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NASA Unveils Sweeping New Programs For Next 5 Years 278

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that after terminating the Constellation program, which was to develop rockets to return humans to the moon, NASA has announced that instead it will focus on developing commercial flights of crew and cargo to the ISS and long-range technology to allow sustained exploration beyond Earth's orbit, including exploration by humans. 'We're talking about technologies that the field has long wished we had but for which we did not have the resources,' says NASA administrator, Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. 'These are things that don't exist today but we'll make real in the coming years. This budget enables us to plan for a real future in exploration with capabilities that will make amazing things not only possible, but affordable and sustainable.'"
"Among the new programs is an effort known as Flagship Technology Demonstrations, intended to test things like orbital fuel depots and using planetary atmospheres instead of braking rockets to land safely, a program that will cost $6 billion over the next five years and will be run by the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Kennedy Space Center in Florida is to get $5.8 billion over five years to develop a commercial program for carrying cargo and astronauts to the space station. These new programs will be 'extending the frontiers of exploration beyond the wildest dreams of the early space pioneers,' added Bolden."
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NASA Unveils Sweeping New Programs For Next 5 Years

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  • Sweeping (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kiehlster ( 844523 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:37AM (#31788048) Homepage
    Sounds like NASA's gone low-tech using brooms to sweep away the old and introduce the new stuff rather than simply unveiling new programs.
  • R & D (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:38AM (#31788050)

    "It will enable us to accomplish inspiring exploration, science and R and D, the kinds of things the agency has been known for throughout its history."

    NASA does a hell of a lot more than just launch people into space. This new budget will give NASA a leg up on real cutting edge R & D in new technologies. All the billions of dollars going towards getting men to the Moon will be spent on next generation rocket tech and many other exciting fields.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:39AM (#31788066)

    NASA is at its best when it's researching and developing new technologies to achieve the previously unachievable. Obama's nixing of the Constellation program was a good move as it was a program based entirely off of existing technology. NASA's budget overall has increased, and their renewed focus on future tech will inspire budding students to take up engineering, computer programmers, physicists, mathematicians, and other difficult fields. This will certainly reap rewards long into the future.

  • Re:R & D (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:49AM (#31788132)
    And it won't do any good if we're not inspiring future scientists and engineers. Research isn't all about money, you need people too. The manned spaceflight program provided the inspirations for thousands if not millions of scientists and engineers. I'm not looking forward to a world where all the amazing stuff is done by our robots. I'm not saying Constellation was a great program (it wasn't), but nixing manned spaceflight entirely is worse.
  • Oh, look.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eggplant62 ( 120514 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:50AM (#31788136)

    Someone thought of a way to drive our economy, create new jobs, set up new business opportunities, and create a whole sector of global wealth, all without raiding some shithole country in Farthest Outer Asia. I'm floored.

    Smell that? That's sarcasm.

  • by Gruturo ( 141223 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:52AM (#31788148)

    Getting off this slowly dying rock, global warming and other man-made disasters aside, is not going to be a matter of survival for many thousands of years to come. During which we will hopefully acquire the technology to _actually_ pull it off, compared to the current situation in which, simply, we have nowhere near the skills to do such a thing.

    so, in short:
    1) We can't establish a permanent self sufficient extraterrestrial colony anywhere at the moment, and even an Apollo or Manhattan size project won't make this possible for quite a while. We really can't go anywhere at the moment, not even within the solar system, not even on the Moon.
    2) We *will* eventually have the technology to do that in a not-so-near future. This Flagship Technology Demonstrations thing is a step in that direction.

  • by findoutmoretoday ( 1475299 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:52AM (#31788154)
    'extending the frontiers of exploration beyond the wildest dreams of the early space pioneers,'

    NASA underestimates dreams
  • Re:Inspiration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef ( 28836 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:54AM (#31788176) Homepage Journal

    There is no shortage, only a culture that is unwilling to pay scientists and engineers the same wages that are available in medicine, law, and finance.

    If you want scientists, give kids an incentive to become scientists. You can only trick them with dog and pony shows like manned space "exploration" for so long.

  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @08:56AM (#31788192) Homepage Journal

    damn if they aren't doing a good job apologizing for putting NASA on the back burner. Effectively ending US leadership in space is about the sum of it, with all the required "forward looking" related buzzwords. Yet for every politico speak buzzword fest there is the followup of "no long range plan"

    In other words, there ain't money for rocket science. Really, until some other nation lays claim to the moon or really starts being pushy in space our space program is going to be full of double talk and expectations. So, uh, yeah, they have the resources now to develop x,y, and z. Well duh, your not doing any expensive launches your bound to have money for other things. The problem is, research is not exciting to the public. It does not capture the imagination. So NASA will fall further from the public's eye which will make it easier to keep marginalizing it.

    It does not generate sufficient votes in an entitlement first generation. Why spend money to go to the moon when we can use the money to provide entitlements which generate votes which keeps us safely in office.

    Hell, NASA's budget ain't larger than a rounding error in the overall scheme of things. To tell the American public with a straight face there ain't money to do that is astounding. Whats worse are all the people running to defend it. We just spent more money shoring up some major banks than we spent in the last ten years on the space program! The stimulus package had more pork than NASA has budget.

    What those articles do is nothing more than spew a well rehearsed apology for going nowhere.

  • by Bananatree3 ( 872975 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:00AM (#31788248)
    according to the current budget, its the private sector's job.

    There's BILLIONS of dollars in potential earnings from manned space flight in the private sector. First it will be ventures like Space Ship Two that send people up for a couple hundred grand a pop. In a few years there will be the first private orbital manned private spaceflight. There's ideas for hotels, private moon missions and much, much more.

    The manned spaceflight program provided the inspirations for thousands if not millions of scientists and engineers.

    NASA has successfully pulled this load for 50 years (of course Apollo more than Shuttle). NASAs turn at the forefront is over. Its time for the private sector to start doing the manned flight inspiring.

  • for every astronaut we send up into LEO, we can probably send 40 cutrate probes all over the solar system. hell, as the predator drones in afghanistan show, not even the military needs pilots anymore

    the point is: the days of needing pilots and astronauts is over. everything can be done remotely for orders of magnitude of less cash outlay, for much greater amounts of quality science

    instead, send probes, hundreds of them. send 20 to saturn. send 40 to jupiter. lose a few. who cares? get them up there fast and keep cranking them out. fire and forget. FOR FAR LESS MONEY, ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE, THAN A MANNED SPACE PROGRAM TO THE MOON. do quality science remotely. do it on a giant scale

    to hell with sending men to the moon, to hell with sending women to mars, enough of that pointless cold war chest thumping. let india and china play that idiotic nationalist game of who has the bigger penis now. sending human beings into space, for the foreseeable future, is a vanity, a conceit, a waste of money and time, like a rich guy buying a ridiculously expensive car just because he can

    lets give up the puerile boyhood scifi fantasies, and start doing real interplanetary on a massive scale... for far less money!

  • Re:R & D (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkey-Man2000 ( 603495 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:06AM (#31788296)
    Except NASA's core competence isn't launching people into space while for Russians it is. With Soyuz, Russians are using the Unix philosophy: do 1 thing, but do it well. NASA's better at the R&D and robotic exploratory missions and more money for that is a good thing. Let them help commercial companies develop the technology for enhanced manned missions (like they have done with satellite-launching companies). In the meantime, it's more cost-effective to let the Russians send our astronauts to LEO.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:15AM (#31788380)
    What leadership? You mean continuing to launch one $700 million shuttle after another and constantly making promises that they never delivered on? The U.S. hasn't led anything in human exploration since Apollo. All they've been doing for the last 40 years on that front is delivering animations of ships and missions that never pan out and holding press conferences about how *one day* we're going to the moon and/or Mars (promises which get pushed back every few years). The cancellation of Constellation was just a tacit admission of what anyone with eyes, ears, and any memory at all has known for a long time.
  • obligatory quote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sloepoke51 ( 657405 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:15AM (#31788382)
    As per the lack of NASA manned space funding...
    from "The Right Stuff"
    No Bucks, No Buck Rogers" or in this case "No Buck Rogers, No Bucks"
  • Money and Sales (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danaris ( 525051 ) <danaris@mac.PASCALcom minus language> on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:29AM (#31788500) Homepage

    The reality is that the closer you are to the money, the more you'll make. It doesn't make sense

    Sure, it does. You have more visibility, more negotiating power, and being "closer to the money" means it takes less effort to redirect some of that money in your direction.

    No, it doesn't even work that way. The sales guys don't even have to expend effort to redirect money in their direction: they get obscene commissions on the sales they make, sometimes on top of high salaries.

    The engineers (or whatever job it is) who make it all possible are seen by management—which is usually made up of former salesmen, or people in the same social circles as the salesmen—as interchangeable cogs, who can simply be swapped out if they start to get too uppity about pay. Because it's not them who will have to work three times as hard to both pick up the slack of the work not getting done because they let go someone who had been there for 10 years, and train that person's replacement, while still getting all your own work done...

    Dan Aris

  • Re:FAIL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:29AM (#31788508)

    You know why Apollo worked? We set goals and a date, and the figuring out took care of itself.

    I suspect it worked because the government considered it important enough to pay for.

  • another direction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:32AM (#31788536) Journal

    I mean NASA is seriously fucked up at this point in time. Every time they try and do something the rug is pulled out from under them. I know it's cynical but when I was growing up watching all this I really thought space would be accessible to a greater portion of the population than you can count in less than a minute.

    It's seriously fucking disappointing and I just can't even read this stuff from NASA anymore cause it's more of the same 'were gonna do this we're gonna do that' blah blah blah.

    NASA has gone from being a 'can do' organisation to a 'gonna do' organisation.

  • Re:Inspiration (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:37AM (#31788582)

    No offense, but I really don't think medicine and law are the culprits... (plus doesn't medicine come from science?). Fiance as an issue I can sort of agree with, however I think it is more the whole "business/corporate" management fast track that the youth are drawn to as a way to make money with the sub par education that they received throughout their scholastic lives.

    The problem seems to be that our culture values celebrities and sports figures exponentially more then it values those who actually make a difference in our overall quality of life. Yes it can be argued that entertainment (sports/movies/TV etc...) adds an amount of "quality" to day to day living... but no where near the quality that engineers and scientists have provided for our overall modern living experience.

    Honestly, I think it was Howard Stern (yes, I know, but I worked construction for a few years while recovering from IT "burnout") who once joked saying some thing like that if society gave scientists the same rewards/incentives that it gives sports stars and celebrities (i.e. money, super models, and fame) then we would have cured cancer and colonized Mars by now.

    (Disclaimer: I am not saying that scientists would know what to do with super models... but all of that money and fame would probably result in bunch of a funny "MTV Cribs" episodes: "and in my basement I have set up a server farm solely for running seti@home".)

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:50AM (#31788724)

    A big chunk of that has been paid back (at an annual rate of return around 8.5%).

    And "reinvested" in shit business. The TARP program is some sort of twisted version of the Gambler's Ruin problem []. Any positive return is put back in.

  • Re:Inspiration (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:51AM (#31788746)

    ". The sales guy couldn't be an engineer, but the engineer could do the sales guy's job." spoken by an engineer, I'll bet. Sales is hard. Sure, the sales guy couldn't do my engineering job. But I can't do his job either. And lets have no cant about "well, you could learn to do the sales job"... maybe.. and the sales guy could learn to do my job. But for good sales people, it comes naturally. Just like engineering stuff comes naturally for me.

  • by jimbobborg ( 128330 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:52AM (#31788752)

    If we took half the money we spend killing people and instead used it to research space flight, we would be MUCH further along at this point.

    If we took half the money we put into entitlement programs and put it into getting better education, we would be much better off. Instead, we shunt money to people who WON'T do anything with their lives but suck on the gov't teat and spit out kids to get MORE money. Then THEIR kids do the same thing. Welfare reform is a joke. People just move to places when the money dries up. And yes, I KNOW people like this.

  • Is it just me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:57AM (#31788810)

    or "To send a robot where no robot has gone before" doesn't exactly sound quite as exciting as the original phrase.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday April 09, 2010 @09:59AM (#31788828) Homepage Journal

    Of course, the counter to that argument is that we've fucked up Earth so badly

    Oh, we haven't harmed the earth, it will do just fine without an ecology, or even without any life at all. It is we, ourselves, that we are fucking.

    We wouldn't be the first to "ruin" the earth, either. The very first life here poisoned its atmosphere, filling it with the poisonous oxygen. Guess what? They're dead, Jim. The oxygen that they themselves created killed them.

  • Re:Inspiration (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:03AM (#31788842) Homepage

    Also, don't forget that part of it is our own damn fault.

    I find it incredibly hard to blame a 20-30 year old for deciding not to go into the sciences, simply because of the horrible conditions that graduate students are forced to endure. Graduate students are paid poverty-level wages, and do the vast majority of the work for which their mentors take credit. The actual "studying" is usually done within the first two or three years, while PhD students usually work for 7-8 years on their degree.

    After the PhD's done? A modest wage increase, and the even further humiliation of being a PostDoc.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:05AM (#31788872)
    Also, it bears mentioning that the TARP money and an even larger amount put at the disposal of the Federal Reserve, are probably the largest, unsupervised slush funds ever created. I see no evidence of accountability or purpose in these funds. You can talk about the return on investment, but it ignores both that this money has been sunk into some really bad investments (like the car companies) and that these bad investments won't show up right away.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:14AM (#31788988)

    Warren Ellis []: "The single simplest reason why human space flight is necessary is this, stated as plainly as possible: keeping all your breeding pairs in one place is a retarded way to run a species."

  • by diamondsw ( 685967 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:27AM (#31789146)

    Its time for the private sector to start doing the manned flight inspiring

    When is the last time the private sector did anything "inspiring"? The private sector is best known for greed, self-interest, and only doing what will get them a buck this quarter - long-term be damned. Not exactly "inspiring".

  • by Leebert ( 1694 ) * on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:38AM (#31789268)

    the point is: the days of needing pilots and astronauts is over. everything can be done remotely for orders of magnitude of less cash outlay, for much greater amounts of quality science

    One of the STS-125 astronauts (I forget which) was asked this question at an event I attended.

    He told an anecdotal story about having asked a geologist about the science being done on Mars by the rovers, and how long it would take a geologist to do the same science if he were on the surface of Mars.

    The geologist did some back of the envelope calculations, and replied back "About 15 minutes."

    The point was that there is absolutely a place for both manned space exploration as well as unmanned exploration. Yes, human space flight technology is still primitive. It will need to improve for us to do more practical manned exploration. But that doesn't mean we sit on our butts and expect the technology to magically appear.

    Did Balboa or Columbus wait for diesel-powered cargo ships to do their dangerous trips? Did Lewis and Clark wait for a transcontinental railroad to magically appear?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:38AM (#31789270)

    Read up on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then let me know if you think bailouts "may end up being being a wash." Regardless of the merits or necessity of taking over the former GSEs, we taxpayers are taking a major bath on the deal. I can't find any exact and recent numbers, but the current ceiling on how much we'll pay them is $200 billion, and everyone agrees we have definitely paid out more than $100 billion. Additionally, there seems to be a weak consensus that we will exceed the $200 billion cap by the end of this year. The CBO's original estimate of the cost for the takeover, by the way, was $25 billion... that's a bit of a miss, there, so it gives you an idea of how much the government's financial predictions and estimates are worth. And, of course, if the government were really honest about its accounting practices, we'd also have taken on the $5 trillion in debt that Fan and Fred have and added it to our national debt, but that probably would've killed our credit rating (which is why it's never going to happen).

    And lest you think the GSEs were all blameless in the whole real estate debacle, you might also want to check out the history of mortgage-backed securities. It was a way for them to honor their commitment to Congress -- encourage loans to lower-income Americans, people who otherwise couldn't get loans -- while still turning a profit. And profit they did. Oh, and Congress hasn't released them from that commitment, either. In fact, they are pushing Fan and Fred to make more loans to lower-income Americans. You know, the loans which are being defaulted on left and right? Yeah. That's why many people are pretty sure the losses are going to continue to mount.

  • Re:Oh, look.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <marc,paradise&gmail,com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:38AM (#31789276) Homepage Journal

    I'm just glad someone noticed that creating jobs was good for the economy.

    Creating jobs is great for the economy. The *government* creating jobs - not so good.

    Let's make this simple. Say you have a country with 20 people. 10 of them are working and making 100,000 a year, which is about the minimum need to get by comfortable. Tax is 10%. Let's further say we had a smart government, and they saved all that tax revenue for the first 10 years of the country's existence, giving a bankroll of 1 million.

    At the start of year 11, the government decides that 50% unemployment is unacceptable, and it must create jobs for its other 10 citizens at the same rate of 100k. It does this by giving 1million dollars annually to Company Y, a major employer who will use it to hire the remaining 10 people.

    At the end of year 11, the government has a bankroll of (+1m balance + 200k taxes - 1m to Company Y) = 200k
    At the end of year 12, the government is in debt for (200k + 200k - 1m) = 600k.
    At the end of year 13, the government is in debt for (-600k + 200k - 1m) = 1.4m
    At the end of year 14, the government is in debt for (-1.4m + 200k - 1m) = 2.2m

    Yes, it's over-simplified, but that's kind of the point. It seems utterly ridiculous doesn't it? This is obviously a model that's not sustainable. Yet when you make that a country of a few hundred million, bump the dollar amounts into the billions -- and the debt into the trillions, and make the expenditure just a fraction of total government spending, it somehow looks like a good idea?

  • Re:FAIL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @10:45AM (#31789360) Homepage

    You know why Apollo worked? We set goals and a date, and the figuring out took care of itself.

    Is that how you think it works? The figuring takes care of itself? I'd say you have a bright future in middle management, but you forgot to mention budget.

    Here's what setting a goal and a date got us: A program that was, at best, a rehash of Apollo which involved zero "figuring out" of the real problems facing space exploration today. Oh, but because the ones who created this program were also terrible managers they forgot to provide a budget and so it was behind schedule and it's doubtful it ever would have achieved it's decidedly mediocre goals.

    Constellation is the mutated offspring of the unfunded 'Mars, Bitches!' plan. It was nothing but a weight dragging NASA down, preventing it from working on useful projects to focus on a sad recreation of our glory days.

  • Re:R & D (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @11:05AM (#31789668) Homepage

    If you say so. But we weren't doing any manned spaceflight anyway then. Oh yeah we had a plan to one day do the same thing we've already done, at the cost of most other interesting things NASA is doing, like developing a way to go beyond what we did 40 years ago.

    If having an underfunded a underambitious boondoggle like Constellation on the books that will, at best, recreate the past in another 15 years assuming it doesn't keep slipping, is all you want, that's fine. But if that program's hypothetical future success counts as "not nixing manned space flight", then the new NASA plan to use new technology to plan a true successor to Apollo, one that follows its spirit of pushing beyond what mankind has done before, should count to.

  • Re:Oh, look.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hesiod ( 111176 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @11:13AM (#31789782)

    Now run those numbers with an employment rate that is sane.

    The government does not pay for half of the population, nor do we have 50% unemployment -- it's about 9.7%, which is higher than usual. And most of the other 90% still pay taxes.

  • Re:Inspiration (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gma i l .com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @11:31AM (#31790012) Journal

    Yeah because people who like money and aren't interested in science will make great scientists. Marketing people and bank managers? Total wasted talent. Each one is a potential Einstein just languishing in the wrong profession.

  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @11:49AM (#31790262)

    Inspiring from the private sector?

    Consumer digital cameras.
    Modern CPUs - yea everything Intel, AMD, Sony come up with are in the private sector
    Modern medications - as someone who has had cancer three times I know a little about how good these have become
    Automotive technologies - airbags, electronic stability, much more efficient motors, example a 5.7l engine (GM LO5) in 1990 put out 190-230 hp depending on the application. Today the 5.3l (GM LM7/LM4/L59/L33) puts out 285-295 hp depending on the application and at better fuel efficiency.
    Modern OSes - Windows, Mac OS, Mac System, OS/2 Warp, Netware, Palm OS
    Mobile communications - Cell phones, Nokia, iPhone, Palm, GPS receivers at the consumer level
    Aircraft - Boeing 747, Airbus A300 series, G500, Citation X, Cessna 150/172/210, Bell Jet Ranger, Regional Jets (CRJ)

  • by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @12:32PM (#31790900) Homepage

    The actual #'s are instructive: []

    The "killing people" sector of the U.S. budget dwarfs the "suck on the teat" portion, many times over in real dollars, and the more so when you consider the current military expenses for open-ended wars that aren't being paid for with current funds, the hidden costs in "non-military" parts of the budget related to veterans etc., and that programs like Social Security are directly funded (for now) by specific taxes. The military expense is relatively (and absolutely) HUGE, like $ billions versus millions.

    I won't defend the freeloaders for a second. But if you want moral outrage, there is a lot more money being ripped off from or misspent by the military. Eliminating every penny of welfare programs well spent or not would not make any real difference to fixing the deficit or reducing taxes. It's just some blood the pundits sprinkle in the water to keep their own financial interests going. Now, if we dealt with just the folks ripping off the military, or eliminating some really stupid expenses like maintaining a nuclear arsenal STILL capable of destroying the world over and over and over -- that's real money. We spend more than the next dozen countries combined on defense.

    A diplomat friend mentioned yesterday that we still spend millions maintaining tactical nukes in Europe. Why? Basically, the Army just doesn't want to give them up. The price of a few warheads could fund some serious science.

    Of course it was military competition that ignited our interest on rockets in the first place, not reaching the Moon.

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:10PM (#31791472) Homepage

    Commercial space science can take the risks that NASA can't

    Call me a pessimist, but I don't buy it. Once people start dieing because of commercial space missions, expect a heaping dose of regulation and federal/state politics playing favorites. And that's the real killer of it all. It's politics, not funding or talent in the US that's the ultimate deciding factor.

    No, if anything I see progress being made in Russia, India, and perhaps China. As an American, I'm disgusted at the weak and spineless politicians that don't have the fortitude to embrace a risk/reward attitude. We simply can't coddle everyone or we as a nation will be hamstrung! In fact, some (such as myself) would say that we already are. Risks must always be taken among those that wish to be on the front lines.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @01:44PM (#31792066) Homepage Journal

    and if we can send out 100 probes, or 1 meatbag to mars, for the same price

    We can't.

  • by amliebsch ( 724858 ) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:03PM (#31793224) Journal

    Did you even spend 1 second at that wikipedia link?

    Look at the pie graph of spending. Entitlement programs, i.e. welfare - that is, social security, medicare, and other mandatory spending - make up well over 50% of the total. Defense clocks in at around 25%. Given our current deficit, *completely eliminating* defense spending would not even *balance* the budget. Why? Because all the BIG spending is on entitlements.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.