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NASA The Almighty Buck Politics

Congress Warns NASA About Shortchanging SLS/Orion For Commercial Crew 170

FleaPlus writes "NASA and the White House have officially released their FY2013 budget proposal, the first step of the Congressional budget process. As mentioned previously on Slashdot, the proposal decreases Mars science funding (including robotic Mars missions) down to $361M, arguably due in part to cost overruns by the Webb telescope. The proposal also lowers funding for the in-house SLS rocket and Orion capsule to $2.8B, while doubling funding for the ongoing competitive development of commercial crew rockets/vehicles to $830M. The ranking member of the Senate science committee, Sen. Hutchison (R-TX), expressed her frustration with 'cutting SLS and Orion to pay for commercial crew,' as it would allegedly make it impossible for SLS to act as a backup for the commercial vehicles."
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Congress Warns NASA About Shortchanging SLS/Orion For Commercial Crew

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:04PM (#39036797)

    Texas, home state of NASA's Johnson Space Center, much of NASA's manned space program, and about 12,000 NASA jobs. A state that, unlike its counterpart in Florida, is solidly red and at open war with the President. So surprise, surprise most of the NASA stuff the President wants to cut is in Texas, and the Texas Senators are fighting him on it. Relevant article [] on the subject.

    Just thought I would point that out in case any of you are actually still naive enough to think this debate is about science, exploration, and all that shit.

    In other news, Texas and Alaskan Senators say oil industry is "over-regulated," midwestern Senators defend corn subsidies, and Michigan Senators defend auto bailout.

  • Backup? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:09PM (#39036861)

    Spending vast billions on a rocket which will only be a 'backup' for commercial launches makes as much sense as building a new aircraft the size of a C-5 Galaxy from scratch and maintaining a special airport it will fly from as a 'backup' in case NASA employees can't book a flight on a commercial airline.

  • by DanielRavenNest ( 107550 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:16PM (#39036927)

    In other words, "hands off my pork, dammit!".

  • by bit trollent ( 824666 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:22PM (#39036995) Homepage

    Wait.. so now Republicans are the ones pushing for government built spacecraft while Obama and the Democrats fund corporate space travel.

    I thought Republicans wanted government to be just big enough to fit in your bedroom. When did building spaceships get added to the list of things Republicans think government should do instead of private industry?

    I've got a feeling government contractors like Lockheed martin have given generous "campaign contributions" to every Republican politician pushing for government spacecraft construction, with government sized profit margins for their chosen defense contractors.

  • by fortfive ( 1582005 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:23PM (#39037007)

    I'm all for funding NASA, so many good and not directly things have come from our space program, plus it's just darn cool. But I have not heard any sound justification for public funding of commercial development. This has happend many times in the pharmaceuticals industry, where public funded basic research provided excellent treatments which private firms then took over and distributed (profiting immensely), without giving back to public coffers. Also, I think this happened with broadband funding in the 90s.

  • Only some (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:25PM (#39037041)

    Yes, some Republicans are for big government.

    We already knew that from those that voted for the various stimulus packages.

    The Tea Party is attempting to weed them out.

    No real fiscal conservative thinks using NASA as a backup for the commercial entities makes prudent financial sense.

    The thing is there are examples just like this across the nation from both Republicans and Democrats. Why are the Democrats not decried when they pull exactly the same stunts?

  • Re:Only some (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bit trollent ( 824666 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:33PM (#39037147) Homepage

    It's the blatant hypocrisy that kills me.

    When it's time for government to help the country out of a recession or help the poor get into the middle class we're "all out of money"

    Every time sensible policies come up for a vote, Republicans all vote in unison, "We can't afford it".

    Bridges - we can't afford it. Schools - we can't afford it. Compasion - we can't afford it.

    Every single Republican. Almost every single time.

    Yet, when their campaign contributors or pet causes come up, all the rhetoric they used to sabotage the recovery goes out the window, and government is the only answer.

  • by Sponge Bath ( 413667 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:33PM (#39037151)
    It is hypocritical coming from the party that say government is not good at *anything*, and that privatization is *always* the best route.
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:38PM (#39037197)

    Yeah, except it's the Republican senator in this case arguing for the government to build it. The Democrat President wants to privatize it.

    That's how hypocrisy works with all politicians. And yes, "all" includes YOUR guy too.

  • by TC Wilcox ( 954812 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @04:49PM (#39037303)
    Both of the two major US political parties are mostly hypocritical. They just pander to different groups to get in power.
  • by queazocotal ( 915608 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:44PM (#39037949)

    I note that the development cost of SLS up to the first launch is $18B.
    Assuming modest savings if you order that amount of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, you can with the same money launch spacestation components for a station ten times the mass of ISS, ten times the mass of all the Apollo missions. and have room left over!

    (Around 20000 tons)

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @05:56PM (#39038103)

    They are almost exactly the same. The only things they uniformly disagree on are the "wedge issues" like gay marriage and abortion. Since most wedge issues (like abortion) are, as a practical matter, off the table and forever stuck in status quo - this makes them the same for all practical purposes. It's a team sport - which team are YOU on? LOL.

  • by yurtinus ( 1590157 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @08:35PM (#39039745)
    D'oh! Classic mistake.

    You referred to Republican and Conservative like they're the same thing. Conservatives have a perfectly valid view of how government should work (small, local, and out of the way). Republicans want the same thing as Democrats do: a big powerful government that they can use to funnel money and business to their buddies. It's too bad that the conservative and liberal political philosophies have been aligned with the major political parties who have very little interest in following what they've co-opted.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead