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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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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:05PM (#30920258)

    We went out there, in the past We stagnated. Our population doubled.

  • 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.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jawn98685 (687784) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:06PM (#30920272)
    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.
  • 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.
  • by operagost (62405) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:09PM (#30920330) Homepage Journal
    We should also create an agency to monitor ManBearPig. I'm serial about this.
  • by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:09PM (#30920344)
    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 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!

  • 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.
  • 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.....

  • 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:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:17PM (#30920482) Journal

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

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:19PM (#30920538) Homepage
    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 food and air/water purification systems... robots which can effectively set up bases in hostile airless environment before people arrive... more effective batteries.... heck, fusion power sources and superconductors if you wait long enough...

    We can wait another couple hundred years, we'll be developing towards most of these technologies on our own anyway - quite frankly, I suspect that trying to divert a massive portion of our output towards colonizing space right now will only slow us down in the long term.

  • Re:obviously (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AmericanGladiator (848223) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:21PM (#30920572)
    So Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell are really whites wearing blackface?
  • 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 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.
  • 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:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@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 click2005 (921437) * on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:27PM (#30920690)

    I agree. Why not show that every now and then we can rise above petty insignificant squabbles over religion, resources and power and as a
    species we can reach higher and achieve almost anything.

  • 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.

  • Just Junk It (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rally2xs (1093023) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:28PM (#30920706)

    NASA should be defunded completely, the launch pads closed, and the whole shebang turned into museums. That would at least bring in a little coin. Our country is broke, getting moreso, with no hope of actually ever balancing the budget while having all our other jobs outsourced, industries leaving, illegal aliens dragging down the charitable services, etc. etc.

    Unless we can get our factories coming back, stop the outsourcing, etc., there's NASA and a whole whale of a lot of other things that gov't does that needs to be stopped. You can't tax people that have lost a good-paying tool-and-diemaking job, and are working some crappy-paying retail job, to do things like go to the moon or mars.

    Get our industries back. Period. Otherwise, the military can do GPS, the commercial interests can keep launching comm satellites by paying the French to do it, and the military again needs weather info and so can do those satellites too. Everything else is just too expensive for the USA to be doing until we're back working again with GOOD PAYING jobs, not the near-poverty stuff we've been gravitating toward for the last 5 decades.

  • Re:We choose (Score:4, Insightful)

    by damburger (981828) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:29PM (#30920748)
    He didn't forget what he was going to say (it was impossible to get elected as President if you couldn't complete sentences, at least before 2000), it was an oratorical pause.
  • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@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:We choose (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:34PM (#30920842)

    '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: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:Mars? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:36PM (#30920888)
    Right...get a grip zippy.

    But the are you willing to pay for it? How much in taxes are you willing to pay for manned spaceflight?

    Other than pure sensationalism there is no practical reason for manned space flights. We have learned more about our universe through deep space probes, satellites and planetary probes than we could have ever learned from manned space flights. They also have the added benefit of costing less, lasting longer and not killing anyone!
  • by jpmorgan (517966) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:37PM (#30920910) Homepage

    No, they will cancel actually developing a heavy-lift rocket, and instead just 'look at' developing a heavy-lift rocket. It's much cheaper.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:38PM (#30920946)

    Honestly. If we want to have any chance as a race we've GOT to get off this rock before we kill ourselves off.

    Individually and as a race, we are all going to die. We don't have any chance as a race, and getting off "this rock" doesn't change that one bit.

    OTOH, we do have a choice about where we direct resources and what effect that has on the quality of life.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doomdark (136619) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:41PM (#30920988) Homepage Journal
    Now that the climate scam is being revealed,

    What scam was that again? The "controversy" over couple of email by overeager researchers? Like "controversy over evolution", and claims against Earth being spherical instead of vertically challenged?

    As to war on science, I don't think that will reappear soon; at earlier it could happen in 2012 if ignorant voters bring back an ignorant president. Bush was more succesful with his war on science than in any other alleged war.

  • 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: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: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.

  • 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:Mars? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:46PM (#30921096)

    And just how the hell do you expect to fly men to these near-Earth asteroids? The shuttle ain't gonna do it. We'd need to develop a replacement vehicle. Like Constellation - the one that he just friggen canceled funding on.

    It's like a parent promising they'll take their kid to Disney world if they can bring home 8 A's on their report card - when the kid only has 7 classes. Only an idiotic kid would perceive that trip to Disney as still being in the cards.

  • by polar red (215081) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:47PM (#30921126)

    There already is a world government, it's in the form of multi-mega-corps.

  • 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.

  • Re:Mars? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:48PM (#30921160)

    Tell you what - since according to your philosophy we can pick and choose where our money goes - however much of my taxes is going to the military? Send 75% of that to NASA instead. Welfare? Send 90% of that to NASA instead.

    I'm perfectly willing to pay for NASA via my taxes if I also get to stipulate what I'm NOT willing to pay for.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doomdark (136619) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:49PM (#30921170) Homepage Journal
    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, is large globally-mobile army that can be made to "off-shored". UK has something similar (with smaller scale of course), some other countries too, but nothing comparable to US.

    Your view seems to be based on outdated data from cold war era; when there was need by western Europe and Japan, due to existence of the other super power (with global reach comparable to US). But this has not been the situation for 2 decades now. And arguably, soviet thread was overblown even in 80s. But there is absolutely no defensive need for US troops in, say, Germany.

  • Re:Mars? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:49PM (#30921174)

    No more shuttle. Space Station to be trashed in 2016. I have never seen a nation as great as ours go backwards so fast. Our Space Program is in shambles, and this is the beginning of the end.
    We used to be a can-do nation. We now are can't doers. No vision, no insight. I am deeply saddened by where this is all going.

  • 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 DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:50PM (#30921188)

    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.

  • 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 bonch (38532) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:53PM (#30921264)

    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:Sad, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Strider- (39683) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:55PM (#30921316)

    Unfortunately, a trained human geologist could have done everything that these probes have done, within 2 or 3 hours of setting foot on Mars. The robots simply *can't* do things as well as humans can. Think about that... Opportunity and Spirit have been doing fantastic science on Mars for the past 5 or 6 years, and all that work could have done by a trained human within a few hours.

    Don't get me wrong, there are situations where they make sense. Putting a human in orbit around Jupiter, to be irradiated by high energy particles for a few years, would be an amazingly stupid thing to do. But don't kid yourself that the robots can explore Mars or the Moon as well as humans could.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:59PM (#30921466) Homepage Journal

    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 recession that one caused, which came from its defecit. The only thing better about this recession is that we don't have the runaway inflation we had in the '70s.

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

    One day's bill for Iraq is more than NASA's budget for a whole year. It, its programs, and all other science projects should be spared. Neglect science and we will not do as well internationally. Our nation's well being depends on scientific research.

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:59PM (#30921468)

    "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 go to the stars."

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:01PM (#30921514) Journal

    Right, because colonialism *prevents* sectarian violence.

  • 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.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:07PM (#30921678) Journal

    Equating our current foreign policy with "colonialism" accomplishes nothing other than to demonstrate your ignorance of both geopolitics and world history.

  • by CosmologyJello (1128761) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:07PM (#30921682)
    This is a rare opportunity to save on the education budget as well. There's no point in studying math and science if there is nothing to do with your education.
  • 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:4, Insightful)

    by CecilPL (1258010) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:15PM (#30921900)

    It's not the substances themselves that are valuable, it's the not-being-in-a-gravity-well that's valuable.

  • Re:good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GargamelSpaceman (992546) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:19PM (#30922042) Homepage Journal
    For the price of the space shittle program we could have bought a bunch of Hubble Space Telescopes. If half of them didn't work, we'd still be way ahead of the game.
  • 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, Insightful)

    by Feyshtey (1523799) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:22PM (#30922128)
    Oustide the financial outlay, how would they be hurt?

    That aside, here are some answers: 1) A collective goal: Mankind rarely succeeds on a scale comparable to when they have a common goal. Build hope and cooperation between nations and you can bring them closer to understanding of one another.

    2) Residual Science: Like the military (much to any hardcore liberal's chagrin), the Space Program has produce many quite notable and beneficial advancements as residuals to the space program itself. Examples of advancement can be found in Medicine, Chemistry, Biology, Genetics, Propulsion, Aerodynamics, Physics, Thermal Dynamics, Magnetism, .... The point being that the challenges of manned space flight present unique obsticles. And solutions there have benefited mankind on Earth in a myriad of ways. Very often those benefits manifest in leaps forwared in Enviromentalism and our understanding of Earth's systems.
  • by orient (535927) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:22PM (#30922130)
    America cannot afford space flight and Obama's decision is a sad but sane one. And the president that ended America as a space-faring nation is not Obama, but the one who had 8 years to destroy the US economy.
  • 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.

  • Private Sector? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:46PM (#30922762)

    Could this mean we'll see a push with privatization of space travel now?

  • Personally bummed. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lotho brandybuck (720697) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:47PM (#30922782) Homepage Journal
    I'm just unspeakably bummed about this, as a human and an American.

    Maybe NASA is hidebound, and Corporate America can get us there faster. But I'd like something to take a little national pride in.

    Hopefully some of our tech-billionaires will step up to the plate.

  • by farbles (672915) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:48PM (#30922816)
    And you sir are an idjut. Money spent on space gets returned ten fold. Technology spinoffs, research, keeping technically trained people employed, motivated and at home, and the actual dollar amounts we're talking about are piddlingly small. Woohoo, cut NASA completely and you save 0.58% of your federal budget. That'll really change everything in some other way that provides more bang for the buck than ten-fold increase and new knowledge? You make me ashamed to be the same species with your give up and surrender, the Universe is too big for us talk.
  • 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.

  • by Cytotoxic (245301) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:53PM (#30922936)

    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.

    I don't think you can honestly call this president and this congress cowards on dealing with entitlements. They have boldly pushed forward for a new entitlement program to dwarf all the others - an entitlement that targets everyone in the country, not just specific interest groups. No, they are not cowardly about dealing with entitlements at all. They just prefer to deal with entitlements in a way that you would probably see as utterly irrational.

  • 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.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:55PM (#30922976)

    The value proposition is that we get new technology to replace our aging space shuttles. This wasn't just about going back to the moon.

    There were plenty of terrestrial problems in the 1960s, and we went anyway.

  • Re:Sad, but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:01PM (#30923106)

    As great as Opportunity and Spirit are, let put things into context. In their 6 years on Mars the two rovers have travelled a combined 27km. In 3 days Gene Cernan and Harisson Schmitt covered 36km on the lunar surface and collected 50kg of samples.

    Spirit has been stuck in the sand for 9 months (and is now permanently stuck). An astronaut on the surface could have solved the problem in 30 seconds.

    So while human missions are orders of magnitude more expensive, they also produce orders of mangitude more data. As for risk, there once was a time where humanity accepted risk as the price of knowledge. Less than 10% of the Magellan expedition made it back home.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Feyshtey (1523799) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:06PM (#30923268)
    I'd like to see calculations on the BILLIONS of dollars that have been generated in the last 45 years in the private sector and in taxes to the federal govt as direct results of the science developed to go to the moon.

    If it cost us 6% of the GDP every year from 1958-1972 (the bulk of the moon mission years) , then it cost ~$735billion.

    [6% of $875billion/year over 14 years, (~521billionGDP in 1960 and ~$1.23trillionGDP in 1972 avgs to about $875billion/year)]

    I'd like to see you convince me that we havent produced $735billion in private funds and taxes in the 38years since 1972 based on the science garnered by NASA in those 14 moonshot years.... To say nothing of the advances that have allowed for cleaner and more efficient technologies that we use each and every day, saving money and reducing polutants.
  • 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.

  • Re:We choose (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:14PM (#30923438)

    The current president wants to focus on more immediate and practical objectives...

    Bull.

    Total bull.

    This is political grandstanding at its purest and finest.

    If you want to focus on immediate and practical problems, cull entitlements. Dicking with NASA only gives the illusion of work and the people that get hurt are some of the few passionate ones left in the bureaucracy.

  • 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.
  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Graphic Twist (1374895) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:26PM (#30923766)
    From the article:
    "In [Constellation's] place... NASA will look at developing a new "heavy-lift" rocket that one day will take humans and robots to explore beyond low Earth orbit. But that day will be years — possibly even a decade or more — away."

    The 2020 moon return was a decade away anyways. NASA is getting a small budget increase too and this whole thing could open up opportunity for NASA to follow one or more options from their "Flexible Path" which has a series of steps (including some earth science missions) towards getting human beyond LEO again. I think this could actually be a move in the direction of a better thought out, more useful and more sustainable human flight program.

    To me that's a good thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:33PM (#30923926)

    That's not a motivation to spend millions. We went to the moon because of nationalism and we thought we might find cool sh*t in the solar system.
    Now that we now this cool sh*t is far away (if anywhere) I would rather spend money on unmanned space exploration on Europa, etc...

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:42PM (#30924090) Journal

    In light of your sig, I find your advocacy of a government big enough to "stabilize" the entire world most amusing.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rgarbacz (1450155) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:57PM (#30924426)

    Playing strategic games taught me, that focusing on domestic problems (only), made me always being conquered by barbarians sooner or later. ;-)

    Human nature is to explore, also social life and responsibility for each other (despite what some claim, people are altruistic by nature, and it is proven). We are doomed to perish if we step up against either of them. They may seem to contradict, but they do not, except the need for resources, i.e. the golden center is always the best way.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Purity Of Essence (1007601) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @05:00PM (#30924476)

    For the price of one war in Iraq we could have continued the Apollo program for another 200 years.

  • 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:We choose (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @05:26PM (#30924974) Homepage Journal

    Well, how about

    "We choose not to go to the moon because not enough of the voters care enough about doing that to have their taxes raised or to give up enough other stuff to pay for a credible effort."

    ?

    That's not exactly thrilling rhetoric, but its hard to argue with.

    A really, really good unmanned probe would cost less than a half-assed attempt to put a man any place in the solar system other than Earth. I'd even argue that the people who desperately want to see progress towards human space colonization would be better off backing a series of successful, cheap unmanned missions than going through the motions of planning a manned mission without the money to do it succesfully.

    There are only two compelling reasons to back manned space exploration in the short term, in my opinion. One is to further our study of the human body's ability to participate in larger, more ambitious planned missions in the future. This pretty much amounts to keeping our manned options open. The second is a fire in our national belly to see an American standing on the Moon, or Mars.

    If you want Americans to pony up for that, you've got to (a) convince us our national prestige is on the line and (b) convince us to care about that. I don't think Americans care that much about national prestige any longer. We don't have anything against it, but from what I can see, the notion of actually sacrificing anything for that purpose is repugnant to most of us.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mysticalfruit (533341) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @05:31PM (#30925074) Journal
    Seriously... We're willing to spend practically infinite amounts of money propping up banks that ought to have failed, and giving hilarious bonuses to idiots on wall st. but we're unwilling to think strategically about the survival of the human race?

    Are you fucking kidding me?!?

    We need to get our asses going on getting a colony on either the Moon or Mars or both and working out the logistics of making it self sustaining.

    It's just not a matter of if, but when we'll have another extinction level event and we need to spread out and be prepared.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @05:38PM (#30925220)

    First, it's pretty fucking funny that you're using a fictional TV show to argue a point. Anyway:

    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.

    Uh, actually, since that money went to going to the moon, it didn't go to renewable energy research, education, etc. Fun fact: the percentage of kids in the United States who don't get enough to eat has climbed steadily since the 60's. Right now it's around 13-14 million kids each year [bread.org].

    So yes, there are a lot of people who are dumber and colder and hungrier because of all the money flushed down the drain into what is little more than nationalism in the name of science.

    Don't you think we have certain societal obligations before we flush hundreds of trillions of dollars down the drain putting a couple of guys in a tin can above the earth for the world's most expensive dog and pony show?

    Newsflash, folks: politicians, even JFK, don't give a flying fuck about scientific exploration. They care about getting their agendas through and re-elected. Kennedy did what he did because if he hadn't, the anti-communists would have had a field day.

    Maybe if we'd spent the money on renewable energy technology, we wouldn't be spewing so much pollution into the air to generate power and heat, wouldn't need to fight two wars in Iraq, etc. If our homes were generating their own power and more efficient, imagine what we could do with all that money not being wasted on a complex power grid? Hmm, maybe go into space?

  • Re:Sad news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by denobug (753200) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @05:44PM (#30925332)
    The Climate Change is worthy our time and effort. However establishing a moon base, establishing the proper technology to make things cheaper and more affordable is equally important. The dollar amount is high, but compare to the rest of our spending, it is a drop in the bucket, not to mention the private commercial development our space program has spurred on for the last 4 decades. Don't kill it just because it was planned out during Bush Administrations. You know this is what NASA recommended and not invented by Bush himself.

    It is so sad that the decision of our science and engineering pioneering effort are being decided by bunch of politicians without an eye for long term benefits. What happend to the Jefferson and Poke who would rather risk their next term but make the right decision (major land purchases in history)?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @05:58PM (#30925618)

    And the Soviets had nothing to do with the competitive environment? This rivalry even stretched to our involvement to Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc; both winter and summer Olympics, etc. The space race was just another of many races we had to prove "my dick is bigger than yours, comrade"

  • by yankpop (931224) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @06:00PM (#30925666)

    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.

    Great idea. Do you have somewhere in mind? As you point out, it's a resource issue. Where could we go where we'd have an abundant supply of oxygen and water, so that we wouldn't have to waste our limited resources on either producing them or having them shipped from earth?

    Nobody ever takes 'ecosystem services' seriously, but if you think there's any possible way we could establish off-world colonies that are within several orders of magnitude of the same level of resource efficiency we have on earth, you're off your rocker. We currently have access to dwindling fossil fuels, abundant oxygen, water, and renewable food sources. Anywhere else, we start from nothing. I'll take the odds on fixing what we've got over starting from nothing, thanks.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Noren (605012) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @06:00PM (#30925670)
    Mu. [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:We choose (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @06:00PM (#30925672)

    The reason behind cutting Constellation is nothing more than to free up budget. The entitlements I'm talking about are social security, medicare, medicaid.

    "White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects." Doesn't the White House know what NOAA does? Hint: it's what they're going to direct NASA to do.

    The best part of what you quoted, though: "and on a new technology research and development program that will one day make human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system possible"... that's what Constellation IS.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by that this is not und (1026860) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @06:07PM (#30925822)

    Look, I'm sorry that Bush inspired you to become a contrarian, but propping a parody-version of Bush up as an argument isn't the most productive use of your time.

    Since we're all just machines, what is your alternative that needs further research funds? A new five year plan to increase the output of sewing machines?

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @08:49PM (#30928090) Journal

    At the present time, getting off the planet isn't much of a priority matter.

    Being able to live on it, however, is.

    Because, what are your choices?

    Put a lot of money we don't have into a project that will allow only the insanely wealthy to go somewhere else and leave the rest of us to continue devolving into the sort of people they want to get away from in the first place?

    or,

    Fix this dump and get another 100 years of technological progress under our belts so we can figure out how to do interplanetary travel cheaply when it really does become a matter of survival for our species?

  • Re:F-35 problems (Score:2, Insightful)

    by toddian (997999) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @05:56AM (#30931212)

    In some ways, yes, F-16/18s are a perfectly good replacement for the F-35. However at this point the program really has gone on far too long to be cancelled. Defense doesn't move quickly, and given that most of the US's allies are gearing up to retire their old Hornets and Vipers and eventually take on F-35s it would screw over a lot of American allies to can it.

    However, it's nearly impossible to make a reliable projection of what kind of fast jet we should be procuring. Why? Because whatever we buy will be in service well into the 2030s and 2040s, and who knows what UAV technology will look like by then.

    Case in point, the F-22. Great aircraft, but can't do Air-to-Ground at all. However, if you're using Predator drones as bomb trucks, maybe all you need is a bunch of F-22s to establish air superiority. In this scenario, F-35s look pretty useless. However, maybe you find yourself up against an enemy with cheap Man Portable radar homing missiles and a system to jam Predator signals. Now your F-16s & 18s are sitting ducks and your Predators are useless. F-22s can take out enemy fighters, but there's probably not any to look for anyways. In such a scenario, the F-35 suddenly looks very useful.

    The fact is, fighter procurement is an extremely long-term purchase in an extremely uncertain area. Are we getting it wrong? Probably. But can we say, without a doubt, what we *should* be doing? No way. The best solution, if you have the money, is to hedge your bets with multiple systems. Otherwise, it's just a question of guessing and hoping you get it right.

    IAAMP

  • Re:Sad news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by delt0r (999393) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @06:20AM (#30931322)
    It has often been noticed that the difference between livable areas and non livable is the cost of energy.... If you can produce really cheap energy (costs include environmental impact), then desalination plants and all sorts of marginal mineral deposits become economic. Doing things in an environmentally friendly manner also gets cheaper and much less of a burden.

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