Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Moon NASA Science

Obama Choosing NOT To Go To the Moon 920

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the selling-out-the-future dept.
bonch writes "Obama's budget proposal will contain no funding for the Constellation program, which was to send astronauts to the moon by 2020. Instead, NASA will be focused on terrestrial science, such as monitoring global warming. One anonymous official said: 'We certainly don't need to go back to the moon.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Obama Choosing NOT To Go To the Moon

Comments Filter:
  • Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zwede (1478355) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:02PM (#30920208)
    Space is the future. If you don't go out there we will stagnate and disappear.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jawn98685 (687784)
      If we don't solve the terrestrial problems, we will suffocate, "...and disappear". Unless someone can make an as-yet unknown value proposition for going back to the moon, it's a waste of resources.
      • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Funny)

        by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:18PM (#30920490) Journal

        The moon is a backup.

        • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SEWilco (27983) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:21PM (#30920576) Journal
          Earth is merely our nest, which is at the bottom of a gravity well.
          The Moon is practice for Mars.
          Mars is the gateway to the riches of the asteroid belt.
        • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Rei (128717) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:40PM (#30920980) Homepage

          The moon will not be able to provide a backup to us any time soon, if ever. Survival on the moon requires modern technology, and the dependency chains for modern technology are just *way* too long to recreate on the moon along the order of a century or less. Even several centuries from now, if we started now, the moon would probably still remain reliant on Earth for our most advanced technology, such as computer chips, etc.

          Heck, for that matter, the moon itself may *never* be able to be self-sufficient, as it's so utterly poor in so many important minerals. Even in the places where we found evidence of water ice, it was a trace component; hydrogen is very rare on the moon. Carbon and nitrogen, too, are very rare on the moon. Phosphorus isn't too common. Given that the five most fundamental elements to life are CHONP.... Well, at least there's lots of oxygen on the moon! ;)

          The moon is also rather depleted in heavy elements.

      • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:26PM (#30920678) Homepage Journal

        Unless someone can make an as-yet unknown value proposition for going back to the moon, it's a waste of resources.

        Had we planned on staying this time... building a small base or research station to leave men on the moon for extended periods of time... then it would have been worth it. But it was clear that we weren't going to do that. We were basically just going back to relive old glories, when it gets right down to it.

      • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Usually Unlucky (1598523) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:41PM (#30920992)
        What better way to learn how to live with dwindling resources here on earth than learning to live in a place with NO RESOURCES!

        The possible environmentally important spin-off technologies from a moon/mars mission are endless

        Advanced hydroponics
        Advance carbon dioxide filtering techniques
        Learning how to grow food in mineral-less soil

        Think of Mars or the Moon as a laboratory.

        If we can figure out how to live there, we can possibly figure out what it takes to live in harmony with any environment, even our own.

        PLUS when you say waste of resources, what do you mean? Money? NASA budget is minuscule to the amount of money the US government throws away. Scientist? Aerospace engineers don't care about environmental science, it isn't their field, it is not like you will be keeping them from solving terrestrial problems by having them work on spacecraft.
        • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Rei (128717) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:34PM (#30922420) Homepage


          Advanced hydroponics
          Advance carbon dioxide filtering techniques
          Learning how to grow food in mineral-less soil

          You mean like the sort of experiments they did on the ISS?
          Amazing how everyone here on Slashdot thinks that ISS was a wasteful boondoggle but somehow building a base on the moon won't be.

      • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:13PM (#30921834) Homepage Journal

        Unless someone can make an as-yet unknown value proposition for going back to the moon, it's a waste of resources.

        To give humans something to look forward to and hope for. To inspire coming generations of scientists and engineers to push the envelope like there's no tomorrow. To instill a sense of purpose and pride in a populaous that is becoming increasingly disenchanted, confused, embittered, pathetic, jaded, and all around broken.

        Value shouldn't always be measured in $$.

      • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pnewhook (788591) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:20PM (#30922094)

        Unless someone can make an as-yet unknown value proposition for going back to the moon, it's a waste of resources.

        So what exactly would you have several hundred thousand scientists, engineers, manufacturers, technicians all skilled in space flight technology DO?

    • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:09PM (#30920340) Journal

      yup. wow. last line in the article:

      One administration official said the budget will send a message that it's time members of Congress recognize that NASA can't design space programs to create jobs in their districts. "That's the view of the president," the official said.

      That....is disturbing, if that is their view. Maybe next they need to have a war on science again?

      • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Informative)

        by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:17PM (#30920472)

        yup. wow. last line in the article:

        One administration official said the budget will send a message that it's time members of Congress recognize that NASA can't design space programs to create jobs in their districts. "That's the view of the president," the official said.

        That....is disturbing, if that is their view. Maybe next they need to have a war on science again?

        Sounds like he's getting revenge for that Alabama Rep who switched from Democrat to Republican.

        I should note, for reference, that if we were to double NASA's budget, we'd increase the current deficit by just over 1%.

      • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:32PM (#30920796) Homepage Journal

        Sorry, I don't see what's wrong in telling Congress "Look, NASA doesn't exist as a jobs program for your districts". And it's pretty clear that, like some other defense boondoggles.... the Zumwalt Destroyer, the Littoral Combat Ships, the F-35, the Osprey... programs like Constellation often can't be killed because Congressmen view them as nothing but Federal stimulus for their districts. When Dick Cheney killed the Osprey in the early 90's, Congress funded it anyway and ordered DOD to buy more. I'm not an Obama fan by any stretch, but isn't it a good idea to only buy hardware on its merits, and cancel it otherwise? This is taxpayer money we're talking about, after all.

        • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:42PM (#30921000) Journal

          The defense contractors already structure their contracts to ensure that a great many representatives have pieces of the pies. It's not as if a Boeing plane will be built in one factory in one state. No, the parts have to be sourced from dozens, if not hundreds of different suppliers, each strategically placed to earn that vote, and each suplier has an equal opportunity to drive those all important cost overruns.

    • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:12PM (#30920386) Journal

      Debt is the present. If we don't take care of that, we will stagnate and disappear much more quickly. This is good, pay down debt first then invest.

      Though, for all the talk of fiscal responsibility I don't see anyone mentioning that the US's military budget is about the same as the rest of the worlds military budgets combined. And 9 times that of China's. It would make sense to cut that first.

      • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:15PM (#30920442) Journal

        And 9 times that of China's.

        That's debatable, since China isn't being very transparent with their military programs or intentions.

        It would make sense to cut that first.

        Because the last time the US withdrew from the World it worked out so well for mankind.....

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192)

          How is cutting the defense budget down to the levels other first world nations invest in their militaries "withdrawing from the world"?

          • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

            by R2.0 (532027) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:34PM (#30920854)

            How is cutting the defense budget down to the levels other first world nations invest in their militaries "withdrawing from the world"?

            Because a very large portion of our defense spending is used in providing defense for those other 1st world nations. The reason Europe and Japan don't have huge armies is that the US does it for the, with bases all over the world, populated by US personnel. If the US were to pull out of Europe and Japan (which I wholeheartedly endorse, btw), our budget would shrink - and their budgets would skyrocket. And then the bleating about the US not "living up to it's global responsibilities" would start anew.

            • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

              by WrongMonkey (1027334) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:43PM (#30921032)
              A large part of the reason those bases continue to operate is to project power into places like South-east Asia and the Middle East. They wouldn't need to be replaced because Europe and Japan are mostly uninterested in the continuing misadventures of imperialism.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Doomdark (136619)
              The reason Europe and Japan don't have huge armies is that the US does it for the, with bases all over the world, populated by US personnel.

              I call bullshit. European countries, Japan et al have perfectly capable REGIONAL armies. They can well defend their own countries (and to assist members of defensive groups). They don't mind extra assistance and assurance, but it is at most a nice-to-have, and at worst a political problem (with domestic leftist parties).

              What US has more so than any other country,

              • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Interesting)

                by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:53PM (#30921252) Journal

                I call bullshit. European countries, Japan et al have perfectly capable REGIONAL armies. They can well defend their own countries (and to assist members of defensive groups)

                Defending your own country and defending your strategic interests are two different things. Can Japan or the EU project enough power to ensure that the Middle East remains relatively stable and their oil imports don't dry up?

                Why do you think the Japanese and Germans made financial contributions to the Gulf War?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by jgtg32a (1173373)

              Well Japan isn't actually allowed to, and from what I understand they do want to have a larger military.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Space is the future, but the future is not "now". Face it, space travel right now with modern technologies is a joke. We can brute force it and throw a few tin cans with people in them around the place, but we've got a few hundred years (if not a few thousands) before we can "go out there" and expect to stay for very long. All sorts of new materials-science efforts between now and then will make it easier. Stronger, lighter materials.... more efficient lighting (OLEDs! yay)... bio-engineered plants for foo
      • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Interesting)

        by damburger (981828) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:25PM (#30920662)
        In a 'couple of hundred years' we won't have the material resources left for mass migration. Our technology is easily up to the task right now; we are simply too fixated on the bottom line to invest in our own future.
        • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Shihar (153932) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @05:02PM (#30924502)

          There will never be a "mass migration" from Earth that has any dent on the population. Right now the population is growing at roughly 75 million a year. If you wanted to keep the population steady at the 6.8 billion it is as now, you would need to launch 210,000 people into space EVERY SINGLE DAY. You could ring the world in magic space elevators and still not be able to pull of that feat. If space opens up, it will open up for an extremely small minority of people. It will have no impact on the ground on Earth beyond the resources that space brings to Earth.

          Frankly, if you are worried about space to live and resources to consume, the far more reasonable thing to do is the exploit the other 70% of the planet that we basically ignore. Hell, if you include all marginally livable areas on Earth (all of which are a shit ton more friendly than space), than I bet humans cover even a paltry 5%.

    • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:21PM (#30920574) Homepage

      Space is the future. If you don't go out there we will stagnate and disappear.

      Or, the more realistic view: Space in an uninhabitable wasteland, enormously expensive to get to, and impossible to survive in for long periods without costly, regular support deliveries from Earth.

      Let's face it, without some amazing and so-far-unforeseen advances in technology, any off-Earth colonies would die out within a few years of losing support with Earth. Given that, the presence or absence of those colonies isn't really relevant to the survival of mankind, which is 100% tied to the viability of Earth.

      • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Insightful)

        by R2.0 (532027) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:45PM (#30921086)

        "The Mountain West in an uninhabitable wasteland, enormously expensive to get to, and impossible to survive in for long periods without costly, regular support deliveries from the Industrialized East."

        That's always been "true", and always been a lame excuse. Yes, in a colonization effort LOTS of people fail - ask the Roanoake colony. But someone will succeed, and MAKE the "wasteland" into a paradise.

        You can choose to stay in the tenement - if someone offers me 50 acres, I'm taking it!

        • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Gulthek (12570) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:52PM (#30922908) Homepage Journal

          Major analogy fail. Native Americans were living in the "wasteland" when the Roanoke Colony was founded.

          Make an analogy of how we colonized somewhere genuinely inhospitable (e.g. Antarctica, the bottom of the ocean, the molten core of a volcano) and that'll fit. Find an Earth compatible planet that we can get to and that'll fit. Otherwise, space is great but it will kill you dead without Earth. What we need to do is take a long term view of off-planet colonization and start making it happen. We need to send robots to start the hundreds (if not thousands) of years long process of terraforming Mars into something that could independently sustain humans.

      • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Funny)

        by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:48PM (#30921146)
        We just need to explore Mars first and find the Prothean ruins there.
  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:02PM (#30920216)
    In the wrong direction. We should have spent the 60's on healthcare reform, increasing national spending, polarizing our government between the political parties, and copyright enforcement. Yes, that would have given the 70's a golden age such as the one we enjoy now, except without microprocessors -- which we don't need.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yeah, Obama totally screwed up by not spending on healthcare reform in the 1960s.

      The deficit is getting out of control. While everyone here of course favors cutting things like defense spending over science funding, at least you have to acknowledge that if you're going to cut some science funding, going to the moon is a pretty decent place to start.
      • by jpmorgan (517966) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:26PM (#30920674) Homepage

        He's not cancelling 'the return to the moon,' he's cancelling Project Constellation. No return to the moon is just one side effect... Constellation was everything. With the Space Shuttles on the verge of retirement, Constellation was NASA's future manned space flight program. This isn't just the moon. And don't think this will be a small delay either. If this goes ahead, and the knowledge and experience is lost, it will take years to recover from. So unless Congress steps in (which isn't unlikely), Obama will be the President that ended America as a space-faring nation.

        Ironic, given how much commentators liked to compare him to JFK back in the campaign. Kennedy had foresight.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by paiute (550198)

          Ironic, given how much commentators liked to compare him to JFK back in the campaign. Kennedy had foresight.

          JFK saw the big picture. There was a big problem. He proposed a big solution.

          Four decades later, maybe the picture, problem, and solution have changed a tad?

          • by Dripdry (1062282) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:53PM (#30921258) Journal

            No, they've just been muddled in too much media, corporate, and military asshattery.

            The solution to moving humanity forward is to move off our planet. Every year we delay is one more that brings us closer to extinction. We have LOTS of resources now. Wasting them on empire-building to grasp fruitlessly at political gains, at least to me, seems obscene. Spend a fraction of that money on research and we could leap so far ahead of the rest of the world that the economy would boom once again.

            The only thing booming now are bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

        • by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:49PM (#30921178)

          He's not cancelling 'the return to the moon,' he's cancelling Project Constellation. No return to the moon is just one side effect... Constellation was everything. With the Space Shuttles on the verge of retirement, Constellation was NASA's future manned space flight program. This isn't just the moon. And don't think this will be a small delay either. If this goes ahead, and the knowledge and experience is lost, it will take years to recover from. So unless Congress steps in (which isn't unlikely), Obama will be the President that ended America as a space-faring nation.

          Ironic, given how much commentators liked to compare him to JFK back in the campaign. Kennedy had foresight.

          Apparently, giving people money to scrap perfectly good cars is a better use of the taxpayers' money.

        • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:12PM (#30921802)

          Ironic, given how much commentators liked to compare him to JFK back in the campaign. Kennedy had foresight.

          No, Kennedy had *hindsight*. He saw just how much letting the Soviets beating us in a major space goal made his predecessor look like a chump. He didn't want to repeat that public relations mistake.

          Right now, no country is seriously planning to do anything genuinely new with manned spaceflight for the next couple of decades. There's no motivation for a president budget a lot of money to try to beat anybody.

        • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:15PM (#30923488)
          Um, you do realize that he's in a major fight with a "government so small it doesn't do anything" party right? We can't even do Keynesian stimulus without bitching about the debt. This site is crawling with Libertarians, and yet I always hear the whining when geek-friendly programs get canceled.
      • by Volante3192 (953645) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:27PM (#30920696)

        at least you have to acknowledge that if you're going to cut some science funding, going to the moon is a pretty decent place to start

        I wouldn't argue that. In fact, even in these times I'd argue against any cuts for NASA. Using a nickle to pay off a $10 debt doesn't work. The only time I'd argue cuts for NASA is if, somehow, they managed to scrape up $9.95. The BIG problems, all those entitlement and defense programs, the ones that would make the bulk of that $9.95, are political poison pills to mention even offhandedly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DesScorp (410532)

        The deficit is getting out of control. While everyone here of course favors cutting things like defense spending over science funding, at least you have to acknowledge that if you're going to cut some science funding, going to the moon is a pretty decent place to start.

        Cutting Constellation is a good start, only because it did nothing new. It was a jobs program for Lockheed and a trip down memory lane for NASA. But even this is only a drop in the bucket. By far our biggest problems are entitlement programs, and frankly, politicians from Congress right up the President are cowards when it comes to dealing with them. You think the housing bubble was a time bomb? Wait until the entitlements check comes due.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bonch (38532)

        It's essentially the end of funding for manned NASA spaceflights, not just to the moon. There won't be a replacement for the space shuttles. I definitely don't believe space missions are a decent place to start cutting back on science funding just because one administration's policies left us with a bigger deficit in the middle of a recession. This has effects that reach past Obama's term (not sure he's getting a second one).

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        Science funding should NOT be cut. Stop those damned wars, especially the one in Iraq that should never have been started in the first place. Had we not been fighting those wars we may not now have had an unbalanced budget (Bush went into office with a balanced budget, but who knows what that incompetant would have done) and might not now be in a recession; surely it wouldn't be as bad. Those of us old enough to be in the military at the end of the VietNam war know how long it took to get out of the recessi

        • by Zordak (123132) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:12PM (#30923378) Homepage Journal

          Had we not been fighting those wars we may not now have had an unbalanced budget

          Both wars together have totaled about $750B. [wikipedia.org] That's a lot of money, but it's still not as much as even one of the two big "stimulus" packages. Since 2001, the "war" appropriations have been about 4% of our federal budget. 4% is nowhere near enough to bring us into the black.

          There's nothing more expensive than war, nor as useless (except for the fat cats who benefit from it financially at taxpayers' expense).

          I beg to differ. [wikipedia.org]

          Entitlement programs are way more expensive than war, and are teeming with fraud and abuse. Cutting all of the money we spend on those two wars would hardly have made a dent in our budget. For example, we spent about 118% of what we brought in last year. The 4% of that we spent on wars would not make a huge difference. But cutting even half the money we spend on entitlement programs would easily put us within budget.

          Now, maybe you like entitlement programs. Maybe you think FDR hung the freakin' moon. Maybe you believe that we would be uncivilized brutes without all those programs. Fine. You're entitled to your opinion. But don't pretend like it's our little romps in the middle east that are squeezing out all the money we could be spending on science.

      • by Zordak (123132) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:53PM (#30922956) Homepage Journal

        The deficit is getting out of control. While everyone here of course favors cutting things like defense spending over science funding, at least you have to acknowledge that if you're going to cut some science funding, going to the moon is a pretty decent place to start.

        You're almost right. The deficit is already out of control. We're spending ourselves into oblivion, and the only place I can see it going is the eventual collapse of the dollar (perhaps soon; perhaps we can hold it off for a while).

        But cutting Constellation will hardly amount to a rounding error. If you want to reduce the deficit, the only truly meaningful way to do it is to cut entitlement programs (and to a lesser extend, defense spending, which still accounts for less than half of what we spend on entitlements). Constellation is not the giant lead weight that's drowning us. Entitlements are. And Obama won't cut them, because all those entitlement programs keep Democrats in office. And Republicans won't do it whenever they come back into power, because that's a sure fire way to hand the government back to the Democrats. Once you start giving people stuff, they feel entitled to it, and if you take it away, they will revolt. And it probably would be a little harsh to cut all those people off cold turkey after we've got them dependent on those programs. So we're stuck with the entitlement programs. All this talk of cutting Constellation and a discretionary spending freeze is just hand-waving so Obama can put on a face of fiscal responsibility to a population that is nervous about his spending. Obama knows that the same population demands free stuff from the government. So what's a president to do? He makes a big show of cutting stuff that Joe Public doesn't really care about. Cutting Constellation is a great way to look like he's doing something about the budget without making any hard choices.

    • by mypalmike (454265) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:19PM (#30920528) Homepage

      In the wrong direction. We should have spent the 60's on healthcare reform, increasing national spending, polarizing our government between the political parties, and copyright enforcement.

      Guess what? All these things did happen in the 60's. Including healthcare reform (Medicare and Medicaid were created in 1965 under LBJ).

    • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:07PM (#30921674) Homepage Journal

      Except that wasn't so clear in the 1960s.

      In 1960, American spent about 5.1% of the GDP on health care. Now it's somewhere around 16% and still rising. That's in relative terms, mind you. Given the growth of GDP, the expenditure increases are simply astounding.

      Now total federal spending, after peaking as a percent of GDP in the 1970s, is now roughly where it was in 1962: a bit more than 18%.

      So in rough terms, we spend about the same fraction of our generated wealth on all Federal uses as we did in 1960, but more than 3x what we did on health care, so now health care is approximately equal to all Federal expenditures.

      If somebody had said in 1962, "We'll take over health care spending, but in fifty years it will double the size of Federal spending relative to the economy," you'd have looked at them like they were nuts. That would clearly hamstring the American economy. But in gross terms it wouldn't have made any difference if we'd gone for that deal, and the strange thing is we seem to accept this state of affairs as normal, even though it continues to get worse. We look around, and wonder why our economy is so sluggish at generating jobs. Now there's lots of reasons of course. In part it's normal for jobs to lag growth in a recovery. But at the same time its worth remembering that the price tag for most of those jobs includes health insurance.

      If somebody had said in 1962, "The Federal government will take over health care spending, and it will only increase the share of GDP spent by the government 1.5x," you'd have looked at them like they were nuts. But if you could go back in a time machine and take that deal, it'd look pretty good by today's standards.

  • by Calydor (739835) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:03PM (#30920232)

    Which part of that has anything to do with global warming?

    Why is it suddenly NASA's job to monitor global warming? Why not create an agency with that job, instead of re-allocating something that has for many decades been all about space exploration?

    • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:10PM (#30920362)

      Why not create an agency with that job

      I'll ask 'eem, but I don' think he'll be very keen... we've already got one, [noaa.gov] you see!

    • The National Atmospheric and Science Administration has been a clearing house for all things 'science' since the 70's. Being related to space or aeronautics is not a prerequisite. If you want funding and it can be made to sound vaguely sciency, head to NASA!! Climate 'research', or something, is just the latest piglet with a tit.

      Killing manned space flight has been a part of Obama's platform [slashdot.org] since he entered the national scene, regardless of subsequent back-peddling. Grownups know this, which is why tho

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:34PM (#30920850)

      Why is it suddenly NASA's job to monitor global warming? Why not create an agency with that job, instead of re-allocating something that has for many decades been all about space exploration?

      The National Aeronautics and Space Administration hasn't ever been all about space exploration -- forward looking terrestrial military and civilian aviation research has been a major part of their brief since the agency was founded (actually, since its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, was founded.) Space exploration is just the stuff that gets the most press.

      Space based weather, climate, geological, ocean, etc., studies have all been part of NASA work since approximately the time of the first satellite with sensors usable for such studies.

      And if you wanted to direct all climate work to another agency, there is no need to create a new agency, as there is an existing agency within whose main mission such research clearly falls: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

      Of course, redirecting that work from NASA to NOAA wouldn't mean NASA goes to the moon, it just means NASA shrinks. Its not like NASA has its own independent revenue stream which is being tapped for climate work.

    • by khayman80 (824400) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:37PM (#30920924) Homepage Journal

      In 2002, an open process involving scientists and employees modified NASA's mission statement to include [nytimes.com] the phrase "To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can."

      But then in 2006 the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet" was dropped over the objections of many scientists. Considering that climate scientists have long used NASA satellite data to monitor abrupt climate change (including myself [slashdot.org]), I think it's time to re-emphasize this vital role that NASA can perform.

  • We choose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jhon (241832) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:05PM (#30920252) Homepage Journal

    'not to go to the moon in this decade and not do the other things, not because they are hard, but because not doing so is easy'

    Or something like that.

    • by e2d2 (115622) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:17PM (#30920478)

      I always loved the pause in JFK's original speech:

      We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon.. <pause while JFK thinks>
      and do the other things.. (?)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by paiute (550198)

      'not to go to the moon in this decade and not do the other things, not because they are hard, but because not doing so is easy'

      Or something like that.

      Or maybe "we resist the jingoist impulse to spend money we don't have to go to someplace we have already been, not because it is easy, but because all the frigging redneck flag-waving mouthbreathers are making it hard".

    • Re:We choose (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wigaloo (897600) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:44PM (#30921066)

      'not to go to the moon in this decade and not do the other things, not because they are hard, but because not doing so is easy'

      A very sad, yet accurate, commentary. I consider the moon landing to be humankind's single greatest achievement. If the most prosperous nation on Earth is not going to lead the charge back to the moon and on to Mars, then greatness is probably behind us.

      Perhaps we don't need to go to the moon or Mars, but doing so serves a very important purpose. As has been the case throughout history, traveling to that "undiscovered country" demonstrates that humankind is capable of great things if only we put our minds to it. The human condition seem much more hopeless without it.

  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:06PM (#30920264)

    ...the Space Administration will be focused on terrestrial science?

    Man, some days the jokes just write themselves.

  • Space Garage (Score:3, Informative)

    by EdZ (755139) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:06PM (#30920266)
    A pity, the Moon would be the perfect way to get to the rest of the solar system. compared to almost every other body in the solar system, the Moon is right next door. It has water that can be broken down for air and fuel, it's got raw materials that can be used for construction without dragging asteroids into orbit, and hauling something out of the moon's gravitational well and off between planets takes a fraction of the energy needed to do the same from Earth.
    Any trip to Mars that would be worthwhile (i.e. more than a quick stroll on the surface before making the second leg of a multi-month round trip) would have to start from the Moon.
  • Unsurprising (Score:5, Informative)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:06PM (#30920276) Homepage

    Nobody should act surprised. He said he was going to kill Constellation during his original campaign.

    • by gimmebeer (1648629) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:18PM (#30920500)
      Actually, very suprising. He's actually following through on something he promised during his campaign. This is new territory, hang on to your butts.
    • Re:Unsurprising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dwiget001 (1073738) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:48PM (#30921156)

      O.K., one thing. He promised one thing that he is making happen.

      Compared to the whoopers like "hope and change", we got more of the same and worse compared to the previous Administration, spending-wise, by a factor of 4. "No lobbyists" promise, guess Barak must of forgotten he made that promise. "No earmarks", yeah, that was a good one, huh? Oh and "transparency" in the debate on health care reform -- wait, I could have sworn -- uh, nope, not even close on this one either.

      Barak is about on on the "worse" side of scale of politicians promising things and not making them happen, or conveniently forgetting their promises.

      Barak makes Bill Clinton look like an honest up-standing citizen in comparison.

  • good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:09PM (#30920328) Homepage
    I'll probably attract a zillion flames for saying this, but I think this is great. NASA does a great job on uncrewed probes, and that's a mission that can't be carried out by private enterprise. The shuttle and the ISS, however, are pure pork and nationalism; now that the cold war is over, the politicians cover the crewed space program with a thin veneer of scientific research, but the amount of good science that comes out of *crewed* spaceflight is not in reasonable proportion to the cost. We need to get NASA out of the business of doing things that the private sector can do, because otherwise the private sector will never get off the ground in those areas. Suborbital and LEO space tourism are the killer apps for private-sector crewed spaceflight. Let's unleash their energy and creativity to get that going, rather than spending public money on poorly engineered concepts for going back to to the moon.
    • Re:good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:00PM (#30921480)

      I'll probably attract a zillion flames for saying this, but I think this is great. NASA does a great job on uncrewed probes, and that's a mission that can't be carried out by private enterprise. The shuttle and the ISS, however, are pure pork and nationalism; now that the cold war is over, the politicians cover the crewed space program with a thin veneer of scientific research, but the amount of good science that comes out of *crewed* spaceflight is not in reasonable proportion to the cost. We need to get NASA out of the business of doing things that the private sector can do, because otherwise the private sector will never get off the ground in those areas. Suborbital and LEO space tourism are the killer apps for private-sector crewed spaceflight. Let's unleash their energy and creativity to get that going, rather than spending public money on poorly engineered concepts for going back to to the moon.

      Explain to me the business case for the internet. Not retroactively. I mean try to explain it to me as a businessman you want to fund it. Why the hell would I want to create an interoperable network that everyone can use? Who pays for it? How do we charge people for it? What do you mean there's not an hourly meter? What are you, some kind of fucking hippie?

      Explain to me the business case for the interstate highway system, as a businessman you want to fund it.

      Explain to me the business case for running telephone service and electricity out to rural areas where it costs more to service them than I'd ever make back on fees. Explain why I should be using my fat profits from the lucrative city accounts to pay for it. Why the hell should I give a fuck about shitkickers and hillbillies?

      The answer to all those things is that there are some things business is good at and there's some things government is good at. Some things you can't get a business to do willingly and you have to make them do it by law or just offer bids and let whoever wants to fill the bid do so.

      You never could have convinced private business to setup the internet the way it was. If it was redesigned from scratch, we'd be back to the days of AOL and Compuserve. Because for-profit business isn't about meeting the public good but maximizing revenue.

      You can get businesses to handle local utilities by granting a monopoly. The business will agree to a situation that provides a guaranteed profit and no competition by servicing all customers in the area, regardless of how profitable they are. The business agrees to the reduced risk of the monopoly by accepting the reduced profit of serving everybody. And that's usually seen as a win-win.

      I'm gratified to see Scaled Composites making progress on the suborbital tourist ship. I'm happy that internet billionaire is having good luck with his unmanned rockets. But the stuff we need to be doing in space, those ideas are too big for mere businesses to wrap their heads around. The stuff we need to be doing, it needs government sponsorship. Now NASA has made a fucking mess of itself and the manned program is pretty embarrassing. But I'm not seeing many good ideas from the defense contractors NASA currently contracts with. I'd be very happy if NASA adopted a DARPA role and started funding start-ups with real potential instead of throwing big bucks down the politically-connected corporate rathole. I want solar power sats. I want a space elevator. I want something with more vision than that stupid Constellation program.

  • Other priorities (Score:3, Insightful)

    by l2718 (514756) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:11PM (#30920376)
    It's important to remember that bailing out banks, bailing out people with mortgages, spreading "stimulus" money around, subsidizing healthcare, increasing the education budget and fighting two wars are all expensive endeavours. With the deficit soaring, I'm not surprised NASA isn't getting the money to develop new launch vehicles. At some point Scudder and his followers will be out and humanity will go to the stars again.
  • Don't worry (Score:5, Funny)

    by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:13PM (#30920402) Journal

    We are just a few decades from Zefram Cochrane's first warp flight amidst the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic USA. Conventional rockets are a waste anyway.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:16PM (#30920458)
    Sam Seaborn: There are a lot of hungry people in the world, Mal, and none of them are hungry 'cause we went to the moon. None of them are colder and certainly none of them are dumber 'cause we went to the moon.
    Mallory O'Brian: And we went to the moon. Do we really have to go to Mars?
    Sam Seaborn: Yes.
    Mallory O'Brian: Why?
    Sam Seaborn: 'Cause it's next. 'Cause we came out of the cave, and we looked over the hill and we saw fire; and we crossed the ocean and we pioneered the west, and we took to the sky. The history of man is hung on a timeline of exploration and this is what's next.

    - West Wing

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Mattern (191822)

      "Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you'll get ten different answers, but there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us. It'll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu, and Einstein, and Morobuto, and Buddy Holly, and Aristophanes... and all of this... all of this was for nothing - unless we

  • by rev_sanchez (691443) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:18PM (#30920496)
    The next space race should be about who can take the largest, most unweildly animal to the moon, let it run around, and bring it back safely. I say we try to a gorilla or a buffalo or a bear in a space suit that fits them and let them run around the moon a little bit and then the animal returns a hero. If that works we start with marine life. Let's put an enclosed dolphin tank on the moon and do a little show and then bring it all back home.

    If we're doing this for science we can send probes cheaper and safer. If we're doing this for glory then send a giraffe or hippo.
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:18PM (#30920522) Homepage Journal

    With the Shuttle put to bed, and now Constellation, NASA is done. Yeah, maybe a few robot probes will go out, but that's not what people get excited about (and are thus willing to fund). If it's not welfare or war, it's up for cancellation with this government. The global warming crowd will still get some funding since that's still seen as a viable power grab (not enough people can add, apparently) but that can't last. It seems the commercial launchers will handle what the Air Force can't for government satellite needs.

    So, does an aspiring American rocket scientist try to find work in China or hope to get one of the few jobs with Space X, Scaled Composites, or Virgin Galactic?

    Amazing - the one government program even Penn & Teller can't bring themselves to hate is the first to fall. Ah, well, competitive forces at play.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      With the Shuttle put to bed, and now Constellation, NASA is done. Yeah, maybe a few robot probes will go out, but that's not what people get excited about (and are thus willing to fund).

      So, the idea of the massive expensive of funding manned missions to the Moon and Mars is to create public interest which will support funding those same missions?

      And, really, for quite some time robot probes have, though far less expensive, generated more positive public attention for NASA than the manned space program.

  • Helium 3 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Nzimmer911 (1553899) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:28PM (#30920712)
    Why isn't the abundance of Helium-3 more of a selling point for the return to the moon? Especially with the recently /.'d mention of the impending shortage earth-side.
  • Same old garbage. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:44PM (#30921068)

    This is very frustrating. Here we have a program that would provide real long term benefits to not only the United States, but the world in general. Those benefits would not only come in the form of new technologies but in humanity's expansion into space. But unfortunately we're constantly hindered myopic, self-centered politicians. Unfortunately these kinds of programs require long-term commitments and do nothing to garner votes.

    At this rate, without question the Chinese will be first to the moon. Despite all the problems I have with the Chinese government I have to give credit where it's do. They generally seem to do what they believe is in the best interests of the country. On the other hand, the US is saddled with a government interested in pushing agendas and pandering to special interests. Even when they get involved with something that could be beneficial it's mired down by garbage and the end result ends up not amounting to much of anything. But the problem doesn't just lie with the government. It lies with the citizens and their increasingly self-centered attitudes.

    This sort of thing makes me regret having moved back to the states.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:00PM (#30921476) Journal

    Was Constellation, specifically the Ares booster series, ever going to be practical? Let's assume for a moment that the nay-sayers are right, and Ares would be a huge hole to dump money into that wouldn't yield a usable launch vehicle in a reasonable time frame. If so, canceling the program provides a needed wake-up call for NASA, opens the door for consideration of lower-cost alternatives, and perhaps even gives a boost to the commercial spacecraft industry. In the short term, it helps (if only by a tiny amount) stem the money hemorrhage.

    I know it's hard to take, but the question I have to ask is -- do we want to get back to the moon at any cost? Or should we take this opportunity to step back and see if there's a more practical way?

"The greatest warriors are the ones who fight for peace." -- Holly Near

Working...