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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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  • Cut taxes, then (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ohxten ( 1248800 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:33AM (#25924633) Homepage

    Let's cut taxes and reduce spending elsewhere, too!

    Smaller government FTW.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by qmaqdk ( 522323 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:37AM (#25924663)

    Let's cut taxes and reduce spending elsewhere, too!

    Smaller government FTW.

    Is that you, Milton? :)

  • Re:Results (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:42AM (#25924689) Journal

    So why not just bring back the Saturn series, with updates to todays' technology? It's not like the shuttle was really reusable, not when so much of it had to be rebuilt by hand after every flight.

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

    by TriezGamer ( 861238 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:44AM (#25924713)

    I'd rather see them simply reduce spending and pay off the national debt.

  • I'm not suprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NETHED ( 258016 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:45AM (#25924715) Homepage

    Obama's presidency is going to be very FDRish. Lots of big 'public works' projects to keep the voting masses coming back, but in terms of actual forward thinking, very little. Well, actually, if you are into the government getting bigger, you won't be disappointed.

    (Man, I'm gonna get modded into oblivion for this!)

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

    by INT_QRK ( 1043164 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:48AM (#25924733)
    The Obama team may be exercising due diligence in looking across the board for cost savings. I hope that this is the case, and that they are not focusing on cutting investment in space exploration. That would be egregiously short sighted. I would recommend looking strongly at assessing the real mission needs for high cost "bleeding-edge" defense programs such as the Future Combat System (FCS), F-22, and F-35, in favor of re-capitalizing with incremental improvements to exiting proven systems. Attacking inefficiencies is the a better first approach over cutting back on science as well as basic research investments in our future.
  • by necro81 ( 917438 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:49AM (#25924741) Journal

    There aren't enough challenges facing us already? Personally, fixing the economy, changing the entire world energy landscape, averting a global climate disaster, and avoiding WWIII will be quite enough to occupy and challenge us for the next decade.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:58AM (#25924801)

    Even if the incoming administration eliminated NASA they wouldn't recover enough to pay for the various giveaways (e.g., bailouts, economic, stimulus checks, etc.). NASA's budget for 2009 was only 17.6 billion (http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2008/feb/HQ_08034_FY2009_budget.html). Certainly Obama and company can find better places to trim in this day of multi-trillion dollar giveaways. Let's start by scrapping the economic stimulus packages ($175-500 billion) which have thus far done next to nothing in stimulating anything except perhaps the re-election chances of those that allowed this mess to develop in the first place (yes Congress, that's you).

  • by mnemonic_ ( 164550 ) <jamecNO@SPAMumich.edu> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:00AM (#25924821) Homepage Journal

    This might actually be a good thing. I have a friend working at Cape Canaveral who tells me that most of his managers at NASA consider Project Orion a disgrace to the space program. The design is a kludge... it's less elegant than Apollo of 30 years ago, using multiple Ares rockets to handle what Saturn V did on its own. The design's fundamentally flawed, the rocket's so slender it "wants" to fly backwards... the control system has to fight its natural flight mechanics the entire way up to keep it straight. The launch vibrations were large enough to kill the astronauts, leading them to add shock absorbers, because the project's been so rushed and it's too late in the game to instead eliminate vibrations altogether. The whole capsule design is antiquated and relies on an incredibly tough heat shield for reentry, when reentry speeds themselves should be lowered (using a lifting fuselage, like the X-33 [wikipedia.org] and SS1 [wikipedia.org]), vastly reducing reentry heating and eliminating burnup almost entirely as a failure mode (Columbia).

    I won't try to just blame Bush, but this hasn't been a methodical, thought-out advance of manned exploration. Mike Griffin's in the wrong here too as the project cheerleader. The project's a mess, with so much modern materials science and computational flight dynamics being thrown at a design that was only good for the 1960s, but completely outclassed today by research since then. If Obama cancels BOTH Ares and Orion, maybe we can have a real successor to the SSTO (PLEASE be the X-33 with composite fuel tanks).

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

    by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:03AM (#25924835) Homepage
    I second this. IMO, the only way to significantly put a dent in the budget would be to cut back on defense spending.
  • by DigitalisAkujin ( 846133 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:07AM (#25924859) Homepage

    They asked for a cost analysis for various scenarios. Stop assuming the worst case.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:09AM (#25924867) Homepage Journal

    I realize that we can't have it all. That's part of the reason we're in the mess we are now, we're overspending pretty much across the board. I'd be a hypocrite if I said we need to cut spending on ABC but don't touch my XYZ. Here's hoping he has a sensible, balanced plan.

    I'd like to know how he plans to combat pork though. I get the impression that's the biggest budget bleeder.

  • Re:Results (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:10AM (#25924877)

    I have read the contrary... not that this means anything. With out having acutally seen them, it is worthless to srgue.

    However if they do exist, they are all on paper. Have fun getting them into a modern CAD system. That alone will take over a year.

    Aside from practicality, getting back to useless net based speculation.... what I have also read is that many of the factories that built the Saturn have been torn down, that even with a complete set of prints it would take comtemporary engineers a long time to train and learn the older technology used, and a similar amount of time to upgrade the plans to use current technology.

    I don't know about you, but it would take me months to be effective if I have to learn how to wire wrap a computer, or use vacuum tubes.

  • by Dolphinzilla ( 199489 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:12AM (#25924893) Journal

    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 - a vast amount of spin-offs from going to the moon have probably done more for energy efficiency than any research by independent companies and doing the research and the task provides jobs and stimulates the economy, as we ll as generating national pride - I would much rather my tax dollars go towards this than paying of someones mortgage who shouldn't have been given one in the first place...

  • Good. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by glrotate ( 300695 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:13AM (#25924897) Homepage

    The return of scientific information from the boondoogle that is NASA is trivial.

    This money could find much better application in a numeber of scientific or nonscientific applications.

  • Almost not fair.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) * <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:13AM (#25924899)
    Obama is inheriting an UNBELIEVABLE debt/deficit. There will need to be cuts EVERYWHERE. It almost isn't fair to put this article up on /. Of course all of us geeks don't want to see the space program cut.
  • by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:18AM (#25924927)
    What benefit does man space travel provide? The space program has created a number of sparks in scientific results that have lead directly to tax producing products in the consumer market. Not the mention the non-tangible results of spawning hopes and dreams. For those old enough to remember, that was critical in the USA in 68/69. How many of today's scientist and engineers were inspired by the space program? It wasn't all Star Trek doing that. The manned space program more than pays for itself. In fact, cutting social security benefits by $5 dollars a month would pay for the entire space program, and we'd get more benefit back.
  • Re:Results (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:20AM (#25924943)

    Are you serious? Do you think the entire aerospace industry has been sitting around doing nothing since the 60s?

    There are HUGE differences. With the advent of CNC Machinery, Computational Fluid Dynamics,Finite Element Analysis, Computer Aided Design, etc... designs can be realized with extremely high accuracy and safety compared to what was possible in the 60s.

  • by Prototerm ( 762512 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:20AM (#25924945)

    If you've been laid off, you've spent your retirement funds, you're car is about to be repossessed, and your house is about to be foreclosed, the *last* thing you want to do is go on that trip to the Bahamas you've been planning to take.

    We can not afford to spend all this money exploring space, not right now. We should privatize the whole space program, and let somebody make money off it selling tickets to rich SOB's with more money than sense. Only when it has to make a profit for somebody will it find the efficiency and economy it needs to make real progress. At the moment, it's nothing more than a money pit.

  • by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:25AM (#25924973) Journal

    Developing whole new sets of technology seemed to be a very good thing for the U.S. economy before. The Apollo program produced a lot of new technology (including Tang! yum!). The only reason we are 'first world' is that we had things to sell that the rest of the world didn't, and we were the only ones that had them. Of course now, we would likely lose that advantage immediately when those running things outsource all the work overseas once the technology is established. Then the overseas companies will sell our technology back to us as finished goods. BTW, didn't something like that happen in the 18th century? The U.S. shipped raw materials to Britain and they shipped finished goods back at significant mark up? That even figured into some war that was fought back then wasn't it (among some other things)? Sorry no, things aren't the same... at least back then the U.S. made some money on raw materials first. Now even that is lost. (And just kidding on the Tang thing btw... yech!)

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

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:26AM (#25924975) Journal

    The last thing NASA needs is a funding cut in the middle of development!

    Sorry, but "what NASA needs" is a rather lower priority than getting a lid on government spending.


  • by BigZaphod ( 12942 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:27AM (#25924985) Homepage

    Whoa there... he hasn't done anything yet. He isn't even the president! His people are just gathering information. Calm down... Geesh.

  • by cabjf ( 710106 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:29AM (#25925001)
    Except killing the DoD budget, at least in one big cut, would devastate the economy. We're too reliant on the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned about. However, if we put some thought into it and gradually reduced that spending to a reasonable level, then the economy would be able to absorb the loss, especially if we rerouted at least some of that money into scientific research that the entire public can take advantage of.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:34AM (#25925025)

    (well, at lest the "space" part. Seriously, that brought very very little. not even the teflon pan.)

    You've heard of satellites, right?

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:34AM (#25925031) Journal

    Obama is inheriting an UNBELIEVABLE debt/deficit.

    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...

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

    by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:36AM (#25925047)
    assessing the real mission needs for high cost "bleeding-edge" defense programs

    It's called providing for the common defense ... one of the few things the damn government is supposed to be doing, as apposed to all the crap they are, and want, to do.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kral_Blbec ( 1201285 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:39AM (#25925059)

    Like heath care?

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:42AM (#25925083)

    I guess those super high-tech weapon systems might be a waste of money anyway, the US has already left the rest of the world way behind in the arms race but that high-tech army seems to be a massive money sink if it's ever fielded. 1.4 trillion USD just to fight a few cold war era relics? I guess they should research how to make the army cheaper, not even stronger. Noone's doubting its stength but if using it bankrupts the nation perhaps enemies of the US would consider the US army no longer a real threat as it hurts the US more than the target it's thrown at (especially when that target is an amorphous threat like terrorism).

  • by Kral_Blbec ( 1201285 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:47AM (#25925113)

    Not to mention later when it turns out we could use some defense around.

    Like any preventative measure, you never know how much its worth until you dont have it.

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

    by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:52AM (#25925163)

    The only way to make the army cheaper is to lessen the value of the human soldiers in it. China's army is twice the size of the USA's. FCS and all those high tech devices are designed to allow the military to do more with less overall resources. The F-22 and F-35 are designed to use the same support systems, and similar components to allow faster and ultimately less expensive in field repairs.

    While the whole land warrior system has been stripped back, squad leaders are still carrying the communication systems and real time mapping aspects to allow them to better coordinate forces. As it stands the US military is one of the most efficient militaries in the world(an oxymoron if there ever was one). While realistic assessments of the tech, and future upgrades to the systems themselves are required it can be doen more easily as the basics of the design has been completed.

    The F-22 was the R&D test bed for the F-35 While the per unit cost of the F-22 is high because of this the per unit cost of the F-35 is far far smaller.

    You can't make the army cheaper unless your willing to kill more of your own soldiers to do it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:52AM (#25925165)

    NASA is a publics works project for engineers and scientists.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:52AM (#25925169)

    IMO, the only way to significantly put a dent in the budget would be to cut back on gratuitous spending, period.

    You know, the dole out's in the millions of dollars to study stupid shit like environmental studies for running a highway through a congressman's swamp property.

    And who came up with this harebrained scheme to give my tax dollars to Joe Crackhead and Janet Babymachine?

    But congress will never pass the line item veto or adopt a ban on earmarks. Never that is, until we have an armed uprising.

    "I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." - Thomas Jefferson

  • by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <orionblastar@gmail . c om> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:54AM (#25925175) Homepage Journal

    This is a post from Frank in my Pirate's mailing list group:

    I think the human race needs to start thinking of space exploration as necessity.

    Obama wants to create 2.5 million jobs for 2k+9. But the prob is that we need

    1) work that needs to be done
    2) negotiate a price that the workers are willing to work for, and the employer is willing to

    Without those two things, it's like trying to use an electric motor to charge its own battery.

    The truth is, the earth isn't big enough for everyone. We want to increase wealth for
    everyone. To do so we have two options:

    1) take it from someone else
    2) go where there is unclaimed wealth

    The great thing about space is that there is a lot of it. You see, if I have a candy bar, and
    the teacher sees me with it says, "are you going to share with everyone?" I have no choice
    but to put it away because by the time I divide it up, my piece will be too small.

    But if I can go to where there's a truckload of candy, I can truly share with everyone. So it
    is with outer space.

    So when we think of space exploration as a necessity, we will have:

    jobs in space
    homes in space
    nightclubs in space
    shopping malls in space
    restaurants in space

    In other words, a sustainable economy!

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:16PM (#25925311)

    It's called providing for the common defense ... one of the few things the damn government is supposed to be doing, as apposed to all the crap they are, and want, to do.

    The question is, are the F-22 and F-35 (a) addressing the real needs of our military forces, and (b) are they cost-effective ways of doing that (particularly the F-22, which costs upwards of 100 million per plane)? Currently, the United States Air Force has air superiority, and few nations have anything (or plan to build anything) that can touch the F-15. Now, it's probably a good idea to make sure that we retain our air superiority, but do we really need both the F-22 and the F-35 to do that, or could we get by with just one? Or what about maintaining air superiority using unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs)? Doubtless, being able to maintain air superiority is going to be critical in future wars. But the reality is that many of the wars of the next 20-30 years will probably look a lot more like Afghanistan and Iraq than they will look like World War II. A 100 million dollar supercruising stealth plane doesn't do you a hell of a lot of good if the enemy's primary weapon is illiterate, brainwashed jihadis armed with kalashnikovs.

  • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:16PM (#25925313)
    Seems like the US Gov could save $800 billion alone in the financial sector for something that is having no payoff.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:18PM (#25925325) Journal
    Defense? Against what? The US has, BY FAR, the largest military budget in the world. It is larger than the next 46 largest combined. And most of those are strong US allies. So, who poses a threat? Who do you have to defend yourself against that you need such a large military budget?

    The US could cut its military budget in half and still be the largest, most powerful military on the planet.
  • by GaryOlson ( 737642 ) <slashdot@gaAUDENryolson.org minus poet> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:21PM (#25925335) Journal
    These are all problems which require solutions. But, a society which only focuses on the challenges closest to home will grow myopic. NASA does produce ideas and solutions which can be applied to problems closer to earth. But, what NASA provides most is an outward focus on spacescapes and ideas larger than all of us combined. This is a healthy and necessary element of our society.

    Just like the psychiatrist who only works with disturbed people all day who thinks all people have some sort of mental malady, if our society only focuses on societal issues we will become too self involved. And very probably self destructive.

    As someone else posted, for the money spent, NASA is a gem in our national investment portfolio. A good portfolio manager don't divest themselves of the promising ventures to focus their funds on only the largest financial ventures.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:26PM (#25925375) Journal

    You can't make the army cheaper unless your willing to kill more of your own soldiers to do it.

    This can be logically extended to, "every tax dollar you don't spend on the army means killing more of your own soldiers". So, should we cut down on everything else, and redirect any gains to the army, to "support the truth"?

    Of course, it is a fallacy. If you're not willing to see more your fellow countrymen in your armed forces die, just stop fighting in pointless wars.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:27PM (#25925383) Homepage

    "Space travel is utter bilge" - Richard van der Riet Wolley, Astronomer Royal, 1955.

    He was right. Back in 1955, he crunched the numbers, and realized that you couldn't build a rocket that lifted itself into orbit while carrying much of a payload.

    Only by excessive weight reduction and throwing away big chunks of the launch vehicle does space travel work at all. Space travel on chemical fuels will never work much better than it does now. It's an inherent limitation of chemical fuels. After fifty years of trying, it's still only possible to just barely get stuff into orbit, using huge rockets to lift dinky payloads. The vehicles are so weight-reduced that they're too fragile to reuse without a major overhaul after each flight. We'll never get to something with the robustness of a commercial airliner, or even a jet fighter.

    We should resign ourselves to launching small satellites and planetary probes. Manned spaceflight is just an expensive ego trip for nations. The ISS turned out to be pointless; people go there, but nothing much gets done there. It's not useful for astronomy, earth observation, scientific research, manufacturing, or even for military purposes.

    If we ever get a better power source, like fusion or a nuclear rocket that doesn't make a big mess, this could change. But on chemical fuels, space travel is a dud. It's time to admit that and give it up.

  • by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:28PM (#25925387)
    Visit the National Constitution Center [] and search for rainbow and blowjobs - they must be part of the improved government healthcare program, cause it ain't in the document that gives government its authority.
  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:29PM (#25925395)

    In other words, Obama understands the need for a symbol, and this is his signal to NASA. The space program has long been a symbol of American achievement and in a time like this, we need symbols of hope. We need to prove that in spite of everything we can still reach for the stars. It's politically sound. But he also wants NASA to get its act together -- he wants the best, and this is also a message to NASA that average and substandard won't be tolerated.

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:29PM (#25925401) Homepage Journal
    Space exploration can not be likened to a trip to the Bahamas. Space exploration is an investment in research. Research results in innovation. However, research doesn't pay off in a quarter or a year, it pays off over decades. Because of our greed, we have forced our publicly traded companies to focus on quarterly improvements, rather than long term innovations. Yes, improvements make money, and they make it more quickly, however they do not make nearly as much money as innovations. We jeer at the automakers who have their hands out looking for money from the government, however, we are the investors who told them quarter after quarter to slightly improve their product to get us that quick buck, rather than invest in research into new technology such as alternative fuels, which would cause them to lose money for many quarters but would undoubtedly have paid off heavily over the last couple of years when gas prices skyrocketed. Yes, we, the American investor, are to blame. We have turned Lucent from a company who's innovations made billions into a company who struggles to survive trying to make small improvements to existing technology.
    I don't want this to happen to NASA. I would like very much for the private sector to invest in space travel, but the amount of money it takes to fund such a thing is not available in the private sector. If it was, then when it paid off, a few people would get extremely rich. Wouldn't it be better if our government made the investment into space research and when it paid off, that it would pay off for all the people?
  • Seems reasonable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hitchhikerjim ( 152744 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:36PM (#25925453)

    Seems to me that this is the right thing to do 60-days before he actually gets into office -- gather information.

    He didn't say he was going to cut anything, he asked for a cost-benefit analysis on various scenarios. If NASA can't deliver that, they don't deserve to keep operating. But I suspect they will give that, and it'll be fuel for the Obama administration to make (hopefully good) decisions.

    I hope he's doing the same with every government agency -- identifying their top line-items and looking at whether or not those items are really best done by continuing on the current paths.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:40PM (#25925483)
    Line item veto is highly unconstitutional. The very IDEA that somebody wants to give the president, I don't care either part, the ability to say yes or no to individual items in bill is WRONG! If there is something in the bill that the president does not like, well he should do his job and veto the whole thing. This would force congress (ha) to get another bill, or do an override.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by F_Prefect ( 69773 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <21tceferp>> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:44PM (#25925509) Homepage
    Why would you cut back on the one thing that the government is suppose to do? Provide for the common defense is the JOB of government. Not supplying bail-outs to companies that were mis-managed. The estimated cost of just the damm bail outs is over 6 trillion dollars that the US government is on the hook for. What needs to be cut, how about farm subsidies? Read a story that a family bought a house and the realitor said that they would get money from the government, farm subsidiy, because they were in the right area. The house wasn't even in a farming area. That's where the government needs to fix it's self.
  • by Adambomb ( 118938 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:48PM (#25925543) Journal

    What benefit does man space travel provide?

    Agreed, but to be specific.

    Manned space travel equips us with the tools to spread humanity off the planet eventually. Getting humanity off the earth and in as many self-sustaining redundant locations as possible is the only defense against the annihilation of the species due to a cataclysmic event on earth. The probabilities are such that given a long enough time-frame, the earth WILL be destroyed or failing that the biosphere such that humans can survive will be changed.

    The only defense against this is to get our eggs into more baskets.

    Manned space travel is one of the few advances that is actually possible to maintain our species in the very long run rather than just having us be a "eh, they had a good run, they made it to 100 episodes!" kind of ending. Add to that the possibilities of mineral/resource exploitation off planet, the research possible from different vantage points and frames of reference, and the exposure to all that we dont know because it does not exist on earth.

    That's a big possible RoI compared to the budget imo. Plus, on a slightly darker but no less important note, the group with the keys to the tools will be the one who controls who goes where, when, and how in space.

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

    by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:51PM (#25925577) Homepage

    "supposed to be doing" according to who?

    if the majority of Americans want public research into space exploration, medical research, and fundamental research, then it is the government's duty to carry out these wishes. the only hard rule about what a government ought to be doing is protecting the interests of its constituency. even in a world without military conflict (and thus with no need for "common defense") government will still be a necessity, just not in its present form.

    believe it or not, not everyone is paranoid about a Soviet/German/Chinese invasion or terrorist attack. defense is far from the only common interest shared by a society. certain things like road systems, public education, communications networks, power grids, and other vital public infrastructure cannot be built by a lone individual. they require the collective efforts & resources of a community to develop.

    likewise, law enforcement, emergency services, courts, etc. are all public services that a modern society needs to function. because most people don't want to live in a dog eat dog world where might makes right, we establish social institutions to ensure law and order and promote social justice. these institutions do far more for public safety on a day to day basis than a ridiculously expensive military.

    and because most people have the foresight to see that fundamental research, space exploration, ecological conservation, and the arts all serve the long-term interests of a society, the government also has the responsibility of funding these admittedly loftier endeavors. if you want to live in a country whose government is only interested in military defense, then move to a nation under military dictatorship. you don't need a democratic government that protects free speech, free press, ensures due process, regulates health standards, and ensures their nation is at the forefront of science & technology, etc. to have an armed forces.

  • by QuasiEvil ( 74356 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:51PM (#25925581)

    How exactly is libertarianism a totalitarian fantasy? Libertarians by definition believe the state should control almost nothing, which would be the exact opposite.

    If people want the government to give everyone rainbows and blowjobs, you have no business telling them it shouldn't.

    Even as a libertarian, I agree with you. If that's what the people want, then great. Except I'd add that those who want these things can go through the proper channels - constitutional amendment. Then, after that, the libertarian in me wants to see only those interested in rainbows or blowjobs be charged (perhaps at a group discount rate) for these services.

    Personally, I prefer the private sector. That way I have the freedom to choose my blowjob provider.

  • by Ironchew ( 1069966 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:53PM (#25925595)

    So, it sounds like you are advocating Bread & Circuses. That worked out great for Rome...

    A professional military worked out great for Rome, too! Bwahaha!

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

    by Strep ( 956749 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:53PM (#25925597)
    Typical. What happened to: The money came from the people, give it back to them.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msuarezalvarez ( 667058 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:57PM (#25925635)
    Maybe the problem there is that the problem there is *not* a military problem, but a political one---like pretty much everyone was telling the US before *both* invasions...
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @12:58PM (#25925643) Homepage

    if you don't want to lessen the value of human soldiers, then the best thing to do isn't to waste money on exorbitant defense projects, but to deploy the armed forces only when it is absolutely necessary. that is, if you value the lives of soldiers you won't put them in harm's way unnecessarily.

    our defense budget is far and beyond that of all other nations, but i very much doubt that Canada, France, Sweden, Japan, etc. value the lives of their soldiers any less than we do.

  • by msuarezalvarez ( 667058 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:03PM (#25925693)

    Your argument is not very different from the one used to decide that the theory of evolution must be wrong because Genesis does not mention any of it.

    The fact that you do not seem to consider even the possibility that the guys who wrote that text, in a completely different age, with completely different problems, while holding firmly to ideas that appeared to them self-evident and to which we can now react with little less than disgust and historical perspective---I say, the fact that you do not consider that they were probably not omniscient and perfect while writing that, is simply scary.

  • by thrillseeker ( 518224 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:11PM (#25925765)
    Please have a look around, the rest of the world is screaming past you.

    for sufficiently negative values of screaming, perhaps so.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vadim_t ( 324782 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:20PM (#25925861) Homepage

    Because while the US is more than capable of "bombing Iraq back to the stone age", as many people were very fond of pointing out back then, and your comment about levelling the place reflects, the problem in Iraq is political, and turning Iraq into a smoking crater wasn't a solution to that problem. The US knows how and has the ability to do that very well, what it struggles with is with understanding politics.

    I remember what it was like back then quite well. The general american impression was that the US Army would stride into Iraq (no problems there), quickly crush Iraq's army (no problems there either) and the entire population of Iraq would run to hug their saviors. Well, that last part didn't happen. And blowing things up and killing people doesn't that make more likely to happen either, so the US is kind of stumped there.

    On your comment of "levelling the place": Nobody is impressed. Everybody knows you can do that, but there's the little problem of that the whole point was to liberate Iraq, not to kill every single person in it, and such a "solution" to the problem wouldn't be welcome by the rest of the world.

  • by FlyingBishop ( 1293238 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:25PM (#25925913)

    If we're going to nitpick, you could make the same argument against the common defense. It merely says provide for the common defense. It does not say provide the common defense. So giving everyone a shotgun would fulfill its obligations. But it doesn't give everyone a shotgun, it chooses the more effective method of a professional army.

    And promoting the general welfare... well welfare does just that. The intention of the text isn't to decide how these things should be done, it's to say that they should be done. Just because you think that something else more effectively serves the purpose, doesn't mean that those of us who disagree with you are acting contrary to the meaning. It just means we are acting contrary to your proposed solution. There's a difference, so please stop trying to turn this into a shouting match. You degrade yourself and the nation.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ricegf ( 1059658 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:28PM (#25925945) Journal

    But the reality is that many of the wars of the next 20-30 years will probably look a lot more like Afghanistan and Iraq

    You only need to lose one conventional war on your home turf to realize how important defense spending really is.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by that this is not und ( 1026860 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:33PM (#25925989)

    Yes. Like Health Care.

    I am hoping you didn't post your comment to posit the notion that government should have any major role in Health Care.

    Big lies are not going to be allowed to continue.

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

    by Walkingshark ( 711886 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:44PM (#25926093) Homepage

    Is that 2.5 million income after expenditures? Running a farm is extremely expensive, and you can easily run through 2.5 million in seed, equipment upkeep, fertilizer, etc. If you like food, maybe complaining about farm subsidies isn't the right way to go...

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Digital End ( 1305341 ) <<excommunicated> <at> <gmail.com>> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:46PM (#25926101)
    Spoken like someone who has no idea why it will always be possible for a single crazy fuck to damage large areas.

    You could put a platoon on every block in this country, and I could tell you how to blow up a building. Defence against a small one shot attack is impossible in the long run. And while money is poured into the problem endlessly, it's simply a no-fix situation.

    Even when we sort out the fact that half the world thinks we're satans bastard children, even when the world is singing and dancing together, there's still going to be sick fuckers out there who want to blow shit up, and defence is never 100% for that in a country with any semblence of freedom.
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @01:48PM (#25926133) Homepage

    From Wikipedia:
    "For 2009, the base budget rose to US$515.4 billion, with a total of US$651.2 billion when emergency discretionary spending and supplemental spending are included.[1] This does not include many military-related items that are outside of the Defense Department budget, such as nuclear weapons research, maintenance and production (~$9.3 billion, which is in the Department of Energy budget), Veterans Affairs (~$33.2 billion) or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (which are largely funded through extra-budgetary supplements, ~$170 billion in 2007) - the United States government is currently spending at the rate of approximately $1 trillion per year for all defense-related purposes."

    Wars are not included in the defense budget? Nuclear weapons aren't included in the defense budget? I would even count the aid we give to Israel (which is quite a lot) as defense spending, but I'm fairly certain it's not counted that way on the chart. Then you have to remove social security from the chart because you can't count that as a normal expense (it is an investment fund paid for with its own separate tax). Then you have to remove interest from the chart because the goal I mentioned was to pay off the national debt (which you can't do if you don't even pay interest).

    So what are we left with? Defense, Medicare, and "non-defense" and "other mandatory" (which includes non-defense items like aid to Israel, the wars we're currently fighting, and nuclear weapons research and maintenance). Do you think the elderly (the most active voters) are going to vote away their health care and simply go off and die quietly to help the rest of us? If not, defense is the only sizable chunk left.

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

    by Walkingshark ( 711886 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:03PM (#25926271) Homepage

    Exactly! Thats why the French, the Germans, the Italians, and the Polish spend a vast majority of their national budgets on defense! God dude, you're fucking brilliant, you should be the SecDef!

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:13PM (#25926339) Homepage Journal

    Imagine you have the most amazing collection of hammers in the world in your toolbox. If you don't have any screwdrivers or wrenches then a lot of tasks are going to be awkward.

    The US military is poorly equipped and organized for the kind of thing we were trying to do in Iraq. A lot of the money goes into things that are force multipliers: making individual soldiers more deadly, making units of force agile and able to move in a precisely coordinated way. In a way, we made our military a powerful instrument for imposing our will upon regimes; imposing your will on a country requires a different set of skills and a different organization.

  • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:16PM (#25926379)
    It's also rather difficult to completely eliminate vibrations from a solid rocket without an advancement in the manufacturing process used to create the fuel.

    Then don't use a solid rocket. Liquid-fueled designs are more complex, but they're throttleable and thus can compensate for thrust irregularities. As an extension of that, you can actually shut them off if needed. They also spew a lot less crap into the air.

    The main reason we're using a solid first stage on the Ares I is because Thiokol has good lobbyists, in my opinion.
  • Re:Thank goodness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:17PM (#25926387) Homepage Journal

    Currency has never had 'intrinsic' value. What would you do with Gold that is valuable? Currency has whatever value we all agree it has. Gold would be no different and it's physical nature would not stop this effect from happening - you'd just see massive inflation of the value of Gold which would make it impossible to use in any technology or science or art.

    It's much better to base currency on work units directly rather than some arbitrary physical medium which is scarce until it's not... or abundant until someone decides to hoard it all.

    I do some work, I get paid for it. Who cares what the medium used to record the work is... whether it be a printed piece of paper with a unique serial number or a metal coin with a unique serial number... or a digital notation on a computer attached to my unique SSN.

    I then take that work unit I was paid with and use it to buy someone else's labor, the same way the company I did the work for paid for my labor.

    Personally I don't even have cash.. I rarely use it, except to pay for gas at stations that charge for ATM use (usually the cheapest prices though).

    I'd rather keep my work units in a money market account so that they can earn decent interest while I'm not using them (aka I loan them to other people for use in trading on the stock markets). If I've collected enough work units I put them in a CD so others can borrow them more long term - which gives me a better return. Sometimes I loan them out to companies for a very long term - by purchasing stock - with an even better return potential.

  • by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:21PM (#25926435) Homepage

    Our infrastructure has been underfunded for decades. Our electrical grid suffers from regular blackouts during the summer, and can't support alternative energy developments. Our broadband penetration and speeds are falling further and further behind the rest of the world. Our roads are constantly damaged, and we literally have bridges collapsing. Even our water and sewer infrastructure is aging and falling into disrepair. We haven't made any serious investment in infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System, over 50 years ago.

    And here's the thing you need to know about public works. It's an investment. Without a maintained and modern infrastructure, your economy comes to a halt. And maintaining and providing infrastructure has always been one of the primary roles of government. That's because infrastructure simply doesn't happen by itself, especially in today's age of myopic focus on quarterly profits. (Actually that's not true. Private companies have never had in interest in providing infrastructure. Case in point: rural electrification [wikipedia.org].)

    I would say actually these problems that have been growing for 20 or 30 years, as opposed to ignoring them as has been the case, is "forward thinking".

    Oh and FDR fixed the econom, won a war, and pretty much created the modern United States. We can only hope that Obama can achieve even part of the success of FDR.

  • by mrraven ( 129238 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:31PM (#25926503)

    Money invested in NASA DOES come back to you dumbass, hint the I.C.s in the computer you are typing your Slashdot posts on were very much incubated by NASA for use in the space program.

    And above and beyond those practical materialistic considerations is the joy and wonder of expanding human knowledge. Or we could let some self proclaimed pseudo Libertarian keep the money to "invest" in more landscaping for their pretentious mini mansion. I know which choice I'd make, sigh.

    And yes it's very legitimate to debate WHERE NASA ought to spend it's money I think projects like Hubbell and space robots give us better bang for the buck than manned exploration, but in the bigger picture NASA ought to be getting more money, not less if the U.S. is to maintain world class science research.

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

    by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:31PM (#25926505)

    You know, the dole out's in the millions of dollars to study stupid shit like environmental studies for running a highway through a congressman's swamp property.

    Environmental studies are important, and swamps are there for a reason (protect the non-swamp areas against hurricanes, act as habitat for species that we use (directly or indirectly), etc.). The government is now spending even more money to fix swamps that they fucked up 50 years ago because they didn't do the environmental studies in the first place!

    But congress will never pass the line item veto or adopt a ban on earmarks.

    Line-item vetos are dumb anyway. If that's what you want, then just encourage the President to veto the whole thing, all the time, until Congress gives him a version without the line items! You don't need a special new power for it; you just need the President to grow a pair!

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ricegf ( 1059658 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:36PM (#25926549) Journal

    I think you mean manned jets?

    You'll find the answer fighting any AI creatures in any FPS game on the planet. Computers still lack the tactical depth and flexibility of the human mind, and a remote link suffers from temporal, tactile and reliability shortcomings on the battlefield.

    Perhaps in 20-50 years we'll be able to replace soldiers on the battlefield (land, air and sea), but in the meantime, wetware in the loop will win almost every battle.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ryanov ( 193048 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:44PM (#25926597)

    For profit is really working, isn't it?

    Show me the other choices.

    (cue the rants about how we'll all be waiting in line with compound fractures)

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @02:54PM (#25926697) Homepage Journal

    You might but I would then suggest that you read some good history books.
    1. Set more and more troops to Vietnam.
    2. Went forward with the Bay of Pigs.
    3. Didn't support the Bay of Pigs.
    4. Ran on the platform that the US was lagging behind the USSR in missiles and nukes.
    5. Supported the deployment of Thor, Jupiter, Atlas, Titan I, Titan II, and Polaris missile systems.
    6. And almost brought the US into a full on nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis.

    The one that kept things from really getting out of had wasn't JFK it was Khrushchev and it cost him just about everything.

    JFK's memory has a reality distortion field that makes Jobb's look tiny.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @03:27PM (#25926949)

    Space-based solar power for Earth just doesn't make much sense at the current time. There are a few niche applications like disaster relief and military logistics. Not very exciting. The possibility of fixing the humongous Ares I mess is far more interesting and has greater impact on the US's future.

    The key problems with the energy markets are storage and transportation. Not generation. No reason to have solar power in space when the cost per average watt generated for solar is much lower on Earth, even at a factor of 3 to 6 lower amounts generated per unit area on Earth.

    Having said that, there might be a market for microwave relay satellites to transfer significant amounts of power from one part of the globe to another. The power loss is something like 15% in atmosphere. Two trips through the atmosphere is probably something like a few thousand kilometers on the best power lines out there (500KV or so). And a lot of places aren't connected to good power lines. So microwave relay could reduce power losses to remote locations. After that, if the cost of solar cells in LEO goes down to an acceptable level, then it'd make economic sense to attach an array of solar cells to a microwave relay.

    I'm skeptical of research into space solar power right now. It just doesn't seem that useful. Microwave or other beamed power seems very useful.

  • by Crazy Taco ( 1083423 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @04:15PM (#25927253)

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

    That's definitely not the only way. We have a 3 trillion dollar budget, and to say defense is the only place to cut money in a budget that big is laughable.

    Personally, I would like to see us first cut spending by stopping all these ridiculous bailouts. It's been one right after another, to the point where our national deficit next year will likely be 1 TRILLION DOLLARS this year. All these companies and individuals weren't socializing their profits a couple years ago when they were raking in money hand over fist, so why should we socialize their losses?

    Next we could start cutting social programs. Welfare could be cut back (rather than increased like the Democratic congress just did), Medicare should be reformed and scaled back, and Social Security should be restructured in a way that will phase it out. The ballooning costs of those programs will absolutely destroy our budget within a decade or two, and that's assuming we continue to have good economic growth. We should be working to phase them out now while we still have time to do it gradually, because the alternative is a massive, sudden slashing of benefits.

    After those, you could start whacking a lot of the unconstitutional things the feds are involved with, such as the department of education. We already spend more money per capita on our students than anyone else, with not very good results. However, some states have been having success, so lets just turn the entire job back over to the states and let them experiment and try 50 different systems. And may the best one win and be adopted.

    Following this, you could start whacking subsidies that we hand out to everything that moves. The farmers have had subsidies for almost 30 years, so it's time for them to find a way to become profitable or get out. And all the "green" subsidies should go away too. Market pressures will force them to become cost efficient, or they will be knocked out in favor of better technologies. Government subsidies don't provide incentives to drive out inefficiencies.

    Next, let's start hammering away at pork barrel earmarks. Barack Obama says they "only" amount to 18 billion, but so what? Let's clean that up. When Minnesota's I-35 bridge collapsed last year, they asked the congress for an emergency 255 million for rebuilding, and the congress responded by passing the massive 8+ billion dollar Minnesota bridge repair bill. Minnesota only wanted 255 million, and they packed it with pork for a butterfly garden in North Dakota, a sports stadium somewhere else and all kinds of other junk. And of course you get garbage like the bridge to nowhere coming out of these earmarks.

    Follow this up by cuts to foreign aid. Should we really be giving tons of money away when we can't even keep our government in the black at home? That's a recipe for disaster. Plus we keep giving money to failed terrorist states/entities, like the Palestinians, numerous African and Middle Eastern nations and Pakistan.

    And for everything else in the budget, cut it by 10% but demand they provide the same level of service. I GUARANTEE you that could be done. In the private sector, companies are always having to drive out costs to remain competitive and profitable, especially in down times like this when their revenues drop. Why do we buy the line all these government workers give us when they say, "We can't have a budget cut! We'll have to close down! Reduce services!" Bull. The private sector goes through revenue reduction all the time. The problem we have is that government NEVER has a recession and NEVER takes a budget cut like all the rest of is. This means waste and inefficiencies aren't forced out of the system. After decades of nothing but budget increases, there has to be at least 10% waste in every single agency, and they will need a good sharp pay cut to have the incentive to get it under control.

    That would be

  • Re:Thank goodness (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2017q4@virtual-estates.net> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @04:21PM (#25927325) Homepage Journal

    So if I work for a thousand hours alphabetizing papers and you work for an hour writing a script that eliminates the need for my job, I should be paid 1000x more than you?

    Seems like a great plan.

    Why, yes, Karl Marx' economic theory is based pretty much on that. And he must've been onto something, because despite having

    • never worked in practice,
    • caused millions of deaths in attempts to make it work

    it still has plenty of adherents, and some people, who — like our new President-elect — would not rule out "taking useful pieces" out of it... And even when they admit (usually — under some pressure), that economic part of the theory is utter crap, they still try to push it on the basis of "fairness".

    Unfortunately, this is an unwinnable argument — to win it, you'd have to convince people, what they are doing is inefficient. This is impossible, because succeeding would strip the self-defense layer people's minds have put up to defend themselves from sliding into insanity. "If I've spent my whole life alphabetizing papers, it must be good for something, and no computer will ever alphabetize them as good as I do."

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ersatz Chickenweed ( 868568 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @04:27PM (#25927373)

    Maybe those farmers should consider NOT growing Franken-crops from Monsanto, then, if it's no longer economically advantageous to do so (to say nothing of any of the other negative impacts of those crops). Maybe they should go back to more "old fashioned" methods where they can, you know, actually keep/trade seed they've grown which they can use to plant next year's crop for free, instead of being bent over the barrel by greedy corporations every single year. Free seed, more biodiversity, less profit for scumbags like Monsanto... ahh, who am I kidding? It's a pipe dream.

  • by Alchemist253 ( 992849 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @04:37PM (#25927445)

    While I consider myself a libertarian (and carry a Cato-issued pocket Constitution), and agree with the notion of the government existing for the common defense, with all due respect your language and tone of voice hinders "our" argument.

    First, "liberal" in a classical sense means something very different than what you seem to think it means. Note that we strive to be a "liberal democracy" and that free market principles constitute "liberal market economy." When people use the word as a slur I cringe - not only for the lack of "decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind," but for the bastardization of the English language.

    Second, I remain unclear as to what exactly you are trying to achieve by calling people "stupid hippies," or telling them to "fuck off." It's been my observation that when interlocutors resort to name-calling it is because they are unable to articulately engage their opponents. Classical liberalism ("libertarianism") exists within a strong intellectual framework; you do disservice to the thinkers of the ages when you blatantly insult those with whom you disagree.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @04:38PM (#25927447)

    And before you even start, 'promote the general welfare' != 'ensure/provide the general welfare'.

    If you're going to make up your own interpretations, why quote the document to begin with?

    People should be given the ability to achieve, not the assurance that they will achieve.

    If you think such Federal programs assure success, you obviously don't know anyone who relies on them.

    Also, assuming you know anyone who works for a living, you might want to look at one of their check stubs and see what they're paying besides their income tax.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @04:47PM (#25927515)

    Instead of throwing money at healthcare, figure out why health care is expensive.

    That's a no-brainer: lawyers and insurance companies have to get their cuts.

    Oh, and you're sponsoring the pharmaceuticals' profits because your Congress won't let you import your medicine. "Not safe", they say, even though the pills you and your Canadian neighbor eat roll out of the same factory in Ireland.

    Those inferior Socialist countries in western Europe have wider healthcare at a lower price, because their politicians aren't pwned by the middle men that US citizens have to sponsor with their health care costs.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @04:57PM (#25927585)

    "Space travel is utter bilge" - Richard van der Riet Wolley, Astronomer Royal, 1955.

    He was right. Back in 1955, he crunched the numbers, and realized that you couldn't build a rocket that lifted itself into orbit while carrying much of a payload.

    And we should base all our public policy on the best numbers available from 1955.

  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @06:19PM (#25928101) Journal

    Space travel on chemical fuels will never work much better than it does now.

    This is a common misconception, and although there's a cost floor with chemical fuels, we're very far from it still. As it is, the cost of fuel, and even the cost of materials is a very small portion of the total cost of a rocket. Instead, most of your money goes to paying the people who build the rocket and operate your launch facilities -- in the case of the space shuttle, this is tens of thousands of people.

    Fortunately, companies like SpaceX are designing their operations to minimize the number of people required, which is how they plan on reducing the cost of orbital spaceflight by at least an order of magnitude.

  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @06:21PM (#25928119) Homepage
    I know. I said "should".
  • Re:Cut taxes, then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Garrett Fox ( 970174 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @07:03PM (#25928327) Homepage
    Notice the situation we've gotten into here. "Program A is wasteful; we should cut it!" "You think A is wasteful? We should cut B instead!" "Well, what about C?"

    Unless we restore the Constitutional limits of government, which would mean getting rid of programs A through Z through Omega, most of NASA included, then we're unlikely to ever contain spending until we suffer a collapse.
  • by molarmass192 ( 608071 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @08:08PM (#25928697) Homepage Journal
    Ummm, defense spending is 54% of the federal budget when you exclude Social Security which is not funded by income taxes. You don't cut in the tiniest slices of the pie first, you cut in the big slices. We spend 1.45 trillion on defense each year, cutting 10% there saves 145 billion, more than enough to pay for his plans and still leaves a massive 1.3 trillion budget for defense. This could probably be done by closing 1/4 of the 200 military bases we have in the continental US. Do we really need 4 AFBs in Colorado and 8 AFBs in Texas?
  • by shadowbearer ( 554144 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @10:18PM (#25929423) Homepage Journal

      So... you're basing your philosophy about space travel on comments made by someone before we sent people to orbit, and to the moon? Not to mention all the other successes since then?

      Pardon me if I consider you full of shit. If everyone had followed that philosophy back then, we'd never even have achieved unmanned spaceflight, never mind manned.




  • Re:Results (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:14PM (#25929847)

    Are you serious?

    You do realize that if you have two craft have the delta-v to lift 250,000 lbs into LEO, they will put the same amount into a lunar orbit right?

  • Re:Thank goodness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2017q4@virtual-estates.net> on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:16PM (#25929863) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, communism sucks so we should adopt cut-throat capitalism.

    In America (so far, anyway) Capitalism stands not so much on it being most efficient, but on the human rights. See, unless a behavior hurts somebody, it is allowed. My right to sell a product or a service at whatever price I darn please derives not from this being the most efficient way of doing things, but from that famous Right to Pursue Happiness.

    If that seems "cut-throat" to you, then so be it — nobody ever promised you anything other than pursuit of happiness. Or, at least, so it was, until one asshole realized, he can get elected by telling 19 people: "See that 20th guy over there? He is very rich. Vote for me (19:1) and we'll take from him and give to you. Woo-hoo!" Never mind, that the 20th guy is already paying for himself and 11 [heritage.org] others — he can pay for even more, because we'll make him.

  • Re:Results (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Saturday November 29, 2008 @11:26PM (#25929941)

    CAD Operators are nothing more than glorified draftsmen. Except CAD requires much less skill. However it is significantly more useful and powerful than drafting. Not to mention it makes transferring designs from concepts into real products significantly quicker, easier, and more precise.

  • A fact ignored by the media is that when Bush cut taxes, revenue actually rose.

    You. Are. A. Lying. Fucktard.

    See here [heritage.org]. Note that tax revenue under Bush has barely caught up to where they belong in 2007, and that's probably because of a few tax breaks expiring.

    And, of course, considering the theory is that 'lowering taxes causes more economic activity', the fact we just hit a recession is, you know, rather a disproof of that theory.

    (I love linking to the Heritage Foundation to disproof right-wing loons.)

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato