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NASA Government Mars Space Science

White House Wants Devastating Cuts To NASA's Mars Exploration 422

The Bad Astronomer writes "The White House released its proposed NASA budget for FY13, and while much of it remains the same from last year, one particular program got devastating news: Mars exploration got a crippling $226 million cut, more than 38% of its budget. This means killing two future missions outright and threatening others. The reasons for this are complex, including huge cost overruns on James Webb Space Telescope and the Curiosity Mars rover, but it also points to a political lack of valuing science in America." A followup to news from before the budget was released, this has details on the actual proposed cuts and re-allocations.
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White House Wants Devastating Cuts To NASA's Mars Exploration

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  • by antido ( 1825442 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:10AM (#39031395)
    Because who needs progress in science?
  • Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:11AM (#39031399) Homepage

    Didn't we just read a story yesterday that indicated some fairly substantial increases in overall research funding? It seems to me that this indicates a preference for certain research programs over others, not "a political lack of valuing science in America." I mean, you can quibble about which programs got the axe, or say that the overall raises in funding were insufficient, but to point at one research project among the hundreds or thousands that the federal government funds; and use that alone as evidence for a failure in will hardly seems reasonable. It sounds to me more like "My favorite program got cut! Americas hates teh sciences!!!1!one!"

  • Re:Confused (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:16AM (#39031445)

    Or he could have simply cut some entitlement program and left NASA's budget intact. But that would make too much sense.

  • by VinylRecords ( 1292374 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:21AM (#39031481)

    California taxpayers alone are on the hook for $21.8 billion for the fiscal year of 2011 for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean really...we can't find $226 million from all national the taxpayers to fund cutting edge science? Science that will have an everyday impact on our lives once NASA's technology becomes consumer grade. But we can steal $21.8 billion in one year from one state alone to fund the wars? Wonderful.

  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:23AM (#39031489)

    No kidding. I mean that 225 million savings is going to go oh so far!!! As somebody who tends to be in the center of politics I have to say that I am completely disappointed in Obama. He has turned out to be a poor example of a president. Yes yes blame the congress and house as well. I think what bothers me the most with him is his lack of leadership. Yes you can argue that the Republicans are trying to call him out. BUT a great leader like Regan, or Clinton just stared down other politicians. Obama makes bold statments and then backs off in a major way. There is compromise, but there is also taking a stand and setting a clear path.

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:23AM (#39031491)

    Why waste money on science that Americans will ignore anyway?

  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:27AM (#39031527)

    Maybe you think this about a luddite Obama, but it's more about the fact that the government is squeezed in all quarters. The deficit roars, pension and public programs liability soars, there are huge pressures to keep taxes down in the face of an economic recovery, and it's not a wonder that Mars trip funding gets a heel on the garden hose.

    This isn't about leadership, this is about revenue. Go tell your friends that the government is nearly broke and needs real funding. Then, bills assuaged, we can dream about Mars and beyond. Until then, the piggy bank is empty, as in no dough.

  • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:32AM (#39031553)

    Didn't we just read a story yesterday that indicated some fairly substantial increases in overall research funding? It seems to me that this indicates a preference for certain research programs over others, not "a political lack of valuing science in America."

    My thoughts exactly. This post sounds too much like partisan drivel intended to smear Obama. I mean, it may be a shame to cut spending on a specific space exploration program. Yet, to go from some spending cuts to it also points to a political lack of valuing science in America, even after Obama asked for increasing public investment on research [], is a bit too much to swallow.

  • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by john82 ( 68332 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:36AM (#39031581)

    Keep in mind that this is the President's proposed budget. It's up to congress to actually spend money. And although they haven't got off their collective lazy butts to pass a budget, they've had no trouble spending (or wasting) money.

    What we do have is direct evidence of the President's lack of commitment to a manned space program. He doesn't want to come right out and say that given the romantic attachment Americans have to the history of the program. Still, at every turn this President has paid lip service to the notion of a manned program and then cut the legs off when he thought no one might be looking.

    And to the parent, this isn't quibbling. It's a statement of fact.

  • by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:37AM (#39031593)
    Space exploration is where most of our military science came from in the first place.
  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:40AM (#39031621) Homepage

    I always find it sad that people cannot see both the benefits of space exploration/colonization, and the need for it.

    Seriously, one errant asteroid and all those trillions spent on welfare and war seem pretty stupid.

    Human Race....R.I.P.

    10,000 B.C. - 2012 A.D.

  • by Spinnakker ( 2574173 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:42AM (#39031639)
    ... that's right, because NASA is the only group that creates technology useful to the general public. Oh wait, I think a few people ride jet airliners, watch TV or receive phone calls distributed by satellites and use called the Interweb or Webernets... I forget exactly what that last one is called...
  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:44AM (#39031663)

    ...afraid to fix the fucked-up tax code where 46% pay no income tax at all.

    Riddle me this, Batman:

    What percentage of the total pie of income does that 46% who pay no taxes make?

    Answer that, and you'll understand why the people who aren't so upset about that particular factoid see you as the one seeing a distorted world through a "political lens". (As it happens -- the Tax Policy Center, who made the 46% estimate, has a much more level-headed assessment []).

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:47AM (#39031693)

    It's probably up for grabs whether the Europeans will soldier on; they're having their own problems. Joint venture between Russia and China, perhaps.

  • by Squidlips ( 1206004 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:57AM (#39031815)
    This is just another attack on the highly successful robotic missions of JPL by the fly-boy, mannned-mission bureaucrats in Houston. Manned mission are expensive, pork-barrel stunts that have achieved almost nothing scientifically while the JPL robotic missions have been hugely successful (Voyage, Cassini, Opportunity, etc.) and, compared to manned missions, inexpensive. So guess where the cuts are to be? The robotic missions, of course. That is because NASA is run by ex-pilots / astronauts who think Star Wars was a documentary. The Planetary Society was created to stop such bleeding of robotic mission to pay for cost-overruns of manned missions; I just re-upped my membership. Join is you want to stop this insanity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @09:58AM (#39031829)

    So we had no military science before the 1950's?
    RADAR - military science from the 1930's (no space exploration there - but it was done by the Brits)
    Computers - military science from the 1940's (no space exploration there - but it was done by the Brits)
    Nuclear power - Rutherford was playing with this in Manchester, England (damn, Brits again) he split the atom in 1917
    Advanced maths - parabolic trajectories - that was Galileo in the 1500's (Italian)
    Ironclad ships - 1800's (French)
    Screw propellor - 1810's (Brits again)
    Jet engines - 1930's (Brits again)

    So what military science have we got since the space program.
    Stealth - low radar & low visible profiles were worked on since RADAR was invented.
    'digital camo print' - continual development from existing designs & theories (see dazzle camo)
    SCRAMJET - continued development from Jet
    laser - not space based
    pulse jet - development from existing tech
    hovercraft (damned Brits again) and not space based

    Space based stuff
    GPS - space based progession of existing radio beacon systems.
    ICBM - space based (although space is a development from this rather than the other way round)
    Satellite comms - progession from existing radio comms systems
    satellite recon - progression from existing plane overflight photography
    memory foam mattresses - I sleep well at night :-)

  • Re:Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:29AM (#39032217)

    The summary is far from partisan it is written from someone who wants mars exploration and does not want the funding for it cut. That some other project got funding does not matter if it is not something you value.

    It's one thing to criticize how a specific project is being funded. It's an entirely different thing to claim that reducing the funding of a specific project "points to a political lack of valuing science in America." One someone accuses the administration responsible for this specific spending cut of being responsible for "a political lack of valuing science", while ignoring historical funding increases in other areas, then we are way beyond criticizing a specific project and well into dishonest partisan bickering.

  • by atrizzah ( 532135 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:29AM (#39032225)
    There's only so much a person can expect Obama to do. The reality is that there is a massive movement in this country that is opposing social investment (taxes) for any purpose. If we're not willing to pay extra to balance the budget and increase our investment in our own future, then the real funds we can invest in ourselves decrease as more of our tax revenue is devoted to servicing the debt. I don't think Obama ramming any sort of increased spending down the GOP's throat is a winning strategy, and without tax increases or spending cuts on untouchable programs, there's really no other way. He could stare the GOP down, as you say, but the GOP's politicians have no incentive to back down. Their sole goal is to set the man up to lose the re-election bid, and failing that, they're at least going to stonewall everything he does to make him appear ineffective.
  • by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:30AM (#39032249) Homepage Journal

    "What percentage of the total pie of income does that 46% who pay no taxes make?"

    Riddle me this, Blindman:

    What percentage of that 46% who pay no taxes would have voted differently had they been paying to the system even a MINIMUM of 1% of their income? And what if that 1% were tied to the highest tax bracket at a 1:5 ratio such that if you want to raise the highest tax bracket from 35% to 45%, you'd need to raise the lowest from 1% to 3%?

    Think of how the masses might yowl for more responsible government spending and vote for people who enforced the spending of their money. Think of how differently this huge voting block might vote if it meant THEIR taxes would go up so they could get "more stuff".

    Taxing the "rich" more fairly shouldn't cause us to ignore taxing EVERYONE at SOME rate so we're ALL invested in the system.

  • by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:39AM (#39032367)
    What about the people who use welfare to get back on their feet and become productive members of society again? I guess they don't exist in your Randtopia.
  • by rickett81 ( 987309 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:42AM (#39032417) Homepage
    You took one piece of what the parent said focused on that.

    Yes, the 46% who pay no taxes don't make much at all. So? That isn't the underlying issue.

    The parent nailed the underlying issue: People are addicted to government handouts and would rather say "To hell with Mars" than try to do something for themselves. The majority of the people reading/posting on Slashdot are going to be able to fend for themselves and would rather see our tax dollars going to something useful rather than 'entitlements.' But until 50% of the nation thinks in this way and they vote with that in mind, things aren't going to change for the better. At best, we will keep the status quo and at worst, the US will be another Greece in a few years.

  • Re:Confused (Score:4, Insightful)

    by orphiuchus ( 1146483 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:43AM (#39032435)

    Safety nets are fine, just not when people use them as hammocks.

  • by OldeTimeGeek ( 725417 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:44AM (#39032455)
    Do you know who the biggest beneficiary of the dollars spent on welfare are? It's not individuals - it's merchants. The money that people receive for welfare doesn't go into the bank - it gets spent for food, clothes and other things. You can argue with where it gets spent, and that's a valid argument, but you can't argue that there is a direct benefit to business and, indirectly, to the tax rolls, from welfare.
  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @10:59AM (#39032655)

    1999: end of the DotCom boom
    2012: end of the war in Iraq after nine years; still going in Afghanistan after nine years; war on terror still moving; banks nearly collapse in 2008, still ongoing.

    And sometimes deficits are what happen when the world goes nuts. Deficits don't mean justice. Deficits don't mean luxury. Deficits mean you got to live, rather than die, or go into deep financial depression.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:06AM (#39032743)
    46% not paying taxes is a HUGE percentage and a huge problem.
    Yes the poor pay a smaller percentage tax then the rich. However with 46% not paying tax combined with the fact that they are also recipients of extra services is a problem.
    I am not some raving republican stating that we should remove welfare, because we need it, without it the poor will do whatever it takes to survive and whatever it takes will be highly criminal. However if close to half the population isn't paying their share for services then there is a larger problem. I am sure the problem isn't just a simple cause I can see many factors going on to cause this.

    1. Decline of work ethic and rise of the "Evil Corporation": These are part of the same problem that is creating a chain reaction. I will flip a coin to choose who started it. Heads Work Ethic, Tails bad Corporate ethics... I got Heads. A small but large enough to be a problem portion of employees have a bad work ethic. Now they are too large to just flat out fire, or under union laws or other labor laws where they couldn't just fire them. So the company wants to get them to quit or work harder, so they oppose new rules to try to get them to do one or the other. These new rules demotivate the honest workers so their performance goes down so more rules go into place. So the company has created an Environment that it difficult for anyone to succeed, but that is countered with the fact most the remaining employees have no real motivation to succeed. Some of the big growth companies have employees who are motivated and want to do a good job, because they do a good job on the whole these companies treat their employees better.

    2. Education in Math and Science: "Math is hard" or so says the general population, us geeks actually like that phrase said by others because it makes us feel smarter then the others... However Math and Science are Core skills towards problem solving. Now with computers that can do the daily grudge work with need people skilled in problem solving not just doing what they are told.

    3. Education in Arts: Reading Writing and Arithmetic seems to be the key focus on educations. However Arts teaches people how to think for themselves look at problems and solutions differently, and find their way of doing things. Unfortunately Art education has dropped in popularity as something you want to avoid your kid from getting too interested in because that could mean they want to major in Art just to be a starving artist. Art Education is very important to the needs of todays economy however the education systems has been manipulated in a way to say if you major in Art then you need to be an Artist.

    4. Polarized government: The GOP no government and the Democrats more services ideas are stupid. What we need are smart services to meet today's infrastructure. Today we need Cheap Cell service and Cheap High Speed Internet, we didn't need this 20 years ago, today we do. Too much business requires Cell and High Speed internet for its daily operations. People need such devices for themselves too. Roughly 1200 a year for every citizen goes to these services and we are stuck to a corporate carrier who finds new ways to nickle and dime us. Communication is now a key infrastructure requirement that we need to adapt to. We also need services to help people find jobs and get training. We don't need short term jobs we need career jobs. We need the Public and Private sector to work together. There are some things public sector can do better then the Private, and some things Private and do better then the Public we need both.

    5. Government Consistency: People don't like change. Even though our President got elected with the promise of change we really don't want it. For good reasons too, For most of us we got use to the system and know how to work with it. If the system is always changing you can't plan for the future. Will my taxes go up or down? Even if I can afford it I had plans for the money, if it goes down will the service that I need get hindered in any way and do I need to plan for this...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:17AM (#39032877)

    The 50%+ who are in love with government hand-outs and have forgotten how to provide for themselves are dependent.

    Have you looked at the actual breakdown of that segment of the population?

    Take how many of them are senior citizens, who previously paid in taxes, but are now in retirement/subsidence mode. Take how many of them are disabled who can barely tie their own shoes, or the parents/caretakers of such. Take how many of them are children. Take how many of them are barely adults.

    Yeah, your picture isn't so easy to condemn when you actually look at the people, not your manufactured strawman of people who you think are lazy pond-suckers.

    Tell me it's wrong to be dependent when you're past your prime, when you're just a child, or where through, more than likely no fault of your own, you can't manage much of anything in life?

    Tell me how you think you're going to change that, and why.

    Cut them off and they're also desperate. Think "political suicide" desperate at best, "rioting in the streets" desperate at worst. So politicians are afraid to cut the real excesses which are the entitlement programs and they are afraid to fix the fucked-up tax code where 46% pay no income tax at all.

    And you want them to be desperate, because you believe in a survivalist mindset...but tell us what their income is. Please tell us what taking 100% of what they have would mean.

    If you must view that through your political lenses and get offended and hypersensitive, so be it, but it's the truth about why this situation won't change. When a nation gets into this kind of dependency hole for the sake of political power it's hard to get back out, just ask Greece.

    Yeah, ask Greece how they feel about the international bankers dictating their national policy.

    If they were really smart, they'd say "Screw this" and cut themselves off from the foreign system. Of course, they know they're too small to make that viable, but they should do it, just because the austerity measures forced upon them are going to cause the same harm.

    It doesn't matter how you feel about the poor and how to best care for them. It doesn't matter when we can't afford to do it anymore, then no one gets much of anything you see. So they cut science to be seen "doing something" about the ridiculous debt that is now about equal to GDP.

    Ridiculous debt? Right. Because debt is something you pay off in a year of your entire income for some reason. Stop buying into the fallacy of large numbers, it looks scary to you the individual, but you know what? I know folks who have a lot more debt than the average spread about per person. Somehow they realize, that's ok, they got it for a reason, and they realize what they get from it.

    The problem is they can't see what they get from government spending. It's just beyond their notice.

    Politics got us here. After all people will vote for the guy who gives them free money. Then they'll be scared of the guy who says maybe all that free money costs too much and his career goes *poof*. Something more reasonable than politics is the only way out.

    Great, now we see your motivations. You want to make the people lose their bread because you think it's all circuses. Too bad you don't realize where the real money is going. The sums that go to the poor are not the majority share of government spending on special interests, they aren't even a plurality. They're a drop in the bucket.

    But ok, let's say you take away the welfare. You know what happens? People realize they are going to starve. That's your intent, right? To give them the impetus to get out and do something. Nevermind the fact that many of them are senior citizens or disabled, you'll push them all the same.

    Guess what? They aren't going to do what you think. They're going to go out and take what they want, because you know what

  • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:25AM (#39032989) Homepage Journal

    Everyone /does/ pay something, idiot. Sales taxes. Property taxes. Social Security. Medicare. Gasoline.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @12:13PM (#39033601)

    First, the 46% only applies to FEDERAL INCOME TAX. Those same individuals are paying plenty of taxes (payroll taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes, fees, etc).

    Second, those same people pay a much GREATER PERCENTAGE of their income in taxes over-all, than the wealthy (look at Romney's tax return as an example). The poor can spend 30-40% of their income in taxes, while the wealthy can end up paying between 15-20%. That's DOUBLE.

    Start from a twisted-deceptive propaganda point, and it leads you to ridiculous conclusions.

  • by Jhon ( 241832 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @12:25PM (#39033769) Homepage Journal

    "The only reason those that pay no FEDERAL INCOME tax (and that's the percentage you're citing) is because they don't make enough. They're either unemployed, or unemployable (disabled, illness, whatever)."

    From my perspective, the only VALID reason to pay no FEDERAL INCOME tax is that they have no INCOME. People shouldn't get more back as a tax RETURN than they actually pay in taxes. People should also only be able to reduce their tax burden down to a mandated MINIMUM. Not ZERO or NEGATIVE (where they get money back).

    Even if you make $1, you should pay 1%. One penny. If you make $25,000, you should pay 1% (right now it's zero -- and often they get more money BACK than they actually PAID). That comes to 250 per year, or about $21 a month. Get them invested in the system.

    Now, lets go back to having EVERYONE participate in the system -- a system everyone already can VOTE for people who spend public money, but only about half of us actually CONTRIBUTE to the public pie. THAT is fairness incarnate!

    "It is also the wealthy who benefit dramatically from the Federal Government (especially the legal and commerce systems, transportation, etc), both directly and indirectly... not to mention the police that are protecting their wealth."

    That statement is SUCH a cop out. It's EVERYONE who EATS FOOD who benefit dramatically from the Federal Government (ESPECIALLY the legal and commerce systems -- and PARTICULARLY transportation). You just try to find food in Los Angeles or New York city if the legal system breaks down -- or the transport system breaks down -- or the ability to move/buy/sell goods breaks down.

    WE ALL benefit dramatically from the system. We should ALL be vested in the system at SOME minimal level.

  • by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @12:37PM (#39033959)

    It's a good thing the military is still funded... Because who needs progress in science?

    It's stunning that this post made it to plus five, and shows just how insidious misinformation can be.

    Obama's budget CUTS military spending. Not reduces the growth rate. CUTS. By tens of billions of dollars. The DoD budget in 2012 was $671 billion []. Obama's proposal for 2013 puts it at $620.3 billion []

    If you follow that second link, you can see the cuts/increases broken out by department. You'll see that the biggest cuts hit the military, the Department of Homeland Security (especially hitting the TSA), the FBI, and the ATF. There are also big scary red circles on the DOL (but that's due to decreasing unemployment and thus decreases in unemployment benefits paid out) and Federal Student Aid (but look closely and you'll see its a reduction in mandatory spending offset by a matching increase in discretionary spending). And finally, there's NASA, being cut by a whopping 0.3%.

    This is like a Slashdotter's dream budget. Cuts to the military and the TSA and all the other three-letter bogeymen, increases to science spending, and a reduction in overall spending. But by focusing one single tiny program, just 0.006% of the budget, the article submitter was able to masterfully manipulate scores of people into thinking that this budget is bad and anti-science.

Were there fewer fools, knaves would starve. - Anonymous