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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.'"
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Obama Choosing NOT To Go To the Moon

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  • 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.

  • Re:Mars? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jpmorgan (517966) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:08PM (#30920304) Homepage

    Yes. Constellation wasn't just the moon. It was the next generation of NASA rockets for human spaceflight. If Constellation is cancelled, this isn't just the end of the moon. It's the end of Mars too. Hell, it's the end of America's manned spaceflight program in general.

  • 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%.

  • by TopSpin (753) * on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:27PM (#30920698) Journal

    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 those Congressmen with a direct stake in this are actively opposing [slashdot.org] this guy.

    What might have been a credible future for space exploration is going to the NEA [nea.org], and what is left of NASA will belong to Hanson. [columbia.edu]

    Enjoy.

  • 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.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:2, Informative)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:38PM (#30920950) Journal

    The fact that none of those other first world nations can project power in the manner that we can should be abundantly clear to anyone who has studied geo-politics. The United States is the only country on Earth that can project it's power anywhere on the globe. This capability is derived from our large defense budget and strategic partnerships. It places us in the unique position of being able to act as a stabilizing influence on world affairs.

    I don't think you'll like the results if you take that capability away. For example, consider the ramifications of an American withdrawal from the Middle East. From a purely selfish standpoint we have no reason to be there -- we obtain the majority of our oil imports from Western Hemisphere sources. What do you suppose would happen if we left? I envision one of two outcomes, neither good for world stability:

    1) China and the EU start to intervene in the Middle East to protect their own energy interests. India is caught in the middle and forced to pick sides. Russia is floating around as a wild card.
    2) Absent the protection of the United States, the Saudis and other Sunni States start arms build ups to deter Iran (and Iraq?). Eventually they come to the conclusion that they have no choice other than to seek a nuclear deterrent. Israel is floating around as a wild card.

    None of this is to suggest that I like the notion that we have to carry this burden. It's costing us massive amounts of blood and treasure to act as the global policemen. But I don't see any better alternatives given the current geopolitical situation.

  • Re:Mars? (Score:4, Informative)

    by RKThoadan (89437) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:42PM (#30921030)

    Not really. It's been pretty deregulated since '84 and actively encouraged since '90. The only major hurdles are the FAA regs for atmospheric flight, which is pretty simple compared to the complexity of spaceflight.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_spaceflight [wikipedia.org]

  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:46PM (#30921094) Journal

    There was also a fun side show in Vietnam.

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

    by GameMaster (148118) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:54PM (#30921296)

    Also, once we finally did start to take part in WWII, our equipment was horribly outdated due to massive military spending cuts that had happened since WWI. Much of the equipment we armed our soldiers with, early on, was the same stuff we had used in WWI (helmets, guns, etc.)

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Informative)

    by jgtg32a (1173373) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:56PM (#30921372)

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

  • by ghostlibrary (450718) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:05PM (#30921634) Homepage Journal

    Why is it suddenly NASA's job to monitor global warming? 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), you see!

    ... except NOAA uses NASA satellites to do their work. Whoops.

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

    by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:09PM (#30921748) Journal

    as well as squeezing Japan on oil exports in order to encourage them to stop raping and pillaging in China

    Fixed that for you.

    Gotta say, I love the hypocrisy on this subject. The United States is either condemned for not intervening in WW2 or we are condemned for intervening in WW2.

  • Re:Unsurprising (Score:2, Informative)

    by Keebler71 (520908) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:19PM (#30922032) Journal
    ... well it is more nuanced than that... he first said he would freeze constellation to butress education spending... he later changed his position once Florida came into play and he wanted to appeal to the space jobs there. So is this keeping or breaking a promise? I'm with those who believe his initial position was closer to his core beliefs and that his second position was more politically motivated.
  • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:26PM (#30922248) Journal

    Minor difference: The "brown people" as you so cynically refer to them asked us to help them. Did we invade Saudi Arabia or did the recognized Government of that country ask us to protect them against Saddam? Did we force Egypt to sign a peace treaty at gunpoint with Israel or did we act as an honest broker?

    If it's all about resources then how do you explain our involvement in Afghanistan? Or the Balkens? -- unless they don't count because they aren't filled with brown people. How do you explain our response to humanitarian catastrophes like the Indian Ocean tsunami or Haitian earthquake? How do you reconcile the fact that those humanitarian operations were enabled by our military power with your cynical view of our motives?

    I'll be the first to admit that we aren't behaving altruistically. We seemingly have no issue allowing genocide to take place where it doesn't interfere with our strategic interests. But on balance I would still maintain that the United States is a force for stability in the World. If you have an idea that's grounded in reality for replacing our role I'd love to hear it -- I'm getting sick of footing the bill for our role as the global policemen.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bakkster (1529253) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (nam.retskkaB)> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:30PM (#30922314)

    And it's pretty clear that, like some other defense boondoggles.... the F-35

    Since when is the F-35 a defense boondoggle? For one, it's an international project. And if you wanted a modern fighter example, why not the F22 which hasn't run a single combat flight over Iraq or Afghanistan? The F35 has better electronics, is cheaper, and is multi-role rather than a superiority fighter for a non-existent adversary. Did I miss something? Or, beyond that, possibly the new aerial refueling tanker which is on its third round of bidding back and forth?

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Retric (704075) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:36PM (#30922496)

    I don't think increasing taxes would increase revenue as much as you might expect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laffer_curve [wikipedia.org]

    We could remove tax breaks, or reduce spending, but long term the tax rate is about as high as is feasible.

  • by coolsnowmen (695297) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:41PM (#30922618)

    Iraq war: 255 million/day
    Nasa buget FY 2010:: ~19.6 billion

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15377059/ [msn.com]
    http://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/344612main_Agency_Summary_Final_updates_5_6_09_R2.pdf&ei=q5VgS8faG8LflAfXr6ncCw&sa=X&oi=nshc&resnum=4&ct=result&cd=1&ved=0CBUQzgQoAA&usg=AFQjCNHbvMN_LllUUGX-OGEOk1BtsLAPww [google.com]

    Where did you get your numbers?

    I'm not saying we hould be in iraq, I'm saying don't make shit up. Perhaps you meant to say: "77 days in iraq is the entire nasa budget.

  • Re:Unsurprising (Score:3, Informative)

    by MxTxL (307166) <mlutter.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:00PM (#30923078)

    Well... except when he was pandering for votes in Brevard County, FL. Home of Kennedy Space Center:

    Obama: "We need a real vision for space exploration. To help formulate this vision, I'm going to reestablish the National Aeronautics and Space Council so that we can develop a plan to explore the solar system - a plan that involves both human and robotic missions, and enlists both international partners and the private sector. And as America leads the world to long-term exploration of the moon and Mars, and beyond , let's also tap NASA's ingenuity to build the airplanes of tomorrow and to study our own planet so we can combat global climate change. Under my watch, NASA will inspire the world once again, make America stronger, and help grow the economy right here in brevard county and right here in Florida. That's what this election is all about. It's about raising our sights, seizing this moment, and reclaiming our destiny in this country."

  • Re:Unsurprising (Score:3, Informative)

    by MxTxL (307166) <mlutter.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:04PM (#30923190)

    http://www.space.com/news/ft-080805-obama-space-policy.html [space.com]

    And... Even better:
    Obama has changed an earlier position, in which he planned to delay the Constellation program five years and use up to $5 billion from the NASA budget for education.

    "Here's what I'm committing to: Continue Constellation. We're going to close the gap (between the end of shuttle flight and the next program, Constellation). We may have additional shuttle flights," he said.

    "My commitment is to seamless transition, where we're utilizing the space station in an intelligent way, and we're preparing for the next generation of space travel."

  • F-35 problems (Score:5, Informative)

    by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOsPam.Gmail.com> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @06:09PM (#30925868) Homepage Journal

    "Since when is the F-35 a defense boondoggle?"

    Where do I start? There's so much. It's over budget, far behind schedule (only 10 percent of scheduled flight testing completed in 2009, with the prototypes spending most of their time parked on the taxiway or in a hangar). The fire control suite and EOTS are nothing but vaporware, promises, and plastic display models at this point. It's overweight. When anaysts said that it was less maneuverable than an F-16, Lockheed said "That's OK, dogfighting is obsolete anyway". Hmm, where have we heard that before? There are noise problems with the engine (on average twice as loud as an F-15 at takeoff), enough of a problem to current designated noise corridors that a least two cities are actually suing USAF not to bring F-35's to their area. Google "F-35 noise", and prepare for a lot of reading. The F-35 is quickly becoming the new F-111, a plane designed by committee for everyone and pleasing no one.

    The cost is what'll probably kill this program, or limit its' sales. There are grumbles in the Navy department that they want to kill it in favor of new (and cheaper) Super Hornets. Lockheed says base F-35 models will be around $70 million apiece (compared to $50 a pop for Super Hornets). But realistic" estimates say the tag is more likely between $111 and $132 million, flyaway. At the top range, it would make them more expensive than the far more capable F-22. Oh, and the Navy just completed a study that found the F-35 would cost 70% more per hour to operate than Super Hornets, and that the F-35B's vertical thrust mode would damage current flight decks.

    USAF should simply buy new build F-16's. The Navy should buy new Super Hornets. And if the Marines can't have new-build Harriers, then get the Marines out of the fixed-wing business altogether (a possibility that Bill Sweetman over at Aviation Week has also raised).

    "

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Informative)

    by david_thornley (598059) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @06:24PM (#30926154)

    Whereas the Navy was stuck with a whole lot of crappy destroyers, because of massive military spending after WWI. The lesson was not to produce more stuff than was needed for the near future (near future of course depending on which equipment; it took a lot longer to go from decision to operational use with battleships than helmets).

    Instead, the US spent money on having good designs ready to go, and figuring out how to expand the military (the US Army expanded something like thirty-fold in five years or so). The result was a modern military with equipment as good as it got in most areas. Maintaining a large standing army in the Depression just wasn't going to fly, and would have interfered greatly with modernization.

    Look at what happened with Italy, as another example. Italy had produced large amounts of stuff in the late 1930s, and really couldn't afford to replace it. The result was that Italy went to war with Spanish Civil War era tanks, which really didn't cut it in 1940.

  • by cashman73 (855518) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @07:38PM (#30927366) Journal
    Except when you realize it, maybe Obama's solution isn't so bad after all. The article does state that the plan calls for both extending the life of the International Space Station to 2020, as well as providing an "attractive sum of money for private companies to make rockets to carry astronauts there." It seems to me like he's thinking more along the lines of the future, where NASA isn't necessarily going to be the only ones going into space. If we really want to use space for commercial development, private industry is going to have to get there, and this is one way to make that happen.

    Forget the moon! We've been there. We've seen it. We took pictures. We picked up moon rocks. Having a moon base up there is really going to be useless if we don't have an efficient infrastructure in place for routine trips out there. That means bolstering our presence in low Earth orbit, and getting more businesses capable of the trip. Once private industry gets there, and more discoveries are made as to the commercial value out there, we'll see another gold rush, similar to the gold rush of the 19th century, or even the 1990s dot com "gold rush" (which, of course, the Government also initiated with the creation of the Internet).

    All we have to do is make sure that this "attractive sum of money" available to corporations isn't just outsourced to the Indians and/or the Chinese to build rockets to get there. Because that won't help us and in the long run, will just make the current outsourcing problem much worse.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Informative)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @07:41PM (#30927394)

    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?

    The US has been investing quite a lot of power to ensure that the Middle East remains unstable for decades, by propping up unpopular dictatorships throughout the region and funding most of the wars in the region (sometimes, funding both sides of one war at the same time), even when it wasn't starting them itself.

    There has never been a serious threat to Japan or Europe's oil supply (or the US's, for that matter) from the Middle East that wasn't a largely or entirely a result of US involvement in the region (the embargo of the 1970s was a direct result of US and British support for Israel, the tanker war of the 1980s was a direct consequence of Iraq's war -- sponsored and sustained by the US, to the point where US officials -- including Donald Rumsfeld -- rushed to assure Iraq that our support for them would not waver when the first revelations and international condemnation came of Iraq's use of chemical weapons -- against Iran.)

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