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Old 02-02-2010, 05:47 AM   #1
eaglewingone
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Default NASA's $100B moon program gets killed

WASHINGTON President Obama is redirecting America's space program, killing NASA's $100 billion plans to return astronauts to the moon and using much of that money for new rocket technology research.
The moon program, which has cost $9.1 billion so far, "was over budget, behind schedule and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest in critical new technologies" according to the budget plan issued Monday.

Obama's budget would increase fiscal year 2011 funds for NASA by 1.5% and support the development of rocket systems that eventually might take U.S. astronauts back into deep space. In preparation for those trips, Obama envisions using robotic ships to find locations for future landings and test new technology.

"Simply put, we're putting the science back into the rocket science at NASA," White House science adviser John Holdren said Monday.

Buzz Aldrin, an Apollo astronaut, strongly endorsed the budget. He said investing now in better technologies could accelerate goals such as sending people to Mars. "I applaud the president for working to make these dreams a reality," Aldrin said.

The plan to drop the moon strategy already has drawn opposition from lawmakers such as Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who said they feared the changes could risk U.S. leadership in space. NASA spacecraft are launched from Kennedy Space Center on Florida's Atlantic coast.

The $4 billion that NASA spends yearly on human space exploration will now be used for what NASA and White House officials called dramatic changes in rocketry, including in-orbit fueling. They said eventually those new technologies would be used to send astronauts to a nearby asteroid, a brief foray back to the moon, or the Martian moons.

The White House plan was short on details, such as where astronauts would fly next, on what type of rocket ship, or when. However, officials were quick to point out the failures of the Bush administration's moon program, called Constellation. It included the construction of two types of rockets, Ares I and Ares V, and an Orion crew capsule. All were canceled. Shutting down the program will cost about $2.5 billion, NASA said.

Besides redirecting money to new technologies, NASA is getting an extra $6 billion over five years to encourage companies to build private spaceships that NASA could rent. NASA will also spend an additional $2.5 billion over five years for more research on how global warming is affecting Earth. NASA will also extend the life by several years of the International Space Station, which had been slated for retirement in 2016. NASA's yearly budget is $19 billion.

http://www.usatoday.com/NEWS/usaedit...T_U.htm?csp=34
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Old 02-02-2010, 08:02 AM   #2
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Good and bad news I suppose. I never throught the Ares / Constellation / Orion solution was actually a step forward. More like a step back to Apollo basics with a technology update. To me it was very definitely a backward step from the Shuttle even though that design is decades old now. And the rockets were completely uninspiring - nothing like the majesty of the Saturn V thundering off the pad.

I'm saddened that man shall not be going back to the Moon in the short term, but equally heartened that the ISS lifespan is to be extended - making use of a facillity which has itself taken decades to construct and is only now reaching maturity.

Having said that I was hoping that the Shuttle project would have been extended to maintain the capacity to send crews and equipment in to orbit. Now the Western world shall have to rely primarily on the East to provide that capability, with Russian Soyuz / Progress, possibly Chinese and Japanese input, and even more remote, a crew vehicle from ESA which is yet to be developed fully. A sad state of affairs for a 'once great' US space program.

Perhaps some of this new budget will be channelled in to more inspiring technology updates such as a truly resuseable spaceplane - development of which has been started several times and stalled when budgets became strained, or Government leaders changed. We need some concentrated effort in to resurrecting this line of thinking if we are ever to move forward in the technology stakes and come up with a true and sustainable step forward in manned spaceflight.
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Old 02-02-2010, 08:24 AM   #3
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Good and bad news I suppose. I never throught the Ares / Constellation / Orion solution was actually a step forward. More like a step back to Apollo basics with a technology update. To me it was very definitely a backward step from the Shuttle even though that design is decades old now. And the rockets were completely uninspiring - nothing like the majesty of the Saturn V thundering off the pad.

I'm saddened that man shall not be going back to the Moon in the short term, but equally heartened that the ISS lifespan is to be extended - making use of a facillity which has itself taken decades to construct and is only now reaching maturity.

Having said that I was hoping that the Shuttle project would have been extended to maintain the capacity to send crews and equipment in to orbit. Now the Western world shall have to rely primarily on the East to provide that capability, with Russian Soyuz / Progress, possibly Chinese and Japanese input, and even more remote, a crew vehicle from ESA which is yet to be developed fully. A sad state of affairs for a 'once great' US space program.

Perhaps some of this new budget will be channelled in to more inspiring technology updates such as a truly resuseable spaceplane - development of which has been started several times and stalled when budgets became strained, or Government leaders changed. We need some concentrated effort in to resurrecting this line of thinking if we are ever to move forward in the technology stakes and come up with a true and sustainable step forward in manned spaceflight.
Maybe they can build a Shuttle-derived heavy-lift program

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Old 02-02-2010, 11:23 AM   #4
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What is really needed is 'the Courage to Fail'.

What will really kill thsi, however, is Pork Barrel Politics
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Old 02-02-2010, 12:45 PM   #5
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What will really kill thsi, however, is Pork Barrel Politics
Not sure that I understand the sentiment here - surely the appropriation of massive funds for something of very liimited benefits is "pork barrel politics" of the worst kind?

One of Citizens Against Public Waste's criteria for the definition of "pork" is something which serves only a local or special interest - much of the US space program falls neatly into this category.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:07 PM   #6
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I read this cancellation as a wake-up call to get things moving faster. Get to Mars, the asteroids or maybe even beyond sooner than if we're diverted by the Moon again. Perhaps a plan 'B' is emerging if climate change can't be moderated.

Note that I'm not pointing any fingers (man-made, not man-made, warmer, colder, faster, slower, etc.) just saying that for whatever reason we may need to consider other options if things get uncomfortable down here.


Phil.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:08 PM   #7
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Not sure that I understand the sentiment here - surely the appropriation of massive funds for something of very liimited benefits is "pork barrel politics" of the worst kind?

One of Citizens Against Public Waste's criteria for the definition of "pork" is something which serves only a local or special interest - much of the US space program falls neatly into this category.
I guess it comes down to how you define "serves". Inspiring generations of children to reach for the stars doesn't seem limited or local to me.

Also, how many NASA by-products have made it into everyday life. Scientific and medical advances benefit many.
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Old 02-02-2010, 01:46 PM   #8
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Cue the 'either/or dichotomy' thinking in 3... 2... 1...

Just to pre-empt it, someone will say that the money could be better spent solving problems here on Earth, failing as always to notice that for a couple decades, every year NASA's budget was not increased/cut and the problems the money went to 'solving' are still around. Failing to see that the entire yearly NASA budget is minuscule compared to the entire Federal budget. Failing to see that NASA's budget falls under different departments than, say, education or health and wouldn't be diverted to those departments anyway. Not questioning the military budget's extremely high price tags. (Not being anti-military, by the way; just saying that it could be much more efficient/cost-effective.) And so on.

You know, we could have a space program and still have our other infrastrucure, and both could work together to help take the US--indeed humanity--further. It doesn't have to be 'either/or.' I realize that it isn't easy, that the money has to come from someplace, and so on. But I guarantee that just killing NASA won't even make a dent in the rest of the US budget woes. I don't have a link, but I read somewhere on an online source that if we took NASA's budget for one year and gave it, say, to school lunch programs nationwide (which again, wouldn't happen; different departments), it wouldn't even feed every school kid for that year. As expensive as the space budget seems to Joe Average Citizen, it's remarkably small in the scheme of the whole budget.

Not that I'm against streamlining and more efficient use of money, across the budgetary board. As an example, NASA, for a few years, had done things more efficiently with less money, and proved that it could be done. (Look at the Mars probes that worked, Cassini, and so on.) Could it still do things better? Of course. Every US department could do so.

I think that part of the problem is perception. It's hard for average people to take the long view, and they don't see any immediate benefit to space exploration (manned or unmanned). It's even worse in today's climate of short attention spans and lack of even basic scientific understanding & critical thinking. In a country where more people seem concerned about voting for their favorite 'Idol' star than in voting for politicians to run their government, is it any surprise that something as 'esoteric' as space exploration is often the first thing people jump on to get rid of?

Having said all that, please note that I do not want this thread to become a politically charged argument, playing partisan posturing from one side against another. The discussion, if it continues, will certainly bring up budgets and some political stuff, but it should not degenerate into political mudslinging against various administrations nor against each of us members here.
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:08 PM   #9
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And of course, the old chestnut of 'What does the space exploration do for us?' said as they play on their PC's- derived from the programme!
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Old 02-02-2010, 02:33 PM   #10
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As a boy in the 1970s, I enjoyed the APOLLO program from 1969 to 1975. I was in awe of the SPACE SHUTTLE ORBITER testing in 1977 released from atop its 747 Shuttle Transporter. It reminded me of the UFO SHADO Lunar Module mounted on the SHADO Lunar Module Carrier. I enjoyed the first launch of a Space Shuttle Orbiter Columbia in 1981.(Sadly, the Columbia and its crew was recently lost). After that, that the 1980s to the present Space Shuttle Orbiter Program seems rather routine. Maybe that's a good thing with the International Space Station. I dream of the 1975 view of a 1999 with exploration of our solar system and an Alpha Moonbase and a fleet of Eagles...Ultra Probe, Meta Probe, Swifts, Mark IX Hawks and a Superswift.
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:32 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by pjskeldon View Post
I read this cancellation as a wake-up call to get things moving faster. Get to Mars, the asteroids or maybe even beyond sooner than if we're diverted by the Moon again. Perhaps a plan 'B' is emerging if climate change can't be moderated. .


Phil.
There's an article in this week's New Scientist which suggests that THE place to go is Phobos
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:35 PM   #12
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I can't argue with any of CR's sentiment, BUT...

Firstly, I'm an engineer, not a scientist. The Apollo project was driven by politicians calling on scientists to give engineers the tools to get to the moon. And it was some achievement to do so some eighteen months ahead of their target date. But at its outset it was intended as a political poke in the eye for "the other lot".

To return to the moon is largely an engineering task. We have the tools, we've been there, we picked up some tricks along the way. Boxes duly ticked. The science bit was done with over 40 years ago.

I know it's all been said before but we need to set out our goals if we're going to survive. Our future might be among the stars at some point in the distant future, but we need to look inward for now. Our task is to undo the damage we have caused to our home planet and safeguard it so that our descendants are to have any future at all.
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:46 PM   #13
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I'd love to agree with you Slartibartfast, but I don't think the human race is that noble. Trying to fix the mess here might work, but my money is on getting off this rock within the next 200 years and heading outwards.

I do feel that science for it's own sake seems to have hypnotised us recently - witness the LHC and other expensive pure-science research facilities. Money needs to be diverted to real projects that deliver advances that can be shown to benefit mankind. There will always be a need for pure research, but in these fiscally challenged times, perhaps we need more of the pioneering spirit of getting out there and doing something with it instead of ticking off exotic particles on an identification chart and photographing the moment of the universe's birth.

I'm sure the Moon will still be of use to us - whether as a staging post or just somewhere to dump our nuclear waste :-).

But I think Mr Obama has called it right and we need to identify return on investment on a more focussed space programme.

I'm not taking political sides, just stating my own opinion.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:24 PM   #14
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I'd love to agree with you Slartibartfast, but I don't think the human race is that noble.
(Sorry to the mods for hijacking another thread and carting it off into a dark corner!!) Nope, we're not - but where will we be if we pack up all our little prejudices and hates and take them along for the ride?

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Trying to fix the mess here might work, but my money is on getting off this rock within the next 200 years and heading outwards.
Our scientists don't fully understand the biosystems that support life on earth, I wouldn't want to put money on being able to replicate that on a less-than-ideal planet such as Mars. Let's not even go down the stardrive route!

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I do feel that science for it's own sake seems to have hypnotised us recently - witness the LHC and other expensive pure-science research facilities.
I'm sure someone will find a more efficient way to kill us all with research derived from the LHC, providing the damn thing doesn't do the job itself!

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But I think Mr Obama has called it right and we need to identify return on investment on a more focussed space programme..
For the first time in a couple of generations, it looks like we have a man in the White House who might actually have what it takes to make a positive difference in the world. If he can keep the hawks in check, that is.

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I'm not taking political sides, just stating my own opinion.
Snap.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:41 PM   #15
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As a boy in the 1970s, I enjoyed the APOLLO program from 1969 to 1975. I was in awe of the SPACE SHUTTLE ORBITER testing in 1977 released from atop its 747 Shuttle Transporter. It reminded me of the UFO SHADO Lunar Module mounted on the SHADO Lunar Module Carrier. I enjoyed the first launch of a Space Shuttle Orbiter Columbia in 1981.(Sadly, the Columbia and its crew was recently lost). After that, that the 1980s to the present Space Shuttle Orbiter Program seems rather routine. Maybe that's a good thing with the International Space Station. I dream of the 1975 view of a 1999 with exploration of our solar system and an Alpha Moonbase and a fleet of Eagles...Ultra Probe, Meta Probe, Swifts, Mark IX Hawks and a Superswift.
I doubt if there was a small boy anywhere in the world with access to a TV set who felt any differently during the Apollo program.

Anyone bemoaning the demise of the STS (Space Shuttle) program would do well to read "Challenger - a Major Malfunction" by Malcolm McDonnell. It tells the tale how the Anderson-esque proposal for a re-usable spacecraft was disfigured and bloated into its final form by demands that it be able to carry military payloads, too heavy to haul itself off its launchpad without huge, uncontrollable fireworks. Its heritage meant that, unfortunately, its launch could never be described as "routine".
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:55 PM   #16
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Surely the problem is we still believe that spaceflight/exploration can only be achieved by Govt agencies of a quasi-military nature,dependent upon annual budgets which are inherently victims of changing economic/political environments.
The whole man to the moon programme,for all it's lofty ambitions was purely a battle of US and Soviet ideologies-whomever got there first would be proven the superior Technology /Economy/Politically-any science was really an afterthought-once the US had achieved the fact beyond question,all interest in the Moon was lost.
Let's see private companies and individuals step in and challenge the dominance of the big aerospace contractors,and NASA itself.

Mind you there will be men back on the Moon before long,only they won't be westerners.............then let's see America suddenly wake up!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 03-02-2010, 02:00 AM   #17
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Surely the problem is we still believe that spaceflight/exploration can only be achieved by Govt agencies of a quasi-military nature,dependent upon annual budgets which are inherently victims of changing economic/political environments.
Why not incorporate NASA as an arm of the USAF? NASA already uses Cape Canaveral,Edwards AFB and Vandenberg AFB which is USAF property and which the Space Shuttle uses.NASA also uses pilots from the United States Air Force.In Russia and China their space programs are arms of the military. NASA would have bigger budgets, end the begging from Congress and much more access to technology if it became apart of the USAF.

Last edited by eaglewingone; 03-02-2010 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 03-02-2010, 06:17 AM   #18
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Battle lines in the US congress are being drawn over this immediately.
Battle for the moon is ramping up big time.
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:28 AM   #19
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Battle lines in the US congress are being drawn over this immediately.
Battle for the moon is ramping up big time.
Even though I am for the "militarization" of NASA,nobody owns the Moon.Under Article VI of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 states:

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States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty. The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty. When activities are carried on in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, by an international organization, responsibility for compliance with this Treaty shall be borne both by the international organization and by the States Parties to the Treaty participating in such organization.

Nothing is stopping nations to explore it.


http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Outer_...Treaty_of_1967

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Old 03-02-2010, 12:07 PM   #20
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Why not incorporate NASA as an arm of the USAF?
The whole point of NASA being founded was that it was non military and open to scrutiny. I think I'm right in saying that there is something in its charter to that effect. NASA would have to be closed down and spaceflight transferred to the miltary (who probably wouldn't want it anyway as most of which NASA does is of little interest to them).

Bush Snr instigated a mission to Mars but didn't fund it, Bush Jnr did likewise with the Constellation programme. Unfortunately NASA can only operate with the funds it is given and couldn't do everything. As much as I would like to see people go back to the Moon in my lifetime, it would have been scandelous to take 12 years to buld the ISS and then only use it for another 4 years, so extending that to the detriment of the lunar programme, I suppose makes more sense. I was never convinced by Constellation as the vehicles look distinctly old technology and a repeat of Apollo. Missions to Phobos, Near Earth asteroids (eventually) under this plan is probably better. We really need to get a plan in place to deal with any planet threatening asteroids.

However, not since JFK, has a plan been adhered to, on changing presidents. The US must have a longer range vision than 4-8 years.

Keith
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