Monday, February 1, 2010

It's Personal

Oh yes, it certainly is personal now.

Obama budget would cut NASA moon plan

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is no longer shooting for the moon, with a budget plan that aborts a symbolic but expensive lunar program and spends $6 billion over five years to turn over space transportation to commercial companies.

Some members of Congress immediately promised a fight. One legislator called the plan a "death march' for human space flight. But NASA deployed astronauts and other experts to say the Constellation program, begun under former President George W. Bush to return humans to the moon, was too slow and wasteful.

The space agency's budget would grow to $19 billion in 2011 under the proposed budget released on Monday, with an emphasis on science and less spent on space exploration.

"What this does is open up (space) for more people to be going more places in a way that is not on the back of the taxpayers," NASA's deputy administrator, Lori Garver, told reporters in a conference call.

"The previous trajectory that NASA was on was simply not sustainable," added former astronaut Sally Ride, who served ion a panel that determined Constellation was behind schedule.

"The president's proposed NASA budget begins the death march for the future of U.S. human space flight," said Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the appropriations subcommittee handling NASA funding.

"Congress cannot and will not sit back and watch the reckless abandonment of sound principles, a proven track record, a steady path to success, and the destruction of our human space flight program," said Shelby of Alabama, whose state is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Florida Senator Bill Nelson has also promised to fight efforts to cut back NASA operations.

MORE COMMERCIAL SPACE OPERATIONS

The new budget extends operations at the International Space Station past its planned retirement date of 2016, suggesting such additions as inflatable space habitats.

Obama's proposal hands over more space operations to the commercial sector, saying it will create thousands of new jobs and hold costs down.

NASA already has spent $9 billion on Constellation and likely would owe millions more to cancel existing contracts. Prime contractors on the Ares rocket program include ATK Launch Systems, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and Boeing Co.

Lockheed Martin is the lead contractor on the Orion capsule.

NASA already has contracts with Space Exploration Technologies and Orbital Sciences Corp to deliver cargo to the station. SpaceX and other firms also are developing spaceships that can carry passengers to orbit and back.

The budget proposes a revamp of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where staff have feared major cutbacks, as part of making NASA more efficient.

"A major focus of this effort will be to create the 21st century launch facilities and infrastructure needed at Kennedy Space Center, transforming the facility to more effectively support future NASA, commercial, and other government launches," the budget reads.

WHAT THE HELL?! So we're basically going to be sitting around, running experiments on the ISS and praying that our rovers on Mars don't mysteriously die? How are we supposed to prepare for a Mars mission when we can't even get a Moon mission to test the stuff needed for it?! We're just going to sit around and let the other space programs take care of it?! And what the hell's going to happen to the grant our school got?!

Y'know, it really makes me wonder if I should work for NASA to begin with. I mean, *I* certainly wouldn't be happy if I worked on something for several years and it got scrapped.

9 comments:

pdb said...

As much as it pains me to say it, and I believe he made this decision for the wrong reasons, I think this is the best thing to happen to the space industry in 30 years.

Constellation, the Ares stick of fail, and even the Space Shuttle and Apollo were all technological dead ends. Without building orbital infrastructure, we would never have generated the operational tempo required to learn how to get to orbit efficiently. How are we supposed to learn what works and what doesn't when we throw away half (or all!) the vehicle every time we go up, and only go up four times a year?!

This is the end of the space program, but more than likely the beginning of the space industry.

Y'know, it really makes me wonder if I should work for NASA to begin with.

If you want to go to space, hell no. If I was a young aerospace engineer, I would commit carnal sins to get a job with Burt Rutan, Space-X or Blue Origin. (I would personally favor Blue Origin, since I have a soft spot for the Delta Clipper, but Burt Rutan is like a god to me).

Always remember, the purpose of NASA isn't to go to space, but to defend the jobs of NASA administrators. Read up on the DC-X, it was a kick-ass technology demonstrator with the potential for a one day turnaround between orbital shots that NASA killed because it only needed 5 people for a launch, instead of 25000 for a shuttle. (Incidentally, the DC-X lives on at Blue Origin...)

Anyway, this is probably the most exciting time to be in aerospace since the 1950s. This is not a crisis, this is a tremendous opportunity.

Christina LMT said...

pdb, I <3 you! Silver needs to keep an open mind, she tends to engage her tunnel vision a bit too much...

Silver the Evil Chao said...

Think they have jobs for a computer programmer? And maybe internships for older college students...? And would such a person be able to go up in space anyway?

Silver the Evil Chao said...

*sticks tongue out at Mom*

I think the thing that ticks me off the most is the symbolism behind it. More of a "forget the space program and work on stuff like ruining the economy even more" thing.

I dunno, it reminds me of a forum post I read once that went along the lines of "great that they found water ice on the Moon, but I can't help but think that that money could've been put to better use, like for solar energy or cancer research." And that fries my bacon.

pdb said...

Think they have jobs for a computer programmer? And maybe internships for older college students...? And would such a person be able to go up in space anyway?

Goodness yes. These things fly on software. The F-22 has millions of lines of code in its flight software, and the problems are similar. Learn C/C++, learn assembler, learn embedded systems programming.

Internships? I dunno, call 'em up and ask! Also check with Bigelow.

I dunno, it reminds me of a forum post I read once that went along the lines of "great that they found water ice on the Moon, but I can't help but think that that money could've been put to better use, like for solar energy or cancer research." And that fries my bacon.

This is the essential problem with government funding. The incentives are all wrong. This is why AIDS (a relatively limited disease that can be 100% prevented by lifestyle changes) gets a shit ton of funding, because it's a high profile issue pushed by the politically favored. You're always going to have people bitching about spending money on the wrong thing, and putting smarter people in charge can't change that.

dick said...

Go into settings and activate the number/word verification thingy to alleviate this freaking spam.
Then, stop worrying about NASA and work on becoming a fighter or U2 pilot.
Plenty of unknowns in both of those fields and they can easily lead back to NASA.

See? That was easy.

Silver the Evil Chao said...

Geez, these guys just don't stop spamming, do they? Lemme change the word verification...

pdb said...

Incidentally, if you're not reading http://selenianboondocks.com/ , http://www.transterrestrial.com/ , http://www.personalspaceflight.info/ and http://www.spacetransportnews.com/ , you should be!

Hope things are going well, try not to freeze!

dick said...

Much better...