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Guru
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New Proposed NASA Budget

01/27/2010 11:00 AM

Budget Cuts

I hope this is not going to be true, but given the issues with the Constellation program, the current economy, and low public interest in space exploration, it certainly seems probable.

The nut of the story is, Obama wants to scrap NASA's plans for the Moon/Mars and instead redirect more of its activities toward Climate Change.

We will see next week... Congress also needs to weigh in.

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Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/27/2010 12:58 PM

The story I read indicated that he intends to outsource the launches to Russia.

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Anonymous Poster
#2

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/27/2010 1:13 PM

And rightly so.

As deeply and fondly as I embrace the romance of human space travel, I must also recognize the realities.

We don't need to send people back to the Moon. We don't need to send people to Mars. We arguably don't need to staff a LEO tin can with people either.

Again, for the same $ we can learn as much or more from robots (including sample-return missions) which can stay longer, work harder, go places humans can't and don't condemn us into national / global mourning and having to listen to heartstring-tugging speeches from politicians when they unexpectedly die during a mission.

We do however need to rely on Earth for the foreseable future. And the more we learn about what makes it tick and how to best utilize its resources, the better off we probably are.

Pushing open the door to the commercialization of space exploration is (one would assume) a wonderful step in the goal of eventually making our way out into the universe.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/27/2010 4:26 PM

We don't need to learn anything about the universe beyond earth orbit. But that's not why we explore.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/27/2010 7:46 PM

GA, and this is what separates us. is this drive.

There is a misconception that we are in space just for the sake of just being their.

As far as sending unmanned craft, sure that in the projects. but to do it all is like, Make unscripted, unprogramed decisions just on the basis that the opportunity presents its self or from unforeseen problems.

It would be like then what can't we not have robots do our jobs,

I'll gave our guest a big example. When Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11 when the Eagle was landing they came across an computer error for landing all due to an overload of data.. Armstrong switch over to manual and landed it. Can a robot to that.....?

And since that question had to be asked, I have to answer it. The answer to that is no.

p911

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Anonymous Poster
#8
In reply to #3

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/28/2010 8:29 AM

I never said that we should stop exploring, nor learning about the universe. Only that we should do it via the most prudent methods at our disposal. And I'd also remind that Earth is an extremely important part of our universe at the moment.

Again, I understand the romance of it all. I want people to go. I want to be one of those people! I'm a child of the space race and it's in my blood. But I can see that now is not the right time. The science, the mission and the drive for human exploration aren't fully in place just yet.

And yes, it's true that our robot probes can't do all the fantastic "decision-making" things that humans can. And because of that in many ways they'll be terribly and frustratingly limited. But keep in mind that humans sometimes (in fact arguably often) get confused or make wrong decisions too -- with catostrophic results.

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/28/2010 3:00 PM

I was out last night after the Obama speech and I looked up and saw a near full moon, and Mars shining bright, and I thought "what would the world be like if children could go out side and look up in the sky and know that a handful of fellow humans were up there looking back at earth?" That's the sort of thing that has the power to really change the world and how we think about it, and how we think about science, technology, and what it really means to be human.

Now is the time - we as a country have lost our vision. Corporations look ahead no further than the next quarter's profit report. Politicians look ahead no further than the next election, or the next news cycle. There was a time when we looked at the future head on, when we had a manifest destiny to spread across the continent - and many more lives were lost doing that than we'll ever lose in space. There was a time when science and technology captivated the public, when the memoirs of southe sea and arctic explorers were best sellers. We've become mired in the muck of the mundane and mediocre. And I've had enough.

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Anonymous Poster
#16
In reply to #11

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/29/2010 9:51 AM

You're looking through the rose-colored glasses of the past to see a future that isn't there.

I too love the stories of all those brave, foolish explorers who set out blindly into uncharted territory to make not only their own destiny but also ours - one way or another.

But our local space isn't as hospitable to us as darkest Africa, nor the Sahara, nor even the Antartic. We'll meet no friendly natives along the way. We won't stave off starvation with berries we find, nor cup our hands under a waterfall to quench our thirst. There will be no hidden cities of gold to discover, no strange spices to bring back, no worthy lands to claim for king and country.

Exploring space isn't simply a man taking that first bold step off the edge of a map. Without exception all the destinations in our solar system where our bodies' limitations will even allow us to go in the first place are - even with any reasonably promising upcoming technology - ultimately completely and inarguably deadly to us for a multitude of reasons. One might argue that so is the peak of Mt. Everest, and yet we go there because something in the human spirit drives us to do so. This is true, and is one of the many curious things that makes mankind so wonderful. But we don't commit billions in public funds to send one crew to the top of Everest. And therin lies the greatest difference.

People are still captivated by science and technology as well as exciting tales of adventure. However they're just more discerning now and better able decide (or at least think they are) that trying to artifically force human space exploration at any cost just for its own sake isn't in their best interest.

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#17
In reply to #16

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/29/2010 10:34 AM

We don't dedicate billions to go to the top of Everest because billions aren't required. I never said space travel was cheap - but neither was the building of armadas to explore the world. The British East India company drained the coffers of Britain even though it brought back valuable commercial goods. People toss out $billion$ as though this was a large amount of money. It's not. One percent of the federal budget would give NASA all the money it would ever need.

1%.

That Americans would believe that spending 1% of our tax money to explore the nearest planet is not "in their best interest" simply shows how sad and ignorant we've become.

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#18
In reply to #16

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/29/2010 10:43 AM

I too love the stories of all those brave, foolish explorers who set out blindly into uncharted territory to make not only their own destiny but also ours - one way or another.

You are missing the basic point. It is not traveling to Mars, that is only the end results, what you can't see is the experience pick-up to accomplish this, that has returns for mankind. And the knowledge pick-up get return in advances in Agriculture, Medicine, Health, problem is no one can see that.

Look at the advances in the past decade most are from wars and science such as the space program. This has been talked about before, challenges have been made but it seems it comes up short every time, and always seems to be a no show after the big roar. A lot of wind but I have yet to see any challenges.

This I think would be a good discussion.

OK stay on earth, pump $ into what, ...to make earth a much nicer place to live. Resources are dwindling. But atleast we are investing in Earth, like Fruit Flies in a glass jar.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/29/2010 10:53 AM

And if those fools hadn't gone out to explore the unknown, we'd still be plodding around in 30 foot wooden boats. The modern ship is just one of the "spinoffs" of the age of exploration. Add to that all of modern geology, Darwin's theory, electromagnetism (discovered with a compass that was just laying around), medical advances, and on and on and on and on and on. Sure, it took 100's of years. But it all started with a single brave voyage into the unknown.

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#12
In reply to #8

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/28/2010 3:20 PM

What if......is a powerful motivator.

At one time it was a "I Can" attitude. Now the Battle Cry is "can't", "Time isn't right", "we have bigger problems to worry about."

When as in the 50's, 60's and 70's. the plus's far out weighed the negatives in results.

You lead, follow or get out of the way. One can be prudent or you can stay put, you get mired down in your own crap. But you can always blame science and technology.

p911

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#10
In reply to #2

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/28/2010 12:58 PM

That's a wonderful well thought out logical construction... but actually, human's will die if they don't continually expand their borders. One could say that expansion is the defining characteristic of humans, throughout our recorded history. Every country in the world that hasn't grown had dwindled. We are a species of explorers

It has been stated that the exploration of space is the single activity that will ensure the future of the human race. (here and other places) I completely agree.

Of all the activities that are conducted by humans, it is the exploration and subsequent expansion that brings growth and renewal to us. Without this, we are like trees in the autumn. When the spring comes, the sun warms the earth, and growth begins again.

No growth is the beginning of death. What I disagree with is the notion that expansionism requires force. The universe is big enough for all. Space exploration is so valuable to humans that it creates value even thinking about it.

Chris

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#14
In reply to #10

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/28/2010 9:19 PM

Chris-

"Expansion is the defining characteristic of humans..."- actually, it is the defining characteristic of all life- life that doesn't expand into new territories will either deplete all available resources or poison itself with its own waste...

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#4

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/27/2010 4:29 PM

I won't cry until the fat lady (congress) sings, but it doesn't bode well for the 1000's of us who make our living building ships to carry humans into space.

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#6

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/27/2010 9:11 PM

This is not your grandfather's earth! While we were going to the moon with slide rules we were learning how to pollute the planet beyond anyone's wildest fears.

Sending humans to Mars is just a cruel joke foisted on us by an ignorant Texan. How long does it take to get there, anyway? We have more time to explore space than we do to clean up our act.

BTW, I worked for over 20 years in the aerospace industry.

Cheers.

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#15
In reply to #6

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/29/2010 9:14 AM

You can get to Mars in 6 months, with current rocket technology. With the VASIMR engine now being tested, maybe just a few weeks. The cruel joke is that we thought we actually had the will to do it.

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#7

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/28/2010 6:22 AM

Its funny. Our grandfathers went to the moon and they didnt have computers equivalent to ours. The national income was not as big ours today. Their spending and involment was more in military than today. And yet they managed to go to the moon. Thats because they had the balls and will power to fullfill their leader's (Kennedy) intended goal - " to go the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard....'. This is how they defined their character.

If we want to 'define our character' like them, we better off going to Mars. And it is almost impossible task but do-able. All we need is a good 'boot camp' leader.

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#13
In reply to #7

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/28/2010 5:34 PM

Going to the moon is still hard. The difficulty is not computing equipment, the computations you need to get to the moon and back can be done with a slide rule. The difficulty is that space is an extreme environment for both equipment and men. In every way, space is crueler to our current technology than it was to Apollo technology. But yeah - it can be done, but not without the political will.

Going to Mars would be a great goal, but a trip to Mars is much more about the journey than the destination. There are so many things which we would need to develop to get to Mars (and back) and the way to do those things (the way Apollo did them) is by making multiple shorter trips to try things out. So, let's go back to the moon. Let's build on orbit fuel depots. Let's travel to the laGrange points, let's orbit Venus, let's do it all, and claim at least this smallest portion of our solar system as our own.

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Anonymous Poster
#9

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

01/28/2010 10:56 AM

I don't want to see NASA to go the way of the street sweeper with manure carts when automobiles replaced horses. Lets combine the with JPL, Under Sea research and NOAH and, and and ...... until we lose focus on everything. Lets define the mission for them and not resort to political rug pulling.

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#20

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

02/01/2010 5:07 PM

Well, we got the new NASA budget today. From what I've seen, I'm actually impressed with the vision of it (and not just because I get to keep my job). Here's a link to the short form (I hope this is a public link):

http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/420990main_FY_201_%20Budget_Overview_1_Feb_2010.pdf

I think Buzz Aldrin sums up things very well:

Statement from Buzz Aldrin: A New Direction in Space

Today I wish to endorse strongly the President's new direction for NASA. As an Apollo astronaut, I know the importance of always pushing new frontiers as we explore space. The truth is, that we have already been to the Moon – some 40 years ago. A near-term focus on lowering the cost of access to space and on developing key, cutting-edge technologies to take us further, faster, is just what our Nation needs to maintain its position as the leader in space exploration for the rest of this century. We need to be in this for the long haul, and this program will allow us to again be pushing the boundaries to achieve new and challenging things beyond Earth. I hope NASA will embrace this new direction as much as I do, and help us all continue to use space exploration to drive prosperity and innovation right here on Earth.

I also believe the steps we will be taking following the President's direction will best position NASA and other space agencies to send humans to Mars and other exciting destinations as quickly as possible. To do that, we will need to support many types of game-changing technologies NASA and its partners will be developing. Mars is the next frontier for humankind, and NASA will be leading the way there if we aggressively support the President's plans.

Finally, I am excited to think that the development of commercial capabilities to send humans into low earth orbit will likely result in so many more earthlings being able to experience the transformative power of spaceflight. I can personally attest to the fact that the experience results in a different perspective on life on Earth, and on our future as a species. I applaud the President for working to make this dream a reality.
Buzz Aldrin
Feb. 1, 2010

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

02/01/2010 5:13 PM

I'm a little concerned about if we are ready for this yet. Turning it over to private industry.

p911

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

02/01/2010 5:21 PM

I've been following SpaceX since their beginning, and I'm pretty impressed with their ability to deliver on their promises. They are currently stacking up their Falcon 9 at Kennedy for a launch in the next few months.

Stay tuned for a major announcement about the COTS program tomorrow.

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#23
In reply to #22

Re: New Proposed NASA Budget

02/01/2010 5:24 PM

and I'm pretty impressed with their ability to deliver on their promises.

They have the kind of people and talent to make it happen.....staying tuned.

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