someone accidentally used different monetary units...
    • Re:umm (Score:5, Funny)

      by nate nice (672391) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:35AM (#9159855) Journal
      Well, in 1999 they got about 14 bil for the year but invested it in dot-coms and made a killing. Well, they started spending and spending thinking they had 500+ billion in the bank and before they knew it, the bubble burst and they were stuck with a shit load of bills and no way to cover the tab. Obviously embarrassed they bet it all on pets.com and toys.com, they tried to cover it up in hopes they could maybe make it back on the World Tour of Poker, but they quickly realized the 1 million dollar pot just wouldn't cut it. So here we are, 500+ billion in debt and not even a pack of Astronaut Ice Cream to show for it. And that sock puppet was so damn cool, you *knew* that stock had to be a winner.

    • rtfa (Score:3, Informative)

      by daniil (775990)
      nasa's missing "only" $2 billion. from the article: " There were hundreds of millions of dollars of "unreconciled" funds and a $2 billion difference between what NASA said it had and what was actually in its accounts."

      if that be the case, then where does this $565 billion number come from? it seems that they have simply counted the same pile of money for several times, without noticing that it has already been taken into account: "a $40 billion contract that stretched over nine years and several separate N

    • Where is the money? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by benjyfrank (230705)
      It does compute.

      According to its own auditors, the US Government is posting not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars in "undocumented transactions." This means, the financial officers responsible simply have no idea what a particular financial flow was used for, or lack the paperwork to rule out fraud or theft.

      The IT contractors that built the systems that can't keep track of the money (AMS, Dyncorp, CCC, CACI, and Lockheed Martin among others) have had their multimillion dollar "support" con
  • by Murdock037 (469526) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (nrohtnartsirt)> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:24AM (#9159817)
    "They can send a man to the moon, but they can't balance the damn checkbook?"
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:38AM (#9159868) Homepage
    The GAO should make NASA put their general ledger on the web. Their summary data is so obfusicated [nasa.gov] that it doesn't make any sense, but the transaction list of payments might be subject to analysis.
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:54AM (#9159918) Homepage
    Please don't tell me they forgot to convert from Yen (or Euro) to USD.

    Not that NASA would be so stupid as to forget to convert units....
  • compared to? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mabu (178417)
    NASA's finances in disarray? Compared to whom?

    Why is ./ spewing this propaganda? Find me one company employing more than 10 people that doesn't have questionable books. You can't.
    • Re:compared to? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ctr2sprt (574731) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @02:55AM (#9160060)
      Just to give you an idea, the total amount allocated to the entire US military in 2001 was $299 billion. That same year, $219 billion was spent on Medicare. NASA's budget was $14 billion. (Source: White House OMB [whitehouse.gov].) That's roughly comparable to Microsoft's revenues in a single year. (Source: The Wall Street Journal [wsj.com].) If the figure quoted in this article is right, it would be the equivalent of Microsoft's books being off by more than the federal government spends on Defense and Medicare put together - and more than it's spent on NASA total since it was first created.

      An error of this magnitude is inconceivable. It really makes me think the figure must be $565 million, in which case this is pretty small potatoes for a big organization that's been around for a long time. (Lose track of $28 million a year - 0.2% of your budget - for 20 years and there's your number.) It certainly reflects inefficiency at NASA, but is there anyone, anywhere, who would be surprised by inefficiency at NASA?

    • Find me a company that's still in business where the accounting fuckup is more than thirty times their annual budget.

      You can't.
  • In the movie Armageddon, the reason that nobody saw the giant asteroid coming was problems with funding. Could NASA's money problems result in reduced ability to keep an eye on space for large rocks headed toward Earth?
    • Um, as far as I know there really isn't any sort of priority on looking for dangerous asteroids withour name on it. I don't think there's ANY sort of massive funded concerted effort to monitor the skies for incoming rocks.
  • it just so happens that on a recent launch a wormhole accidentally opened and the money was split into an infinite number of parallel universes, where the cash began to interfere with itself until it imploded, leaving only this ball of lint in my pocket....
  • by Doc Ruby (173196)
    I'm glad BushCo applied sound Republican fiscal policy to our preeminent government research program. Wait, they're the guys who quadrupled the government under Reagan, creating more debt than the previous 200+ years combined, topped even that under Bush Sr., sending us (and the world) into a recession larger in real terms than even the Great Depression, and under Bush Jr. turned the biggest surplus in world history into the biggest debt ever imagined (maybe bigger even than that) - which we'll be paying of
    • by Undefined Parameter (726857) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <modeerf4leuf>> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:17AM (#9160318)
      Calm down, there, pal. I don't know where you're getting your information from, but from what I know, the US unemployment rate is holding short of 6% as of April. The unemployment rate of the Great Depression was about 25%. So in terms of real unemployment, we're doing about four times better than we were back in the 1930s.

      Yes, the recession is bad, and on-going; I'm not going to make apologies for the current President because I, myself, don't like him. But, as a student training in history, I felt that I had to correct that one (run-on) sentence of your short but panicked post.

      I'm not going to tell you what to do, but I do advise that you at least take a few deep breaths.

      ~UP
      • That 6% figure of unemployment is just not true, not in any practical meaningful sense. They don't count people who have exhausted unemployment insurance benefits, those people are stricken from the official tally, and that's quite a large number now. There are perhaps millions of chronically un- or under- employed people out there now. And they DO count any part time job, no matter how meagre it is, into the "employed" figures, they make no distinctions there, which is quite misleading when you want to loo
        • Actually the figures do take into account people who have "left the workforce" along with everything else. You'll notice that there's both a household survey and an employer survey and the two can give you a relatively accurate picture.

          I was actually picked for the household survey and we got a phone call every month and they asked a whole bunch of questions about all the peope in the house, who was working, who was looking for work, and who wasn't and why they weren't.

          So, any attempt to say that the rat
          • surveys then surveys (Score:2, Interesting)

            by zogger (617870)
            I just checked the latest real stats at the BLS website. Go down the chart and look at U-6. That's the sum total of unemployed, the figures the TV normally uses in "business reports" stop at U-3. this is fairly common knowledge, BTW, but the lower number is mostly used for propoganda purposes, once you wipe away the shilling grins of the TV/WS casino traders and various politicians trying to make things look rosy. That's an opinion,I admit it, but it's based on these two quite different numbers.

            U-3, which
            • ...numbers.

              Consider first your "analysis" by looking at the statistics being presented. Did the structural problems that you're now discussing suddenly emerge during this recent time? If the methodology has not changed then the built-in error in the report remains the same.

              So, then you can go back and analyze the other portions of the report covering part-time, discouraged, and other categories and you'll find that there is no historically high numbers in this area either.

              The simple fact is that these
      • 1> I mentioned Bush Sr.'s recession, not Junior's
        2> The Bush Jr. "unemployment" numbers are cooked
        3> I wrote "in real terms", like headcount of unemployed, or wealth lost, or any other measure of economic damage
        4> You can pick any single measure you like, but this economy is screwed worse than just a stock market speculation over-leverage
        5> I wrote a long, complex sentence that is not a run-on
        6> I'm not panicking - I retired before the bubble popped, and am doing rather well, in spite of t
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Regardless of comparisons, the economy is not going well. I think it worthwhile to look at this graph [bls.gov] - specifically, do the graph from 1969 (the year Nixon took office) to 2004. Note that under President Carter, infamous as a "bad president," the percentage of the population employed rose dramatically. Under Reagan's first term, the rate dropped precipitously, only rising above Carter's levels in Reagan's second term. Under Bush 41 the rate plateaued, then dropped again, and stayed at the lower level unti

    • by Anonymous Coward
      sending us (and the world) into a recession larger in real terms than even the Great Depression

      I think it would be hard to argue that our current recession is larger (or worse) than the great depression. Perhaps if you look only at the raw number of layoffs it could look as bad, but obviously that is not an accurate representation.

      I was working at Intel from 2000 - 2003, and can remember exactly when the economy started to go south. It was in the fall of 2000 (only 7 months after Bush took office)... We
      • I was working at Intel from 2000 - 2003, and can remember exactly when the economy started to go south. It was in the fall of 2000 (only 7 months after Bush took office)... We had just posted record earnings for the last quarter of over 8.7 Billion... and yet the same day our stock plummeted... and so did everyone elses. All of the sudden everyone realized that all this "infinite growth" crap that was flying around wasnt true. The bubble began to burst...the Do-coms began to fail... causing problems with al
        • I hate to be the one that breaks it to the world (agreeing with you in the process /grin), but the US economy was in a steep dive when Bush took it over in 2001. If I had to describe it, envision being the driver of a bus and being pissed off because you got caught getting a BJ by one of the passengers. Put a brick on the gas pedal, aim it towards a cliff and tap Bush on the shoulder and say hey you wanna drive for a while? Bush gets in the driver's seat and the next minute it flys off the cliff.

          See als
      • Why not call the bigger layoffs worse under Bush Jr than in the 1930s? They're worse. So is practically every other measure. It's worse.

        Everyone has an excuse they stopped taking risks and creating wealth starting around 2000. And the same (minority, but huge) gang of pooped Americans invited Bush Jr to manage the economy they were abandoning. And their boy is such a mismanager that even the resilience and vast wealth (and its production system) created under Clinton weren't enough to keep the spiral from
    • Hold on there. Going after Reagan and W for their bad leadership, is in my mind, justified. Both have shown themselves to be irresponsible and have done far more damage to America than any single politician in the last 100 years (even more than Nixon).

      But to go after Bush Sr. shows that you are simply hitting a bunch of republicans. Poppa Bush was handed an irresponsible deficit that was on its way up. By the end of his 4 years, He had started the turn in the deficit, which was the hard part. In particular
      • But to go after Bush Sr. shows that you are simply hitting a bunch of republicans. Poppa Bush was handed an irresponsible deficit that was on its way up. By the end of his 4 years,

        Hold it right there. You might be interested to know that George Bush Snr was actually a member of the Reagan administration. In fact he was even the Vice President!

        Blaming the previous admin for problems when it was the other party is one thing. Blaming your own party is a different matter.

        NASA probably did not get into th

        • Hold it right there. You might be interested to know that George Bush Snr was actually a member of the Reagan administration. In fact he was even the Vice President!

          Yes, but we do not know to what extent that Bush participated. In fact, Tthe general belief is that Reagan ran it all and that Poppa had very little say or control. Poppa Bush spoke against the vodoo economics (supply side) that Reagan preached, and showed that as soon as he got in, he worked at reversing the Reagan's economic approach. He sta
          • What general ordered that belief that Reagan was in charge of anything? Bush Sr. was in charge of deregulating the banks - we got the S&L heist (1.5T/6T GNP). Bush Sr was "in the loop" (despite his lies to the contrary) on Iran/Contra, as the covert intelligence orgs, that he created and fostered while running the CIA, took over foreign policy (also Bush Sr.'s primary expertise). He marveled at the "voodoo economics", then got behind them - just like he marveled at the mannekin Reagan during their vicio
    • Note... I don't have an agenda other then to point out inaccuracies in or the issues behind sufficiently vague statements, I will leave my politics out of it.

      ----

      You do realize that a lot of the surplus came from the taxes generated by the false economy that was the .com bubble, both during the bubble and as it collapsed (massive capital gain tax income at the peak and initial slide of the markets). Additionally large personal and business income tax proceed directly results from the false employment that
      • Deficit as % of GDP does not reflect the problem with the Republican financial disasters that stretch through our lifetimes. The first clue is the "D" in "GDP". American productivity has increasingly globalized, such that under Reagan government economists changed the measures from gross "national" product to "domestic". But (ironically) includes money gained from overseas production and even consumption, which transfers costs borne by governments out of the expenses accounting. Those foreign expenses are t
        • The real numbers are "per capita debt"

          For those interested the following is per capita debt adjusted into 2003 dollars (picked decade boundaries for the hell of it and to make math easier).

          1940 - $502.65
          1950 - $1,288.72 (15.64% annual rate of change)
          1960 - $1,000.20 (-2.24%)
          1970 - $880.54 (-1.20%)
          1980 - $892.14 (0.13%)
          1990 - $1,812.23 (10.31%)
          2000 - $2,188.92 (2.08%)
          2003 - $2,372.25 (2.79%)

          Based on population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau [census.gov] (with 2000 and 2003 estimated from 1999 numbers using 0
          • Thanks - nice research & report. For kicks, I correlate these decades' debts with their dominant presidential party (10 vs 4 year cycles make it approximate):

            1940 - D $502.65
            1950 - D $1,288.72 (15.64% annual rate of change)
            1960 - R $1,000.20 (-2.24%)
            1970 - D $880.54 (-1.20%)
            1980 - R $892.14 (0.13%)
            1990 - R $1,812.23 (10.31%)
            2000 - D $2,188.92 (2.08%)
            2003 - R $2,372.25 (2.79%)

            I note that the 1950 numbers include fighting WWII (largely nondiscretionary increases), while the 1960 numbers include the divi
            • You can say lots of things with numbers depending how you focus on them.

              The 1950-1960 numbers didn't really have any war dividends (in the traditional sense of the phase) but saw a strong growth in the economy during that time which increased tax income (among other tax code changes). In fact spending on military was rather higher during this time period.

              The following outlines the percentage of total federal outlays for nations defense... notice the effects of the start of the cold war.

              1950 - 32.2%
              1952 -

        • I'm making 40% more under Bush than Clinton. GO Bush 04.
          • Your sick pride over your share of the bloodletting revolts me. Your blood money will choke you. Is that worth your freedom, the fate of the rest of the world? If you vampires had any wits, you'd make more money in a free America.
  • The usual. . . (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grolaw (670747)
    Bush and his policies just continue to cut a swath through the core of US agencies. No, he didn't do it out of a vacuum. . .

    NASA has been under funded since the NIXON administration. Every year since the last of the Moon missions NASA has been yoked to the Albatross of politicians who demand more and more from smaller and smaller budgets. Remember Senator Garn hitching a ride?

    What? A short list:

    Spacelab - allowed to drop from a decaying orbit in 1979 - but the budget cuts made it apparent in 1977 tha
  • by back@slash (176564) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @04:10AM (#9160224)
    $565 billion here. $565 billion there. Pretty soon you're talking about real money.
  • by kevin lyda (4803) * on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:57AM (#9160473) Homepage
    565 billion in bad accounting? pathetic.

    yet again gov't fails to lead the industry. look at the accounting issues in tyco, enron and worldcom. looks like nasa is just trying to play catchup to private industry!

  • This is rocket science, not accounting!

    Guess it shows which is harder.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @10:14AM (#9161218) Homepage Journal
    NASA needs to be shut down and replaced. Since that will never happen as Government Employee Unions have too much control the best we can hope for is a reassignment of all the upper management and outsiders brought in to run the place.

    NASA has had no real direction for 20+ years. The space shuttle hobbled it beyond compare. It was a stupid 70s pipe dream that should have died on the drawing board. If they are going to build a spaceplane then build one, don't build a rocket lifted glider.

    Hopefully the X-Prize will show people that we are capable of putting stuff into space without a monolithic Government entity.

    The goals of a moonbase and Mars landing are laudable. They are true attempts to move forward. The space station was a sick waste of money and worse, we were forced to keep the shuttle around just because of it. A base on the moon would finally move us forward. We aren't going to get there with the old NASA mentality which is still stuck in the 70s.
  • As NASA sets course for the moon and Mars, the space agency's finances are in disarray, with significant errors in its last financial statements and inadequate documentation for $565 billion posted to its accounts, its former auditor reported.

    All that money that "disappeared" went towards funding research on the frozen alien bodies they found in Roswell. I know this for a fact and I have undeniable proof: First, there was a made-for-television movie about aliens crash-landing in Roswell. Second, I was told

  • Actually (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShadowRage (678728) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @04:15PM (#9163096) Homepage Journal
    this bullshit has been going on for years, my Science teacher worked for a contractor that dealed with NASA, he left because of the spending cuts even within the company he worked for, because of the NASA higher ups cutting money to the contractors, and within their own company, he pointed out the reason why columbia ended the way it did was because what he used to do was cut (checked the launch frame by frame for like 5 hours each day) to check for anything odd, and to monitor any mishaps in orbit.... there was even a time with columbia that it faced a threat like that, but the broken panel was ok enough to survive the landing.

    So this is nothing new. NASA abuses its position in power to get a lot of cash for doing a whole lot of nothing.

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