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O'Keefe Under Fire for Hubble, ISS Decisions 498

chuckpeters writes "The battle over saving Hubble is just starting to heat up! The House Science Committee Democrats released their views and estimates report. Recommendation number two was that until Congress gets better information on the long term costs of Bush's Moon/Mars initiative, NASA's 2005 funding requests should go to existing programs. The House Science Committee has also decided that they want to hear from outside experts on Bush's space initiative. Just as Hubble isn't going quietly into the night, Bush's Moon/Mars plan isn't going quickly into space!"
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O'Keefe Under Fire for Hubble, ISS Decisions

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It seemed like it only showed up in a media once a year or so. Now everytime the Hubble takes a piss (metaphorically speaking), it's front page news.

    People always told me NASA has good P.R., but now I see that it's astrophysicists in general who are great at getting attention.
  • We need Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:26PM (#8533180)
    I think we need a manned Mars mission badly, and I Am worried the Democrats will kill it just because Bush signed off on the idea. It would be great to keep Hubble but how long can we put off manned space exploration? We have been dragging our collective heels now since the end of the Apollo missions.

    Plus, I'd actually like to see it happen in my lifetime.
    • Re:We need Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jatencio ( 536080 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:30PM (#8533237)
      I would like to people go to Mars in my lifetime as well. However, I do not think we should go so far as to remove research that is good science for fantasies and risks that just do not need to made at this time. The Hubble telescope and various projects should not be scraped in order to go to Mars. I think Hubble's recent deep space images is enough to show that it is still useful and valuable.
      • Re:We need Mars (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I do not think we should go so far as to remove research that is good science for fantasies

        As much as you scientists would hate to admit it:

        What makes space exploration go? Money. Where do we get money from? Mostly from the public. How do we inspire the public? With showmanship, fantasies and bold plans - not with dry science.

        I think Hubble's recent deep space images is enough to show that it is still useful and valuable.

        Yeah. Those images will be really useful when the next (near) extinction level

        • Re:We need Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jatencio ( 536080 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:01PM (#8533637)
          Well, I think the current Mars mission is proof that we can do some real science and still get the public involved. I think was NASA has been doing recently with Mars has been fascinating and I would like us to continue our space exploration.

          Survival comes first - pretty pictures come next.

          I whole heartily agree. And a lot of research can be done about survival right here on Earth. Not only that, by the time we will be ready for Mars, we should know enough about survival to sustain a small population on Mars. Currently, we cannot do so. If Earth was wiped out tomorrow and we had people on Mars. They would be pretty much screwed because they still need to be supported here on Earth.
        • Re:We need Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SB9876 ( 723368 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:45PM (#8534911)
          We lived in the ignorance of the danger of large extraplanetary impactors until very recently and it hasn't done us in yet. A base on Mars won't be a viable escape plan for at least a century until the Mars base becomes truly self-sufficient. Until then, we're much better off doing cataloging of asteroids and getting a better understanding of the solar system around us - which is information derived from the very sort of science you want to cut with the Mars mission.

          Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a manned Mars mission but not at the cost of gutting a very successful robotic space program which already uses far less money than our rather poor manned space program. If you want to find a place to cut budgets, kill the ISS - it isn'ta valid starting point for going to Mars because of the orbital inclination and is basically useless from a scientific perspective.

          Something like %35 of the NASA scientific papers in the last decade have come from Hubble and the repair mission would cost 2% of the estimated cost to finish the ISS. It's just perverse to kill Hubble and then continue to work on the ISS which is a much bigger money hog. If we want to send people to Mars, we need to be decisive and just do it. The only way NASA can be decisive about it is to free up the majority of its budget. The only way it can do that is to remove the Shuttle and ISS funding and direct it towards the focussed devlopment of technology directly related to getting to Mars and the Moon.

          Furthermore, if you want to inspire the public, look at the unmanned space missions. A far larger proportion of the public is familiar with the Hubble and the Mars rovers than with the ISS. The former have returned enourmous amounts of valuable scientific information and been the most popular attractions at the NASA website. It sys something that the heavist traffic in the history of NASA came from a pair of robotic rovers.

    • Re:We need Mars (Score:2, Interesting)

      I agree, we need mars. We don't need Bush's dumb-ass moon/mars plan.

      Mars Direct! []

    • Re:We need Mars (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dharma21 ( 537631 )
      Bush: Hey we're going to the Moon and Mars!! NASA: Great, we get more money? Bush: No scrap all the programs that you have currently. Don't know you that we plan on teaching the kids that the Great Lakes are only 10,000 years old and the Grand Canyon was created by God not the Colorodo River?? Who needs this Telescope thing seeing into the past. It can't be working right, The universe is only 10-20,000 tyears old. In other words, it's not a democrat vs. republican things. It's Science vs. the relig
    • Re:We need Mars (Score:2, Insightful)

      Um, how do the Democrats kill it? Take over Congress and the Presidency? That might work, but then if they actually decide NASA should spend money on the space program, they could make everything happen faster.

      Don't bet any politician, especially Bush, has signed off on anything until the money actually goes where you think it went....
    • "...It would be great to keep Hubble but how long can we put off manned space exploration?

      Agreed that Hubble is great to keep. However, how long can we put it off? How about until the technology is ready, reliable and we don't have the administration pounding the economy into the ground with war? Seriously, do you really think that the "working man" is going to say "bravo!" to a manned mission to Mars while the economy is going to hell and his job is being shipped overseas? Damn man, come back to Earth.
    • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:57PM (#8533589) Homepage Journal
      I like the idea of actual honest (i.e. manned) space exploration too. But if we're really serious, we need to talk about building up a permanent presence in space. That means not just sending somebody to another planet to plant a flag. That means building a permanent infrastructure that will support continued expansion. That means investing in a reliable high-capacity, high-orbit vehicle. (The Shuttle is none of these things.) This is the first step in building real space platforms, maybe even orbital industries and that are economically self-sustaining. That is the basis for real exploration of the planets, not another expensive TV show.
    • I agree that we need Mars, but face it, we can't even keep a useful station in LEO, and we can't even live in the Gobi desert []. We need to do a lot more small ecosystem research before we can do anythign useful there. Mars is an excellent goal, but Bush is just blowing smoke with his Mars plan. It's not designed to get us a permanent human settlement anywhere, it's designed to make it look like Bush's vision for the future involves something other than permanent war and abrupt climate change [].
    • The heel dragging was caused in part by Apollo itself. Apollo was not able to return any signficant economic value for the investment that was made. In effect, continuing Apollo was throwing good money after bad, and then the taste of a gargantuan space program was sour in the public's mouth. Hence the era of intense compromise in the Shuttle program.

      And now, you want to throw another $100 billion in the same Apollonian spirit on a Mars program that will result in a similar set of highly questionable
  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:27PM (#8533191)
    After the last incident he was given safty guidelines, and he is going to stick to them to the letter. If congress wants to bend them, then fine, but they will be making the call and it will be their asses on the line if something goes wrong not O'Keefes'.
    • you can get a machine to do that, in fact, it only takes a pull-down resistor to lock out options.

      o'keefe is just a doorstop. he needs to go.
    • You're right, I'm sure.

      Some safety guidelines. "Don't do anything risky."

      If those were always the rules, we'd all be naked, shivering at night sleeping on rocks in Africa. No, actually, we'd be extinct.
    • The only trouble with that interpretation is that it doesn't really match the data. The Colombia Accident Investigation Board did recommend that future missions that cannot make it to ISS should carry an autonomous repair kit. (Basically, something that lets them repair the shuttle in a pinch.) They did NOT say "Don't got to HST," just that NASA needs some more safety in place. Note that while O'Keefe keeps trying to spin this as an issue of astronaut safety, it's really about the cost of that kit.

  • O'Keefe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Sean O'Keefe is a bean counter(accountant) Bush sent to NASA to trim its budget. Neither of them have any interest in space exploration or science. I saw O'Keefe's new conference on CNN after the Bush announcement and it was sickening watching someone who had no vision, knowledge of or interest in space, dodging questions and avoiding specifics on this supposedly bold new initiative. You would think they would have prepared for this announcement and presented a bold vision, rather than looking like a deer i
    • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:46PM (#8533444) Homepage
      Conservatives love killing off all parts of government not associated with the military or law enforcement.

      That's probably an accurate statement about Conservativism. They believe government exists to keep the peace and enforce the law, little more. But the space program is tied very closely to the military, and less directly, to law enforcement. So that part of things doesn't add-up.

      I'm sure Bush would want nothing more than a 5 megawatt laser with a phase conjugate target tracking system that could destroy a human target from space. It's the perfect peacetime weapon.

      Also, why does kill off the shuttle and ISS make a civilian space program viable? A better idea might be to have NASA assist other companies in developing space-faring gear, and with things such as the X-prize.

      • Hear, hear (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DrMorpheus ( 642706 )
        I would love to see parallel public and private space programs.

        And I know quite a few NASA engineers who wouldn't mind the competition either.

        It would be like the race to map the Human Genome. Despite some problems I think the competition was a good thing.

        Others may disagree.

    • This brings up an interesting point. The last Apollo mission was a two-day docking with a Soyuz capsule. The launch was July 15, 1975. Columbia's first launch was April 12, 1981. Mercury and Gemini quit flying in the 60's. We had essentially a 6-year gap in manned spaceflight while the shuttle was developed.
    • Re:O'Keefe (Score:3, Insightful)

      Conservatives love killing off all parts of government not associated with the military or law enforcement.

      Maybe because that's all it should be doing at the levels it does.

      Look, I'm all for certain reasonable regulations and maybe a few social safety nets funded by FedGov, and NASA has done some very good things over the years that might have been at best difficult to do otherwise, but look at the budget sizes for the X-Prize stuff. Even the Rutan project isn't in the billions of dollars, though it wou
      • Re:O'Keefe (Score:3, Informative)

        by jafac ( 1449 )
        X-Prize is suborbital flight, with few public safety implications.

        Spacelaunch for orbital flight, or interplanetary missions is a WHOLE differnt game. And when you have to guarantee the safety of people who live in cities downrange from your launch site, or the people onboard the craft, you're talking about a huge testing infrastructure cost, that you can't really do without. X-Prize is doing without, because these are suborbital flights, without the liability involved of having a booster stage, or an ou
    • Re:O'Keefe (Score:5, Informative)

      by comedian23 ( 730042 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:23PM (#8533881)
      > Conservatives love killing off all parts of government not associated with the military or law enforcement.

      Well there is certainly military value in space, so that point is moot. Also the NASA budget DECREASED under Clinton a number of times and was actually lower when he left office than when he started( and this doesn't include inflation either) and this was during the prime years of the dot-com boom too where the government was rolling in money. Bush is INCREASING the total budget. Data is below:

      1993 $14.309 billion, existing NASA budget when Clinton took office;

      1994 $14.568 billion, $259 million increase, first Clinton budget;

      1995 $13.853 billion, $715 million decrease;

      1996 $13.885 billion, $32 million increase;

      1997 $13.709 billion, $176 million decrease;

      1998 $13.648 billion, $61 million decrease;

      1999 $13.654 billion, $6 million increase;

      2000 $13.601 billion, $53 million decrease;

      2001 $14.253 billion, $652 million increase;

      2002 $14.892 billion, $639 million increase, first Bush budget;

      2003 $15.000 billion, $108 million increase (estimated);

      2004 $15.469 billion, $469 million increase (proposed);

      >and this new program simply isn't viable

      Why? Not that I agree or disagree but this is a pretty sweeping statement to claim without backup. Which parts of the Moon and Mars plans are not viable? What do you like about the Hubble, and ISS which you would like spared? Give us details, not generalized Bush bashing.

      • Re:O'Keefe (Score:3, Funny)

        by argStyopa ( 232550 )
        Give us details, not generalized Bush bashing./

        This is /., remember. Vagueness and generalized Bush-bashing is pretty much a way of life.

        (Otherwise how would all of us Ivory Tower-types expiate our white guilt, if not for some mutual politico-social sef-gratification?)
    • Re:O'Keefe (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jafac ( 1449 )
      WORST OF ALL, is watching NASA channel's little promo video, with Bush giving his "heroic" speech about the US's future in space, complete with patriotic-sounding music, and background video of Apollo footage, and waving flags. It absolutely reminds me of the old Soviet propaganda films about their space program during the race to the moon.

      The whole point of this is;
      to defund the programs that are doing science, and might give us clues to global warming or ozone depletion. The neocons feel; "why should w
  • HERES THE ANSWER (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:28PM (#8533204) Journal
    Kick ass telescope on the far side of the moon.

    The end.
  • by regen ( 124808 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:29PM (#8533223) Homepage Journal

    I have a good friend who works at NASA HQ. According to her, the whole moon/mars idea is basically a boondoogle to shift NASA subcontractor jobs into Ohio and Florida, two very important states for the 2004 elections.

    So it makes perfect sense that the dems are going to want to block it.

    • I have a good friend who works at NASA HQ. According to her, the whole moon/mars idea is basically a boondoogle to shift NASA subcontractor jobs into Ohio and Florida, two very important states for the 2004 elections.

      So it makes perfect sense that the dems are going to want to block it.

      That's one way to put it. Here's another:

      One of the side benefits of the whole moon/mars deals, besides increasing the sum of human knowledge, is that it will help the economies of Ohio and Florida and give a lot of peop
      • Another way (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fm6 ( 162816 )
        That way of looking at it assumes that it's more than a boondoggle. By which is meant, that's it's a serious proposal that Bush actually believes in. Frankly, I'm sceptical.
    • How is that any different from when NASA was started? I mean, get real - NASA's facilities are where they are because of the influence various Senators had during the old days. How many NASA facilities are there in smaller states (ie: ones with fewer electoral votes)?
  • by darkmeridian ( 119044 ) <william DOT chuang AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:30PM (#8533229) Homepage
    Apparently, the scientific community think that the Hubble has become limited in usefulness. The new observatory observes infrared and some visible (though not optical blue.) Everything is red-shifted, they say, so visible light telescopes like Hubble serve no purpose.

    However, the new telescope cannot be fixed. It will lie in orbit between the sun and the Earth. What if it breaks? Eh? Bad lens? Bad gyroscopes? HST is in orbit and we can fix it. This can be a backup and it still serves a useful scientific role, as evidenced by its recent Ultra Deep Field exposure.
    • by mph ( 7675 ) <> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:48PM (#8533476)
      Apparently, the scientific community think that the Hubble has become limited in usefulness. The new observatory observes infrared and some visible (though not optical blue.) Everything is red-shifted, they say, so visible light telescopes like Hubble serve no purpose.
      Everything in the world (or orbiting it) is limited in usefulness. Things are built by imperfect humans, with finite resources and finite knowledge. Saying that the scientific community says Hubble "serves no purpose" is a gross, terrible misrepresentation of the astronomers' stance.

      I am an astronomer. I do not want to see Hubble decommissioned, nor do I consider it useless. Nor does any astronomer I've talked to. Nor does the American Astronomical Society, the largest professional society of astrnomers. Your statement is simply absurd. HST time continues to be heavily oversubscribed, and numerous papers using HST data are produced daily.

      Your argument seems to arise from HST having a planned succesor, JWST, which will be better in many, but not all, respects than HST. That does not make HST useless. Take a look at ground-based telescopes; despite the 10-meter Keck telescopes, the 5-meter Palomar telescope remains a very useful astronomical tool, and so does the 60-inch Palomar telescope, which was recently renovated and automated. HST would not become "useless" even if JWST existed today, and is sure as hell not "useless" with JWST years away.

  • Oh, come on. W's Moon/Mars proposal is less funded than "No Child Left Behind". He wasn't being serious. He was trying to distract everyone from the fact that the deficit was so severe (and set to get much worse if he gets the tax cuts changed to permanent) that he doesn't have room to do anything real. Hence:

    W: Where are we going?
    US: Mars!
    W: When are we going?
    US: Real soon!

  • O'keefe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by USAPatriot ( 730422 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:36PM (#8533322) Homepage
    Listening to O'keefe on a press conference about a month ago, when he addressed the Hubble issue in detail, it all became clear to me: It's pure politics.

    After the CAIB, he was blasted, questioned and doubted to no end, so what does a skilled polititian do? cut your losses and move on. Well, he did just that. So now he's gonna follow the CAIB like it's the road to salvation. To the letter.

    The CAIB puts forward a number of requirements for shuttle flights, including the ability to service the Shuttle via ISS if something goes wrong...among a host of other "inconvenient" requirements.

    O'keefe decided to follow the CAIB to the letter so that means that going to the hubble will "break the laws" of the CAIB (Hubble is in an entirely different, incompatible orbit...still you'd think that being the thing called SHUTTLE it shouldn't be an issue, but it is)

    So servicing the Hubble will violate his mandate to play it safest and thus it won't happen because it's "too risky" according to the CAIB mantra.
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:38PM (#8533341) Homepage Journal
    Bush's Moon/Mars plan isn't going quickly into space!
    Which is probably more or less what Dubya wants. He can't actually believe they're going to give him the money for such a huge project. But when they shoot the proposal down, he has great material for his stump speeches. He's the Leader with the Bold Initiative -- unfortunately vetoed by a bunch of unimaginative pork-lovers.

    Hopefully the blatant cynicism of this ploy will be apparent to the voters.

  • Both? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkBlackFox ( 643814 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:39PM (#8533345)
    Why does it always end up as "This or That" and never "both"? Hubble or Mars? Why can't they spare the extra 2 or 3% of the military budget and funnel it into NASA... after all, Hubble could potentially be used for military purposes, no? It's this sort of tightwadding of money that causes the managerial problems plaguing NASA today, as money gets yanked around to different places, with never enough left over to get jobs done the right way. As long as this sort of crap keeps up, we'll never get much farther than low earth orbit anytime soon. Just a few decades ago, we had a focus- to get to the moon. We got to the moon. What have we now? A leaky space station with pieces falling off, remnants of an aging and grounded shuttle fleet, and not much of a grand vision to get anywhere. While we do have 2 rovers poking and prodding Mars, America needs to find it's sense of adventure again, the spirit of pioneering that founded this country. Lewis and Clark headed west knowing the risks and found the Pacific Ocean. I've had enough of this safety and political correctness crap. Yes, it's risky, yes, it's dangerous. But how far can humanity progress without taking risks?

    Bleh, that turned into a rant pretty quick, but I stand by it, so mod accordingly.
  • The Moon is interesting enough as a scientific object of study, but why go from one gravity well to another to get to a third? Just go to Mars already! (Sorry, been reading Zubrin.)

    Hubble's still doing good science. The Voyagers are obselete but we're still listening to them for that very reason.

  • by B5_geek ( 638928 )
    I know people will mod this as troll -99 but this is a serious question that I hope somebody can answer for me.

    What tangible benefits has Hubble provided us? Other then advancing our knowledge of and expanding the "pure-sciences" involved how has humanity improved by this telescope?

    It's my understanding that _ALL_ telescopes goal is to see as far back in time as possible. We want to prove or disprove the Big-Bang theory. What if we do prove it. Then what?

    Please don't misunderstand me. I feel very s
    • by barfy ( 256323 )
      The nature of physics, is that the more questions we answer, the more questions we uncover...

      The hubble telescope is a unique piece of scientific equipment that allows us to perform experiments that we cannot perform here on earth.

      Experiments that lead to greater questions...
      Experiments we do not know of yet...
      A greater understanding of physics advances us as a society, and a species in ways more profound than anything else...

      If you let it burn up, we will have to replace it, or be forever in the darknes
    • One of Hubble's most useful features is its ability to detect and chart "Type 1-A" Supernovae. These objects, more than any other, allow for accurate time/space measurements back towards the big bang. Spitzer (formerly SIRTF) and ground-base observatories, even those with the most advanced adapative optics, can't do nearly the job that Hubble does with Type 1-As.
    • Yeah! And while we're at it, we should stop building all other telescopes, including the JWST. Hey, we should also stop development of all supercolliders, too. And we should shut down all those neutrino observatories... what are we learning from them? And what about that gravitational wave observatory? Not to mention all those radio telescopes that are sucking up our tax dollars!

      Telescopes, just like all those other instruments, serve as a gateway to understanding the universe. Supercolliders allow
    • by david.given ( 6740 ) <dg AT cowlark DOT com> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:54PM (#8533550) Homepage Journal
      What tangible benefits has Hubble provided us? Other then advancing our knowledge of and expanding the "pure-sciences" involved how has humanity improved by this telescope?

      Because, put very simply, there is no such thing is irrelevant scientific research. Everything comes in useful, in one way or anything, eventually.

      Taking the Hubble in particular: it's used to study cosmology (among other things). Cosmology is the study of the universe in the large. Except that the universe in the large is very much related to the universe in the small, and research into the universe in the small has direct implications into such things as microelectronics.

      Say the Hubble manages to find something interesting and unexpected about the very early universe. This would require our theories to be modified to fit the observation. Some of these modifications might require changes to our basic physical models. Some of these modifications might have consequences that can be testable and exploitable in the small; but we'd only get clued into them by observing them in the large.

      To put it another way: blue-sky scientific research is the only investment that pays dividends for eternity. Can you afford not to spend money on it?

  • by homerjs42 ( 568844 ) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:40PM (#8533367)
    I hate election year politics. In an election year the whole political process becomes a zero-sum -- the Democrats want to prevent the Republicans from accomplishing anything that looks good, and the Republicans want to prevent the Democrats from doing anything that could be construed as positive. So who actually is losing in this case? NASA, the taxpayers, and (probably) whoever loses in the election. But all in all it sucks. Lets just divert the government funding for candidates to NASA and maybe we could get some interesting news.

    Go ahead, mod me offtopic (It really isn't, though)

  • What do you want? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by panxerox ( 575545 ) * on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:40PM (#8533368)
    "Just as Hubble isn't going quietly into the night, Bush's Moon/Mars plan isn't going quickly into space!" And thats what we all want .. right? To dump money into a project that is at the end of it's lifespan, granted the project was wildly successfull. And belittle the project that we all wanted to see succed as kids just because you don't like Bush? The space program is more important than any one president or one project or one election. When I see the democrats talk about the president "wasting money" on the space program I want to scream. Don't get me wrong I have some strong misgivings about Bush's policys and the direction that he's taking the country, but this just goes to show where the Democratic party is these days i.e. anywhere the president isent even if where he is is right. The Democratic party used to be all for the space program, where are they now, they have traded the future of the human race in for a few votes. I know I'm gonna get slammed with negs for this but I don't care this pisses me off.
  • by ianscot ( 591483 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:40PM (#8533371)
    There's a tendency to read partisan maneuvering into stories like this -- that letter from the Nobel scientists recently about the Bush administration short-circuiting the process by which science gets applied to policy is another tempting example. Here we have a Democratic critic of the way Bush's NASA policy is being forwarded, right?

    But NASA has always cut across party lines in ways that belie the stereotypes we have about our parties.

    For example, Walter Mondale bitterly opposed the space shuttle program in the Senate -- back when Richard Nixon was engaged in OSP-style deceptions about the cost estimates per shuttle flight in order to "sell" the shuttle. Here's an article with some text from a letter [] he wrote outlining the reasons for his opposition. Key bits:

    • "...another example of perverse priorities and colossal waste in government spending. There is expert evidence that we can achieve the same scientific and utilitarian goals in space at only a fraction of the billions to be spent on the shuttle."
    • "...there are certainly more sensible ways to create new jobs than by an enormous federal boondoggle."

    The author of that linked article, Joseph Rodota, wrote it as an indictment of "a long line of liberals opposed to space exploration."

    Hmm. Does anything seem backward about this situation to you? Rodota's talking about "the importance of big ideas" over fiscal responsibilities? Mondale's decrying the senseless cost?

    Basically the critic here is saying "Before we put the ax to programs like Hubble, we want to be sure we've made the right choice, and the public will want to see that decision-making process. Sean O'Keefe shouldn't make this one himself without us having access to the process."

  • by barfy ( 256323 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:42PM (#8533384)
    This isn't about going to mars... This isn't about killing the Hubble per se...

    It is about killing the Shuttle,ISS, and to a large extent the last bastion on big federal science...

    The argument is that you can't get to the space station if something happens to the shuttle while servicing Hubble.

    The way that you kill the space program, (the shuttle and ISS are the major targets. Hubble is just an unfortunate casualty). Is to change the priorities from existing ones that take real money, to non-existing ones that are so expensive that they can be cancelled later.

    Hubble may be what saves the space program, is spite of the best laid plans of those that would like to see it killed.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    With the notable exception of the space program back during JFK's administration, not a whole hell of a lot that is spectacular or innovative has happene in space exploration. For god's sake! We put a man on the moon in 1969. Have we been anywhere else? No. Now we are talking about getting a manned mission to Mars going. Nice. But when all is said and done, we know this isn't going to happen as quickly. Not because of the time it will take to get the project going though. Because of all the rampant
  • by shakparl ( 750460 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:48PM (#8533477)
    I have a friend that works at NASA Stennis Space Center in MS (who incidentally admins a beowulf cluster for rocket testing), and he says the Hubble is simply being taken down to be replaced by several other, better telescopes, including ones that detect infrared and gamma radiation. Apparently the cost of maintaining it and keeping it in orbit is more than the benefits of putting new ones up, given his brief explanation. Anyone have any more info on this?
    • To follow up on the other response:

      Even worse, without the Hubble SM4 repair missions, the Hubble could be non-operation as soon as this year. They're hoping to stretch it out to 2007 but that still leaves a *5* year gap with no wide field UV/optical/IR telescope. The SM4 mission is supposed to get the Hubble running out to 2010 which would allow it to overlap the Webb telescope if we're careful. The Webb isn't a good Hubble replacement but better than nothing. As far as replacing the UV/visible cabail
  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @01:49PM (#8533487)
    If you care about the HST write your senator, don't vent on slashdot. Words here mean nothing, but a cogent, well-reasoned letter to your senator may make a difference.

    The last requirement may be a stretch for some readers, but one can always hope.

    Find your senator at:
  • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:04PM (#8533670)
    1. Replace the shuttle, yesterday, with true space capable systems:
      1. Develop lightweight manned launch system
      2. Develop heavy lift unmanned, or lightly manned launch system
    2. Build a true space station, not a low earth orbit guaranteed to be just about useless station.
    3. Once the previous are done, development of a moon/mars shuttle type spacecraft (not the shuttle) and landing system should be developed
    4. Go to moon, build base, most likely for mostly scientific studies, low manned capability, hopefully autonomous for most things (i.e., low cost - sending enough bio-material for lengthy manned stays is quite expensive, even with appropriate support systems)
    5. Go to mars, build base (see moon base). If mars proves sustainable after initial base, then commit to a true base.
      1. Build space station around Mars
      2. Expand Mars base
    6. continue exploration
  • Fuckin' a (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Burgundy Advocate ( 313960 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:05PM (#8533685) Homepage
    Bush's Moon/Mars plan isn't going quickly into space!

    Wonderful. So the only US program towards a manned spacecraft is facing difficulties while we're trying to save the ISS and Hubble.

    Did it ever occur to these politicians that we might need some way to actually deliver people to the ISS and service the Hubble? Furthermore, with Soyuz, there's no guarantees -- the Russians aren't exactly in the best shape in the world. I hate to rely on them... especially considering the lack of capacity/capability.

    Honestly I wish they had stuck with the Orbital Space Plane plan of attack, and started a new program towards Mars. It seems like this happens with every new concept at NASA. A program is started, it gets a decent way, and somebody decides it'd be better to do something different. We desperately need to stay the course with at least one program in five or so. How much money have we waisted already with this sort of abortion?

    Furthermore, the "it costs too much" really pisses me off. NASA's FY04 budget was $15.5 billion. The increase in the Military budget -- not including the costs of our various wars around the world -- was $16.9 billion from FY03 to FY04. The overall military budget for FY04 was $399.1 billion []. With wars included, it's even higher.

    Should we turn a blind eye to this rampant military waste while putting NASA under a microscope?

    In the long run, what's more important?

    Fuckin' a. Sometimes I hate being human.
    • Re:Fuckin' a (Score:5, Insightful)

      by demachina ( 71715 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:28PM (#8533924)
      "Did it ever occur to these politicians that we might need some way to actually deliver people to the ISS and service the Hubble? Furthermore, with Soyuz, there's no guarantees -- the Russians aren't exactly in the best shape in the world. I hate to rely on them... especially considering the lack of capacity/capability."

      You've GOT TO BE KIDDING (TROLLING). Soyuz and the Russians are infinitely more reliable than NASA technicly and they've always found the funds to keep launching Soyuz. If the U.S. hadn't forced them to deorbit Mir they would probably still be using it.

      About the only thing the U.S. has to worry about is the Russian's will tell the American's to take a hike and only fly non American astronauts as retaliation for the fact the U.S. has become an obnoxious dick under the Bush administration.

      The Russians have started development of a six man Soyuz replacement which now appears to be the only avenue to fully man the ISS so their is some manpower to do something beside maintain it.

      If I were to lay bets I would put all my money on the Russian effort versus NASA developing ANY new manned launch vehicle. NASA and its pork fed contractors have simply lost the ability to bend metal.
  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <{corbettw} {at} {}> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:16PM (#8533799) Journal
    You people are all freaking out because you think Bush wants man on Mars by the end of the decade. Go read his speech again (which can be found here []), and tell me, where in it did he say such a thing?

    The focus of the speech was on expanding our exploration of space, and eventually sending humans to Mars and the other planets. But no time frame was stated. And the immediate goal is to establish a permanent base on the moon.

    For me, though, the most important part of the speech was the closing paragraph:

    "Mankind is drawn to the heavens for the same reason we were once drawn into unknown lands and across the open sea. We choose to explore space because doing so improves our lives, and lifts our national spirit. So let us continue the journey."

    I think he's right. I think we need to explore other planets because it's our nature to do so. And I think we should start as soon as possible, and not let petty politics get in the way of a noble endeavor.
  • Too much "Safety" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:21PM (#8533864)
    Who ever said getting onto a pile of explosives was inherently safe? Who ever said leaving the atmosphere and hurtling around at 18K MPH was safe? The problem here isn't one of technology or volunteers waiting to go into space; hell I would.

    The problem is political will and political correctness. Nobody seems to shed a tear for the soldiers getting KIAed in IRAQ or Afghanistan, it's past news. The families and friends care, but we as citizens don't. However when a $1B shuttle breaks up over Texas, OMG, stop everything, we have to be "safe." This bullcrap about being PC and "safe" is counter to every exploration ever undertaken.

    It took Risk to put Hubble into Orbit. It took people like Storey Musgrave to fix it in orbit, in a space suit hurtling at 18K MPH. Those were risks. Now, we have to have "contingencies" "backups" hell, I long for the days when politicians weren't running NASA, when they had a vision and took risks.

    If Lindberg hadn't taken a risk, if the guys in St. Louis hadn't taken a risk, if Ryan aircraft hadn't taken a risk, there'd be no Transatlantic crossing.

    Routan and the X Prize folks are taking risks and hopefully, with our prayers and support, will wrench the exploration of space out of the hands of the beaurocrats and politicians who want space exploration, without risk, which is never, ever going to happen.

    Accidents will happen in the future. Hell, people still fly in 747s after TWA 800 don't they? People fly in Airbus 3XXs don't they, despite it's safety record.

    Life is full of risk, as George Carlin says "take a F***ing chance!"

    Fix Hubble, fix the foam, put the shuttles back online and get the next manned vehicle system back online. If you bozos at NASA can't figure it out, I'm sure all of that old CapCom equipment stored in the VAB can be turned back on and we can launch Apollos on Saturn 1Bs or Vs again. Hell, the Russians still launch Soyuz capsules that were developed in the 60s, so why can't we reuse what we've already learned?

    Ahh, too much risk, I see. Maybe we should all stay in bed with the covers pulled over our heads.
    • [i]Ahh, too much risk, I see. Maybe we should all stay in bed with the covers pulled over our heads.[/i]

      Are you kidding? We could suffocate or get bed sores!
  • by cyranose ( 522976 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @02:50PM (#8534170) Homepage
    ...but backwards. The Bush administration's goal is to LOSE all its pieces, since pieces require taxes to maintain.

    So Bush puts out this obvious new gambit which, if successful, will cause NASA to saceifice its REAL pieces for some highly SPECULATIVE ones (if you can just get your pawn to the other side of the board, we have a shiny new queen for you...)

    NASA is playing the game as best it can (with the required level of public-facing loyalty), saying, in effect, 'Okay, then take my Knight,' knowing the public outcry that will follow.

    And why is anyone surprised? The Republican M.O. has changed over the last 50 years from direct opposition to government programs to a deceitful and suicidal kind of support for them. "Sure, we'll run up the deficit to 25% of the GDP -- that way we won't have any choice but to cut government! (except for our buddies companies who live off gvt handouts)..."

  • Get rid of hubble (Score:3, Insightful)

    by heroine ( 1220 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:21PM (#8534545) Homepage
    1) The amount of useful data produced by Hubble is worthless compared to newer infrared space telescopes. Virtually nothing is being learned from these visible light images of the edge of the universe compared to infrared and X-ray images from newer telescopes. Before saving Hubble became a political agenda, even Earth based telescopes had already surpassed it with newer optics and image processing.

    2) Too many people have to die to fix it. That may fly in the hyper-layoff, humans-are-liabilities mentality of Silicon Valley but not when those piles of bodies are shutting down the space program for years at a time.

    • Re:Get rid of hubble (Score:3, Informative)

      by spanklin ( 710953 )
      1) The amount of useful data produced by Hubble is worthless compared to newer infrared space telescopes. Virtually nothing is being learned from these visible light images of the edge of the universe compared to infrared and X-ray images from newer telescopes. Before saving Hubble became a political agenda, even Earth based telescopes had already surpassed it with newer optics and image processing.

      How on Earth did this get modded as insightful? This is absolutely 100% wrong. Go to the Astrophysical Jou

  • by aquarian ( 134728 ) on Thursday March 11, 2004 @03:37PM (#8534785)
    I saw the head of Nasa on TV yesterday, talking about Hubble's cancellation. The counter argument was that Hubble's best years are ahead of it -- the next planned service mission will increase Hubble's resolution dramatically. We can already look almost into the origin of the Universe. An improved Hubble may let us to do exactly that.

    This probably scares the shit out of the Religious Right. The last thing they want is more evidence that Science has the answers. The Bush administration is well known for being shameless idealogues, pandering the the Religious Right, while giving other reasons for policy changes. So one wonders about anti-science forces working behind the scenes on this one. It's Galileo vs. The Church, all over again.
  • Mars FAQs (Score:3, Informative)

    by schnarff ( 557058 ) < minus cat> on Thursday March 11, 2004 @10:39PM (#8539063) Homepage Journal
    Just for the sake of fact clarification here, you guys might want to read my Mars FAQs []. Note: this document was written for the Mars Society [], with the blessing of Zubrin (though it has yet to be accepted as an official document yet). Even with that potential slant, though, everything contained within it is factual, and as we all know, Slashdot can be a little light on facts somtimes. ;-)

  • by SlowMovingTarget ( 550823 ) on Friday March 12, 2004 @12:49AM (#8539968) Homepage

    I'm kind of surprised that no one else has offered this speculation. I've been watching the news and hearing about China aiming for the moon.

    Am I the only one who thinks that we might be headed for another space race? China might be the only nation with the economic potential to become a super power and nothing says super power better than putting people on the moon, or, say, Mars.

    As was mentioned elsewhere, there are temporary job benefits, but the Bush administration has been known to think big before: Hydrogen economy... Global democracy...

    I'm not claiming these efforts are "Right" or even fruitful, but they are big. Bush has made decisions to launch efforts that could only pay off long after he leaves office. And no, I'm not interested in debating Bush's intelligence.

    Just food for thought.

  • O'Keefe (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) * on Friday March 12, 2004 @01:55AM (#8540402) Journal
    O'Keefe is to NASA as Sculley was to Apple: a professional administrator attempting to run something by sheer professionalism and politics that they obviously know far too little about to create themselves. NASA is a scientific engineering project. It requires science and engineering people to run it. Scientists and engineers got us to the moon. Scientists and engineers will get us to Mars, administrators and politicians won't. Administrators and politicians should give the money, shut up, stand back, and let the people who know how to make things go make them go.

    "We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard." -- A politician who gave the order, got the money, and got out of the way.

    "My god, Thiokol, what do you want me to do, wait until April?" -- A NASA professional administrator, January 28, 1986, more concerned about launch schedules than frozen O-rings.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie