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NASA The Almighty Buck

NASA's Greatest Challenges In 2014 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the hard-road dept.
coondoggie writes "In its annual look at what challenges NASA faces in the coming year, the agency's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) this year outlined nine key areas it says will cause the most angina. Leading the way in pain is money. NASA's current money story starts off bad and just gets worse. From the article: '"Along with the rest of the Federal Government, NASA began FY 2013 under a 6-month continuing resolution that funded the Agency at FY 2012 levels. This was followed by a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year that reduced the Agency's enacted funding level of $17. 5 billion by $626.5 million, or approximately 4% due to sequestration. These financial pressures look to repeat themselves in FY 2014, with no annual budget in place at the beginning of the fiscal year and potential sequestration impacts that could reduce NASA's budget request of $17.7 billion by $1.5 billion to $16.2 billion. As the National Research Council noted in its 2012 report examining NASA's strategic direction and management, NASA's budget is 'mismatched to the current portfolio of missions, facilities, and staff,'" the OIG report stated.'"
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NASA's Greatest Challenges In 2014

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  • by Shemmie (909181) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @08:11PM (#45732303)

    All they need to do is drop an 'A'.

    • All they need to do is drop an 'A'.

      Been there, done that. [youtube.com] Thus no expectation of privacy outdoors, I'm fine with that. It's the tapping of communications indoors and between indoor places that I have a problem with -- Since Omnivore, Carnivore, ECHELON, and PRISM's Room 641A existed before the NSA failed to prevent 9/11. [wikipedia.org] So, the decades of NSA unconstitutional wiretap spying is demonstrably expensive and useless, while the other NRO spying advances space research, directly helps the military, and doesn't invade your home. [nro.gov] I'll take NASA [youtube.com]

      • We can give most of the NSA money to NASA, because the Snowden leaks have made every company and responsible person aware of the need to secure their data better.
        So any goals of the counter-terrorism side of the NSA have been 95% achieved already.

        They can keep some cash for foreign spying, that's their job. But stop wasting money listening to Angela, she's clear enough about everything she wants, any time she talks in public.

      • We need proportional protection. Cut the anti-terrorism budget for NSA, DHS, etc. to 1/6th the funding we have for anti-flu, since the flu kills six times more people than a 9/11 scale attack, every year. Give the funds to NASA, or the NRO if you're really scared of your own shadow. Problem solved.

        Dear VortexCortex,

        I have read many of your comments and I must thank you for the many informative and insightful leads that you have provided.

        Now, back to the very thing that I've quoted.

        If I were the NSA, I could turn your proposal on its head - that is, I, as the all-knowing spook with all kinds of network throughout the world, could easily import terrorism into the United States of America and create A HELL OF A LOT OF PROBLEMS for the Americans.

        And I, as the NSA, could also provide the jihadists some fa

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Hubble's mirror design changed to match the existing mirrors already deployed in spy satellites -- Aiming an army of Hubbles at earth? That's some awesome spying capability; No terrorists or enemies could make a significant move against us without us finding out immediately already thanks to space spying programs. And, when we launch more impressive satellites the old spy-sats can be donated to NASA and pointed into space, or sent to other planets. [space.com]

        I think you have that backwards. The NSA gets th

    • by antdude (79039)

      NAS? [grin]

    • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @10:02PM (#45732853) Journal

      All they need to do is drop an 'A'.

      Definitely. It's the Administration that's causing all the holdups.

  • ... has some extra bit coins....

    da da ... bing

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      ... has some extra bit coins....

      da da ... bing

      If you had any idea how the FBI really works, you'd realize all those bitcoins are going to be spent on things nobody in the FBI has asked for or needs, but on things administrators "think" they'll need, based upon requests from years ago which have been sitting at the bottom of an In basket, somewhere under "Get new bra for JEH."

    • Make bitcoins (Score:4, Interesting)

      by unixisc (2429386) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @11:53PM (#45733301)
      Actually, NASA could dedicate all their computers for bitcoin mining, until it gets just even, and start spending again. Since it's internally generated money, they wouldn't have to budget for it. They could sell it to bitcoin purchasers outside for real $$$, and use that in the space program
  • I realize that I'm not adding much to the conversation by saying this, but: Woohoo! Sequester! Yeah! Praise be to our elected representatives, dedicated to stopping anything that might resemble compromise. There's no government like no government.
    • It was designed and advertised as "stupid unbearable cuts" to force both parties to negotiate. Until they decided that only the air traffic controllers needed to be exempt so they could get home on time after failing to negotiate.
      Smaller government, regardless of how. That's the official platform of some candidates.

  • Heard they got about $100 million to spare
  • by BringsApples (3418089) on Wednesday December 18, 2013 @08:36PM (#45732457)
    Not
    Another
    Sequestration!
    Awww!!!
  • Privatise it (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by agm (467017)

    They should 100% privatise it. Then the people who want to support it financially can, leaving those who do not want to to, well, not. That's the only fair and honest approach.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Until somebody finds gold asteroids, it's not profitable. Maybe Uranus has gold.

      • by agm (467017)

        If it's not profitable then they shouldn't be forcing hard working people to pay for it. Make payments to it voluntary.

        • Re:Privatise it (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Fnordulicious (85996) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @01:04AM (#45733577) Homepage

          Firefighting isn’t profitable. Police services aren’t profitable. Parks and playgrounds aren’t profitable. Plowing the streets and sidewalks isn’t profitable. Public art isn’t profitable. Keeping the air and water clean aren’t profitable. Teaching children isn’t profitable. Maintaining our highways isn’t profitable.

          Yet we spend our money on these things. Why? Would you volunteer to pay for fighting fires in a neighborhood on the other side of your town? Or how about to pay for a highway that connects two cities you’ve never been to? Or to educate someone else’s children?

          People are selfish, obviously including you. We don’t want to pay for things that don’t obviously benefit us. But we still want to live in a world where we have things like clean water, educated children, and people to put out our burning homes. Paying for scientific research is the same thing. We have governnments that tax us so that they can provide exactly those services that nobody is willing to voluntarily pay for.

          If you want to live without them, why not try moving to Sudan or tribal Pakistan? Try living without the modern society you’re accustomed to if you really don’t want to pay for it. Give it all up. When you have, maybe then you can come back and tell us about how everything should be paid for on a strictly voluntary basis.

          • by agm (467017)

            Firefighting isn’t profitable. Police services aren’t profitable. Parks and playgrounds aren’t profitable.

            People who want those things would pay for them whether they are profitable or not. Just like NASA.

            Plowing the streets and sidewalks isn’t profitable. Public art isn’t profitable. Keeping the air and water clean aren’t profitable. Teaching children isn’t profitable. Maintaining our highways isn’t profitable.

            Yet we spend our money on these things. Why?

            Because people value those services. It's not rocket science (excuse the pun).

            Would you volunteer to pay for fighting fires in a neighborhood on the other side of your town? Or how about to pay for a highway that connects two cities you’ve never been to? Or to educate someone else’s children?

            No, but I would willingly pay for those things that direct benefit me. I would also assist in areas where people don't have the menas to provide such things.

            People are selfish, obviously including you.

            It's not selfish to expect people to pay for what they use and not for what they don't use. "Selfish" is expecting (and forcing) people to pay fo things they don't want. The leas

            • You would pay for direct benefit, but do not want to pay when it indirectly benefits you. That is so much more ethically corrupt than compulsion.
              I believe this thread is about privatising. There are two viable companies doing exactly that, and more trying.
              I would question whether they would have tried by now if not for the race to the moon. That initial spend was vital to the current environment. But no one directly benefitted from any of that spending.
              According to what you wrote, you would prefer that no s

              • by agm (467017)

                You would pay for direct benefit, but do not want to pay when it indirectly benefits you.

                I've not said that at all. What I have said is that I will pay fo things that I use, and also for things that I find valuable. "Valuable" doesn't mean I directly benefit from it. This is why I donate to food banks in my area and spend many hours a week with youth organisations. I do this voluntarily because it is the right thing to do.

                According to what you wrote, you would prefer that no space program got off the ground.

                I've not written that at all. I don't think it is ethically justified to force people to pay for things like a space program.

                Or, you assert that enough monied altruists would have donated to accomplish the same feat. Either is preposterous.
                But then you say you would give voluntarily. Do you see direct benefit?

                Direct benefit? No, I don't see that. But then aga

              • by khallow (566160)

                You would pay for direct benefit, but do not want to pay when it indirectly benefits you.

                I see yet another idiot speaking of nebulous benefits while ignoring costs. I understand quite well what benefits are, direct or otherwise. I also understand what costs are.

            • You are being too simplistic.

              We, the people, formed a government not for purposes of oppressing the liberties of our fellows, but because we can't possibly run our society without it. True, it can be corrupted, but until someone comes up with a better method, we'll just have to police it. Police it, not destroy it. We delegate decision making to elected representatives so that we don't have to spend all our own time in campaigns and votes. They in turn rely on staff, and fund research to find answers

          • While I agree with you overall, I just want to comment on some specific points.

            Paying for a fire department is actually an insurance. The profitability of insurance is debatable, but it makes sense enough so that people pay it, often voluntarily.
            Education is most certainly profitable, since a lot of people are willing to save money or take loans in order to finance their education or that of their children (in Europe things are a bit different, but let's not make this too complicated). Education is an inves

            • by jd (1658)

              There was a time in England when you paid fire fighters insurance. They marked the houses that had paid. Houses that didn't pay - well, picture two Mafia heavies sauntering up the driveway, making comments about how combustible things are and what a pity it would be if an accident were to.... happen. (Terry Pratchett made a reference to this in his books because it is such a sick, evil and yet utterly predictable outcome.)

              The service became one of the first truly national services because organized crime sy

          • Firefighting can be profitable. There are many security services that are profitable. There are many private land use areas (think parks) that are profitable. Plowing the streets is profitable (I have a friend who makes good money doing it), teaching is profitable, toll roads are profitable.

            Not sure what world you're living in.

    • by lancelet (898272)
      I hear calls for privatisation of organisations like NASA all the time, and I definitely understand (even support) the motivation for it. However, you need to understand the way these things work first, to understand the down-side of privatisation.

      It's all about RISK. Many of the good programs that organisations like NASA are running are risky, in a financial sense. The idea of public funding in these cases (not the only reason for public funding, btw) is to spread the risk. When people claim that pr
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160)
        Here's the obvious two rebuttals. First, there's no point to taking risks without a return. Your claims about finite elements analysis are bizarre. It was already being developed and it doesn't take decades of work to turn FEA into viable algorithms and working code when a single person could do it in a few years.

        Second, what risks really are being taken? It's easy to talk about taking risks when you get easy money from someone else and have little accountability for what you do with that money.

        You just won't get that from private enterprise, even a "Kickstarter-driven" kind of private enterprise.

        Ever try?

        • The really interesting science, that is, there is no guarantee of a return accountants would recognize as such. (Scientists consider no result a result.)

          In space science, this is worsened by rockets failing, the harsh conditions of space wrecking probes, the hazards of space junk, the very long-term nature of the work, the fact that all costs are up-front and the commercial rewards beyond satellite relays are never tangibly linked to space research by the public, creating the illusion that space has done no

          • by khallow (566160)

            The really interesting science, that is, there is no guarantee of a return accountants would recognize as such.

            Do you really believe that most of humanity are accountants?

            In space science, this is worsened by rockets failing, the harsh conditions of space wrecking probes, the hazards of space junk, the very long-term nature of the work, the fact that all costs are up-front and the commercial rewards beyond satellite relays are never tangibly linked to space research by the public, creating the illusion that space has done nothing.

            It's like you're trying to lose this argument. What makes the poor progress in "space science" an illusion? Want to know the fastest way to do space science with near future technology? Sample return. That's because the scientific infrastructure on Earth is vastly better than the scientific infrastructure anywhere else that we can get to in the near future.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They should 100% privatise it. Then the people who want to support it financially can, leaving those who do not want to to, well, not. That's the only fair and honest approach.

      Yeah lets privatise it and everything else. Because private entities are so much more likely to be competent, never worry about making a profit, and are never mismanaged...just like the banks a few years back....oh wait.

      How about we privatise the police force, fire brigade and ambulance too? And deregulate while we're at it. "I'm sorry sir we can't attend to your emergency as you don't live in one of the lucrative areas we cover".

      Foolish greed and self-centered behaviour are at the heart of the current soci

    • Yeah, right.... Just imagine a world where the police are private, and where they only serve the places that are profitable. Now, imagine that this private police services are expensive (after all, profit is now above the service itself), and you can not afford her services. Nightmare scenario for those who have income, but can not pay.
      • by agm (467017)

        Yeah, right.... Just imagine a world where the police are private, and where they only serve the places that are profitable. Now, imagine that this private police services are expensive (after all, profit is now above the service itself), and you can not afford her services. Nightmare scenario for those who have income, but can not pay.

        You're assuming that people would only pay for services that directly benefit them. That wouldn't be the case. It's in everyone's interests to see people protected from harm.

        • You're assuming that people would only pay for services that directly benefit them

          And it is not what everyone does nowadays? How many around you are screaming they do not want pay taxes to "sustain vagabonds" (aka, people who by most who try are not getting employment)?
          • by agm (467017)

            You're assuming that people would only pay for services that directly benefit them

            And it is not what everyone does nowadays? How many around you are screaming they do not want pay taxes to "sustain vagabonds" (aka, people who by most who try are not getting employment)?

            Compulsory wealth redistribution is not a "service". I regularly pay for things (voluntarily) that do not directly benefit me. Foodbanks, local charities etc. That is how it should be done - not via state enforced extortion.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Do you realize what site you're on, dufus? If you do, know that you're trolling and PLEASE STOP before every fucking comment you make is modded to oblivion. Now listen up, jocktroll, we're nerds. We LOVE space exploration and if you don't, you don't belong here.

      Pay attention to all the folks who responded to you who are at least 25 points higher than you on the IQ graph, you may learn something if you're at least almost normally intelligent.

      If NASA were privately funded, we might still not have walked on th

  • Am I the only one seeing this?

    When I clicked on the story link, I got redirected to

    http://beta.slashdot.org/story/195783 [slashdot.org]

    which looks like

    http://imgur.com/uVnwWHl [imgur.com]

    I do not want to browse 'Latest Tech Jobs' whilst browsing slashdot.

    If you need more money to run the site, ask for donations. You'll probably get them.

    PS - I can't post anonymously! That totally goes against my cowardly nature! I protest in the strongest terms!

    • by chebucto (992517)

      I forgot to say:

      - The old (Malda-era) layout is fine
      - One area that does need improvement is the mobile version of the site; something like El Reg's layout would be greatly appreciated.

    • by csumpi (2258986)
      I'm pretty sure you've also noticed the extreme proportion of slashvertisements and click baits since timothy and the new owners took over. It's all about making hard cash now, news for nerds is the past. You are the product now, just like on facebook.

      Better disable ad blocking and start clicking those ads before it gets much worse.
  • NASA is filled with bureaucrats and lifers. I know a lot of them personally. I think they're all great, and give our world more bang for my buck than any other agency (sorry NSA).

    Look at what Musk is doing by riding herd over his people - he fires them when they can't perform - and guess what? SpaceX performs.

    Time to create a government agency (or two) whose sole purpose is to get a colony going on the moon. Maybe another agency for unmanned exploration. And that's it. The aeronautical functions can b

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Outsource NASA to Musk or someone like him.

      That's not a stretch. If Lockheed and General Dynamics can build aircraft, why not sub out spacecraft too?

    • by anarkhos (209172)

      You had me with "Disband NASA" but lost me with "create a government agency (or two)"

      Maybe we could call this new agency NASA

    • The problem of NASA is political. Go to space means taking risks, politicians are averse to risks and tend to think only of themselves. Projects will not work right when they are approved only if benefit financially this or that politician.
  • meh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    np China took the lead anyway.

  • NASA's biggest challenge is putting -people- in space. The reasons for the difficulty of the challenge have changed from technical to fiscal and political, but it still remains the biggest challenge.
  • Great, China and the rest of the world are catching up and will soon surpass us in space technology and capability and what do we do? Reduce NASA's relatively tiny 0.5% of the Federal budget even more.
  • by jd (1658)

    Just cut back on projects. Starting with those involving spending money in districts whose politicians work to cripple NASA. Remember, we're coming up to yet another election year and there's no news like bad news to shape the outcomes.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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