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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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  • 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, 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.
  • 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.
  • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:31PM (#30920766)

    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?

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

    by Jhon (241832) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:31PM (#30920768) Homepage Journal

    Of course we have money. The problem is we spend more than we take in -- and our spending priorities are all over the board.

    That, and the NASA budget is a drop in the bucket of annual spending.

    Why not cut NHE by 1% or 2%? Across the board?

  • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @02:37PM (#30920908) 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.

    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: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: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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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 Larson2042 (1640785) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:13PM (#30921848)
    Here's to hoping that this kind of drastic cutting will finally spark some national debate (and perhaps a decision) on what we want our space program (specifically, the human spaceflight program) to do. There are a number of options as I see it:
    1) Support earth activities (science/climate/earth observation/etc)
    2) Jobs program and political/economic tool
    3) Brief exploration for national pride (Apollo moon shots)
    4) Enabling permanent, sustained human presence in space (colonization)

    Right now, our space program is pretty much just a combination of options 1 and 2. My personal belief is that it should be 4. If humanity is to ultimately survive, or even just take full advantage of the resources and opportunities that space offers, then a permanent human presence in space will be required. Constellation, as it stands now, would likely only lead to options 2 and 3.

    The most encouraging part of that article was:

    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.

    This has been NASA's biggest problem. Congress doesn't want to do anything with NASA that might upset the status quo of job distribution in their districts (along with those stupid cost plus contracts). It's high time that NASA get a cleaning and reorganization around a defined goal that will accomplish something in space. (And there's a whole other side rant about how going to the moon/mars as a goal is useless. Those are destinations/places to operate in fulfillment of the goal of colonization or resource utilization or just "exploration")

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

    by Cor-cor (1330671) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:30PM (#30922322)

    Titanium's not tremendously rare on Earth, it's just more expensive because it's a bitch to refine and process. As I understand it, most of the processing steps require either a high vacuum or a completely inert atmosphere to overcome the high reactivity of titanium at high temperatures (around room temp it forms an extremely well-bonded oxide on the surface, which is why it's known to be corrosion resistant.)

    As the default state on the lunar surface is hard vacuum, this opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for metals development, if only we were able to get there, and bring along or develop a suitable power source as well.

  • Re:Sad news (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:40PM (#30922608)

    Unless you have a radically new way to power a spaceship, there are no riches in the asteroid belt. There's no substance so valuable its worth the fuel to get there in a reasonable time

    Well getting into LEO still requires chemical rockets, but there are other options [wikipedia.org] once you get there. Also these methods have been proven [wikipedia.org]. Oh and before you remind me about your stipulation of "reasonable" time, electric propulsion scales based on the maximum voltage, if Deep Space 1 had a small fission reactor rather than solar panels it would been able get to its first target much faster and more directly than it did.

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

    by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @03:50PM (#30922876) Homepage

    That's always been "true", and always been a lame excuse. Yes, in a colonization effort LOTS of people fail - ask the Roanoake colony.

    They failed to survive where other tribes already survived, nothing made that area uninhabitable. Oxygen, water, food and warmth are the essentials of human life and nothing of the sort will be on Mars without advanced technology to produce it. And you need a completely sealed pressure dome just to hold on to the air you have, before you can even think of generating oxygen.

    Right now, can we even do a dry run? I mean we should have fairly solid data on Mars by now, temperature, pressure, radiation level, solar power and so on. Put up a giant freezer/vacuum chamber/radiation sources/lights to emulate sunlight and build a simulated Mars base inside. If we can't even build one on Earth, we sure can't do it on Mars.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:12PM (#30923380) Journal

    Vietnam: Invaded [wikipedia.org]
    India: Invaded [wikipedia.org]

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:26PM (#30923742) Homepage Journal

    Did you just suggest people who agree with the scientific consensus on climate change "can't add"? I'm surprised someone who hates science so much would support NASA

    No, of course not, this no longer has anything to do with science, which is what is so often missed. At this point the debate is entirely about economics and politics and resultant courses of action.

    There's one simple question to ask, "how much CO2 decrease is needed to decrease AGW by 1 degree C?" If you run the numbers, it's about 2T-tons of CO2. If you then run the amount of CO2 produced by human economies, it runs out that we're talking about 20 years of economic inactivity to impact 1 degree C, and the IPCC is forecasting 3.5 degrees this century. So, to mitigate AGW, you have to take incredibly drastic steps to squash economies or invent free clean power. And that's not even counting the less developed nations who will continue to increase their populations (and thus CO2 output) prodigiously if their standards of living aren't improved. To adapt to AGW is far more economical (feasible, even), and this is the political power struggle currently being played out (Kyoto, Copenhagen, "Captain Trade", etc.).

    Reasonable approaches only appear to include safe nuclear power or dealing with the consequences of AGW. Heck, you can get the bumper sticker [zazzle.com] if you want.

    Of course, if those NASA satellites show that the high-CO2-sensitivity model upon which most of the science is predicated don't turn up the expected results, then perhaps the whole matter is up for revision.

  • by DerekLyons (302214) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (retawriaf)> on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @06:50PM (#30926650) Homepage

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

    No, Kennedy needed a huge virtual penis in order to outsize the Russians. So he took the already damaged space exploration program he inherited from Eisenhower and destroyed it utterly by focusing it on a short term success-at-all-costs program.
     
    Fifty years later, we're still paying dearly because a slow program based on incremental expansion from aircraft, through the X-15, and beyond into reusable aerospace craft was abandoned in favor of using huge virtual military penises to shoot man first into orbit and then to the moon.
     
    Which, in the end, isn't so different from Obama - long term vision abandoned in favor of short term goals.

  • Re:F-35 problems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by atamido (1020905) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @08:54AM (#30932012)

    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... However, if you're using Predator drones as bomb trucks, maybe all you need is a bunch of F-22s to establish air superiority.

    It's probably not unreasonable to guess that air to air UAVs will be more than practical in 10 years. In light of that it would make a lot of sense to be focusing on designing a vehicle to carry the not-yet-designed computer/software that would control it. Without all of the hardware required to house, interface with, and protect a human, a new dogfight vehicle could be much lighter, maneuverable, etc.

    Of course, you are correct though that canceling the F-35 project now would financially screw over a lot of people.

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