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US space policy

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US space policy

Post by Kraken » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:18 am

I realize I'm one of about 14 people in the USA who care about this, but dammit, I do.

I have not read any policy statements by any of the candidates regarding national space policy in their administrations. Do they support Bush's moon/Mars initiative? If not, what's NASA's mission in the incipient post-shuttle era? Do we retreat from manned spaceflight entirely, continue down our current path, accelerate that mission, or change direction?

It seems to me like a bold Mars initiative would be a natural for Obama. He's going to end the war and raise taxes by $1 trillion, after all, so Washington will be rolling in cash. A measly few billion more for NASA is chump change. and what a Kennedy-esque gesture that would be! :wink:

I'd like to hear your opinions, but I especially want to know if McCain, Clinton, or Obama have said anything at all about our future in space.

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Re: US space policy

Post by msduncan » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:25 am

Ironrod wrote:I realize I'm one of about 14 people in the USA who care about this, but dammit, I do.

I have not read any policy statements by any of the candidates regarding national space policy in their administrations. Do they support Bush's moon/Mars initiative? If not, what's NASA's mission in the incipient post-shuttle era? Do we retreat from manned spaceflight entirely, continue down our current path, accelerate that mission, or change direction?

It seems to me like a bold Mars initiative would be a natural for Obama. He's going to end the war and raise taxes by $1 trillion, after all, so Washington will be rolling in cash. A measly few billion more for NASA is chump change. and what a Kennedy-esque gesture that would be! :wink:

I'd like to hear your opinions, but I especially want to know if McCain, Clinton, or Obama have said anything at all about our future in space.
As you are aware from our previous discussions, I care very much about this issue as well Ironrod. Unfortunately it seems to be an issue that candidates are ignoring.

I think it's vitally important that we continue to push into space -- manned and unmanned. I hope we get a man on Mars. I desperately would like to see a lander sent to some of these promising moons to look for signs of life.
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Post by LawBeefaroni » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:40 am

Candidates campaign on two kinds of issues. The ones that will get them financing and the ones that will get them votes. As noted, space exploration is not a voting issue. Aerospace companies make enough money off defense, so courting the space race doesn't meet the finance test either.
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Post by Kraken » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:56 am

LawBeefaroni wrote:Candidates campaign on two kinds of issues. The ones that will get them financing and the ones that will get them votes. As noted, space exploration is not a voting issue.
It is a voting issue for some people. NASA has a budget of around $14B, last I heard, and most of it will be freed up when the shuttles retire in 2010 and we withdraw from ISS. So the future space program is already funded if current levels continue, making it essentially no-cost.

This is an especial opportunity for a campaign about hope and change and the future. I don't expect anybody to make it central, but I'd like to see some indication that they have thought about it, anyway. Maybe it will come up in the general election.

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Post by Padre » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:13 pm

Google "<candidate name> NASA".

"Obama NASA" reveals:
http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/obamas ... ttle_p.php
In a note on fiscal responsibility, the senator says he would delay NASA’s controversial moon-to-Mars program five years in order to fund education initiatives.
Which itself links to:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01359.html
But when it comes to President Bush's ambitious initiative to send humans back to the moon and on to Mars, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is all but alone in staking out a formal position -- and it's one that lends support to key aspects of the president's effort.

She initially outlined the need for a "robust" human spaceflight program last month during a Washington speech on science policy, despite being broadly critical of the Bush administration's record on scientific issues.

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Post by msduncan » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:17 pm

Padre wrote:Google "<candidate name> NASA".

"Obama NASA" reveals:
http://www.cjr.org/campaign_desk/obamas ... ttle_p.php
In a note on fiscal responsibility, the senator says he would delay NASA’s controversial moon-to-Mars program five years in order to fund education initiatives.
Which itself links to:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01359.html

But when it comes to President Bush's ambitious initiative to send humans back to the moon and on to Mars, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is all but alone in staking out a formal position -- and it's one that lends support to key aspects of the president's effort.

She initially outlined the need for a "robust" human spaceflight program last month during a Washington speech on science policy, despite being broadly critical of the Bush administration's record on scientific issues.
Great. So take money away from space exploration in order to throw more money at education (and that ALWAYS works, right?)
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Post by Moliere » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:18 pm

The government needs to stop getting in the way of private investment in the space race.
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Post by Tareeq » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:26 pm

If the space program is a pet issue, John McCain is the stupefyingly obvious winner.
Over here.

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Post by msduncan » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:28 pm

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s education policy is causing a stir … but not all in a good way. Advocates for space exploration are noting with dismay that he’d take billions of dollars from NASA to pay for the educational programs he'd like to expand.

The shift from exploration to education came last week when Obama talked up his $18 billion education plan during a New Hampshire campaign swing.
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Post by LawBeefaroni » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:46 pm

Ironrod wrote:
LawBeefaroni wrote:Candidates campaign on two kinds of issues. The ones that will get them financing and the ones that will get them votes. As noted, space exploration is not a voting issue.
It is a voting issue for some people. NASA has a budget of around $14B, last I heard, and most of it will be freed up when the shuttles retire in 2010 and we withdraw from ISS. So the future space program is already funded if current levels continue, making it essentially no-cost.

This is an especial opportunity for a campaign about hope and change and the future. I don't expect anybody to make it central, but I'd like to see some indication that they have thought about it, anyway. Maybe it will come up in the general election.
Not for enough people for any candidate to make it a big part of their plan to court voters.

A novel position on it would probably be enough for me, all else being equal. But I'm not a few hundred thousand votes.

It might make it's way into the general election, but only if one candidate can use it to attack the other on various issues (spending, budgets, defense). It is exceptiontally easy, unfortunately, to marginalize NASA and space spending. Spin it as a choice between feeding hungry kids or putting a probe in Mars orbit and it's a no brainer.
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Post by Dan_Theman » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:52 pm

Unfortunately, it's a voting issue for very few people. It's seen as a financial burden to many more, so most candidates won't touch the issue unless they have to or it becomes politically useful (i.e. - in order to contrast themselves with someone else). That said, Obama has said he plans to cut funding to NASA. Edwards gave a generic "Yay, space!" comment, Mccain has twiddled his thumbs a bit yet has Sean O'Keefe's endorsement, Giulianni has thrown some goodwill the way of NASA, Romney said he supports missions to the Moon, and while Clinton hasn't backed returning to the Moon she has given here "support" for the space program, as well. She hasn't specifically nailed down what that means in dollar figures for NASA. Apparently the space community views her as better-than-Bill when it comes to their needs.

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Post by LawBeefaroni » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:02 pm

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Post by Kraken » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:40 pm

Tareeq wrote:If the space program is a pet issue, John McCain is the stupefyingly obvious winner.
According to the article that Padre linked, McCain's staff is silent on the issue. (Sorry I don't have time to read all of the linked articles today).

Thanks for all the links. This casts a huge shadow over Obama, as far as I'm concerned. Suspending manned spaceflight will make it politically difficult to restart until taikonauts are walking on the moon. If that's the future he envisions, I don't see it as very hopeful.

I haven't voted yet. This might change my mind. I cannot support an anti-space candidate...but Billary makes my stomach hurt. Crap.

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Post by LawBeefaroni » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:50 pm

Ironrod wrote:
Tareeq wrote:If the space program is a pet issue, John McCain is the stupefyingly obvious winner.
According to the article that Padre linked, McCain's staff is silent on the issue. (Sorry I don't have time to read all of the linked articles today).

Thanks for all the links. This casts a huge shadow over Obama, as far as I'm concerned. Suspending manned spaceflight will make it politically difficult to restart until taikonauts are walking on the moon. If that's the future he envisions, I don't see it as very hopeful.

I haven't voted yet. This might change my mind. I cannot support an anti-space candidate...but Billary makes my stomach hurt. Crap.
As much as I think it should be a government program, it might be a non-issue if the privatization of space continues at its current pace. Some more forward thinking nations will get there before us, but don't underestimate the effectiveness of a private program if profits can eventually be made.

The way I'm approaching it is that no candidate will single-handedly get us to Mars through direct action. However, a strong economy, less need for dumping resources into a black-hole of a defense budget, and better education will. Either through NASA or private programs.
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Post by The Meal » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:57 pm

As the bad astronomy blog points out, feeding money into NASA is one way to improve education levels. How'd the moon race affect science and math in good ol' USA? The link to Phil's comments makes the situation seem a bit more ambiguous than Padre's links.

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Post by The Mad Hatter » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:05 pm

Private sector investment might be better anyway, since scientific exploration is likely to take a second seat to militarization in any US government program.
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Post by Kraken » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:15 pm

LawBeefaroni wrote:
As much as I think it should be a government program, it might be a non-issue if the privatization of space continues at its current pace. Some more forward thinking nations will get there before us, but don't underestimate the effectiveness of a private program if profits can eventually be made.
There is no profit in exploration, only immense expense. I fully expect private business to exploit near-earth orbit, and NASA has little justification for mucking around there. But you will wait a very long time indeed before anyone sees any business sense in moon bases or Mars missions. Opening frontiers, building infrastructure, and exploring new technologies are worthy and appropriate endeavors for government.

The space race provoked an unprecedented burst of science and engineering education. Suspending further exploration sends a very bad message, and restarting it is not as easy as restoring a budget item. How do you replace all the expertise that will be lost during five unemployed years -- assuming that the hiatus really ends then?

Ceding leadership in space to China or Russia is a dangerous and shortsighted policy, and I am deeply disappointed in Obama.

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Post by LawBeefaroni » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:31 pm

Profitable business in NEO can include being a jumping off point for non-profit motivated government exploration. We contract everything else. Why not the costliest portion of space travel?


Ironrod wrote:The space race provoked an unprecedented burst of science and engineering education. Suspending further exploration sends a very bad message, and restarting it is not as easy as restoring a budget item. How do you replace all the expertise that will be lost during five unemployed years -- assuming that the hiatus really ends then?
We're already late on this one. If they haven't already, China and India will far surpass us in both college graduates and engineers/scientists in a few years. How do you replace the lost expertise? Visas.
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Post by Quaro » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:57 pm

I was already pissed at the recent budgets gutting the useful parts of Nasa. Billions into the shuttle, the space station, and the White House's moon-base project. Nothing for projects which cost 1/100th as much and actually crank out science. If you want a big project, let's go with the Terrestrial Planet Finder. And even that is an order of magnitude less than the manned stuff. Each shuttle mission is a Mars Rover!

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Post by msduncan » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:11 pm

Quaro wrote:I was already pissed at the recent budgets gutting the useful parts of Nasa. Billions into the shuttle, the space station, and the White House's moon-base project. Nothing for projects which cost 1/100th as much and actually crank out science. If you want a big project, let's go with the Terrestrial Planet Finder. And even that is an order of magnitude less than the manned stuff. Each shuttle mission is a Mars Rover!
I disagree. What truly pushes the envelope of Science and Space development, enthusiasm, imagination, support, etc are high profile manned missions that inspire people.

For decades we've been bogged down in projects that put the public to sleep. Sure...the science garnered from many of these projects is priceless to scientists. The problem is that over time apathy from the public sets in because all they see is that WOW!!!! Mars is mostly made up of XXXX elements! And stuff like that. Apathy = loss interest. Loss of interest = less funding. Less funding = less science.

We desperately NEED some very high profile manned missions to push the public's imagination and steer a generation of kids into Space science. The budget to accomplish these things is tiny compared to so many of the things we are doing.
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Post by RunningMn9 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:14 pm

Ironrod wrote:I am deeply disappointed in Obama.
Buck up. This will be a clear test to determine whether or not Obama can admit that he is wrong. ;)

Balls. This is enough to make me write to Sen. Obama. Normally I wouldn't do that - but during the Terry Schiavo nonsense, I sent scathing letters to a variety of my representatives, and all responded with thoughtful letters explaining to me why I was wrong. ;)

We'll see how the Obama campaign treats me.
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Post by Quaro » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:25 pm

msduncan wrote:The budget to accomplish these things is tiny compared to so many of the things we are doing.
But very large compared to the science Nasa is doing. I'd be all for manned space exploration, but not at the cost of the science part. Go to the Moon instead of Iraq? No problemo.

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Post by msduncan » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:27 pm

RunningMn9 wrote:
Ironrod wrote:I am deeply disappointed in Obama.
Buck up. This will be a clear test to determine whether or not Obama can admit that he is wrong. ;)

Balls. This is enough to make me write to Sen. Obama. Normally I wouldn't do that - but during the Terry Schiavo nonsense, I sent scathing letters to a variety of my representatives, and all responded with thoughtful letters explaining to me why I was wrong. ;)

We'll see how the Obama campaign treats me.
Since there is no difference in Obama and any other left leaning party-line candidate, I'm sure his response will be that there are a host of important money sinks such as education that need your dollars before space exploration.
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Post by RunningMn9 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:32 pm

msduncan wrote:Since there is no difference in Obama and any other left leaning party-line candidate, I'm sure his response will be that there are a host of important money sinks such as education that need your dollars before space exploration.
I'm sure he might try that angle. At which point I will counter with other money sinks that will provide a lot more money for education than NASA (i.e. the Iraq War that he wants to end).

Besides, if Obama is elected, then I can write to Hillary and ask her to lead the charge in the Senate against cutting NASA's budget, since Congress controls NASA's budget and not the Prezodent.
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Post by LordMortis » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:36 pm

RunningMn9 wrote:I'm sure he might try that angle. At which point I will counter with other money sinks that will provide a lot more money for education than NASA (i.e. the Iraq War that he wants to end).
I hope you can have detailed conversation with him and that you post details here. I've written to a senator once... by email. The response was is if it were by her but so not personal that I doubt it was. It was only slightly more personable and related to my original mail than would have been one by Krusty the Clown.

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Post by RunningMn9 » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:41 pm

LordMortis wrote:I hope you can have detailed conversation with him and that you post details here. I've written to a senator once... by email. The response was is if it were by her but so not personal that I doubt it was. It was only slightly more personable and related to my original mail than would have been one by Krusty the Clown.
My congressman (Scott Garrett) gave me The Treatment(tm). ;)

Even if it was put together by a staffer, it addressed my ire the way that I would have addressed my ire.
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Post by Quaro » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:15 pm

The retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010 will leave the United States without manned spaceflight capability until the introduction of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) carried by the Ares I Launch Vehicle. As president, Obama will support the development of this vital new platform to ensure that the United States' reliance on foreign space capabilities is limited to the minimum possible time period. The CEV will be the backbone of future missions, and is being designed with technology that is already proven and available.
I think Obama's making a mistake by explicitly naming the Ares I and Orion program here. The project is having problems and it might not be the right solution. If Obama wants to support a new vehicle, great, support the concept of one. But I don't think it makes sense to back a specific solution this early. We really, really don't want to end up with another shuttle.

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Post by Kraken » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:19 pm

msduncan wrote:
Quaro wrote:I was already pissed at the recent budgets gutting the useful parts of Nasa. Billions into the shuttle, the space station, and the White House's moon-base project. Nothing for projects which cost 1/100th as much and actually crank out science. If you want a big project, let's go with the Terrestrial Planet Finder. And even that is an order of magnitude less than the manned stuff. Each shuttle mission is a Mars Rover!
I disagree. What truly pushes the envelope of Science and Space development, enthusiasm, imagination, support, etc are high profile manned missions that inspire people.

For decades we've been bogged down in projects that put the public to sleep. Sure...the science garnered from many of these projects is priceless to scientists. The problem is that over time apathy from the public sets in because all they see is that WOW!!!! Mars is mostly made up of XXXX elements! And stuff like that. Apathy = loss interest. Loss of interest = less funding. Less funding = less science.

We desperately NEED some very high profile manned missions to push the public's imagination and steer a generation of kids into Space science. The budget to accomplish these things is tiny compared to so many of the things we are doing.
Absolutely true. I love robotic exploration, too. I appreciate its cost-effectiveness. But remember that the ultimate goal of robotic exploration is to pave the way for our eventual expansion into our solar system, and eventually beyond. It is important to keep improving that capability, because that is what stirs the imagination. While I believe it's humanity's inevitable destiny to spread into new environments, I would prefer to see progress during my lifetime rather than in some indefinite future, and to see it led by my country, as we once did and still can. That's one thing that I really want my tax dollar spent on.
RunningMn9 wrote:
Ironrod wrote:I am deeply disappointed in Obama.
Buck up. This will be a clear test to determine whether or not Obama can admit that he is wrong. ;)
I'm leaving to vote in about five minutes, and I'll tell you, my enthusiasm for Sen. Obama has dried up, while Clinton's stock just went up about two notches. But although spaceflight is a huge issue for me, it's not the only issue. So I'm still going to support Obama today.

Maybe this was just an ill-thought-out position. It does seem like he tossed it out casually, so perhaps it's subject to revision. If this turns out to be just another D pandering yet again to teachers unions, though...that would be the end of Obamamania as far as I'm concerned. His hopes and dreams are too mundane for me.

It would be up to congress to kill or mothball NASA, and I don't think they'd go for it. NASA has facilities in every single state for exactly that reason. And a $14B line item in a $3,000B budget is not a fat target. But unless Obama changes his tune, I will be leaning toward McCain in the general election. The man needs a thought-out space policy. "Mothball NASA" is not it.

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Post by Quaro » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:50 pm

From what I've seen of the details, the current Moon/Mars plans don't teach us much. For speed and safety, it uses well understood technologies and methods that were developed in the 60s. We spend the money to send a small group into space for a year, and after they come back, we aren't any closer to sending anyone else into space. It's not so much difficult as expensive. And afterwards, the cost to send something up there will not have come down at all. With the present rearrangement of funding in our space program towards this goal, this mission comes at the cost of long term basic research into radical propulsion methods and other technologies that might actually make travel more feasible in the future.
The President and Congress have essentially said, "keep flying the shuttle to build the International Space Station, put humans back on the Moon, and figure out how to pay for it." Science is all that's left to cut from. If the new exploration vehicle goes over budget, science will have to pay for that too.
Programs cut to make way for the Moon, just in 2007:

* Funding for Astrobiology cut to 50% of its 2005 levels.
* Europa mission that would search for life under the moon's icy surface… cancelled.
* The Terrestrial Planet Finder - an observatory capable of seeing Earth-sized planets around other stars, and even signs of life… cancelled.
* The Space Interferometry Mission… delayed.
* Two scout missions to Mars… cancelled.
* Dawn mission to explore two asteroids… cancelled.

http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2006 ... r-to-nasa/
http://www.universetoday.com/2006/02/23 ... -the-moon/

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Post by Kraken » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:47 am

Quaro wrote:From what I've seen of the details, the current Moon/Mars plans don't teach us much. For speed and safety, it uses well understood technologies and methods that were developed in the 60s. We spend the money to send a small group into space for a year, and after they come back, we aren't any closer to sending anyone else into space. It's not so much difficult as expensive. And afterwards, the cost to send something up there will not have come down at all.
We have a hallowed tradition of technological revolution. We junked Apollo because throwaway hardware was too wasteful. Before that we junked Dyna-Soar for the quick-and-dirty moon race. The shuttle era had promise: A large fleet of fully reusable shuttles would build a space station that would build interplanetary ships that would build exo space stations that would support surface operations. Then we might spin shuttle ops off to private enterprise so that NASA could get out of the trucking business and back into exploration.

We launched a lot of shuttles without any coherent goal. Finally we did build a space station, but it has no mission and can't support the goal that Bush committed us to. Now the shuttle fleet has reached the end of its lifespan. So do we evolve that tech to the next level? No, we junk it.

In all that time, how many boring reliable Soyuz did the Russians build? The thing 1960s tech still has going is assembly line production. It's still rocket science, sure, but you can crank out throwaway hardware with excellent reliability at a good rate, and you don't need a cast of thousands at every launch. The major costs to reach orbit are operational. It's entirely reasonable that private enterprise might offer launch services more economically than NASA does.

Maybe the Ares/Orion CEV thing is the wrong approach, or maybe not; I don't know. Problem is, we're already going to lack manned access to space for at least 4-5 years even if we get cranking on the new stuff right away. If we go back to the drawing board, we will be grounded for a decade. We will become second-rate. I don't care how big our military is; when the Russians and Chinese take the lead in manned spaceflight, this country will clearly be a waning power in the world.
Programs cut to make way for the Moon, just in 2007:

* Funding for Astrobiology cut to 50% of its 2005 levels.
* Europa mission that would search for life under the moon's icy surface… cancelled.
* The Terrestrial Planet Finder - an observatory capable of seeing Earth-sized planets around other stars, and even signs of life… cancelled.
* The Space Interferometry Mission… delayed.
* Two scout missions to Mars… cancelled.
* Dawn mission to explore two asteroids… cancelled.
That's a grim toll. Do you think that putting NASA on a 0.5B budget for "five years" is going to help?

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Post by msduncan » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:13 pm

Programs cut to make way for the Moon, just in 2007:

* Funding for Astrobiology cut to 50% of its 2005 levels.
* Europa mission that would search for life under the moon's icy surface… cancelled.
* The Terrestrial Planet Finder - an observatory capable of seeing Earth-sized planets around other stars, and even signs of life… cancelled.
* The Space Interferometry Mission… delayed.
* Two scout missions to Mars… cancelled.
* Dawn mission to explore two asteroids… cancelled.
A grim toll indeed. The problem is that if we don't get more imaginative and push the envelope, the budget will always be so tight that one adjustment knocks critical projects such as these off the board.

My argument is that manned exploration boosts visibility, interest, and inspiration among the masses. This in turn pressures congress to take a little cash from their pet pork projects and put it toward the Space program.

The mission to Europa is the casualty I most weep for. I really really want to find out what is under that ice. We've all seen what can develop in places devoid of sun energy here on earth when the right elements are present.
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Post by JohnnyFive » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:14 pm

Why so concerned about NASA, though? What about NIH and NSF funding?

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Post by Creepy_Smell » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:10 pm

Space p0rn is the answer to funding. Besides, we need research in the area if we are going to live off this rock. Just send a few extra scientists up with each launch and profit!

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Post by LordMortis » Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:14 pm

Creepy_Smell wrote:Space p0rn is the answer to funding. Besides, we need research in the area if we are going to live off this rock. Just send a few extra scientists up with each launch and profit!
I think you might be on to something. What technology has ever failed when attached to pr0n? How many billions does pr0n generate annually? How much space pr0n has ever done? The market and the desire for funding are there.

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Post by The Meal » Thu Feb 07, 2008 2:05 pm

A BUDGET MESSAGE FROM ALAN STERN, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR FOR
NASA'S SCIENCE MISSION DIRECTORATE (SMD), NASA HEADQUARTERS

04 February 2008

A month ago today I wrote you an email via NSPIRES [the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System, through which scientists learn about and submit mission and grant proposals] about the work being done in NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) to invigorate the flight and research programs we're administering.

Although there was good news to talk about then, I could not discuss the content of the President's FY09 [Fiscal Year 2009, which runs from October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009] budget request and what that budget portends for SMD.

The President's FY09 budget was released today, so I am writing you again.

The news for NASA is good - we enjoyed a 1.8% funding increase that many other discretionary parts of the budget did not - and all of NASA's major programs are intact. As you can learn from reading budget documentation at http://www.nasa.gov, there are a host of important initiatives within NASA's budget request.

But in this message I want to focus on the highlights of the FY09 budget request as it affects SMD, and to be to the point: that news is also good.

To begin, the FY09 President's request augments two areas of SMD's budget significantly - Earth science and lunar science. More specifically, the budget request includes new initiatives to accelerate the recommended flight missions of the Earth Science Decadal Survey (NRC [National Research Council], 2007), and to fly small lunar science missions that respond to goals of the 2007 NRC report, "Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon".

Owing to budget wedges that are opening up as we launch a total of 13 orbital and planetary missions in 2008 and 2009, to some missions that we replanned to gain efficiencies, and to some cost increases that we avoided, the budget request for SMD is able to go beyond the Earth Science and lunar science initiatives I just mentioned, to also initiate missions in planetary science, in astrophysics, and in heliophysics.

In fact the President's budget request allows SMD to initiate 7 new space missions. And it is worth pointing out that this exceeds the number of new SMD missions initiated in the past three NASA budgets combined.

The 7 new missions to be initiated by the President's FY09 budget request span all four of SMD's Divisions; they are:
The Earth Science Division's SMAP soil moisture mission for launch in 2012 and IceSat II decadal survey mission for launch in 2015. Three additional Earth science decadal survey missions will be enabled by this budget request as well.
The Heliophysics Division's new, lower cost Solar Probe mission for launch in 2015.
The Planetary Science Division's long awaited Outer Planets Flagship for launch in 2016 or 2017, depending on the mission target and trajectory.
The Astrophysics Division's highly anticipated JDEM [NASA-DOE Joint Dark Energy Mission] for launch by 2015.
And two new lunar robotic missions - a small science orbiter to launch by 2011 and a pair of mini-landers for launch by 2014; these lunar missions are to be developed in SMD's Planetary Science Division.
If Congress agrees to these plans, then in FY09 (which begins in October!) you will be seeing a great deal of activity to solicit proposals to select payloads and science teams for these 7 new missions.

The President's budget request also significantly increases R&A funding [Research and Analysis funding, the bread and butter of space science research] so that our program generates more discoveries and therefore provides the taxpayer with value from the missions we fly. The budget request also substantially increases funding for suborbital sounding rockets and balloon experiments in order to foster PI on-ramps [that is, opportunities for researchers to gain the necessary experience to become Principal Investigators on future missions], instrument technology demonstrations, and of course new science.

To learn more, you can find many details at http://www.nasa.gov .

Additionally we in SMD will be talking about this new budget at the next round of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and NAC subcommittee meetings, at MOWGs [Management Operations Working Groups, informal advisory groups convened within NASA], with the leadership of professional societies such as the AGU [American Geophysical Union], AAS [American Astronomical Society], DPS [the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society], and AMS [American Meteorological Society], and at upcoming large scientific gatherings such as LPSC [the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference], AAS, and AGU.

The primary message I hope you have received from this note is that the future that the President's FY09 budget request paints is bright for SMD.

As I said in my message of January 4th, we continue to look to the Earth and space science research communities for advice, counsel, feedback, and most importantly, new results as we go forward, so I again invite that advice through your NAC subcommittees and professional societies.

I hope to see many of you in meetings and other venues in the coming weeks. In the meantime, best wishes.

Alan Stern
A few paragraphs of analysis at the top of this blog:
http://www.planetary.org/blog/article/00001318/

~Neal
Not a pathological narcissist.

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Post by Kraken » Thu Feb 07, 2008 2:31 pm

Very good budget news indeed, thanks for the info. 'Course, it hasn't actually gotten through Congress yet.

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Post by Eightball » Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:14 pm

I was actually surprised NASA is so currently so well-funded (16.25 billion in 2007).

As a comparison, NASA's budget is roughly 8 times what the FDA's budget is. They only have responsibility to ensure the food we eat is safe, and the drugs/devices used in the US to treat us are safe and effective.

It's over twice the EPA budget of 7 billion. NASA receives 3x the funding that the National Cancer Institute does (though a little more than half of what the NIH overall -which includes research grants- receives).

The DOJ, which includes the FBI, federal prisons, DEA, BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives), has a 24 billion budget.

Comparatively, 16 bill for NASA is a pretty decent budget.
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Post by LawBeefaroni » Thu Feb 07, 2008 3:34 pm

NASA's work contributes to other agencies. DoD, NOAA, law enforcement (satellites), etc. I'm sure there's some black in NASA's budget as well.

There's also a lot of pork in their programs. An awful lot. Boeing, Lockheed Martin, United Technologies (Rocketdyne, Hamilton & Sundstrom), Rockwell, Honeywell, and on and on. It's like where defense goes to get desert.



I'll agree that the FDA is vastly underfunded. And over politicized. But that's because hey're often an impediment to commerce, not a spender.
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Post by RunningMn9 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 4:43 pm

Ironrod, I just sat down to read through Obama's position statements, and noticed what seems to be a message for you, right there at the top:
Obama wrote:But I also hope that this booklet sparks a dialogue and that after you’ve finished reading it, you get in touch with our campaign and give us your thoughts on the policies you find here. It’s time to put government back in your hands, where it belongs. If we want to have policies that are good for the American people, then we need the American people to help shape those policies.
See? He's open to talking about it. I would get in touch with his campaign, and provide your thoughts. It can't hurt. It might help.
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Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Jews
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Get down on their knees and pray
The raccoon and the groundhog neatly
Make up bags of change
But the monkey in the corner
Well he's slowly drifting out of range

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