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NASA Science

Neil Armstrong To NASA: You're Embarrassing 409

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-small-complaint-for-man dept.
astroengine writes "Neil Armstrong, Apollo legend and outspoken critic of NASA's current direction for human spaceflight, was joined by three other space experts to address Congress on Thursday. It wasn't pretty. Amongst the other criticisms was Armstrong's tough statement: 'For a country that has invested so much for so long to achieve a leadership position in space exploration and exploitation, this condition is viewed by many as lamentably embarrassing and unacceptable.' He might have a point, but Apollo 17's Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, suggested the shuttles should be brought out of retirement to fill the U.S. manned spaceflight gap — a suggestion that probably rolled some eyeballs."
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Neil Armstrong To NASA: You're Embarrassing

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  • I Love you Neil (Score:1, Insightful)

    by masternerdguy (2468142) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:09AM (#37489736)
    Thank you, maybe they'll listen to you. American space exploration has been in a state of decay for a over a decade.
  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:15AM (#37489780)

    The Republicans just spent 30 years gutting the fuck out of NASA as well as every other government program not designed to throw bullets and guns at brown people. So what do you expect NASA would turn out like?

    For fuck's sake, the Bush Bailout program cost more money in one year than NASA's entire 50+-year budget.

  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:18AM (#37489800)

    decay comes after living beyond one's means.

    nasa is a reflection of the government.

    the government is a reflection of the people.

    and it's 20 years, not 10.

    america, and a large part of the world will know what it means to live beneath one's means for decades to come.

  • Unsurprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dward90 (1813520) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:19AM (#37489812)

    A guy who walked on the moon thinks manned space flight is a good idea. Full story at 11.

    In all honesty, manned space flight makes no sense right now, as it's not something that can be done half-assed. With the current state of American finances (and the petty squabbling surrounding it) , NASA will never get the investment they need to put a human anywhere that matters. Robotic and satellite exploration, however, is not out of reach at all. We need to do more of, and we need to invest more in it if we (the US) are ever going to maintain some innovative power going forward. Space exploration is the right thing to do, but we don't yet have the knowledge or technology to make meaningful manned missions.

  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:28AM (#37489892)

    It was pretty clear that Obomba inherited a sagging economy. Bushy also inherited a sagging economy, but managed to re-inflate the bubble, and then leave office as it was all coming down.

    As decent as it was under Clinton, and a republican house of the 1990s, that too was a bubble. Just look at tech, manufacturing data, consumption.

    republican and democrat politicians are to blame.

    but the real blame goes to the american people. exactly such as yourself, or people like you.

    to think that one half of america is an innocent bystander while the other half is a lying, self deceiving bunch ....it's indicative that you have your head so far up your ass, the taste of old copper pennies fills your mouth.

    your penchant to duck your own culpability in this, will mean that your suffering will be thrice that of those who admit it.

  • Yes and No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:29AM (#37489898) Journal
    In broad, total-budget-allocation numbers, it is unequivocally the case that the US seems to have backed out of a great many 'big picture' projects in favor of a mixture of foreign policy adventuring and financial jiggery-pokery.

    In that sense, Armstrong is correct.

    However, it must not be forgotten that Armstrong is also speaking in his capacity as one of the White Elephants. The people we sent to the moon pretty much to show Ivan whose dick was bigger. An impressive feat of engineering(that conveniently aligned with the Cold War enthusiasm for big missiles); but not really a high point for science. Those unassuming little RC cars on mars that survived so long did a fair bit more extraterrestrial data gathering, and a combination of orbital and improved ground telescopes have done extraordinary deep-sky work...

    So far as Armstrong is arguing that there is something rotten in the US, he is correct. However, I can only take them seriously so long as he stays there, rather than expanding into a lamentation over the decline of the impressive, but scientifically dubious, in favor of unsexy but productive and increasingly robotic space work.The fact that it's easier to find money to save gamblers from the consequences of their own folly than it is to explore the universe is sad. The fact that tinned-monkey 'space exploration' is being supplanted by increasingly sophisticated robotic systems is not.
  • Re:Unsurprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tophermeyer (1573841) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:30AM (#37489910)

    Space exploration is the right thing to do, but we don't yet have the knowledge or technology to make meaningful manned missions.

    We didn't have the knowledge or technology prior to 1961 either. But spending money to learn how to do those things was the right thing to do.

    IMO the goal of our space programs isn't just to put humans into space. It also serves to dump piles of money into US science an tech development. Our space program is an investment in the US that allows us to maintain a technological edge. We've lost hope of outproducing developing countries like China, out best chance now is to keep ourselves ahead of them technologically. We can't do that unless we are keeping our scientists and engineers working and advancing our sci/tech industry.

    TL;DR: We must do this in the name of SCIENCE!

  • Re:No no NO!!!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:32AM (#37489934)

    No, they both suck, just on different levels and in different ways.

  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:34AM (#37489956)

    No, try again. As the poster above you points out: the Bush Bailout cost more in one year - nay, in ONE LUMP SUM PROGRAM - than NASA's entire budget for the entirety of its existence.

    And what did the Bush Bailout get us? Pretty much nothing except a bunch of Republican fat-cats lining their pockets after claiming their businesses were "too big to fail."

    NASA is not a reflection of "government." NASA is a reflection of what happens when you give an agency - ANY agency, whether public or private - an order to do grand things on a shoestring budget and then start hacking away at the budget even further.

    The final three planned moon missions were all canceled by Nixon and the Republicans, who had their hate on for the space program because it had been put in place by JFK (Nixon had an especially heavy hate on for any remnants of that administration, as he had lost to JFK previously). This behavior has continued more or less apace every time the Republicans held either the Presidency or at least one house of Congress.

    As has once been said: NASA is an agency with an undeniable problem. The problem is not the will to do what they are assigned to do. It is not the capacity and intellect to get the job done. No, the problem is that it is an agency assigned to tasks that require a 10-15 year program to set up and accomplish, while being overseen and funded by a bunch of assholes who are generally replaced on a 2-year cycle and who are perpetually looking to be seen as "cutting government waste" and wanting instant gratification. For god's sake, we build in a 10% overage "just in case" fund for every construction project, but Congress won't do the same for NASA's programs!

    You want to see NASA do well? Give them a task, assign realistic funding (and a percentage for overruns when they happen, because something unexpected always happens) for the task, lock the funding in place so that future Congresses can't touch it, and GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY.

  • Re:No no NO!!!!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:48AM (#37490044)

    No, they both suck, just on different levels and in different ways.

    They do both suck, but Bush funded NASA more than Clinton and Obama combined. For all the fucking up Bush did, hurting NASA isn't part of it.

  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:48AM (#37490046)

    republican and democrat politicians are to blame.

    Not really. The Republicans are such goddamn bullies they forced their shit on us. The Democrats being spineless cowards allowed the Reps to push them around. During the budget ceiling debates, Obama gave the Reps a sweetheart deal but the Reps threw back in his face because "eliminating tax loop-holes is the same as tax increases". The Republican's billionaire masters didn't like the elimination of tax loopholes.

    but the real blame goes to the american people. exactly such as yourself, or people like you.

    I can't argue with that. In '12, I'm sure the Reps will do well because many of my fellow Americans are too easily distracted by bogus issues like: family values, abortion, taxing the rich aka job creators, whether or not their multi-millionaire candidate eats junk food, etc ...

    Our "leaders" via their propaganda machines (media) are distracting us and creating unimportant issues while an elite sucks the wealth out of this country.

    Class warfare? Whatever man. While my fellow poor and middle class slobs are all "outraged" over the idea of taxing the rich (those that make over $1 million) more that they are now, I just have to watch in complete disgust - they are sticking up for the economic abusers of our economy. While their lively hoods are being destroyed and sent overseas so that some well connected CEO can get his $20 million bonus for fucking up the company and subsequently putting more people out of work, they're sticking up for the same people that are fucking them up the ass.

  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bberens (965711) on Friday September 23, 2011 @08:10AM (#37490266)
    Here's the thing that gets me. We bailed out AIG, GM, Chrysler, Goldman Sachs, GE, Bank of America, the list goes on and on. We gave them Trillions in direct cash infusions and 0% interest loans. Essentially every member of the financial sector and virtually all large businesses were saved because of either being directly saved or we saved their financial counter-parties. As soon as someone starts talking about raising taxes on the decision makers in those big corporations a few % all of a sudden it's class warfare. I agree there's class warfare going on, but it seems clear that my side is losing.
  • Re:Unsurprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pnewhook (788591) on Friday September 23, 2011 @08:11AM (#37490284)
    So NASA always gets hit during economic downturn, but apparently there is always money for the US war machine. At least something positive always comes out of the NASA spending.
  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday September 23, 2011 @08:45AM (#37490692)

    but the real blame goes to the american people. exactly such as yourself, or people like you.

    to think that one half of america is an innocent bystander while the other half is a lying, self deceiving bunch ....it's indicative that you have your head so far up your ass, the taste of old copper pennies fills your mouth.

    The reason I disagree with this is that the American people are lied to and propagandized to such a degree that they have no basis on which to make informed decisions about government. They are taken advantage of at every turn by self-interested politicians and media outlets. Where can they get good, honest information about what various government agencies are up to, and what policy outcomes are? TV ain't gonna tell 'em! Local news is just that, and the national stuff is high level overview, and mostly just what the government wants us to hear anyway. And the politicians are too concerned with funding their next campaign and getting elected to be bothered with any kind of honest assesment.

    So people are left to their own devices. Some will go out of their way to find out what's going on (even then it can be tough). But many people are too busy with taking care of the kids and keeping a job to really understand what is going on and how to respond. And even if they do, how do they affect change? It's hard to get anything done in Washington without an army of lobbyists. It's hard for the average citizen to challenge the military/industrial complex, or Wall Street, or Big Oil. So you can blame the American people if you want. And I might agree with you if we had a real, functioning republic with real, adversarial media. But we don't.

  • Re:I Love you Neil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Friday September 23, 2011 @09:11AM (#37491014)

    The hell he did. He inherited a BOOMING economy with a MASSIVE surplus. I'm so fucking sick of this bullshit false equivalence. What you have said isn't just a lie. It's mendacious to the extreme.

    Stock market peaked in March, 2000. The dotcom burst was well under way by election day. As you might recall, half of the valuation for all publicly traded companies went away by late 2001. That in turn dropped tax revenue considerably, since so much (around 20% of the 2000-2001 fiscal year) was dependent on capital gains. So no massive revenue surplus in fiscal year 2001-2002.

    The original poster is correct.

  • by spinninggears (551247) on Friday September 23, 2011 @09:14AM (#37491054)

    Unmanned spacecraft require just as much science and engineering, and is a better investment.

  • Re:Unsurprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scamper_22 (1073470) on Friday September 23, 2011 @09:14AM (#37491062)

    "We didn't have the knowledge or technology prior to 1961 either. But spending money to learn how to do those things was the right thing to do."

    But that of course is the debate.
    We should spend money to explore space, fix diseases, take out 3rd world dictators, rebuild nations, build high speed rail lines, research electric cars, take of the mentally ill... and so on and so forth.

    Advancing science is hardly a trump argument to do something. Not saying it is not a worthy goal, but virtually all such goals are worthwhile. To many exploring space is nothing... a who cares proposition. No different from government spending on operas.

  • Re:Unsurprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gravatron (716477) on Friday September 23, 2011 @09:36AM (#37491378)
    Meanwhile, the DOD gets another 700 billion or so. The 'we don't have the money for it!' argument doesn't fly so long as the DOD enjoys that much without issue.

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