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NASA Space Government The Almighty Buck

SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget 114

Posted by timothy
from the only-tax-dollars-after-all dept.
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "While participating in a panel called "The US Space Enterprise Partnership" at the NewSpace Conference that was held by the Space Frontier Foundation on Saturday, SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell opined that NASA's budget should be raised to $22-25 billion, according to a tweet by Space Policy Online's Marcia Smith. The theory is that a lot of political rancor has taken place in the aerospace community because of the space agency's limited budget. If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

The statement represents something of a departure of the usual mutual antagonism that exists between some in the commercial space community and some at NASA. Indeed Space Politics' Jeff Foust added a tweet, "Thought: a panel at a Space Frontier Foundation conf is talking about how to increase NASA budget. Imagine that in late 90s." The Space Frontier Foundation has been a leading voice for commercializing space, sometimes at the expense of NASA programs."
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SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget

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  • we're still paying down the 4 to 6 trillion our wars of choice have cost, we can't spare a half of a percent of that for space

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Soon we'll have spent a trillion for a fighter jet that doesn't even work.

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @01:00PM (#47544227)

      It should be noted that deficits for Obama's years in office amount to $4T to $6T. And those had nothing to do with our wars.

      It should also be noted that unless we're counting Vietnam, Korea, and WW2, we haven't had $4T to $6T in war costs. Military budgets were higher as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan, but you'd have to count the entire military budget as "war costs" to reach even $4T, much less $6T.

      It should also be noted that we're making absolutely no attempt to "pay down" our debts. The National Debt goes up every year, by rather more than $500B (rather more than $1T during most of Obama's terms).

      • Well, hold on. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 27, 2014 @01:26PM (#47544365)

        Here's Heritage's numbers. [heritage.org]

        Federal entitlements are driving this spending growth, having increased from less than half of total federal outlays just 20 years ago to nearly 62 percent in 2012. Three major programs—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security—dominate in size and growth, soaking up about 44 percent of the budget.

        BUT interest on the current debt is also increasing the debt and along with entitlements, it is crowding out other spending.

        The thing with entitlements though, is that most of that spending is on old people and is increasing due to our changing demographics. [wikipedia.org]

        But we also need to keep in mind that Medicare was expanded greatly under Bush in 2003, greatly increasing the costs [wikipedia.org]. So lets not put all the blame on Obama.

        We should also realize that the old people have considerable political clout - hence why you NEVER hear ANYTHING about Medicare or Social Security when the Tea Partiers are demanding budget cuts. That is why you can keep going back and every President of both parties has tapped into taxpayer money to buy the old people's vote.

        Poor people on the other hand, have virtually no political clout and are looked upon as lacking moral fiber and deserve to have their programs cut. And why the attacks are continuing on "Obamacare". As a side note, my wife's clinic has actually started doing MORE business (and actually getting paid) because of Obamacare. See, when a medical provider doesnt get paid, they just pass the costs on to the rest of us in the form of higher fees. But that another post .....

        Never the less, I see many many criticisms about government spending and vague references to entitlement programs and no mention of the true burdens on our government.

        OH! War spending. Here is an interesting article about that and to make it short: nobody knows how much or how it is afftecing the economy. [cfr.org]

        • by PopeRatzo (965947)

          Here's Heritage's numbers

          Why not give us Marvin the Martian's numbers too? For all the time the Heritage Foundation has cooked the books on their reporting, you might as well just give us Glenn Beck's numbers.

          "Figures don't lie, but the Heritage Foundation Does"

          http://mythfighter.com/2014/01... [mythfighter.com]

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        we will have those costs for the Iraqi war

        http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]

      • It should also be noted that we're making absolutely no attempt to "pay down" our debts.

        And using cuts in temporary wartime spending to "pay for" new permanent spending, and calling the new spending "deficit neutral" since its "paid for". Political math is amazing.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        Military budgets were higher as a result of Iraq and Afghanistan, but you'd have to count the entire military budget as "war costs" to reach even $4T, much less $6T.

        Well, it adds up pretty fast when you look at the lost productivity of the men and women who went to fight and the fact that now we're on the hook for a lifetime of medical care for every single one of them, plus other benefits, and a lot of them came back very broken, with pieces missing and will require expensive medical care for the rest of

        • those expenses are not considered part of the proper military budget, and can be cut at will.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            The discussion wasn't about the military budget, it was about the cost of the wars.

            Surely, when you want to know how much it costs to drive a car, you want to include gas and maintenance, right? Insurance and parking costs. Even the cost of traffic tickets.

            The Council on Foreign Relations, who likes wars, tried to minimize the cost of the war just to the line items in the budget. It's worth having a more realistic estimate.

        • by Sciath (3433615)
          Just finished watching a new Frontline on PBS called "Loosing Iraq". Anyway, according to that program the war's total cost was around $2T. And it was a complete failed policy from the get-go.
  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @12:43PM (#47544109) Homepage Journal
    This is to fund the Crossbow project [youtube.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    rly!

  • everyone knows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @12:44PM (#47544125) Homepage
    everyone knows that NASA is the red headed step child of the government. they are the face of the government that kids love, and encourages science and technology research, there is no better government agency that I can think of that has more good will with the kids

    but for some reason, they dont get funded, everyone acts as if NASA wastes money left and right and they get nothing done. I blame congress and the president for always interjecting. They are politicians, not scientists. We should give nasa a blank check and let them do their thing.
  • > The theory is that a lot of political rancor has taken place in the aerospace community because of the space agency's limited budget. If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

    That will definitely work. Government agencies can never find more ways to spend money.
    I bet if we handed 43% of everything we produce to the federal government, they'd stop having budget problems.

    • Like they say: "The first rule of economics is that everything depends on scarcity. The first rule of politics is to ignore the first rule of economics."

  • Since we're talking about SpaceX, what is the business case of the first "private" space company? Do they plan on being a space tourism company? Or do they intend to make all their money being a government contractor? I fail to see any other possible customers for their services, unless space mining is something more than a pipe dream.

    • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @01:05PM (#47544247)

      SpaceX has scheduled eleven launches over the next several years with the US Government as the customer (ISS resupply missions).

      In addition, it has 17 launches scheduled for other customers (private satellite launches).

      So, no, SpaceX doesn't have to do space tourism, nor do asteroid mining, nor make all their money being a government contractor. What they are is a LAUNCH company. They don't do payloads, they just put other people's payloads into orbit for them cheaply.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        They don't do space tourism yet, but once they got the Dragon man-rated I don't see why not. The seven people who've been space tourists so far have in total paid $170 million, while SpaceX has quoted $140 million for a crewed Falcon 9 launch so they're at a price at least some is willing to pay. If they can make the rockets reusable it could significantly increase their launch volume even if only a few hundred super rich want to go. It would be real space flight in LEO and make you a genuine astronaut, not

      • by satuon (1822492)

        That's great, it means they have an independent source of demand that's relatively stable (unlike space tourism where you depend on just a few very rich people). So they could theoretically grow on their own even without the government contracts.

        • by Sciath (3433615)
          Yah... like Elysium... all the super rich will live in space and the Earth becomes a low income "regular people" ghetto.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Right now, it's communication satellites. Take a look at the current launch manifest [spacex.com].

      They haven't shown any interest in space tourism, but they would probably be happy to provide launch services for a company that would arrange it. Bigelow Aerospace is another space startup working on flexible space station modules, which could be used on a NASA space station or a commercial/tourist station.

      Long term, in order for SpaceX to realize their dreams of transporting passengers to Mars, there will probably need to

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      spacex is commercial space.
      NASA is federal space.
      they are not mutually exclusive.

      NASA shouldnt really be in the business of boring day to day work, ie, space trucking.
      That role should fall to commercial enterprises, or at least public/private partnerships.
      NASA itself should have as its core responsibility research and exploration.
      Pushing boundaries, trapping/visiting asteroids, etc.

      • by satuon (1822492)

        The way SpaceX was asking for more funding for NASA made it look like they themselves are counting on that government money.

  • This is just more SLS type pork.

  • Another example (Score:2, Redundant)

    by epyT-R (613989)

    Another example of corporates telling the taxpayer what he should pay. Fuck that. Spacex should fund the 25billion itself.

    • Re:Another example (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ecuador (740021) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @01:33PM (#47544407) Homepage
      Yeah, it is a deplorable thing when a company suggests that you spend an extra $30/per capita for science, but it is fine when your politicians at the same time have you spending $2100/per capita for the military. Unless your problem is not the proposal itself but who makes the proposal. Perhaps you are more comfortable with the established method of only lobbyists being able to affect where taxpayer money goes. So SpaceX should hire lobbyists and pressure the house and the congress instead of participating in "panels".
      • "/" and"per" mean the same thing in that context, so "$X per per capita" doesn't make sense.

        • by Sciath (3433615)
          Not exactly. Even in America you don't really own anything. If I say I "own" my home I could mean that I hold a mortgage on it but am basically free to modify the property or I could be saying the property is paid for. But let's say the property is paid for but the owner fails to or refuses to pay their property taxes (if you live in a state that taxes the value of real estate). Ultimately the government authorities can cease your (say $150,000) property and sheriff sale it for the (say $10,000) you owe in
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Another example of corporates telling the taxpayer what he should pay. Fuck that. Spacex should fund the 25billion itself.

      You are aware that ULA, the current American launch monopolist has succeeded, via lobbying, in having the Senate insert a poison pill rider into a bill [chron.com] that seriously harms SpaceX prospects. ULA is deeply afraid of how SpaceX has repurposed older but reliable technologies to create a launch service that is an order of magnitude cheaper than anything they can even imagine providing. SpaceX is hardly a villain here.

    • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @04:39PM (#47545725) Homepage

      As this article indicates, United Launch Alliance, the principle competitor to SpaceX has hired Shockey Scofield Solutions [s-3group.com] to initiate a propaganda campaign against SpaceX. You can see ULA listed as a client in the website listed above. The campaign is indirectly mentioned in the following very informative article [defensenews.com], just past the halfway point in the article. You will also notice another client to Shockey Scofield Solutions as Koch Industries, which is a company notorious for its deceptive propaganda campaigns against action on global warming.

      Given this fact, I would tend to suspect many of the anti SpaceX comments as being part of an astroturfing campaign. To be honest, I really don't understand why an actual thinking person would have any problem with SpaceX. They build reliable rockets quickly and cheaply. What on Earth is the problem with that?

    • by Sciath (3433615)
      Well... it certainly would lend some legitimacy to the idea that "capitalism is more efficient and more creative" than socialist government.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the same way that plunging 2bn on... I think it was Ohio's public education system resulted in more admin buildings but worse sat scores, just more money to NASA won't help. The problem isn't the money, it's the failure to have a goal, as was already argued elsewhere. This is easy to see: After the apollo program the budget didn't change that much (adjusted for inflation), but without structure NASA has done nothing but pursue unconnected tidbits and flounder in its poor management structure.

    Besides, Spa

    • They have excellent goals, mostly scientific in nature.

      The moon shots were a dumbed down jock goal. Who's got the biggest rocket?

      The problems in space science are almost completely different to the problems in education. In both cases, money could help if they spent it on the right things.

  • If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

    That won't be enough. You need to drop a heavy door on it's neck.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    50 years.

    As of 2014 the United States of America, NASA and NASA's contractors are not capable to mount a valid effort toward a human space flight mission to the Moon or Mars or an astroid.

    Why ?

    USA does not have the people, education, engineering, industry, science and technology that would be capable of accomplish such a mission, and furthermore, will not have for another 50 years at least.

    The people for the mission in education, in engineering, in science, in technology and those at NASA and its contractor

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Which National Academy report says that, especially the extrapolation in your last sentence?

      We went from launching our first satellite on January 31st 1958 to landing a man on the Moon on July 20th 1969.

      Don't tell me what we can and can't do based on not having the properly trained workforce. We have brilliant people at NASA and America's private space companies.

      What we don't have is the budget and the political will to go to Mars.

      • We went from launching our first satellite on January 31st 1958 to landing a man on the Moon on July 20th 1969.

        Don't tell me what we can and can't do based on not having the properly trained workforce. We have brilliant people at NASA and America's private space companies.

        With all due props to USA-trained contributors to Apollo and its predecessors, it's worth noting that many of the contributors came from outside the USA, particularly from Canada and the United Kingdom.

        That said, I agree with your point: you don't need to wait more than a generation to find the talent you need to achieve great things in space.

  • "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money."

      - Everett McKinley Dirksen

  • When I was born... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @01:59PM (#47544555) Homepage
    When I was born Mankind had not set foot on the moon.

    By the time I was five, we had been there, done that and decided to never go back again.

    If aliens do exist, they are sitting back saying "What the f?ck man, you want to meet us but don't have the energy to get off the couch and answer the door?"

    Mankind does not deserve space travel. We had our chance and refused to take it.

    We spend less than 5% of our national budget on space travel. Whoops, sorry make that less than 0.5%. It is a joke.

    Science and technology have funded our industry for hundreds of years - yet we refuse to spend more on space industry than we do on our aircraft carrier program (old Nimitz class cost about 4.5 billion - and we have 11 of them).

    25 billion? Double that and make it a real scientific program. 50 Billion is a reasonable price to pay. Not the paltry less than 20 we currently pay

    • by jklovanc (1603149) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @03:30PM (#47545153)

      yet we refuse to spend more on space industry than we do on our aircraft carrier program (old Nimitz class cost about 4.5 billion - and we have 11 of them).

      The Nimitz program [wikipedia.org] produced ten carriers between 1968 and 2006. That is 38 years for a yearly budget of $1.8B. That is approximately 10% of the NASA budget. There are now also 10 large carriers in service. Comparing a long project with a single year budget is inaccurate.

      • by gurps_npc (621217)
        You are correct about the specifics. I did make a bad comparison. (Note we are budgeted for 11 carriers active at any time - the 11th is the new Ford class, Electric powered catapult sitting in Newport, expected to be finished next year. ) That said, we do spend far more money on maintaining our military than we do on scientific research.
        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          Without the military the scientific research would be owned by some other country. If one becomes a rich weak country one becomes a ripe target.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      When I was born Mankind had not set foot on the moon. By the time I was five, we had been there, done that and decided to never go back again. If aliens do exist, they are sitting back saying "What the f?ck man, you want to meet us but don't have the energy to get off the couch and answer the door?" Mankind does not deserve space travel. We had our chance and refused to take it.

      By the time you were five, we had been (384 400 kilometers) / (4.2421 light years) = 9.57827017 x 10^-9 = ~0.000001% of the way to the closest star. Eight years later they launched the Voyager 1 which is now about (127.98 Astronomical Units) / (4.2421 light years) = ~0.05% of the way. And it's probably uninhabited. What chance did we miss to go visit aliens? Do you think if we just put enough money in it we'd invent the warp drive? Chemical rockets can't do it, it'd be like trying to ride a horse to the moo

      • by gurps_npc (621217)
        Fusion drive is not the only technology we need. We need a lot more technology to live in space. The problems of radiation, bone-loss due to low gravity, recycling air, water and food all need a lot more work.

        As for what we would invent, the thing about research is if we knew what we would invent, we would already have it. Research is a surprise. It always has been and always will be.

        Einstein did not know he was inventing GPS, nuclear power, nuclear weapons, etc. etc. when he figured out relativity.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @02:27PM (#47544719) Homepage

    Reality check: space travel with chemical fuels just barely works. It takes huge rockets to launch dinky payloads, and that hasn't improved in 45 years. Satellites and probes are useful. Man in space has just been a boondoggle.

    If fusion ever works, this may change, but with chemical rockets, it's not getting much better.

    • by dywolf (2673597)

      only if you think in terms of leaving the Earth's gravity well every time.

      we could, right now, with todays technology, begin exploring.
      it would be hard.
      it would expensive.
      but we could do it.

      it starts with learning to harness the resources already in space.
      then turn those resources into ships. some of the mterials would have to come from earth, at least initially.
      hell, we could turn the moon into a manufacturing and launch facility.
      and just being 1/6th the earth's gravity leads to expenentially lower fuel re

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I've also used the word "boondoggle" as a means of describing manned exploration of space.

      The moon is a gift. It's tidally-locked and 2.5 light seconds away. It's the perfect place to work on robotic construction of habitats. Yet we seem to look at it as nothing more than a tourist destination; been there, done that, next. Instead of shooting for Mars (God bless Elon Musk), let's start putting machinery on the moon. Soil collectors. Soil processors. Printers. Solar panels. Reflectors. Plants. Put

  • Nothing else we've done in recent memory is as important.

  • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @02:33PM (#47544771)

    It has been said by many close to these matters that part of the drain on NASA is SLS. Just throwing more money at it could continue to enable the boondoggle. Maybe the money should be contingent on funding launch platforms that can and will compete with other commercial systems to lower cost, to actually compete with Soyuz on cost. The criticisms are that it is a very poor value, and not well designed for reducing cost and efficiency. The result is a launch platform that is far too expensive. One of the core problems is developing a launch platform that is SOLELY for use by the government, this pretty much prevents the market from driving down costs, unlike other launch platforms such as the Ariane and Soyuz which service private companies and thus are incentivized as a requirement to develop better, cheaper technologies.

    Maybe someone else can comment on this, but it looks like SLS will be more expensive and costly than anything else, giving us less for more money. Why even waste time developing this when we can use SpaceX, the Deltas, Atlas and so on, perhaps human rated versions of these.

    SLS could not compete on price with Soyuz, which is a good sign it should be scrapped. The Soyuz so far has us beat on reliability, cost, performance. If we continue to fund white elephants which are more driven by beauracracy and pork rather than driven by technical innovations to lower cost and improve reliability, we will continue down the road of stagnation and falling behind.

    It has often been said that if someone wanted to kill the US space program, the Shuttle and Space Launch System is exactly what they would do, to basically suck all of the resources dry on a far too expensive launch platform that is superior to everything else on the market, thus pulling resources away from the science and exploration missions.

    It is true that SLS is a drop in the bucket compared to the F-35 and welfare programs, yet if its still more expensive than everything else for less than what you can get from other launch platforms, why waste the money? Why not go with a human rated SpaceX?

    • Inferior to everything else on the market I meant to say.

    • by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @03:21PM (#47545083)

      Why even waste time developing this when we can use SpaceX, the Deltas, Atlas and so on, perhaps human rated versions of these.

      Because the Senator from Alabama wants to keep the NASA center in Huntsville busy.

    • by Pandemis (31296)

      Soyuz is a LEO launch system, whereas the SLS is heavy lift for moon/mars/asteroids/Lagrange. The Commercial Crew Program is what should be compared to Soyuz. Currently Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada are competing to develop a new U.S. crew to LEO capability--Boeing and SN launch with AtlasV, SpaceX of course has it's own Falcon launcher. The SLS is a completely different critter. Not saying it doesn't have it's issues.

    • Maybe someone else can comment on this, but it looks like SLS will be more expensive and costly than anything else, giving us less for more money. Why even waste time developing this when we can use SpaceX, the Deltas, Atlas and so on, perhaps human rated versions of these.

      Because national security.

      Thiokol makes the solid fuel for the Shuttle and SLS solid fueled boosters. They make that same fuel for ICBMs. ICBMs have to be periodically replaced. Using NASA's budget is a way to hide some defense spending by paying Thiokol to work on civilian space, when really the point is to maintain the active skill in chemistry and manufacturing to be able to make new ICBMs. ICBMs don't have to be replaced often enough. Thiokol did their work too well, and met the Air Force requireme

  • What to cut (Score:5, Informative)

    by scotts13 (1371443) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @02:33PM (#47544773)

    Give NASA the $14 billion spent in fiscal 2013 training foreign armies and providing them with weapons. That'll make up the difference nicely. Not enough? Move on to the $24 billion spent on the "National Drug Control Strategy." Two things we don't need more of are dead bodies and prison inmates.

  • Usual trick: have taxpayers subsiding the support stuff you need, and make profit with activities on top of it. If you can afford a law preventing public service from competing with your business, it is even better.
  • Necessity and Incentives Opening the Space Frontier
    Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Space
    by James Bowery, Chairman
    Coalition for Science and Commerce
    July 31, 1991

    Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee:

    I am James Bowery, Chairman of the Coalition for Science and Commerce. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to address the subcommittee on the critical and historic topic of commercial incentives to open the space frontier.

    The Coalition for Science and Commerce is a grassroots net

... when fits of creativity run strong, more than one programmer or writer has been known to abandon the desktop for the more spacious floor. -- Fred Brooks

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