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NASA Space Science

NASA Faces Rough Road In 2013 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the buckle-up dept.
MarkWhittington writes "With the National Research Council report that concluded that President Obama's plan for a mission to an asteroid has no support, either inside NASA or anywhere else, the space agency faces a decision point in 2013. The NRC suggested that the administration, Congress, NASA, and other stakeholders in space exploration come to a consensus behind a new goal. But the space agency's problems run deep, caused by a lack of direction, a lack of leadership, and a lack of funding."
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NASA Faces Rough Road In 2013

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:11PM (#42437455)
    How the hell can you plan a major project when every year you're faced with the possibility of major cuts?
  • Not only NASA. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:11PM (#42437457) Homepage

    But the whole United States is locked in a situation where hope and optimism is starting to get rare.

    The Democrats and Republicans seems to be blocking each other as much as possible causing a deadlock. Today it seems like the creationists are taking over step by step.

  • by XiaoMing (1574363) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:16PM (#42437481)

    From TFA (second link):

    The dimensions of the train wreck that is the Obama space policy are impossible to exaggerate.

    The dimensions of hyperbole in that statement are impossible to exaggerate, too. Reading that second link (possibly written by a very bitter pundit-turned-scientist Rove) was an absolute waste of time bemoaning everything from NASA considering too many options before making a decision, to Mitt Romney losing the presidential race. OP's summary was more educational and less biased than that pile.

  • by iggymanz (596061) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:19PM (#42437507)

    we'll spend ten times that amount occupying, maiming and killing people who did not attack us on 09/11/2001. because that's important and of lasting benefit to humanity.

  • by Sasayaki (1096761) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:40PM (#42437649)

    Only ten?

    Where in the world did you get such a staggering discount? Or are you counting on a massive boost to NASA's funding?

    NASA budget in 2012: $3.5-$8.7 billion
    DOD (not including the FBI, international affairs, veterans affairs, homeland security, many other things): $707.5 billion

    Ten times would be a huge change. I mean, the interest on debt for past wars was $109.1–$431.5 billion itself.

    Lemme put that into perspective for you: You're spending about 30x as much repaying the debt for the last wars than you are putting stuff into space.

    I'll type it again so it's really really clear.

    The budget for repaying the debt, not necessarily the whole debt itself, just the interest on the debt, for Iraq/Afghanistan, is around about thirty times the budget of NASA. The defense budget itself is two to three times *that* amount.

    Ten. If only, mate. If only.

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States#Budget_breakdown_for_2012 [wikipedia.org]

  • by dnahelicase (1594971) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:41PM (#42437653)

    Fact of the matter is this - instead of being the leader of the citizens of the United States of America, Obama chooses to be a crowd pleaser.

    Instead of concentrate the limited resource available to make America strong - by spending them on R&D and also space programs - Obama opted for spending the money for welfare to feed the crack addicts and those who are too lazy to work

    The president doesn't make these decisions. You might think he's supposed to lead by telling congress what to spend money on, but you would be just another person enabling congress to continue to suck. The president is designed to hold back congress from doing crazy stuff. That's why he has the veto power - and nothing more. Congress sets the budget and congress fails when the budget is wrong. There are 535 people with their own leadership structure. When they fail it's not the presidents' fault, no matter who it is.

    Blaming the president for Congress' failing through lack of leadership just enables the executive branch to assume more power and the legislative to point more fingers.

  • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Monday December 31, 2012 @07:51PM (#42437717) Homepage Journal
    Lack of sufficent funding to (eg) NASA is a fundamental problem, because it shows that The US of A is losing sight of some things which are really important.

    I'm not just talking about "more science is good" but a thriving Space Program through NASA pumps something quite literally vital back into the economy.

    Confidence In And Hope For The Future.

    Almost NOTHING that NASA does is "for today", everything is long term, future thinking, "some day you will thank me for this" work.

    Problems with lack of direction (etc) at NASA are mostly a reflection of uncertainty in funding (both current and future).

    You can't blame the Captain of a ship that he's not steering anywhere useful when you won't put fuel in his tanks.
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday December 31, 2012 @08:39PM (#42438065) Journal

    The president is designed to hold back congress from doing crazy stuff. That's why he has the veto power - and nothing more.

    AND NOTHING MORE ???

    You mean to say, the role of the POTUS is not being the ***DE FACTO LEADER*** of the USA?

    If the position of the POTUS is designed, as you said, "to hold back congress from doing crazy stuff", how come presidents such as Lincoln, JFK and Reagan managed to lead the United States of America to greater heights?

    Or to put it another way --- Do you, Sir, really understand the true role of the POTUS?

  • by petsounds (593538) on Monday December 31, 2012 @09:58PM (#42438519)

    There haven't been any manned missions to the Moon in 40 years. We can send dozens of robotic missions to Mars for the cost of a single manned one, making it sustainable.

    The American public doesn't give a shit about robotic missions to Mars. Curiosity's complicated landing, yes the public was tuned in because it was drama and the whole jet-powered crane thing was pretty frackin cool. Then most just got on with our lives, the same way Americans stopped caring about the Apollo missions. The public perked their collective ears up again when NASA made a blunder with that "one for the record books" comment and all kinds of people I know were suddenly gushing about the possibility of Life On Mars.

    Putting people on Mars and starting a colony, well that's something people can be excited about and identify with. But it's a long-term goal. A shorter-term and ongoing goal that people are invariably excited about is finding life on another planet. The problem is, we keep sending robots to search for long-dead life, not current life. Let's get robots out to Europa and Titan and explore the seas, to Martian caves, and polar regions. Let's make finding existing extraterrestrial life a priority. Because if NASA strives for scientific discoveries that the public cares about, the public is more likely to demand NASA be funded adequately. This kind of thinking might not sit well with planetary geologists who want more rock-hunting missions, but NASA has to play a PR role as much as it focuses on hard science. Making a Twitter account is not enough. Inspiring the public must be part of the primary mission, if for no other reason than self-preservation.

  • Re:Not only NASA. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ClickOnThis (137803) on Monday December 31, 2012 @10:12PM (#42438581) Journal

    For some reason, science accepts certain theories as fact, even without real proof.

    Mod this minus infinity, Bullshit. You seriously misunderstand and misrepresent science.

    In science, the facts are experimental results, not the theories. If the results support a theory, then the theory is accepted. A theory can be overthrown or modified by any single contrary experimental result. If two theories explain the same result, then typically the simpler theory wins (Occam's Razor.)

    The concept of "real proof" is more mathematical than scientific. One can speak of "scientific proof" as a high degree of confidence, arising from a mass of supporting evidence, that a certain theory or law is correct and is unlikely to be overthrown (e.g., the laws of thermodynamics, the kinetic molecular theory of matter.) But neither mathematicians nor scientists accept anything as established without proof.

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Monday December 31, 2012 @11:39PM (#42438899) Journal

    Even though I am not a member of the Ronald Reagan fan club, I gotta admit this one thing:

    Neither JFK nor Eisenhower nor FDR has brought the USSR to its knees.

    On the other hand, Reagan did - by playing the "space weapon poker" game that bankrupted the former Soviet Union, which in turn, led to its breakup.

Hold on to the root.

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