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NASA Space Science

US Manned Space Flight Taking a Budget Hit 182

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-moon-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader points out that Congress has quietly begun dismantling NASA's manned space flight program. "Other recommendations contained in the bill include a $77million reduction in NASA's proposed space operations budget, which includes the space shuttle and international space station; a $6 million reduction in science; and a $332 million shift in funds from the Cross Agency Support account to a new budget line-item included in the subcommittee's mark. Dubbed Construction and Environmental Compliance, the new account would be funded at $441 million. Congressional aides said the new line item and accompanying funds are aimed at consolidating NASA's various construction efforts into a single pot of money."
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US Manned Space Flight Taking a Budget Hit

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  • by Hmmm2000 (1146723) * on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:05PM (#28256573)
    In a bad economy, pure science and space exploration seem to be first on the budget chopping block. However the information learned and technology developed while performing these activities quite often lead to innovations that fuel the economy for years to come.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by al0ha (1262684)
      Actually this not completely true. While it seems some space exploration may be on the chopping block, scientific research is a part of the Obama stimulus package and the top notch research/educational institute for which I work is a beneficiary for this year and in 2010.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:21PM (#28256833)
      Utter bullshit. We need to spend money to live on earth before we try to explore how to live off of it. There will be far more technological innovations if the money is pumped directly into research and/or the industry as opposed to the trickled effects of a space exploration mission. This is a classic case of living beyond one's means.
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:37PM (#28257077) Journal

        NASA has produced a helluva lot of useful technology. The drive to miniaturize onboard guidance systems and other computers in the Apollo program pretty much lead to the blossoming of integrated circuits and microprocessors in the 1970s. The value that that has produced over the last forty years for just about every industry in the industrialized world would be hard to calculate. So even though Apollo was an insanely expensive program, the spinoffs were enormous.

        I'm not saying NASA doesn't need to live within its means, and I'm not saying that there aren't areas where efficiencies can be gained, but guys like you who just mindlessly go "money shouldn't be wasted on space research" are tragically ignorant of just how important the Unites States' space exploration programs have been to the technological innovations of the last few decades.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rhyder128k (1051042)
          Can you prove that microprocessor design wouldn't have progressed more quickly if the money had been pushed into direct research?
          • ...but I have a better plan. [memory-alpha.org].

            • step 1. find crashed starship
            • step 2. strip it of technology.
            • step 3. profit!
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Scragglykat (1185337)
            Can you prove that it would have? Perhaps you can prove that Neo would not have knocked the vase over, had the Oracle not told him to not worry about it? It's not something you can absolutely prove, but it does seem logical, no? Your line of thought reminds me of the terminator series... mainly starting with T2, where they try to stop the apocalyptic future by stopping the production of SkyNet, but each time, even though they stopped one means of SkyNet being created, there is always another that pops up. A
          • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:56PM (#28257345) Journal

            What an odd question. How would I prove that, any more than you could prove directing the money to basic research would have been better? It's a nonsensical question, like someone asking "If Elizabeth I had married a Catholic monarch, would England have still become the major naval power of its time?"

            NASA had a requirement, a solution was developed, and that solution also had uses in other industries. In this case, the solution has uses in just about every industry out there. The problem was an engineering problem, for the most part the technologies already existed in one form or another, but the specific applications had not. I can't think of too many other programs at the time that would have driven the miniaturization of ICs as much as Apollo.

            • I can't think of too many other programs at the time that would have driven the miniaturization of ICs as much as Apollo.

              Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, Polaris...

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by roc97007 (608802)

            The problem there is that we didn't know we were progressing towards microprocessors at the time, as nobody could even envision them. "Microprocessor" is something you buy in a box now, but it's the culmination of huge advances in many different areas. You don't just "research microprocessors". Especially if you don't know what you're researching.

            Advances in techology generally come from trying to solve a problem. The bigger the problem, the bigger the advance. In this case, there was an overriding

            • But space exploration has never really been separate from weapon development. Whether it was von Braun building V2s while he dreamed about going into space, or funding satellite research when the intent was just as often spying and secure communications as it was looking at the stars or feeding the Tonight Show to East Coast affiliates. The shuttles have done a lot of what are essentially military missions, and guidance systems capable of landing a probe on Titan are quite adaptable to landing a missile o

        • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:40PM (#28258051) Homepage

          NASA has produced a helluva lot of useful technology. The drive to miniaturize onboard guidance systems and other computers in the Apollo program pretty much lead to the blossoming of integrated circuits and microprocessors in the 1970s.

          That's what the urban legend says. But it's utter bullshit. The Apollo computers and guidance system were based on those of the Polaris A-1/A-2. The USAF and the USN miniaturized the computers and guidance systems, all NASA did was issue spiffy press releases.
           
          You find the same thing almost universally when you run down the list of technologies 'developed' by NASA. They were first developed by someone else, and then like a technological Sylar NASA sucks them up.
           
           

          guys like you who just mindlessly go "money shouldn't be wasted on space research" are tragically ignorant of just how important the Unites States' space exploration programs have been to the technological innovations of the last few decades.

          The tragically ignorant are people like yourself who endlessly regurgitate NASA press releases. As far as results for dollars expended, the NASA PR department is probably the most efficient in the US government.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Jherico (39763) *
            Even if what you suggest is true, that progress is derived from military applications more readily than from exploration, I'd rather see the money spent on putting a man on mars than trying to kill people.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Animats (122034)

            Right. NASA didn't do much in the semiconductor area. The USAF put tons of money into basic research into transistors and ICs, but not NASA. (I still remember the whining from the Air Force types in the 1980s, when the commercial market finally pulled ahead of the military one.)

            NASA sometimes takes credit for Teflon, but that was a spinoff of the Manhattan Project, which needed a sealant resistant to uranium hexafluoride.

            NASTRAN, the finite-element analysis program, is considered perhaps the most use

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet (841228)

          But honestly, how much of that was strictly by/for NASA and how much was by/for DARPA and the defense industry. I would argue that despite the money wasters like the Raptor that the defense industry has fueled more new products that ended up in civilian hands than NASA. Just look at the Internet you are surfing on (ArpaNET) [wikipedia.org] and IIRC flash storage was originally thought up because of the trouble with data storage on spy satellites.

          But I bet if one was to compare the amount of new tech gained from the defen

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by crazyjimmy (927974)

            But I bet if one was to compare the amount of new tech gained from the defense industry VS the amount gained from NASA the defense industry would win hands down.

            DARPA has more money than NASA. Of course they're going to be able to fund more development. Let's try funding NASA. Really funding them. Giving them a piece of the pie that's even close to what we give to defense. Let's see what they can do then.

          • by stiggle (649614)

            NASA is currently designing & developing yet another heavy lift rocket system. Why build Ares when they could use Delta IV. Oh yeah - because NASA is an agency which employs contactors to do all its work (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, etc) , so they need something new to syphon off all the money.

          • by rumith (983060)

            Just look at the Internet you are surfing on (ArpaNET) [wikipedia.org]

            Actually, the point about Arpanet's involvement in the birth of the Internet is debated. See Ian Peter's excellent research here [nethistory.info].

          • Okay, I'm willing to concede that a considerable amount of the development in ICs in the 1960s was due to defense research (although I'm not one of those rose-colored glasses people who thinks that NASA was or is anything other than a thinly veiled extension of the DoD). But my central point stands, the requirements for guidance systems, whether those sat on top of Apollo, or sat on top of a ICBM, drove the major advances that pretty much set the ball rolling in Silicon Valley, and from there the leap to s

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sexconker (1179573)

        You want innovation? You fund and use your military. The vast majority of man's innovations have come about through necessity, and the thing that most necessitates innovation is someone trying to kill you.

    • That is exactly how they would like it portrayed. The real truth is we are lucky to have any budget for NASA currently. Considering the reckless, if not criminal, debt being piled up in just the first year I will be surprised if NASA doesn't get bigger cuts going forward. How long can the funny money last? The real threat to scientific investment by the US government is all the new entitlements and "stimulus of the moment" bills coming down the pike. Eventually reality will bite us hard, we cannot pri

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JWW (79176)

      Yep, gotta cut science, engineering and exploration from the budget so we can use the money to fund science and engineering programs in the schools....

    • by couchslug (175151) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:33PM (#28257957)

      "In a bad economy, pure science and space exploration seem to be first on the budget chopping block."

      Dump the manned program and devote the remaining resources to advancing robotic systems. We can afford to wait centuries to send meat tourists, while learning how to economically exploit space by remote control.

      Human explorers were fine when they were cheap and expendable. The loss of a ship and crew was nothing near as damaging to exploration as the loss of a Shuttle is today. Now humans are expensive and robots are cheap, so leave the tourists at home.

  • by dtolman (688781) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:15PM (#28256735) Homepage

    The shuttle replacement is over-budget, under-spec, and without a realistic mission. We have trouble building and servicing a base going around the Earth, in zero-g... why does NASA think we can do this without busting timelines or budgets on the moon?

    I wish Bush had set a more realistic goal... landing on near earth asteroids. Then NASA would have two things going for it - something never done, and a bs fallback line to feed axe wielding politicians (we need these missions to learn how to blow up incoming astroids - you want to tell your constituents why they need to live in a tent camp for the next 5 years when we evacuate all of New Mexico?).

    Now all NASA has is a half-assed Apollo clone, no clear goal, and a loud insurgent campaign (DIRECT). I just hope this doesn't blow-back and foul up the fairly successful non-manned space missions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by offrdbandit (1331649)

      I wish Bush had set a more realistic goal... landing on near earth asteroids.

      Are you insane? Do you have any idea how hard it is to land on asteroids? Any "near earth" asteroids would be on eccentric orbits. I doubt it would even be possible to land on an asteroid and return to Earth. It certainly would be extremely dangerous (you know, with the risk of being stranded in a 100+ year orbit, ejected from the inner solar system, etc, etc). The Moon and Mars are targets for two reasons: they are close and they are "easy" to land on. The hard part about either is getting there and getti

      • by spacemandave (1231398) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:14PM (#28257657)
        Wow, an astounding amount of ignorance is on display in this post. Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs, or NEOs if you prefer) may indeed be easier to visit than the Moon, and they are quite a bit easier to visit than Mars. Mainly this is due to the lack of appreciable gravity, so that the escape velocity from the surface adds only a negligible delta V to the total delta V budget required (for both landing and taking off again). You're not going to find yourself on a 100+ year orbit on an NEA. If you did find yourself on a 100+ year orbit and on on your way out of the inner solar system, then, by definition, you would have landed on a Halley-type comet (or perhaps even a long-period comet if you were *really* on your way out). Take as a typical NEA 433 Eros. The NEAR spacecraft successfully landed on it, despite the fact that the spacecraft was designed to be an orbiter (which, I think, succinctly illustrates how easy it is to land on an asteroid). Its perihelion distance (closest approach to the Sun) is 1.13 AU (1 AU is the Earth-Sun distance) and has a period of a bit less than 2 years. Once nice thing about asteroids is that they basically represent remnants of the original solar nebula from which planets were formed, and most of them never differentiated (melted and formed iron cores and rocky mantles). That means that they are relatively rich in many raw materials compared to the surfaces of planet-sized bodies. A carbonaceous asteroid contains valuable metals (often as little blobs of pure metal), water (up to 30% by weight in many cases), and organics (kerogen). Some other asteroids are nothing but metal, and would require very minimal processing to make them useful (unlike many ores found on Earth). Going to asteroids makes a lot of sense. The main difficulty with an asteroid vs. a lunar mission is that the mission length to an asteroid would be longer than one to the Moon (although depending on the asteroid, it could be much shorter than a Mars trip).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dtolman (688781)

        I'm sorry - but thats complete and utter bullshit. Save your apoplexy for subjects that you didn't study at the Armageddon School of Asteroid studies. Mars is not close. Asteroids don't randomly shoot through the solar system. They are not surrounded by asteroid fields, or whatever craziness you think makes landing difficult. In fact, the practically 0g environment makes them the EASIEST objects to take off from.

        This idea is so "out there", that its been studied by NASA for the Orion spacecraft. Here's a wi

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Waste55 (1003084)
      How is Orion half-assed when it is capable of more than Apollo? Do you really think avionics on board Orion for example are going to be less advance than a craft that is over 40 years old?

      Orion is even included in DIRECT's architecture as well...
  • by malloc (30902) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:18PM (#28256777)

    I just saw this April 2009 video interview with John Carmack [flightglobal.com] this morning, where he mentions that some of their NASA work is up in the air, pending the budget shakeout. Does this mean no more NASA work for Armadillo Aerospace [armadilloaerospace.com]?

    It does emphasize one benefit of private research and development: not subject (as in "we kill you right now") to such political money shuffling.

    -Malloc

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:23PM (#28256865)
    The expensive thing about manned space exploration is the added costs of bringing the explorers back. Manned exploration would be cost-competitive with robotic exploration if we just sent astronauts on one-way trips! Any volunteers?
    • by eln (21727)
      I don't know about anyone else, but I'd have a hard time passing up the chance to be the first person on Mars, even if it was just a one way trip.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Manned exploration would be cost-competitive with robotic exploration if we just sent astronauts on one-way trips! Any volunteers?

      ME!

      And I'm not even sure I'm joking (ask me again when it's a possibility and we'll see). But really, one of my greatest dreams is to be able to visit see the earth from space some time in my life, even briefly, even at the very end. I'll sign whatever waivers are necessary. To actually be able to visit Mars, to be the first human to touch down on it, and report your discoveri

    • by tsotha (720379)
      This is not a new idea. There was an US Air Force officer who volunteered for a one-way trip to the moon in order to beat the Russians. The idea was to land him there with a bunch of supplies and then design, build, and launch the return voyage while he was up there playing solitaire. Unfortunately I can't remember his name and my google fu isn't up to snuff to find it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:24PM (#28256879)
    (1) NASA. Censored documents on global warming and climate change to meet his views, but at least the funding was relatively fine. (2) The U.S. Mint, because how dumb do you have to be to screw up the seigniorage from the state quarter program? Based on this, we can conclude that the Mint will do something stupid, like a series of sharp-cornered triangular dimes with a series of vice presidents on the front, in order to provide stimulus for the band-aid industry.
    • by hey! (33014)

      (1) NASA. Censored documents on global warming and climate change to meet his views, but at least the funding was relatively fine.

      Small observation: ledgers have two sides.

      Giving an agency a good sized budget is a metric meaningful only to bureaucratic empire builders. What matters is the size of the budget as compared to the ambition of your goals.

      It's even possible for a budget cut to further an agency's mission, although without reading the budget I can't say whether that is true in this case. If I gave your agency a fifty billion dollar annual budget, is that a lot of money? Well, what if I said your agency's mission was to pr

  • by ViennaSt (1138481) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:26PM (#28256903)

    With robotics coming such a long way since the 60s, it is more efficient and cheaper to just send robots to do all the exploring and data/sample collection in space. Until the average American thinks the cost of human presence in space is a priority for the tax payer dollar, space flight will have to be unmanned in the meantime. We are just going to have to wait for China or another rising global leader to send humans to Mars until the US population is willing to put in the extra effort and dollar to compete in a second space race and reinflate their ego as the "pioneers of space".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      I think the answer to the question (whether sending humans is worth it) really depends on what you/we think the goals are.

      For pure science, I'd argue that sending humans to deep space definitely is not worthwhile. While you may get more science/dollar for it (another debate), the total cost is so high that the current state of politics cannot sustain it. That is, the cost is too high to be able to complete it within 6 or 7 years when an administration change is going to rework everything anyway. For pure

  • by transami (202700) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:41PM (#28257143) Homepage

    Without our biggest dreams, even our smallest hopes are lost.

    And so the Spirit of our country is lost.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shadowofwind (1209890)

      The key is to find real, meaningful, achievable dreams and work towards those. One reason NASA has floundered is their long-term manned space exploration visions haven't made much sense in recent decades, with a lot of technical and logical show stoppers swept under the carpet. People think its unpatriotic to say this, but from my experience parts of the NASA bureaucracy are almost unbelievably corrupt. People lose faith after years of false promise and waste. Better to start fresh maybe, focusing more

      • As another idea that might make a lot more sense than going to mars....If you like the technology developed by manned exploration, there's a lot more building and exploring that could be done in relation to the ocean. Not as much like Star Trek, but with the virtue of being more real.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Grishnakh (216268)

        NASA floundered because their budget was cut, and they were saddled with the stupid, ill-conceived, and overpriced Space Shuttle by the Defense Department because the DoD wanted a way to send military satellites into orbit and then to retrieve them intact too. If they had stuck with the Apollo-style rockets and kept the budget up, we'd already have a moon base by now. It would have been expensive, but the economic rewards in spin-off industries would have been huge, plus we could have paid for a lot of it

        • OK, I'm with you on the military and great society stuff. But some of those people sitting at home and popping out babies work at NASA. One colleague had a huge family to deal with and only came in to the office a couple hours a week. And he wasn't working at home.

          I'm also not sure the moon base really makes sense. What is it for? The bottom of the ocean under the north pole is a lot closer, and more hospitable in a lot of ways, but not a very good place for people to live. And I don't think its reall

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            OK, I'm with you on the military and great society stuff. But some of those people sitting at home and popping out babies work at NASA. One colleague had a huge family to deal with and only came in to the office a couple hours a week. And he wasn't working at home.

            What on earth are you talking about. If that colleague was working, and earning money, then that has nothing to do with welfare unless I'm missing something.

            I'm talking about the generation of welfare which has been given out to women who sit at

            • I don't see much difference between being on welfare and being formally employed by or for the government but sitting around and talking all day or surfing /. without working, or not even bothering to come into work. It rots the soul in either case. The main difference is whether its "us" or "them". In either case, individual people who really want to work have a hard time finding a way to make it happen when everyone around them just wants to pull in a paycheck and protect their turf without rocking the

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                I don't see much difference between being on welfare and being formally employed by or for the government but sitting around and talking all day or surfing /. without working, or not even bothering to come into work. It rots the soul in either case. The main difference is whether its "us" or "them". In either case, individual people who really want to work have a hard time finding a way to make it happen when everyone around them just wants to pull in a paycheck and protect their turf without rocking the bo

        • I wonder why the DoD wanted to be able to retrieve sattelites intact unless they had nuclear material on them.. Maybe there were sattelites with nukes orbiting the earth at one time... Probably not though. They probably just planned it to make some of the Star Wars junk they were scaring the Soviets with seem more plausable. I mean we wouldn't send up a sattelite with nukes ( such as that once planned sattelite that would explode a nuke to generate an X-Ray Laser to shoot down ICBMS. ) if there were no w
          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            It was probably some combination of these, which never actually reached fruition. But it's saddled us with the overpriced, underperforming, and unsafe Space Shuttle for 30 years now, with two fatal accidents to go along with it, while the Russian Soyuz capsules are far cheaper and have a better safety record.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Kittenman (971447)
      Nice quote, but it would have been more effective if you'd correctly spelt "Houston".
  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:49PM (#28257265)

    Russia, China, India, the hope for a human future in space.

  • by solios (53048) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:54PM (#28257331) Homepage

    We did the Apollo thing not really to do it, but to rub the Soviet's nose in it. The the NASA manned program feels like it's been coasting on "hey, wasn't that AWESOME?!" for the last thirty years.

    Don't get me wrong - I love the space program and think it's money well spent (overall - Ares/Orion is debatable, but look at the science we've gotten from Hubble and compare the cost of the maintenance flights against, say... the F-22 Raptor program). However, there's no competition in the manned arena and there hasn't been since the days of the Saturn V and the N-1 (or space stations, if you want to go there - We've fielded one and a fraction. The russians have done much, much more in that area).

    And there won't be competition until China - who's been excluded from the ISS program - starts making some serious strides towards putting a man on the moon. Or mars. Or an asteroid or a comet or whatever.

    So despite the setbacks they've faced, I'm all for the Chinese space program - eventually they'll catch up to NASA/Roscosmos and we won't have a choice - we'll have to get off our asses and start giving a shit about the manned program again, or lose the prestige forever.

    NASA costs pennies compared to the black hole of the bailouts and massive defense boondoggles such as the recent USAF tanker fiasco or the Army's Future Combat Systems. Pennies - fractions of pennies - on the dollar, with REAL results.

  • So why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by david_thornley (598059) on Monday June 08, 2009 @04:59PM (#28257413)

    Okay, so what's the national interest in manned space flight? I'd be firmly against cutting NASA's more scientific work, but the manned space program doesn't do nearly as much for science as other NASA programs.

    It's cool to get people off the planet, but it costs a whole lot of money to get them into low Earth orbit, let alone somewhere interesting.

    Manned space flight seems to have lost the inspirational value it had in the 1960s, it doesn't produce good scientific returns compared to the unmanned probes, it takes money and attention from the really useful space stuff, it's hurt our satellite-launching capability, and if there's commercial value in sending people into LEO some company will take it up. Why should we be doing it?

    • Re:So why not? (Score:4, Informative)

      by blind biker (1066130) on Monday June 08, 2009 @05:27PM (#28257867) Journal

      First of all, as an academic (his name escapes me now) once said:

      A trained geologist can do more research in an hour than a robot in a whole year

      and as I understand, his opinion stemmed from the huge delay in sending commands and receiving feedback from the rovers on Mars - and he actually contributes to the Mars Science Laboratory, so he's not "just being negative".

      And then, a manned mission to mars would galvanize the energy of the nation that would take on such an endevour. Direct monetary benefit: none. Indirect: incalculable.

      • by randalx (659791)
        He might be right but which option is the most cost effective? Sending a robot to Mars for a whole year or a geologist to Mars (and back) for an hour.
    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Well, for one, efficiency gains and life support would be a main benefit. Manned missions can't really carry nuclear fuels to power electronic devices, they can't burn fossil fuels and so on, so the result is going to at minimum be more efficient technology that pollutes less and less.

      I would say that is a great plus seeing how the world is a frightened little schoolgirl over global warming. Gains in these areas when shared with US firms and universities could mean the US is leading the pack at efficiency a

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's always been clear that the Democrats would gut the space program.

    Sad, by electing Obama, we've put the last hopes of space progress behind us. We're a smaller nation as a result. Pretty much the plan, I guess.

    • There was never any chance Bush's plan would go forward no matter who was in office. We've sucked up so much money between pointless land wars in Asia and bailing out the financial sector that there's simply no discretionary money left, and the Bush plan was unbelievably expensive. Now if we were to cut our bloated defense budget (do we really need to spend as much as everyone else on earth... combined?), there might be some room for space exploration. But as it is, we continue to just burn money on more de
  • Sending humans up into space is colossally expensive, and of little scientific interest in itself. (It has been proven that you can send humans up into space.) Actual experiments in space, be they to do with zero gravity, telescopes, or what have you can generally be conducted much more economically by mechanised probes.

    For the past few decades, manned spaceflight was more a PR exercise than anything else. Someone would go up with a few schoolchildren's experiments, make a few transmissions and get some her

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      You miss the point. Near-Earth orbit is a stepping stone to further goals. A base on the Moon might is equally but a stepping stone.

      The point is acquisition of resources and raw materials from off-planet sources. Whether it is Helium-3 from the surface of the Moon, hydrocarbons from Jupiter, or metals from asteroids the key is that we need stuff. Stuff to make other things with.

      There are alternatives. None of them particularly nice. If we force a much smaller population to consume less we will not nee

      • The point is acquisition of resources and raw materials from off-planet sources. Whether it is Helium-3 from the surface of the Moon, hydrocarbons from Jupiter, or metals from asteroids the key is that we need stuff. Stuff to make other things with.

        Geez, it's like talking to a wall. 1) We have absolutely no use for Helium-3, and won't until we get fusion figured out (always 20 years away). 2) It will never, ever be more economical to go to Jupiter to get energy than it will to produce it from solar, etc, ri

  • Seven hours in Iraq (Score:5, Informative)

    by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday June 08, 2009 @06:21PM (#28258557)

    Other recommendations contained in the bill include a $77million reduction in NASA's proposed space operations budget

    When I read this I decided to see what that is relative to the Iraq war.

    I'm using this chart as a reference. [zfacts.com] It says we've been at it for about 7 years, and it's cost about $670 billion in total.

    So, 7 years is about 2500 days. Divide that through and you get about $268,000,000 per day. That works out to 11.16 million per hour.

    77 million / 11.16 = 6.89 hours.

    7 hours.

    • by mbone (558574)

      The NASA budget is $ 17 billion, so this only represents about a day and a half of the NASA budget. Manned space flight may be reduced in the future, I don't know, but $ 77 million is small change compared to the ISS, Orion or Shuttle budget.

  • by toby (759) * on Monday June 08, 2009 @07:14PM (#28259041) Homepage Journal

    ...Might ask themselves whether the annual $650 billion military budget [blogspot.com] (fully half of the world's total military expenditure) might be better spent on things other than raining death on other countries.

    You know, like schools, [csmonitor.com] hospitals, [svherald.com] roads, [blogspot.com] fire stations, [cbs13.com] police, [heraldnet.com] ... and oh yeah, the manned space programme.

  • With no more manned space program to sap the funds from all the very worthwhile space exploration and science, we could be doing, there will be that many more discoveries made.

    Except that the money will just disappear into the general fund. Still, it's better than completely wasting it on manned space missions.

  • Invertable Factoids (Score:3, Informative)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:09AM (#28266007) Journal

    How come it is that the cancellation of regular increases in the manned spaceflight program during a period when no manned spaceflight is planned is being called the "dismantling of the manned spaceflight program" in the summary? NASA's budget and program planning show an intent to keep the program running at the present level while they decide on what the next program is to be. Per TFA:

    "In his opening statement at the markup hearing, Mollohan said the cut should not be viewed as a diminution of the subcommittee's support for NASA's human spaceflight activities. "Rather, it's a deferral taken without prejudice; it is a pause, a time-out, to allow the president to establish his vision for human space exploration and to commit to realistic future funding levels to realize this vision."

    A summary so clearly contrary to TFA without the summary calling TFA wrong or a lie indicates no attention being paid to the facts. Could be an agenda with no support looking for an outlet, could be just a wild guess used instead of reading TFA. Either way, it's a good case for /. editors doing at least minimal research comparing the summary and TFA. Not doing so causes them to make the same mistake as the submitter.

    It's criticism, in my opinion warranted, plainly presented, posted calmly, and you can like it or not. It is therefore not, per moderator guidelines, flame bait.

  • I mean, really. I quote paragraphs 3 & 4 in the article linked to:
    Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the subcommittee's chairman, described the move as a "time-out" in the budget process as the White House awaits the findings of a 10-member panel tasked by the White House to reassess NASA's post-shuttle exploration plans. That panel, led by former Lockheed Martin chief Norm Augustine, is expected to report back with its findings in August.

    In his opening statement at the markup hearing, Mollohan said the cut

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