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Space Government NASA The Almighty Buck United States Politics

Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion 870

HanzoSpam sends us this story from Space News, which begins: "US President-elect Barack Obama's NASA transition team is asking US space agency officials to quantify how much money could be saved by canceling the Ares 1 rocket and scaling back the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle next year. ... The questionnaire, 'NASA Presidential Transition Team Requests for Information,' asks agency officials to provide the latest information on Ares 1, Orion and the planned Ares 5 heavy-lift cargo launcher, and to calculate the near-term close-out costs and longer-term savings associated with canceling those programs. The questionnaire also contemplates a scenario where Ares 1 would be canceled but development of the Ares 5 would continue. While the questionnaire, a copy of which was obtained by Space News, also asks NASA to provide a cost estimate for accelerating the first operational flight of Ares 1 and Orion from the current target date of March 2015 to as soon as 2013, NASA was not asked to study the cost implications of canceling any of its other programs, including the significantly overbudget 2009 Mars Science Laboratory or the James Webb Space Telescope."
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Obama Team Considers Cancellation of Ares, Orion

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  • Re:Cut funding... (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:49AM (#25924743)

    The only private enterprise I am currently aware of that has any chance at the moment is SpaceX. However SpaceX's dragon capsule is not designed to get us back on the Moon or to reach Mars.

  • Re:Results (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:57AM (#25924797)

    Despite what you may have heard, no they have not been destroyed.

    That would be a ridiculous waste of resources as engineers who work on the modern designs tend to look at the older designs to see what worked and what didn't.

    So no, we still have the Saturn series blueprints.

  • Re:Results (Score:3, Informative)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:03AM (#25924829) Journal
    Actually, on a pound-to-earth-orbit basis, they were a LOT cheaper than the shuttle. Plus, a LOT more capacity, so you wouldn't need as many missions to assemble something - another cost saving, and another place where compromises have been forced.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Informative)

    by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:14AM (#25924905) Homepage Journal
    The tumorous growth of entitlements grows unabated. []
    Here is a crowning look at doom: []
    So, we're all kind of baked.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Informative)

    by unixluv ( 696623 ) <> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:30AM (#25925005)
    What most people, including the parent of this thread, don't understand is that NASA and other federal R&D facilities do is fuel our economy.

    Many people here on /. work in the IT field. Well you can thank NASA for the Beowulf Cluster. NASA also worked with industry to make cordless drills, CAT Scans, digital thermometers, welder's goggles and thousands of other products.

    Don't take my word for it. [] [] []

    Engage brain before moving mouth.
  • Re:Results (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:34AM (#25925037)

    You're facts are quite simply wrong.

    The Saturn V costed $2.4-$3.5billion per launch versus $500 million for a shuttle in 2007 dollars.

    The Shuttle launches ~ 59,000lbs into LEO while the Saturn V launched ~260,000lbs.

    Going by the low estimate of $2.5billion per launch, it costs $9320/lb into LEO for the Saturn V.
    For the shuttle it costs $8474/lb into LEO.
    Of course those are amortized costs which include the cost of the whole program itself, but that's the only way you can realistically justify a program.

    But then consider that the shuttle weighs around 240,000lbs itself. A heavy lift architecture based on the shuttle could concievably lift over ~250,000lbs into LEO at a price point cheaper than the Saturn V. Not to mention the shuttl architecure has had a buttload of analysis done on it by NASA engineers and the manufacturing facilities currently exist to manufacture shuttle components, it becomes a no brainer.

  • Re:Almost not fair.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) * <> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:02PM (#25925229)

    Yes, thankfully he wasn't in Congress, where all spending bills originate, so he's good and blameless of the current mess. And he and his Party did not have control of the Congress for the last few years, nor were consistent blocks to appeals for oversight into the housing market fiascoes of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae. Oh wait...

    Granted that Dems are usually regarded as the "spend" party. To characterize the unbelievable growth of the debt over the last 8 yeas as the Dems fault is quite a stretch, the Republicans had complete control for 6 of the 8 years. Also, the only time the debt hasn't been wildly growing out of control since 1980 was during the Clinton Admin.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Informative)

    by ricegf ( 1059658 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:11PM (#25925273) Journal

    I agree with you in principle; Obama should definitely validate the actual need for existing programs (military and domestic), and kill those we can live without. I disagree, though, that the F-35 [] is "bleeding edge" (its focus has always been on affordability as an export fighter set to compete with the French Rafale, the Swedish Gripen, and the multi-national Eurofighter rather than "performance at any cost"), or that it can be replaced by "incremental upgrades" to the existing fleet.

    The F-35 has strong international support from US allies who have helped fund and execute the program (including the United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Israel, and Singapore). It is the only potential replacement for the badly aging AV-8B Harrier II, and will also replace the F-16, A-10, EA-6B, and F/A-18 (except the Super Hornet model, for which it serves as a stealth-capable adjunct).

    in favor of re-capitalizing with incremental improvements to exiting proven systems

    This argument just doesn't work well for the F-35. While we could arguably replace existing F-16 inventories with the F-16 Block 60, and just buy more F-18 E/F Super Hornets for the Navy, we'd be left with two problems that make your suggestion impractical.

    "Incremental improvements" to the Harrier II would be cost-prohibitive, and likely wouldn't solve the major supportability issues it faces. Remember, a STOVL aircraft lives or dies on weight. Cutting weight is hard. Adding weight in a mid-life upgrade is easy. Cost-wise, an "incremental improvement" to the Harrier II is equivalent to a re-design - and we've already paid for a redesign in the F-35. (Same basic problem in the long run with the A-10, though we have more time in that aircraft's instance.)

    Second problem is more severe - you can't "incrementally upgrade" an existing aircraft to stealth. Other than the (expensive and non-exportable) F-22, the F-35 is the only fifth generation stealth fighter available to the allied military. The value of stealth has been proven thoroughly and repeatedly; GIYF.

    Just as you have to eventually forsake upgrading your beloved IBM XT and buy a new freaking machine, it's time to replace Harrier II's and their generational cohorts with a new platform for the next 50 years - which explains the strong international support behind the F-35.

    The F-35 is already in low-rate production after 12 years of competition and detailed design work, and is only 4 years from initial deployment in the USA and UK. Killing it now would be incredibly foolish - and I don't think Obama is foolish in the least.

    (All of the F-35 info above I pulled from Wikipedia [], of course.)

  • by GaryOlson ( 737642 ) <[slashdot] [at] []> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:34PM (#25925437) Journal
    And you are uneducated enough not to know the difference.
    Have you seen the heat shield they started putting on/in houses in southern climates? Where do you think that was developed originally? This heat shield keeps heat out in summer; and retains heat in the winter. This is one of the most obvious applications of NASA developed technology towards greater energy conservation.

    Microwaves -- are these a myth? Think these were developed by a commercial entity just so they could sell you a different type of oven?

    Integrated circuits -- of course lighter weight, cheaper to manufacture electronics were not created by the space industry. When lifting loads into orbit, you don't need lighter weight electronics.

    Here is a better list you can ignore []
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Informative)

    by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:35PM (#25925443)
    Currently, the United States Air Force has air superiority

    That's why it's called air superiority, not air just-a-little-better-than-everyone-else. Its purpose is to ensure that the air can be used at will by the commander - not that he might-or -might-not be able to use the air, if the enemy doesn't try too hard, and he got a mother may I ...
  • Re:Results (Score:5, Informative)

    by manufacturedganesh ( 1419949 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:42PM (#25925497)
    Those estimates are disingenuous. The Saturn V only cost 2.4-3.5 billion a launch when you take the money spent (adjusted for inflation) on the entire Saturn program (including R/D) then divide it by the number of launches. 500-600 million for launch is the actual cost of a single shuttle launch. Cost on the shuttle program in toto is around 150 billion total. Saturn was a much better deal considering the larger amount it could get to LEO and GTO. Considering that the shuttle isn't even capable of a transit orbit makes Saturn a bargain by comparison.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Informative)

    by djrogers ( 153854 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:50PM (#25925573)

    I second this. IMO, the only way to significantly put a dent in the budget would be to cut back on defense spending.

    Then you have no actual knowledge of the Federal budget. Defense spending has decreased as a percentage of discretionary spending every year for the past 42 years, while entitlement programs have ballooned to make up the vast majority of the federal budget. Cutting more defense spending would be cutting a small chunk off of a small chunk.

    Now I'm not saying we couldn't/shouldn't cut back on defense spending, but to imply or state that it would be the *only* effective measure in reducing the deficit is just not factual. []

    2007 Defense spending is approx 20% of federal spending as a whole, so even a 25% cut in defense spending would only have a net effect of a 5% reduction in spending. Not nearly enough to put a 'significant dent' in the budget.

  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:18PM (#25925831)

    Read the whole thread that you're replying to. It started with: "you may be too young to realize it but most of the really useful technology we use today has come out of Space and Military research."

    So yes, microwave ovens count.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:4, Informative)

    by whoda ( 569082 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:17PM (#25926385) Homepage
    No, it was $2.5Mil gross income. Totally misleading story it was.
  • What Surplus? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @03:15PM (#25926857) Homepage Journal

    Lets not forget which president ended his presidency with a surplus.

    Not Bill Clinton, that's for sure. The debt never dropped under his watch. Chart []

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:4, Informative)

    by DrFalkyn ( 102068 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @05:08PM (#25927659)

    Currently, the United States Air Force has air superiority That's why it's called air superiority, not air just-a-little-better-than-everyone-else. Its purpose is to ensure that the air can be used at will by the commander - not that he might-or -might-not be able to use the air, if the enemy doesn't try too hard, and he got a mother may I ...

    I think you are speaking of air supremacy - i.e. we would be able to destroy any ( perhaps several :-) ) air force(s) that dared to take to the skies. Air superiority is merely having a significant advantage in the air.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Informative)

    by falcon5768 ( 629591 ) <> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @08:05PM (#25928681) Journal
    No it wasn't misleading at all. Some of the people they found where multi-millionaires like ex-Microsoft owner Paul Allen. The money was meant to go to small farmers, farmers whos gross incomes where in the 400,000-500,000 dollar range with NO OTHER SOURCES OF INCOME beyond what they made farming. Its going to mega-corp farmers who are using accountants to play around with their income though which is not what it was intended to go to.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Informative)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:35PM (#25929531) Journal

    A video of a 2006 interview with now-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for president-elect Barack Obama reveals plans for mandatory induction for all young adults into a civilian "force."

    "If you're worried about, are you going to have to do 50 jumping jacks, the answer is yes," Emanuel told the interviewer, a reporter who was podcasting for the New York Daily News at the time.

    WND reported last weekend when the official website for Obama,, announced he would "require" all middle school through college students to participate in community service programs.

    However, after a flurry of blogs protested children being drafted into Obama's proposed youth corps, officials softened the website's wording.

    Originally, under the tab "America Serves," read, "President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in under served schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps.

    "Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year," the site announced.

    WND previously reported on a video of a marching squad of Obama youth and Obama's "civilian national security force," which he said in July would be just as powerful and well-funded as the U.S. military.

    "Somewhere between the age of 18 to 25 you will do three months of training. You can do it at some point in your college time," he said. "There can be nothing wrong with all Americans having a joint, similar experience of what we call civil defense training or civil service."
    Emanuel volunteers Americans to do 'a lot' []
    'If you're worried about having to do 50 jumping jacks the answer is yes'

    "will do" sounds pretty much like political-speak for required to me

  • by mathmathrevolution ( 813581 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:36AM (#25930687)

    1) A budget surplus does not imply that the debt is decreasing. Read a book.

    2) Even by your own chart you can see that the Clinton was the only fiscally responsible President in recent history. Furthermore, he improved every year he was in office. So what's your point? That Clinton doesn't deserve any credit for being fiscally prudent because he wasn't marginally more prudent where he actually achieved a surplus that exceeded the interest on the debt? Because that's a very dumb point.

  • Re:Thank goodness (Score:2, Informative)

    by shitbrain ( 996547 ) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @07:49AM (#25932197)
    Listen to the words of Peter Schiff who predicted this mess. []

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard