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Space Government NASA The Almighty Buck

NASA Money Crunch Means Trouble For Spitzer Space Telescope 107

Scientific American reports that an ongoing budget crunch at NASA may spell doom for the Spitzer Space Telescope, the agency having "taken stock of its fleet of orbiting astrophysics telescopes and decided which to save and which to shutter. Among the winners were the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Kepler planet-hunting telescope, which will begin a modified mission designed to compensate for the recent failure of two of its four stabilizing reaction wheels." Also from the SciAm article: "Until JWST comes online, no other telescope can approach Spitzer’s sensitivity in the range of infrared light it sees. The Senior Review report noted that Spitzer had the largest oversubscription of any NASA mission from 2013 to 2014, meaning that it gets about seven times more applications for observing time from scientists than it can accommodate. ...'The guest observing programs were very powerful because you get people from all over the world proposing ideas that maybe the people on the team wouldn’t have come up with,' [senior review panel chair Ben R.] Oppenheimer says. 'But it’s got to be paid for.'"
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NASA Money Crunch Means Trouble For Spitzer Space Telescope

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  • Budget Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NoKaOi ( 1415755 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:16AM (#47086175)

    In 2014, for example, the total astrophysics division funding was about $1.3 billion

    Or about 5 days cost of the Iraq/Afghan wars, or 1/50th the cost of the F-22 program, or 1/33 Larry Ellison's net worth, or 1/58th of Bill Gates' net worth, or 1/2 the cost of a single B-2.

  • Re:Of course (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mmell ( 832646 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:38AM (#47086217)
    Would you prefer Muslim population control and climate change denial?

    Guess it doesn't matter which side of the aisle you're on - somehow or other, space exploration just seems to drop right out of the equation, doesn't it?

  • by GNious ( 953874 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:49AM (#47086243)

    Better hope that you don't suddenly need more B-2s

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @03:57AM (#47086253)

    What exactly would the funding cover?

    It seems that a private consortium could operate the instrument, given its oversubscription ratio, and thereby have enough funding to run both the subscription selection process and the ground station equipment (or build their own), and that the real problem here is that NASA is in between the people who want to use the instrument and the instrument itself, and are using it as a means to blackmail outrage out of the people who want to use the instrument, in order to obtain more funding for NASA.

    Am I missing something? Why, other than they have the code keys, is NASA involved, once the instrument is up there in orbit, so long as there are parties willing to pay the freight for the ground stations in exchange for observation slots? I know it's a little harsh to turn around and say "NASA, you're fired as caretakers of this instrument", but is that any less harsh than shutting it down so that no one has use of it, unless they get the funds they want?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 25, 2014 @04:55AM (#47086363)

    Better hope that you don't suddenly need more B-2s

    Don't need any of them. Nor the B-1. I don't think the B-1 was ever used - except for scaring the shit out of the Soviets.

    The B-52 is the bomber of choice.

    I loved COSMOS (ep.11) last week and how the civilizations, like ancient Sumaria, who valued military conquest ended up destroying themselves.

    It's a lesson from history we should take to heart.

    See, all these wars we're fighting are slowing eating away at our economy - along with a few other factors like: offshoring, automation [], and aging populace. Although, it is quite apparent that our way of life is a life of war - endless war it seems - and war mongering societies do not last very long and peaceful ones are the societies that thrive.

    Most of us here are Trekkies or do like the idea of the society depicted in those series. The only way to get there is to stop this primitive non-sense of wars, tribalism and religion - religion is just another form of tribalism; also worshiping an Iron Age god in the 21st century is just ridiculous.

    Just some thoughts at 4:55AM where I am.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @07:54AM (#47086699)

    . . . how about the money and news coverage for Kim Kardashian's wedding . . . ? The general public just isn't interested in science and space.

    Sad, but true. If the general population isn't interested, Congress has no incentive to fund it.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"