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NASA Politics

Partisan Food Fight Erupts Over NASA, Commercial Space 164

RocketAcademy writes "Until recently, space policy has been a non-partisan issue. Even when politicians disagreed on space-policy issues, that disagreement rarely aligned with party lines. That has changed in the last few years. Now, one organization is throwing fuel on the political fire. The Space Frontier Foundation has called Republicans the Party of Big Government Space. SFF is upset about the GOP platform, which lacks specifics about space policy. According to the SFF, the GOP 'has nothing but hackneyed praise for NASA, and doesn't even mention the increasing role of the private sector.' The Obama campaign quickly echoed the statement. But NASA Watch points out that the Democratic platform is even less specific than the GOP's. Others express concerns that partisanship harms space policy."
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Partisan Food Fight Erupts Over NASA, Commercial Space

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  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @06:48PM (#41228803) Journal
    Every new administration we get to keep things fresh by having an entirely new space policy. The incoming administration gets to label the prior efforts a billion-dollar boondoggle and ashcan it, putting their unique stamp on a whole new paradigm that can achieve new heights of replicating prior work until it, too, is ashcanned by the next administration before too much progress is made.
  • by schnell ( 163007 ) <me@sch n e l l . net> on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @07:19PM (#41229145) Homepage

    I know you're making a joke, but there is at least one grain of serious truth to it. Given how boneheaded the last few administrations' plans for the manned spaceflight program have been, the fact that they keep getting changed has actually prevented us from spending ridiculous sums of money on the them. Can you imagine - at a time when millions of Americans are jobless and without healthcare - what the public backlash would be against the space program if we were actually spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year on a manned Mars mission or (to a lesser $$$ figure) Constellation? In the meantime, that indecision and flailing has left the door open for private spaceflight projects to fill the "useful" void of reliable, cost-effective transport to LEO and GEO.

    So while on one hand the political ping-pong game over NASA has resulted in billions of dollars in waste and squandered the talents of our best and brightest, on the other hand it has prevented us from spending hundreds of billions on bad ideas. Not exactly the tradeoff you want, but I'm trying to find the upside here...

  • Um, yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rickb928 ( 945187 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @07:24PM (#41229199) Homepage Journal

    Partisanship harms ALL policy. It is inevitable in our system, but for the past few cycles it has been an increasingly more violent atmosphere (blatant space lingo there) that is harming a lot more than just space policy.

    The solution? Smarter and more involved voters. Politicians will not change unless we make them. We let this happen.

    And while I'm a Republican, space exploration is what government does better, so far, than private industry. We should be doing a LOT more. But I would happily exchange that initiative for an Apollo-style alternative energy program to render fossil fuels largely obsolete in 10 years. A manned mission to mars would ahve impact on our science, engineering, etc, so either project is a drvier for me. But making NASA a political football makes no sense, unless you're just a partisan that needs something to argue over.

    ps - Side note, blame the Republicans all you want, remembering that the other parties are not innocent of the same problem - arguing anything for the sake of it.

  • by greg_barton ( 5551 ) <> on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @07:26PM (#41229213) Homepage Journal

    It's trans-partisan. Obama, supposedly the most liberal human being since the big bang, has reformed The space race to rely more on the private sector. This isn't mentioned in the Democratic platform because the hard core lefties don't like it. It isn't mentioned in the Republican platform because it made the hard core righties' heads assplode.

    Meanwhile a middle of the road solution was found that is working fine. Mission accomplished.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @07:28PM (#41229229) Journal
    The republicans have continued to gut over and over the private space. In addition, they were the ones that gutted NASA back in the late 90's and stopping them from doing the original COTS program that was suggested in 1994. Worse, they have continued to fight against funding for private space while pushing multiple (3-5 Billion PER YEAR) to their key programs such as Constellation and now the god foresaken SLS.

    yes, some dems have joined these dark creatures of the night, but the neo-cons that control the republican party are far more interested in helping themselves and their friends rather than the nation. Even now, I am fully aware that MY representative, Mark Coffman, takes money from a company that he KNOWS is owned by the Chinese gov. The fuck who screams patriotism would rather take money from China than help America. GD pricks.

    Sadly, other than O, the dems are absolutely USELESS. They have no sense of loyalty to either nation or party. Instead, they are bunch of fuck-ups. The only reason why they do not sux worse then the neo-cons is that the neo-cons are pretty much committing treason against the nation and have been actively working to destroy unions, etc. IOW, they consider it a higher priority to destroy unions (which they could have self-destructed on their own) then to help the nation.

    We need 2 answers: a third party of social moderate/fiscal conservative (nixon was the last time that a republican was a fiscal conservative), and RootStrikers to get amendments on the constitution. We need to kill off all of the dark creatures of the night within the republicans party (or simply stake them all), and re-bury the zombies in the dem party, while creating a new party.
  • by frosty_tsm ( 933163 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @08:08PM (#41229571)
    Hundreds of billions going to what? People's salaries, government contractors, and some natural resources. The money isn't being burnt (except maybe when a test rocket blows up ;-). One way the government can help the economy is by judicious spending (this is why a sudden cut of spending can cause a recession by itself). Just as we might spend billions on space exploration, we spend multitudes more on defense (for arguably a lesser accomplishment for mankind).
  • Re:Um, yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @08:47PM (#41229889)

    ps - Side note, blame the Republicans all you want, remembering that the other parties are not innocent of the same problem - arguing anything for the sake of it.

    False equivalence. The Democrats have never focused so single-mindedly on the destruction of a president. You're just telling yourself that the Dems are just as bad as a defense mechanism.

    Only one party threatened to cut off unemployment benefits for millions if they didn't get a tax cut extension for the rich.

    Only one party forced the country to default on its debts in order to force major budget cuts to both military and domestic program, and then even had the gall to try to renege on the military cuts.

    Only one party proposed cap and trade as a capitalist alternative to environmental regulations, and then called it socialism when the other guys tried to implement it.

    Only one party proposed an individual mandate as a capitalist alternative to single-payer health care, and then screamed about "death panels" when the other guys tried to implement it.

    Only one party proposed giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship through military service or college, and then screamed "amnesty!" when the other guys tried to implement it.

    The Republicans today are nothing like those of the 90s or 80s or 70s or any other point in time. They're nothing like this country has ever seen. They've realized that politics is just a game, and they can break the game by refusing to negotiate on anything. Our country cannot survive that sort of game-breaking exploit. If people like you don't wise up and punish them for it, we're through.

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @09:39PM (#41230247)

    Its not about "Private" vs "Public". Its about a fundamental shift in the way NASA buys things.

    Under the new system (the one Obama is so fond of), NASA is paying fixed amounts of money to private companies for fixed deliverables. This gives an incentive to companies doing the work to reduce costs as much as possible, to not reinvent the wheel if they dont need to, to use as few staff as they need to use to get the job done and generally to do more with less.

    The old way (which is how the space shuttle got built and very much like the way the military buys large things like aircraft or tanks) involved the government having a lot more say in exactly how things were built, where they got built, which companies got to make which bits etc. (just look at the pressure from a number of congressmen to get NASA funding bills passed that basically say "whatever NASA builds next, it MUST use the rockets made by ATK systems"). It resulted in a lot of inefficiencies that were bad for the total cost of these projects but got there because someone in congress wanted some factory or facility in their state and wanted the jobs and benefits that come with it.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @10:03PM (#41230403) Journal
    First off, he inherited a 3/4 T deficit from W. (the constant .5T / year deficit of W/neo-cons is what cratered our economy in the FIRST place). O cranked it up to 1.2T for the first year due the great depression that we were looking at. Then O did a 1T for the second, while the 3rd year should have been cut, but he did not (which is why I have issues with this last year).
    BUT, he is the one that worked with Boehner to do cuts and then cantor came in and gutted it. Then when Cantor did his theatrics of saying that they would cut a deal with the dems, but that O was to be excluded, O simply insisted that if they failed, that automatic cuts happen THIS COMING YEAR. Well, the neo-cons FAILED (yeah, like that is new) and then blamed O for it all.

    The fact is, that O has been being gutted by the neo-cons in an attempt to crater him. And THEY are the ones wasting money on building launcher that depend on using manufacturers in their areas wasting 3-5B / year, while screaming about less than 1B/year for a couple of years to get MULTIPLE cheap private space going. No doubt had McCain been in office, private space would have been gutted and the SLS would have been bumped up to 5B/year and still would not be ready until 2024.

    As I said, I am not wild about O, but compared to the vampire republicans and the zombies dems, he is at least alive and mostly useful. I really hate the fact that he is pushing for cuts in our nuke warheads as well as that insane cap/trade, not dealing effectively with our lack of nuclear power (we should spend money on thorium power), and the issues with China.

    However, even romney has said that the economy is MUCH better off then it was 4 years ago, which is a good sign.
  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @11:00PM (#41230803)

    In what ways did the federal government get involved in your "day to day" life today? Not some hypothetical situation, or something that "affects society in general", but a real, actual "Shit, I'd love to do this, but the damn Federal Government is in the way!!" intrusion into your personal life that happened today?

  • Feel the burn (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @02:22AM (#41231897)

    Hundreds of billions going to what? People's salaries, government contractors, and some natural resources. The money isn't being burnt

    Yes it is.

    That is a MASSIVE opportunity cost from what private industry could have done with the same funds.

    For every NASA worker private industry could probably hire two or more people. For every billion spent private industry could have created 10 billion in return for every billion spent, if it had not been taken from them.

    I love NASA, NASA did thigns no-one else could have done and has a massive amount of experience on tap. But the age of large government is nearing a close, and we must move to a world where private industry takes on the role NASA once did. Only then will we start seeing real innovation in space travel again, including more actual space TRAVEL.

  • Re:Um, yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 ( 1344997 ) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:40AM (#41232311)

    What a short memory you seem to have. The Democrats crossed the aisle to pass a lot of Bush's proposals.

    They passed his massive tax cuts.

    They passed his unfunded Medicare expansion.

    They passed No Child Left Behind.

    They passed that bill designed to gut the Postal Service by forcing them to pay for decades of retirement benefits up front.

    Republicans, on the other hand, have voted in lockstep against every Obama proposal, with the sole exception of the stimulus, which got (IIRC) three GOP votes. Even though many of the proposals were identical to their own ideas, they filibustered everything, because they wanted to make him at failure at any cost.

    This is unique in the country's history. Never before have politicians taken such a scorched earth approach to destroying their opponent.

    Can you really not follow such a simple idea through to its logical conclusion? What happens if we reinforce this behavior by rewarding the GOP for it? They'll keep doing it, of course. Which means that no Democratic congress will ever again pass a law, unless they have a supermajority.

    Now, that leaves us with two possible outcomes. Either the Democratics stick to their morals (unlikely!) and we get single-party rule by the GOP. Or the Democrats adopt the same tactics, and no one on either side can pass any laws any more. That outcome would be disastrous.

    No partisanship here. Simple logic. Look at what's happening. It's not hard to see where we're headed.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.