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Government NASA The Almighty Buck

Obama Backs New Launcher and Bigger NASA Budget 391

The AAAS's ScienceInsider confidently reports that NASA is in line to receive $1 billion more next year. Reader coop0030 sends this quote: "President Barack Obama will ask Congress next year to fund a new heavy-lift launcher to take humans to the Moon, asteroids, and the moons of Mars... The president chose the new direction for the US human space flight program Wednesday at a White House meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, according to officials familiar with the discussion. NASA would receive an additional $1 billion in 2011 both to get the new launcher on track and to bolster the agency's fleet of robotic Earth-monitoring spacecraft."
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Obama Backs New Launcher and Bigger NASA Budget

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  • Re:Hopefully (Score:3, Informative)

    by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @11:22AM (#30487534) Journal

    Should be plenty of room to fit 'em all. You don't need a lot of payload, they'll provide their own forced-hot-air heating system until the oxygen runs out, and you want to make that mercifully (*) quick.

    (*) for us, not them.

  • Re:MORE FUNDS?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rhsanborn ( 773855 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @11:39AM (#30487818)
    It was not 1.1 trillion more in spending. It was several annual spending bills. It increased spending by about 9-10% over last year. An increase yes, a 1.1 trillion dollar increase, no.
  • Re:Saturn V (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @11:52AM (#30488010)

    A lot of the blue prints no longer exist. Most of the original engineers have died off. There were a lot of issues that arose during design and construction that were largely undocumented. My stepfathers father as one of the designers of the saturn V's first stage.

  • Re:Saturn V (Score:3, Informative)

    by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7.cornell@edu> on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:19PM (#30488440) Homepage

    There's also the fact that a lot of parts used back then are long-EOL.

    As I understand it, Constellation recycled many of the key mechanical aspects of the old Apollo-era designs, because they Just Plain Worked.

    However, the avionics have to be pretty much designed from scratch, for two reasons:
    1) Nearly all components used in the past are no longer available
    2) Modern electronics can achieve far greater performance at a fraction of the power/weight
    3) Modern space missions have significantly more requirements in terms of communications capability and such

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:20PM (#30488456)

    when our party has not produced a single balanced budget in 40 years and ushered in the mega-deficits under Reagan.

    It must be noted, for completeness, that the Republicans have had control of the government for two years of the last 40.

    It should also be noted that the Democrats haven't produced a single balanced budget in the last 40 years.

    As to Reagan's budgets, one might remember the Democrat mantra during the Reagan years as regards the Federal Budget - "Mr President, your budget was DOA in Congress".

  • Re:Smart move (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ellis D. Tripp ( 755736 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:27PM (#30488540) Homepage

    Franken was portraying JFK's real-life science adviser, Jerome Weisner, who was vehemently opposed to manned spaceflight, going all the way back to Project Mercury.

    You may not care for Franken, but the attitude portrayed was accurate.

  • Re:MORE FUNDS?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:35PM (#30488654) Homepage Journal

    The thought of Palin as President turned a lot of people off.

    It made me wonder about McCain's decision making abilities.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:3, Informative)

    by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:37PM (#30488686) Homepage Journal

    "we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks" - B. Obama, Feb 24. speech to congress.

    "new higher standard of accountability, transparency and oversight. We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert projects without review." - B. Obama, Jan 6. statement at transition office.

    Being against earmarks and pork is sort of Obama's trademark, and you can find dozens of instances where he mentioned something about ending earmarks.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:3, Informative)

    by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@ g m a> on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:38PM (#30488698)

    Your pejorative, and erroneous use of the word "socialism" betrays your bias.

  • by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:40PM (#30488730)
    "I doubt the government would give a billion dollars to Elon Musk to fund his private space company. If Musk wants to compete with the public sector, let him use his only money. "

    "Big news today was SpaceX winning the NASA CRS contract for an initial $1.6 billion, representing 12 flights to the International Space Station starting in 2010." - []
  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:50PM (#30488878) Homepage Journal
    Yeah I was a bit intrigued by this myself. The entire article discusses a new heavy lift vehicle, but has absolutely no specifications or details. Is it liquid, solid, or hybrid? Will it be developed in-house by NASA or contracted out? What exactly do they mean by 'simpler?'

    I checked Spaceflightnow, [] SpaceFellowship, [] and ParabolicArc [] and couldn't find anything but a parent of the original ScienceInsider article. Google doesn't reveal a whole lot at cursory glance either. Hell I don't even see anything on NASA's own website. If anyone digs up some particulars, please post some links, I would be very interested in seeing them.

    Also, offtopic, but for those who say Slashdot is behind the news release cycle and doesn't post breaking news, considering it just posted a story that 4 other space news websites haven't picked up yet, I'd say you've just been proven wrong =P
  • by hazydave ( 96747 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:56PM (#30488966)

    Um, that would be over 30 of the last 40. Remember those first five years of the Bush II Presidency, when the Republicans controlled Congress, too. And Bush didn't issue a single veto... the whole machine was just rubber stamping anything the Repubes wanted. That's were about half the deficit came from. The other largely started with Mr. Reagan. Before that, there was a little bit left over from WWII. A tiny drop in the bucket, by today's standards.

    Also, Clinton did produce a balanced budget. It took some years of doing to get there, but he did. It was, of course, immediately trashed by the Bush Administration.

  • -1: Strawman (Score:3, Informative)

    by G-Man ( 79561 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:58PM (#30488996)

    A lot of folks were uncomfortable with the deficit spending under Bush. Even leaving that aside, and leaving aside the bank bailouts, stimulus, and auto maker bailouts of the past year, the Obama budget deficits will be significantly greater than the largest Bush deficits: []

    Note how *none* of Obama's deficits will be less than Bush's deficit of '08, by the White House's own admission, and how the Congressional Budget Office thinks their numbers are too optimistic.

  • Re:MORE FUNDS?! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:04PM (#30489100)
    If you look at the US discretionary budget the military accounts for over 60%, over 70% in shitty years. As for total budget war makes up about 25%, non-military defense programs an additional 14%. Veteran's pay an amazing 1.6%. Comparatively, NASA gets around .5% of the total expenses. [] (discretionary is in the middle, total in the bottom right).

    1/15th is 6.6%, parent is outright lying.

    And as mcgrew says, war is easier to not have than... Old people? Sick people....?
  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:07PM (#30489144) Journal
    They were supposed to reuse shuttle parts and know-how to make things work better.

    They were supposed to, but they didn't. They developed a new solid rocket motors for the ARES-I. They're developing new engines, new solids, new tankage, new upper stage engines (as well as needing new crawlers, and nwe launch pads) for the ARES-V. About the only thing that's reused from the shuttle (or so I've read) is the system that ignites the solids.
  • by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:19PM (#30489338)

    That any Republican or so-called conservative can complain about a Democratic deficit with a straight face is beyond me, when our party has not produced a single balanced budget in 40 years and ushered in the mega-deficits under Reagan.

    Republicans fail when it comes to budget cutting.

    You must be forgetting about the GOP Congress in the 90s that had some balanced budgets.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @01:51PM (#30489950)

    Don't discount the fact thsat the SRBs were Man Rated

    No they're not. There's no man rating for the Shuttle and hence, for its components. As a first stage (renamed the "solid rocket motor" or SRM) of the Ares I, NASA still has to figure out a crew escape system that can escape from a SRM rupture (it's faster and hotter than equivalent liquid stage ruptures, hence requires a better escape system than the current design). That escape option is required to man rate the vehicle (using the current standard which is of course, subject to change at the whim and convenience of the NASA leadership).

    By reusing the SRBs from the shuttle they were supposed to be able to rely on the safety record of the SRBs and get a new vehicle put into production far faster than a built from scratch new vehicle.

    The irony here is that the SRBs aren't that safe. They have a historical failure rate of 1 in 250 or so. Yet the Ares I's SRM is claimed to have a failure rate of something like 1 in 3700. So how do they get that, when their first stage has a demonstrated failure rate more than ten times worse than the rate they claim for it?

    Further, the choice wasn't between Ares I and a built from scratch vehicle. It was between a variety of Shuttle derived vehicles and the EELVs, Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V Heavy. The latter two are much further along in development than anything else and comparable in safety and cost (even using the flawed ESAS as your guide). The Delta IV Heavy even flies now.

  • Re:MORE FUNDS?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jnaujok ( 804613 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:19PM (#30490490) Homepage Journal

    You've fallen for one of the classic Washington Beltway tricks. This chart is for "Discretionary Spending," in other words, the spending the Congress gets to decide on every year. The military budget is required, under the Constitution, to fall into this category. On the other hand, it represents less than 1/4 of the overall 2009 budget, which includes all the programs that are required, by law, to be automatically funded each year, including all of the social programs in the United States. If we take into account that the budget for 2008 was about $3.2T, and for 2009, will approach $4.5T, then we have an estimate that the entire discretionary spending (about $1T) is only going to represent about 22% of the total budget. If the Military is 60% of that, then it represents about 13.2% of the total budget.

    So, maybe the 6.6% is wrong (although it's correct for direct Military spending, not including the items you added) but it's still not 60% like you claimed either.

    Be careful when you read budgeting numbers from Washington, because they like to hide behind the discretionary term, while bemoaning the fact that they can't do anything about the "non-discretionary" budget items. Which is utterly untrue, of course.

  • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @02:40PM (#30490820) Journal

    To me SpaceX seems to be more of an airline that builds it's own planes then a NASA supplier like Boeing and Lockheed.

    Ironically, the Air Mail Act of 1934 broke up the original airplane manufacturers from the airlines they built. For example, Boeing Air Transport became United Air Lines. North American Aviation owned what became Eastern Air Lines.

  • Re:Simpler? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Taevin ( 850923 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @04:15PM (#30492384)
    So you're a "wacko" if you disagree with the poor "science" presented in that article? The author says:

    Let's start with CO2. Activists tell us that man-caused CO2 is creating global warming. However, only 3 percent of CO2 comes from people. The rest comes from oceans, animals and Ryan Seacrest.

    OK, true enough. However, the conclusion (it's only 3%, obviously that's not enough to do anything) is not only wrong, it has no scientific basis. Since when is it scientific to just say "oh that's a small number, can't be significant?" Seems to me a good starting point for "significant" would be "exceeds the ability of the ecosystem to absorb the increased emissions."

    As a result of this natural balance, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere would have changed little if human activities had not added an amount every year. This addition, presently about 3% of annual natural emissions, is sufficient to exceed the balancing effect of sinks. As a result, carbon dioxide has gradually accumulated in the atmosphere, until at present, its concentration is 30% above pre- industrial levels.
    -- []

    Feel free to dance around your Kool-Aid jug if it makes you feel better.

  • Re:DIRECT (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2009 @04:40PM (#30492778)

    The Augustine Commission did evaluate the DIRECT 3.0 Jupiter rocket, but there were many problems with their analysis. Here are just a few:

    1) The had Aerospace Corp only evaluate a single configuration, the Jupiter-241. Thus, the Jupiter-130 was not evaluated for its performance or how long it would take to develop.

    2) The DIRECT plan develops the first stage of the Jupiter rocket first, allowing it to be used for LEO much earlier than other options while the Jupiter upper stage is still being developed. This would allow us to use the Jupiter-130 for ISS missions before it splashes down into the ocean, unlike Ares I. Unfortunately, this part of DIRECT, while briefly hinted at in the final report, was never evaluated.

    3) DIRECT Jupiter was considered a three-launch system because it couldn't lift as much as two Ares V Lite rockets using two launches. Nevermind the fact that two Jupiter rockets lift more than the Program of Record (Ares V + Ares I). In other words, the Augustine Commission moved the goal posts.

    4) Shuttle-Derived launchers (including Jupiter) were considered to be less safe than an Ares V Lite for manned launches. This is almost entirely the result of the additional maneuvers resulting from the extra launch they require. At the same time, the reliability of Shuttle-derived technologies and the extra engines on the Ares V Lite don't seem to have been factored into the safety analysis at all.

  • Re:MORE FUNDS?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Manchot ( 847225 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @05:48PM (#30493704)
    Biden puts his foot in his mouth from time to time, but he was also the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and was widely considered the Senate's foremost expert on foreign relations. I'm legitimately curious: what statements did he make that made him appear ignorant to you?
  • Re:MORE FUNDS?! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Airw0lf ( 795770 ) on Friday December 18, 2009 @06:44PM (#30494338)

    I'm not sure how "[Biden] makes Palin look like an Oxford Scholar" can be modded insightful. I will agree that Biden makes the odd gaffe but he is unquestionably better informed. He has chaired senate committees on the judiciary and foreign relations which will have exposed him to a whole gamut of issues that Sarah Palin may not even have conceived of. Let's not confuse willful ignorance with an otherwise intelligent person getting caught with their foot in their mouth from time to time!

    Disclosure: Note that I'm not American and don't have a particular interest in either the Republicans or the Democrats. From where I sit both parties do little to effect any real improvement over the status quo. And I think Obama has done little to back up his rhetoric of hope and change from the election campaign

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!