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NASA Moon Space

NASA Plan to Return to the Moon 531

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-believe-it-when-i'm-sipping-tang dept.
sjoeboo writes "NASA briefed senior White House officials Wednesday on its plan to spend $100 billion during the next 12 years building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to put humans back on the Moon by 2018. The U.S. space agency now expects to roll out its lunar exploration plan to key Congressional committees on Friday and to the broader public through a news conference on Monday."
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NASA Plan to Return to the Moon

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  • Mars on hold... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:51PM (#13568317)
    What happened to Mars by 2015?
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowskyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:51PM (#13568320) Homepage Journal
    With Bush set to drop $200 billion on Katrina, finding money for going to the moon is going to be difficult. However, with the Chinese headed into space again, maybe they can argue it for national security.
  • Modern technology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ucblockhead (63650) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:53PM (#13568343) Homepage Journal
    Nice to see that with modern 21st technology, we can make it to the moon in only thirteen years, as opposed to the long eight year program it took forty years ago.
  • 2018?! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dustinbarbour (721795) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:53PM (#13568348) Homepage
    It only took us 9 damn years to get there in the first place! Now that we already have the technology to make it there, they want 13 years?! Fuck that shit. Thye should be able to get there in at most 5 years. I'll bet $100 NASA's beaten by the Chinese or Burt Rutan. Any takers?
  • by foxtrot (14140) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:53PM (#13568355)
    Congress won't fund these guys well enough to put people in low earth orbit safely, and they want to go back to the Moon?

    -JDF
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:56PM (#13568386) Homepage
    I don't care whether you define that "this decade" as starting in the year 2000 or the year 2005... ...if NASA could do it within a decade in the 1960s, why can't they do it within a decade now?
  • by Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:56PM (#13568391)
    With Bush set to drop $200 billion on Katrina, finding money for going to the moon is going to be difficult

    Also include: Iraq and Afganistan wars, Tax Cuts, High Oil prices, huge budget deficits, huge trade deficits, etc ...

    The US needs a financial planner or at least a debt councilor.

    I love space exploration. I grew up wanting to be an astronaut. But I just don't see the justification for this at this time. A good distraction, I guess.

  • by Bob3141592 (225638) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:57PM (#13568397) Homepage
    While it's good to see NASA seriously looking into returning to the Moon, I think the money would be better spend in focusing on sending robotic missions. Not only would it be more cost effective, but it could have just as great a scientific return, and would spur the development of a technology that would have huge spin off benefits here on earth.

    I'm also all for a more agressive effort to explore Mars robotically. But the idea of sending humans there so soon seems very foolish to me. Why? There's little benefit to having people do the exploring, when an advanced robot could do the job better, safer, and faster.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @01:58PM (#13568416) Homepage Journal
    It's not as hard as you think. NASA's 2006 budget is $16 billion dollars [nasa.gov]. That money is already in the congressional budget. Now NASA can use their next 12 years of funds to fly to the moon (PLEASE!) or they can send the Space Shuttle up and down, up and down, up and down, (sensing a pattern yet?) up and down, up and down, up and down, up and...

    Well, you get the idea.
  • Re:2018?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ruprecht the Monkeyb (680597) * on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:00PM (#13568435)
    There is a big difference between getting there and staying there. The original race to the moon, while a spectacular achievement, was not intended to result in a routinely repeatable capability. Quick, cheap, right -- pick one.
  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:03PM (#13568478) Journal
    The $100 billion price tag is news, however, and good news. Usually when a president (any president) tries to give NASA an objective, NASA gets pissy and invents a price tag in the trillions and announces that everyones favorite programs will all have to be cut and 10,000 kittens slain to achieve that goal. That sort of turf war doesn't help anyone.

    This seems ike a legitimate plan with a reasonable price tag, however, and I'm excited to hear it! Short timelines? Nuclear engines? This is the NASA that once kicked so much ass! I completely agree: it's now about whether the next president will ruin it.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:09PM (#13568566)
    Set a date, any date, as long as it's two or more presidencies away and you basically don't have to come through with your promises, even better, someone else will take the blame.

    Basically there isn't the political will to do something like this so they kick it into the long grass and allow schedules to slide, costs to rise until it becomes too expensive and has to be cut.

    They're talking 100 billion anyway. They'd be better offering a 100 million prize for an orbital vehicle, half a billion prize for a lunar orbiter, a billion or two for a lunar base etc.

     
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:10PM (#13568582)
    The motivation is different this time. The first time, it was largely so we could say we did it first. This time, it's more about developing the hardware and infrastructure to do it safely, cheaply, and repeatably. And yes, I realize $100B is not cheap, but that includes all the R&D that won't need to be repeated for future flights.
  • Re:Mars on hold... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by freidog (706941) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:12PM (#13568596)
    Mars in ten years? Oh, that was just a political tool to move the news cycle from whatever massive screwup the white house was involved in that particular week to grandious dreams of unfunded potential futures.
  • by slashdotnickname (882178) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:12PM (#13568607)
    With Bush set to drop $200 billion on Katrina, finding money for going to the moon is going to be difficult

    No. The Katrina rebuilding phase will bring about a fairly large economic boom. The increase of both construction jobs and money being exchanged for goods/services will translate into more tax revenues. This is in addition to an already strong economy, which showed little signs of weaking after Katrina. Plus, as the need to support the Iraq conflict slows down (and it is on average despite the constant sensational reporting) there will be more revenue available for spending too. All in all, the U.S. government is not about to run out on money any time soon...
  • by FerretFrottage (714136) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:17PM (#13568661)
    "Ten thousand?" Luke gasped. "We could buy our own ship!"
    "But who's gonna fly it, kid? You?"
    "You bet I could! Ben, we don't have to take this."

    No doubt there will be those of the next generation up to the task, but you just don't see the push of science and space at least as I remember when I was going through school (of course the round wheel was the big thing back then). Is becoming an astronaut or rocket scientist as cool as becoming an "American Idol" or a reality TV star?

  • by oni (41625) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:21PM (#13568707) Homepage
    We could be on the moon by the end of the month if someone was willing to pay for it and if we could accept risk.

    When someone died in an accident in the '60s we the American people dusted ourselves off and got back on the horse. After the Apollo I accident, an investigation was performed and a report was presented in only three months. And then NASA went back to work going to the Moon. After Challenger, "OMFG! We should just cancel the space program! OMFG! OMFG!" And then years later we finally started flying again and years after that another, completely unrelated accident and, "OMFG THESE THINGS ARE DEATH TRAPS!"

    One of the reasons we don't do things like go to the Moon anymore is that we're wimps. We don't accept risks and we crucify people who do.

    The other reason is money. The cost of the Apollo program in 2005 dollars was nearly $200 billion, and that doesn't include the other programs like Gemini etc. Now we're going to do more (more as in, it's got to be 99.999% safe this time because we can't accept any risk at all) and we're going to do it for less. It should be a little cheaper because of modern computers etc. But not *that* much cheaper! Rockets are rockets. They haven't changed much in 50 years. They should still cost about the same.

    And again, the culture is really whimpy now. The space program was a point of national pride back then. These days people are embarrassed to show any pride in their country - it's not fair that we have a space program and Zimbabwe doesn't. Plus, if you dare to spend $1 on science there will always be a crowd of idiots screaming, "OMFG some kid is poor* we can't spend this money on science until after every other problem on earth is solved!!!"

    *poor in this case means that his family only has one TV and doesn't even have Tivo and somehow they managed to buy enough food to become morbidly obese but we still call them poor because otherwise we'd have to ask if maybe their lifestyle is influenced more by behaviors than by money or opportunity.
  • by Armchair Dissident (557503) * on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:22PM (#13568713) Homepage
    For Russia, a man on the moon is no longer either a political imperative or an economic viability, whereas China now has both.

    China is now a serious economic power, a declared nuclear power, a "space-faring" nation (since it put a man in orbit) and a major political force. Unless I'm greatly mistaken it has already has a stated aim of putting a man on the moon.

    For China, this is - much like the American landing was - a political move: a show of power and technology as much intended as a show of power to the populous as a "tacit threat" to its political opposition.

    Remember: China is a brutal communist regime; a man on the moon would boost its international stance, and help silence critics at home. And they're not playing directly against America in a Cold War "winner takes all" game which makes it much easier, as they don't have to "get there first" they just have to get there.
  • Re:What a waste (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:24PM (#13568738) Homepage Journal
    Don't preach to me about spin-offs.

    Okay. How about I preach about lowering the costs of space transport? How about I preach about the billions of tons of cheap ore that could result? How about I preach about the free energy obtained from solar mirrors focused on space engines? How about I preach about a future where dangerous and toxic industries can be moved off the Earth? How about I preach about a future where man can thrive across the solar system, guaranteeing safety from little things like asteriods? How about I preach about a future where the power of the Sun is harnessed to power trips to other star systems? How about I preach about a future where truely inexpensive science probes can be launched to finally reveal the remaining secrets of the universe? How about I preach of a future with unimaginably technology that results from the science done?

    How about we get off this rock and finally do something other than IM each other about Britney Spears or Paris Hilton? How about it?
  • by Surt (22457) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:26PM (#13568765) Homepage Journal
    The unmanned spaceflight mafia isn't really about saving human lives, its about sparing costs and avoiding unnecessary risks. If it was necessary to send humans to do these missions, then we'd be all for it. But bottom line, it's neither necessary nor effective. Robotic probes do the job cheaper and better. Why not spend 20 or 30 years doing more development on materials and technology using robotic craft, then send men to moon/mars for an overall cheaper project cost than trying to do it with men from the get go?
  • by bloodstar (866306) <blood_star@yahoo.STRAWcom minus berry> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:27PM (#13568774) Journal
    What people are forgetting about the previous moon missions:
    • The US pushed the envelope of technology
    • The missions were very dangerous (CRef: Astronaut Armstrong's comments on the risks involved)
    • The Technology and methodology was not sustainable

    I'm thinking this time, that perhaps we will see some additional leaps of technology. We certainly got enough technology breakthroughs from the space program. Perhaps, even with pesky physics still requiring the same effort to launch payloads into space, we can find a way to create a system that can better sustain itself. The Shuttle failed to create the space presence we should have. This time, let's do it right. Which is what NASA is trying to do.

    Sure some of the commercial ventures are making progress, but unless they get some massive capital, I can't see any of them making a serious commitment to a permanant presence in space (and the ISS does not count as a permanant presence, anymore than Skylab or any other tin cans in space would).

    What we really need to do is verify if there is water on the moon. If there is, then suddenly the value of the moon skyrockets. After all, with water, you get hydrogen, and oxygen, which means that the sustainability skyrockets. But we can't find out what's really there until we can make a more complete exploration. Sure, there's risks, with abrasive rocks and with radiation. And I'm sure it'd be even better to grab an asteriod and park it in orbit around the Earth, to use as a stepping stone, but the Moon isn't a bad place to start, with a shallower gravity well, and... I don't think we'll be killing any lifeforms if we end up having toxic by products from any productions.

    So let's get up there and start looking around!

    Of course, my big fear is that somehow, a future president or congress will think that thre are better things to spend the money on, or that having radiation emitting objects in space is bad (bad for what, I have no clue, evidently they haven't seen the sun in a while or something). But maybe this time, we'll stick to it. Here's hoping

  • by freidog (706941) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:27PM (#13568779)
    how many new materials, technologies ect have been largely ancillary to the ultimate goal (or even developed without a goal in mind), NASA, DARPA, and similar organizations don't exist to be financialy viable in and of themselves, they exist to reach beyond what we are capable of now, and make it possible. A bit over $8 billion dollars a year for the next 12 years is pocket change for what benifits we can reap. Not in the next 10 years, but in the next 50, or 100 years.
  • Not a waste. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:34PM (#13568858) Homepage Journal
    The waste has been being trapped in Earth's orbit ever since Apollo ended. We have been pissing away billions just to orbit the Earth, something we did over 40 years ago.

    We are not going to get anywhere in space until we get out of orbit. Putting a permanent presence on the moon opens more opportunities than any orbital venture ever would. Other than distance the tech involved to live on the moon would be easier that staying in orbit.
  • by Jackboot (791190) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:40PM (#13568913)
    You're deluding yourself if you think the amount of money spent to rebuild New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf coast over the next 12 years will not exceed $100 billion.
  • by Arandir (19206) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:41PM (#13568929) Homepage Journal
    The US needs a financial planner or at least a debt councilor.

    We've needed a debt councilor every year for the past fifty years! Some congresses/administrations have been better than others, but none have ever approached budgetary sanity.
  • by BrowserCapsGuy (872795) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:42PM (#13568930)
    >>All in all, the U.S. government is not about to run out on money any time soon...

    Well, at least not as long as China and Japan have enough money to invest to keep us afloat.

    I suppose someone will come along now and claim all that foreign investment is good for our economy. I'd counter by stating it would be great if we didn't actually need the money to fund our everyday activities.
  • by willtsmith (466546) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:44PM (#13568961) Journal
    ...

    As opposed to the moon which would be flying up, up, up to the moon, than down, down, down, back to Earth.

    Don't give me that habitat and colinization crap. These missions have NOTHING to do with science they are just joy rides and pork for aerospace contractors.

    BTW, I agree that the shuttle was a dumb concept. They let spacelab de-orbit in favor of a space station that could be launched and recovered.

    Space exploration should be left to dedicated, life-long career profesionals .... ROBOTS!!!!

     
  • by sfjoe (470510) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:45PM (#13568969)
    The US needs a financial planner or at least a debt councilor.

    Actually, I think we just need to quit electing rich boys who've never had to balance a checkbook.
  • Re:Sweet (Score:2, Insightful)

    by i41Overlord (829913) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:45PM (#13568976)
    Does this mean we don't have to rebuild New Orleans? Maybe the looters can walk away with a Shuttle ticket or something.


    We need to develop a rocket large enough to launch all of the welfare-sucking animals in New Orleans into space. Those people contribute nothing, riot at the drop of a hat, and leech off our system. Even before the hurricane they contributed to one of the highest crime rates in the US.

    Like the saying goes, "shape up or ship out." They haven't shaped up, now we need to ship them out.
  • by Eccles (932) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:46PM (#13568985) Journal
    No. The Katrina rebuilding phase will bring about a fairly large economic boom.

    So maybe we should just destroy a few more cities, so the economy can really fly! The economy is being affected, negatively, but our country is a big enough economic engine that even catastrophic damage to one city of ~500,000 isn't enough to dramatically affect it.

    Seems to me it's already making a $1,000 or more deficit in my finances, at least based on current spending plans and my family's share of taxes paid.

    As for Iraq, I don't see Vietnam, I see Haiti -- just on a larger scale.

    All in all, the U.S. government is not about to run out on money any time soon...

    Actually, it's trillions in debt, with only future taxes to pay them off.
  • by Surt (22457) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:46PM (#13568988) Homepage Journal
    Yes. Far better actually. Men with brains are far too general purpose instruments to collect the kinds of data that are most useful for modern science. For the cost of one man & his eyes, you could send at least 10, maybe 100 different cameras that can look at mars in whole ranges of different ways, spectrums, etc., and divide the risk over all of those missions. With the one man mission, if you blow it, you've lost the whole deal. Special purpose instrument packages just way outperform human beings in terms of data collection capabilities now.

    Imagine if I asked you to perform science on a new microbe in Antarctica, would you rather:

    a) send some guy to look at it with a microscope

    or for the same cost

    b) send a robot with a scanning tunneling electron microscope, a chemistry package, a DNA sequencer, and 10 other instruments related to the science of microbes, and then study the collected data remotely.

    Assuming a and b can be done for the same price (and actually, b will tend to be cheaper), I would hope you would choose b. You don't choose a until you know so much that b is no longer the more effective option. And we aren't any where near that with either the moon or mars.
  • by Karma_fucker_sucker (898393) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:49PM (#13569013)
    Money addicts! They can never get enough money to spend. When my local Congresscritter brags about the Federal Money he's brought to our district, I just think to myself "It doesn't impress me becuase that's our tax money! What a dipshit!"

    So in short - I agree with 100%!!!

  • by willtsmith (466546) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:51PM (#13569034) Journal

    You're leaning on a tired old worn out notion that even the U Chicago boys would laugh at.

    Yes we CAN run out of money. Money is something real and tangible, and we are spending more of it than we've got. The irony is that the CHINESE are buying up our debt. The greater irony is that we're financing our OWN DEBT with our purchases at Wal-Mart. We'll just owe it to China at the end of the day.

    We are in the STUPID economy. People don't understand the cost of destruction. They only bring up idiotic economic theories whose real purpose is justify wealth transfer from the poor to the rich.

  • by willtsmith (466546) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:54PM (#13569058) Journal

    They are brutal FASCIST regime now. They've given up the pretext on caring for the welfare of their people.

  • by toad3k (882007) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @02:57PM (#13569096)
    I was watching a documentary on the st. louis arch. When it was initially constructed, there were no concerns about safety. They showed videos of workers walking across the top without nets, harnesses or anything. No one died building it, but the risk was definitely there.

    They closed by saying that it would probably not be possible to rebuild the arch in today's climate due to safety regs and liability issues.

    That made me sad.
  • Mod Parent +100 :) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:01PM (#13569126)
    "OMFG some kid is poor* we can't spend this money on science until after every other problem on earth is solved!!!"

    That's the one that causes me to have the blood pressure of a morbidly obese chain smoker. Some day people are going to wake up and realize that, well, we are NOT going to solve all the problems here on Earth. Ever. We'll be lucky to solve half. We can't solve problems when society refuses to recognize the true causes, which in many cases is "people are stoooopid." We need to focus on the big ones like energy, somehow eradicating the memes that make people vote for monsters or fly planes into buildings and getting the educational system out of the hands of the ideologues, be they on the Left (feed good education) or the Right (anti-science).

    Anyway, it looks like the private space sector might actually be showing some life, so f*ck NASA. I'm updating my resume to send out to Rutan's company and maybe a couple others. I'm going to be there, baby!

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:02PM (#13569136) Homepage Journal
    My first thought was that they're trying to derail Burt Rutan by hopelessly outclassing him, even if only in advertising. We Slashdotters should be familiar enough with this strategy: "Don't buy OS X - Vista has these features that will be far better (assuming we don't drop them)!" I wouldn't be completely surprised to find that NASA mainly just wants to steal Burt's thunder in order to keep Congress from asking pesky questions like whether civilians should be able to compete in the deep space arena.

    What saddens me most is that I don't really have much faith in them anymore. When I was growing up in the 70's, the folks at NASA were my heroes. They were the smartest, most determined, and best people anywhere in the world. I kind of wish I had that back, but at least private industry has given us a few new heroes to live vicariously through.

  • by October_30th (531777) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:07PM (#13569183) Homepage Journal
    send a robot with a scanning tunneling electron microscope, a chemistry package, a DNA sequencer, and 10 other instruments related to the science of microbes, and then study the collected data remotely.

    And how many such probes have we have sent out? How much have we missed out by not having people out (desk jockeys with joysticks don't count) there deciding what to probe with the existing hardware we have actually managed to land?

    Quite frankly, as a professional scientist, the argument that computers and probes make better scientists than us human beings offends me. It's like saying that once you've mastered how to use a chemistry package or a DNA sequencer, you're a scientist. That's just technique. Science is intuitive art.

    PS. It's Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM).

  • by Marnhinn (310256) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:10PM (#13569207) Homepage Journal

    Back in the days of the Apollo program, going to the moon was something that mankind had never done before. It was something we didn't know if we could do. Hence we were willing to accept risks. We were learning so much new stuff - it was worth it, and more importantly, the public could see that (we were gaining a lot of knowledge).

    Mankind has always been willing to accept risks to explore or conquer, the unknown. A bunch of people died trying to climb Mt. Everest for example. But once it was conquered, and done safetly, then when someone died - it became a tragedy. The culture isn't any wimpier then it was back then - simply the politicians have a hard time of justifying the sacrifices to average joe - who simply knows, it was done once safetly. Why shouldn't it be 100% safe now? The general public does not hear about experiment x that went well in space anymore.

    On the other hand, if it was something new and unheard of that NASA was doing - like going to another star (I assume the benefits of that would be obvious), I'm pretty sure the general public would accept the risk without much complaint.

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:15PM (#13569242) Homepage Journal
    $100 billion budget?

    Here's a seat-of-the-pants outline of prizes that achieve the goal:

    $5 billion:

    $1 billion prize each for the first five launches, to earth orbit, of a mass equivalent to the LEO payload of the Saturn V.

    $5 billion

    $1 billion prize for each set of 5 successful consecutive launches for the same system, to earth orbit, of a mass equivalent to the LEO payload of the Saturn V. (That's $200M/reliable launch payout.)
    $5 billion
    $1 billion prize for each insertion into lunar swing-around trajectory of a mass at least equal to the fully loaded Apollo LEM+command module. A portion of the mass at least equivalent to the Apollo command module reentering the Earth's atmosphere and being recovered without burning up.
    $5 billion
    $1 billion prize for each of 5 soft landings on the moon of a mass equivlent to the fully loaded Apollo LEM.
    $5 billion
    $1 billion prize for each of 5 soft landings on the moon of a LEM mass equivalent and return, by a mass equivalent of the Apollo ascent module, to dock with a command module mass-equivalent.
    $5 billion
    $ billion prize for each of 5 returns to earth of the command module mass-equivalent after docking with the Apollo ascent module mass-equivalent returning from the lunar surface.
    We're not even 1/3 of the way through the budget and we've got a system that can transport the mass equivalent of the Apollo missions.

    ...on to the manned prizes...

    Where we go from here is a choice I leave to you...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:21PM (#13569302)
    If what Mao's communist China [amazon.com] did was care "for the welfare of their people", I would hate to have seen what Mao's communist China would have done if they actually detested the poor. The conservative estimate is that 70 million perished in peacetime as a result of Mao's communist China and it's care "for the welfare of their people".

    Granted, the people of China are a long way from being free in the normative sense, and so is the United States, but the brutality of today's Chinese government is a shadow of what it was under Mao.
  • by SlySpy007 (562294) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:29PM (#13569377)
    Oops -- watch you tongue there. As a result of this whole moon/mars thingy, Project Prometheus has been cut for good -- the project offices are closed and staff are being either re-assigned or layed off. (BTW, if you haven't figured out by now the presidents 'Space Initiative' is a complete crock. Bush popped this in 2004 - electioneering if I've ever seen it; the only reason it's going anywhere is because he brought in a lackey willing to tow the party line.) Bottom line is: this program sucks.
    1. It's stifling technological innovation, as if there's not already enough of that at NASA (how old is the shuttle?) -- read the proposals. All of the planned missions will be done using reconfigurations of existing shuttle technology.
    2. It's taking away money from other worthy programs -- JIMO, Prometheus, a million other proposed robotic missions, all because some politico wants to seem smart. I find it especially offensive that Bush thinks he can make the public think he cares about science and technology development -- am I supposed to forget about 'global warming doesn't exist' and 'the jury is still out on evolution'? Give me a break.
    FWIW, I certainly hope that one of the first things the next president does is come in and cut this program out and let scientists decide what's valuable for science return, not some bible-thumping moron.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:34PM (#13569424)
    Yikes, yet another Rutan comparison. I am going to try to keep this short: What Rutan did compared to what NASA does is not comparable. Rutan did the equivalent of throwing a rock across a football field into the stands and managing not to break anything. What NASA does is throw a rock across town while at its apex going through the center of a hula hoop, all the while precisely deploying cargo and keeping a crew alive for extended periods. The precision, the planning, the capabilities are in a different league than Rutan's. Its like me building a go-cart that can go 30mph out of spare parts for $100 and then blasting GM for being inefficient.

    What Rutan did is admirable and he deserves all the credit he has recieved, but the comparison's to NASA are just silly.
  • by Surt (22457) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:41PM (#13569491) Homepage Journal
    As to STEM vs STM:

    http://scholar.google.com/url?sa=U&q=http://link.a ps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevB.32.6131 [google.com]
    http://scholar.google.com/url?sa=U&q=http://link.a ps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevB.67.075405 [google.com]
    http://scholar.google.com/url?sa=U&q=http://jot.os a.org/ViewMedia.cfm%3Fid%3D67030%26seq%3D0 [google.com]

    That's a start, there are plenty.

    As to desk jockeys: why not have them be the scientists who you would otherwise be sending to operate the instruments directly. You admit you need the instruments, why is close physical proximity necessary. Are astronomers using remote access telescopes not doing real science? Are particle physicists not on site with their particle colliders not real scientists?

    Finally, I never claimed that computers and probes make better scientists, I suggested that they make better instruments, which I stand by.
  • by teromajusa (445906) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:44PM (#13569515)
    Quite frankly, as a professional scientist, the argument that computers and probes make better scientists than us human beings offends me

    I think he's saying that robots make better explorerers than do scientists. Nobody is suggesting the robot should analyize the data itself or decide what to analyize. Nor construct hypotheses or design tests to validate them for that matter. And quite frankly I'm suprised that you, a professional scientist, should have jumped to such a conclusion.
  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @03:48PM (#13569555) Journal
    The time has come to put an end to this sort of waste.

    So, New orleans would have been better off with no warning of the approaching hurricane at all? Cause, you know, those weather sattelites are just the sort of waste we need to put an end to?

    The space program has had few side-benefits in recent years because we haven't been pushing our limits, merely doing things we already knew how to do. If we embrace a new space program with a goal we don't know how to achieve, we will once again reap ten times what we spend. That's what happens when you force yourself to invent new technologies.
  • by ShoobieRat (829304) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @04:15PM (#13569814)
    There's nothing wrong with NASA scientists. The wrong is in the politics and management above them. The scientists are astounding and talented people. Please don't shoot them down for faults caused by those above them.
  • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @04:42PM (#13570080) Homepage Journal
    The F-1's and the SSME's don't compare. The proper comparison is:

    SRB: 3,300,000 lbf
    F-1: 1,500,000 lbf

    SSME: 400,000 lbf
    J-2: 200,000 lbf

    All combined, the Space Shuttle is a more powerful vehicle. It produces more thrust, higher efficiencies, and can lift significantly more weight to orbit.
  • by Dirtside (91468) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @04:45PM (#13570112) Journal
    The Katrina rebuilding phase will bring about a fairly large economic boom. The increase of both construction jobs and money being exchanged for goods/services will translate into more tax revenues.
    Uh... you do realize that in order for those construction jobs to exist, hundreds of thousands of other jobs had to be lost and billions of dollars in property utterly destroyed? People in that region would have been engaging in the same commerce as usual if Katrina hadn't happened. It's not like they were sitting on piles of cash, and now that New Orleans is underwater, they've finally got something to spend it on.
  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @05:24PM (#13570482)
    I completely agree: it's now about whether the next president will ruin it.

    Odds are, the current one already has. We're fighting a war, and currently spending about a billion dollars a week doing that. A reasonable guess is that the insurgency will take five or ten years to defeat. Meanwhile, taxes have been cut for those Americans who can most afford them. Things might not have been so bad if we'd had any sort of planning for the postwar situation, or if we'd gone in with a real multinational force, or if we'd simply stayed home, but what's done is done.

    The result is that the U.S. owes a lot of money. Sooner or later, the Federal government will either need to raise taxes, cut spending, or both. Even if future administrations support the mission, in that kind of climate, 100 billion (perhaps more, knowing how these things tend to turn out for NASA) is gonna be a tough sell.

  • by NatteringNabob (829042) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @05:28PM (#13570529)
    [My hope is that the next President who shows up doesn't dive in and try to change everything.]

    My hope is the next President jumps in and compares the cost/benefit ratio of putting a couple of people on the moon for a few days with the cost/benefit ration of every other science project, including unmanned exploration, and the cost/benefit ratio of every other activity that the government could be involved in, and then selects the projects with the greatest cost/benefit. Putting men on the moon or Mars as a personal vanity project or to show that one can do 'the vision thing' probably isn't anywhere close to the top of the list. For example, for 100B, you could give 833,000 kids a free ride through the most expensive Universities in the country. For $100B, you could replace 5 million government vehicles with hybrids and save 500 million gallons of gas. Or reduce the Social Security deficit. Or return it to the taxpayers. Or fund 20+ Cassini-Huygens or Mars rover type missions. Bush has done a reasonable job of getting us back on track to the moon, but of all the possible challenges to the nation, is that the one that most deserves 100B of our money? I don't think so.
  • by oni (41625) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @05:29PM (#13570541) Homepage
    This country is ranked something like 43rd in rate of infant mortality. That's bad.

    Until you learn why. In the US, we go to extrodinary (some would argue, stupid) measures to save premature babies. If a baby is born three months early in some other countries, sure they put it on an incubator, but when it dies an hour later they call it, "stillborn" and it doesn't count against their infant mortality statistics. For whatever reason, in the US we keep that baby alive on machines for weeks and we we finally admit defeat, we call it the death of a three week old baby.

    As to poverty, another poster already replied to you and pointed out that Cuba has a lower poverty rate than the US. That just shows how (like the infant mortality rates) poverty statistics are BS. While in the military I had the opportunity to travel all over the world. I have seen poor people. I know what poor is. I have yet to see a single person who is below even one standard deviation *above* the mean standard of living for all humans. In other words, even the poorest of the poor in the US look pretty damn good next to what you see in other countries. I give to the poor. I feel sorry for people in the US who can't afford nice clothes etc. But I'm not fooling myself - they are still a lot better off than most human beings. I wish they had more and I help where I can, but I know they aren't really poor by the standard of the rest of the world.
  • by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxproNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday September 15, 2005 @05:42PM (#13570640)
    "We still have the tech. It's come and gone as many different engines, including DUMBO, Timberwind, the Space Shuttle upper stage engines, and (most recently) TRITON."

    Yep, those would be the ones. I just find the idea that we have the technology but won't implement it due to budget issues is as short sighted and detrimental just as the Romans having had the capacity to create the steam engine (and thus start the industrial revolution long before it finally happened) but failed to do so because of cultural limitations (ie. no need for labor saving techniques due to abundant slavery).

  • by fandog (900111) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @06:49PM (#13571190)
    It's stifling technological innovation, as if there's not already enough of that at NASA (how old is the shuttle?) -- read the proposals. All of the planned missions will be done using reconfigurations of existing shuttle technology.

    This is because no senator will ever approve the $100B if they don't get to keep their current pork barrel(s). This is purely political since NASA operates on public funding; One of the articles here on /. like 2 months ago, (back when they were talking about the space shuttle's replacement), linked to a space.com article that explicitly said reusing parts was a consideration in replacement shuttle designs for exactly this reason...
  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday September 15, 2005 @07:28PM (#13571537)
    Since China plans a moon base in ten years, then NASA can visit them for a nice cup of tea. China will have a week-long orbital flight in three weeks and the Russians are visiting the space station. Americans can look up at the pretty lights in the sky, wave and cry.

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