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Pluto
The wonders that await: An artist's depiction of the surface of Pluto with its over sized moon Charon and our distant sun holding vigil above, courtesy of the European Southern Observatory.
The White House released its proposed 2013 budget for NASA and it's about what I posted here over the weekend. There is no love for Mars:
[P]lanetary exploration has gotten creamed. Its budget overall drops from $1.5 billion to $1.2, a very deep cut that doesn’t just threaten but destroys near-future Mars exploration as well as future big grand missions to the outer planets in the tradition of Voyager, Cassini, and others. ... For the cost of less than a single day on the War on Terror, we could have a robust and far-reaching program to explore Mars, look for signs of life on another planet, increase our overall science knowledge, and inspire a future generation of kids.
On a more positive note, the President proposed adequate funding, over $800 million or about two days in Iraq and Afghanistan, to jump start America's nascent Newspace capabilities. The idea being companies like SpaceX will be able to provide launch services for U.S. astronauts much sooner than the proposed Space Launch System and for millions less than our only other viable option right now: Russian rockets.

Sadly, in the past, the GOP dominated House has pared down WH proposals for the latter for two reasons: One, anything Obama proposes is bad, even if it used to be a heartfelt conservative idea. Second, mostly conservative lawmakers representing traditional aerospace and related constituencies in Huntsville, Houston, and Florida's spacecoast, prefer funding Big Gubmint programs relying on aerospace defense companies paid under that good old-fashioned, sweet, cost-plus arrangement.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:30 PM PST.

Also republished by Astro Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The (14+ / 0-)

    JWST is an interesting topic, one I'm conflicted on. On the up side, it would be a big step forward for science. I have spoken to folks who are gung ho not just for that, but also because they saw the PR success of the Hubble and hope the JWST will follow suit. On the down side, it is a BIG step forward, lots of new technology, very expensive and experimental in deep space, and once deployed it will reside far beyond our present capacity to reach and repair the way we’ve been able to service Hubble. I have spoken at length with folks who express great concern about the technological and financial viability of JWST.

    •  James Webb Space Telescope (5+ / 0-)

      I feel like it's something we have to build to advance our knowledge, although it's a fairly safe bet it'll cost even more than currently estimated. Gotta uncover those unknown unknowns... A deployables failure like when the main antenna snagged on the Jupiter Galileo mission would be unrecoverable for the JWST. (That Galileo main image is a sad sight, although the mission was still successful overall with communications coming through the secondary antenna.)

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:42:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  why Republicans hate NASA: (7+ / 0-)

      Space science is an existential threat to the religious right.

      The size of the universe, the age of the universe, planets orbiting other stars...

      .... and "worst of all" (from the religious right point of view), it only takes a one-pixel image of distant planet to provide the light spectra that will demonstrate whether a planet has a) abundant life as we know it (absorption & reflection characteristics relative to the light from the planet's star) and b) a technologically capable civilization (presence of artificial light sources).    This is an inevitability given sufficient space telescope capacity and time.

      The Rs are trying to put that off as far as possible and ideally kill it altogether, the better to retain their grip on the culture.

      They may not admit it, they may not even be conscious of it, and it may be disguised in all kinds of ways.  But that's the bottom line: space science has more potential to destroy the religious right than anything else in modern science, even paleontology (which they discounted long ago).  

      And that's one more reason we need to keep these programs alive and well-funded.  Because reality doesn't abide obscurantists, and the future can't wait for the power trips of petty minds.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:22:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  God made everything. We already know the answers. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek

        It's stupid to waste all that time and money. There's nothing more to discover. Sheeeesh, stupid elite idiots...

        Then there's Galileo. To claim that the Earth is not the center of the universe is the same as denying the existence of God. God put man, made in Her image, at the center of everything - Earth. Only the Devil would cause someone to question the existance of God. Death is the only possible remedy.

        Goobers.

        "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 02:29:52 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  "God put Man, made in Her image"... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GrumpyOldGeek

          Is exactly the way the Old Testament tells it. The original versions were written back when God was Elat and Elath (feminine plural or paired opposites, power with wisdom as consort giving birth to justice) rather than just El.

          The more science learns about space and how its mostly composed of dark matter and dark energy, stuff you can't observe and therefore have to come up with theories which allow you to test hypothesis about things you can observe which have implications about all this other stuff. The unknown has to stop being a place where religion gets its foot in the door.

          I Look at Galileo and Newton mixing alchemy and religion with math and science and see religion as an impurity in the philosophers stone that has time and again put science on the wrong track.

          Somewhere along the line Pitar, Ptah, Zeus, (ueu pater), Jupiter, Peter, Father Odin became personified into a heroic father creator smith sleeping on an iron throne long enough to grow a long white beard while Hathor, Hagar, Hera, Ashera, Athena, whose word had been Hotep or law and was sovereign over all the other gods was put aside, neglected, ,......reduced to the status of a second wife behind Sharia Law in the person of Sarah.

          As for the Devil, in Egyptian the aten is the luminous horizon or Lucifer of the sun god RA  which all the attributes of the many gods are combined into one, and the Sa aten or son of Aten becomes Satan.

          Its all Akhenaten's fault,

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 08:00:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I don't see why not to spend on NASA (9+ / 0-)

    It's science. Possibly the best kind there is.

    15 years old, proud progressive, Phillies phan.

    by vidanto on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:31:48 PM PST

    •  If there is anything thats worth the money... (10+ / 0-)

      its science.

      I like to tell people who think we spend too much on NASA that the last time we spent more than 2% of the budget on NASA, we put footprints on the moon. I think too many people have a really distorted idea of how little we actually spend on science compared to what we spend on other things. Once you put it in perspective for people, they tend to change their minds.

      "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." - Henry Ford

      by sixeight120bpm on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:00:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Outer Planets No Problem, They Can Be Reached (4+ / 0-)

    again by the time of our 4th Islamic President's Admin.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:35:24 PM PST

  •  Putting it into perspective: (16+ / 0-)
    For the cost of less than a single day on the War on Terror, we could have a robust and far-reaching program to explore Mars, look for signs of life on another planet, increase our overall science knowledge, and inspire a future generation of kids.
    This country's priorities have gotten so out of whack, to the point where a few billion for space exploration is regarded as extravagant, while military spending is a sacred cow that must be left alone.
  •  NASA should (if it doesn't already) budget (5+ / 0-)

    like defense. Ask for twice what you need, have it chopped in half during budget review and proceed accordingly. I'm not saying this cynically, it is a time tested recipe for budget requests.

    “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

    by the fan man on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:38:59 PM PST

    •  Except that NASA is a public agengy (0+ / 0-)

      And can't bury much of it's programs behind a screen of Military Secrecy. Being a public agency, every program, bolt and employee is subject to scrutiny.

      What th' heck do I know, I work for a living...

      by SamuraiArtGuy on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 07:03:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  All departments do it, defense is the most (0+ / 0-)

        egregious. It's budgeting 101. Now 20% cut is hard to fudge, but you can squeeze that down to 5% with some creative accounting.

        “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

        by the fan man on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 08:02:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why Mars? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomFromNJ, Mr Robert, NorthCountryNY

    I'm sorry, but the value of manned exploration is limited.

    Thirty-some years ago, there were a great many things that a human can do which a remote automaton couldn't.  That less true now -- think about what those drone built for that much-reviled War on Terror can do, for instance, and the gap is closing more each day.

    If you want to put men and women on Mars, then the right way to do it is to do the essential exploration robotically, at lower cost and lower risk.  And, while you're at it, pick up some value from the military adventurism we've been spending good money on for the last decade.

    •  for exploration, you are correct. (5+ / 0-)

      But if we want to DO anything besides look around, we need manned exploration. If we want to, for instance, mine asteroids, its likely going to take people in space ships out there doing the work. There are resources out in the solar system that we will eventually run low on here on earth.

      Even beyond that, we have all our eggs in one basket right now. If we want the human race to survive in the long term, we have to colonize other worlds. If we wait for an imminent threat to solve all the problems involved with that, it'll be too late.

      "The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space—each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."

      "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." - Henry Ford

      by sixeight120bpm on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:10:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  natural selection on the cosmic scale. (5+ / 0-)

        Species flourish that expand to fill multiple ecological niches, widely distributed.   Species that have limited geographic spread are more vulnerable to extinction.  

        Planets are ecological niches.  A species that sticks to one planet is vulnerable to disasters that render that planet uninhabitable, such as caldera eruptions and large object impacts.  A species that sticks to one solar system will go extinct when its sun explodes.  

        But a species that spreads to other star systems can persist and evolve further, until the demise of the last usable star in its galaxy.  And arguably, a species that spreads throughout a galaxy can spread to other galaxies, persisting and evolving until the effective end of its local universe.

        The question is whether we want to be Darwinian successes or Darwinian failures on the cosmic scale.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:29:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Nothing excites the imagination of a nation (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric0125, G2geek, Whimsical

      as great steps at even greater risk to life than that made by a human being. That's all the answer that's needed.

      Our science and technology today can be traced directly to JFK's pledge.

    •  this budget cuts the robots (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, vacantlook, GrumpyOldGeek, elfling

      What's being cut here is a 2016 orbiter to look for methane on Mars and a 2018 rover, both in cooperation with the EU, who are kinda pissed that they've sunk hundreds of millions of euros into designing a giant drill and scientific instruments to go on a rover we've decided not to build and an orbiter we've decided not to launch.

      After MAVEN next year, this budget shuts down robotic exploration until the end of Obama's presidency.

    •  Of course it's limited, but (0+ / 0-)

      that's not the POINT. Robot probes, as fascinating as the stuff they are beaming back is, just does not grab the imagination of the general public like manned space exploration.

      People are still far more interested in what's happening on the ISS than all the NASA unmanned Planetary Science missions combined.

      And humans, as a species, NEED our imaginations inflamed. Something besides hollywood should have that job. And if we don't get back into space in a real way soon, we may not have the resources or the will to do so.

      What th' heck do I know, I work for a living...

      by SamuraiArtGuy on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 07:07:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Planetary exploration deserves to be "creamed". (0+ / 0-)

    You deplore the cut in its budget from $1.5 billion to $1.2 billion and make invidious comparisons to the cost of the War on Terror. To what end, to "inspire a future generation of kids". The money would be put to much better use to pay for the tuitions of these kids so that they don't graduate with crushing debts. This country has a sever deficit problem and you insist on throwing money not down the tubes but into the sky.

    •  First you cut manned missions... (14+ / 0-)

      ...then unmanned, then weather satellites get too expensive, then oh let's just dump science for Jesus.

      Hopefully the rest of the world will pass us by so at least humanity will keep accomplishing things. We can, instead, frantically wave our hands for decades to come and wonder why we just keep slipping further and further away from what we could have been.

      Sending people to Mars from the U.S. is all but dead, and now unmanned missions are being killed. Wait sorry, "pushed back" for "financial concerns".

      We get what we put into this.

      jad.Blog - another cog in the Internet revolution.

      by aerojad on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:02:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  When will you acknowledge that the money wasted (0+ / 0-)

        on pie-in-the sky space exploration detracts from basic science research, it certainly doesn't add much to it. Oh, I forgot, Tang, NASA's wonderful contribution to mankind.

        •  Some of that NASA money went to (5+ / 0-)

          develop rugged CCD detectors, the kind that everyone now has in their camera-phone.

          When I was buying them, we had to have 2000 x 2000 pixel arrays custom fabricated. We paid for a lot of R&D.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 10:25:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Lots of consumer products came from outer space. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            G2geek, vacantlook, radarlady, Whimsical

            I remember when LCDs, like your watch display, were rare and expensive. Seems like most people think these things just sprung, fully developed, from out of nowhere.

          •  but it shouldn't have to be justified on the basis (6+ / 0-)

            ... of consumer baubles.

            Science, discovery, and exploration should be sufficient motivators in and of themselves.  And our culture commits an epic fail when it doesn't emphasize those values but instead emphasizes shiny consumer baubles as spinoffs.  

            This stuff needs to be taught in school: the value of curiosity and the scientific method, and the fact that gaining new knowledge is an unending process requiring hard work & patience that are ultimately rewarded with discovery.  

            Yes it's nice to get goodies like LCDs on calculators, and solid-state cameras, and so on.  But those have to be considered as secondary rewards for the efforts, like giving a kid a toy for getting good grades when the real prize is a wider choice of colleges and occupations later in life.  

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 11:57:55 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  How else are things supposed to be invented? (0+ / 0-)

              Not for consumer baubles? Why do we do science then, if not to provide new technologies to everyone?

              jad.Blog - another cog in the Internet revolution.

              by aerojad on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 04:17:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  two things: (0+ / 0-)

                There's a difference between "improving technologies" and "consumer baubles."  

                And, there's an intrinsic value that is not reducible to anything else, in finding answers to the fundamental questions of existence.  

                Now in point of fact, we have to make the case to the entire society, so there's going to be a certain amount of bauble-pandering that goes on.  But making that the primary focus really is sinking to the lowest common denominator, almost like a form of bribery.

                "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 10:15:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  I agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              G2geek

              But I still think it's hilarious that I can buy a phone that has a more powerful CCD than we sent to Mars back in the '90s for $199 today. I remember how excited we were when we managed to get a prototype of the next generation camera (complete with the necessary radiation shielding) to fit in a coffee cup.

              The image below was taken with a camera about the size of a large layer cake. The detector is a line array, not a square, and it worked kind of like a giant space fax machine. The camera depended upon the planet surface moving below it during the orbit to advance the next line of the image to the detector, and then it assembled the image from all the lines.

              The Galle Crater always makes me smile.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 08:41:40 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  how do you pronounce the name of that crater? (0+ / 0-)

                Reason being, it would be great fun to use on people who get all tweako about "faces and secret objects on Mars"

                Is it pronounced like the singular of "(guys and) gals", or like "galley" as in a ship's kitchen, or something else?  

                Yes I'm in favor of science translating to technology.  But I don't much like pandering to the desire for baubles.  If nothing else, sustainability requires fewer baubles rather than more.  That $199 cellphone with the CCD camera will typically end up in the landfill 18 months after it's purchased.  

                We need to radically cut back our ecological impacts if we are ever to last long enough as a technological civilization, to build another civilization on Mars and launch many-generational interstellar missions.   Otherwise something eventually takes out Earth (or Mars, or the inner planets generally) and we fail the test of natural selection on the cosmic scale.  

                "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

                by G2geek on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 10:22:21 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  It's terrible how willfully ignorant... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Whimsical, Sacto Joe

          ...you are about the scientific contribution to mankind that space exploration has gotten us.

          jad.Blog - another cog in the Internet revolution.

          by aerojad on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 04:16:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Back in the day ... (11+ / 0-)

      people were bitchin' and moanin' about spending money on the Moon. But we wern't spending money on the Moon, we were spending it in Downey, Ca. The North America Space and Information Systems Division had a lot of well paid employee working on the project.

      CalTech's Jet Propusion Lab, in Pasadena, CA, has some well paid employees , do you want to put them on the unemployment rolls ???

      A lot of valuable knowledge is/was gained from the Space Programs. Many consumer products have benefited from the science.

      •  Not only is the money spent on Earth (5+ / 0-)

        but it teaches us about Earth, and geology, and basic science in experiments that we can't hope to duplicate in a lab here.

        Remember when it was A Well Known Fact that volcanism could only happen on Earth? Surprise!

        Want to see clouds and fluid mechanics on a grand and brightly colored scale? Jupiter is cheaper to visit and observe than reproduce.

        NASA has caused the rewrite of quite a few textbooks since I graduated from high school.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 10:30:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Many liberals said the same thing (6+ / 0-)

      about the Apollo Program to land on the moon in 1969, over allocation of resources. Think we should've cancelled that one?

      We should cancel the War on Error. It's worse than a waste, it proactively makes the USA and the world worse off. Just as we should've never gone to war in Vietnam back then.

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:13:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Go ahead and be a fuddy-duddy (8+ / 0-)

      when it comes to space exploration. Be concerned with your mundane affairs and casually dismiss the idea of "inspiring" a future generation of engineers and PhDs. Just know that I strenuously disagree with you.

      But regardless of that, please leave this "severe deficit problem" out of it. You do your argument a disservice talking about that strawman. So little money is spent on space exploration, and NASA in general, it's not even worth mentioning. It's a drop in the bucket, especially compared to the War on Terror (invidious? really? you think the author unfairly targeted the War on Terror? You don't think it's a boondoggle for the Military-Industrial Complex? A waste of blood and treasure?).

      •  Guess where we're getting our scientists (4+ / 0-)

        and engineers from these days, it ain't east of eden.

        We're turning out a lot of financial analysts though.

        •  China, India, Russia, Mexico. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sixeight120bpm

          At least according to the names I've programmed into voicemail systems over the years, and the accents of the people when they recorded their greetings in the systems.  

          So on one hand it's good for those individuals being able to come over here and do their thing.  But on the other hand we have utterly neglected scientific and engineering education and the employment of Americans in these fields.  

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 12:02:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  My sons attend a local enginnering expo (0+ / 0-)

          here in the Hudson Valley. The schools exipbiting are CRYING for students. Over half the engineers in attendance, both from engineering schools and firms are from outside the USA.

          But all the best students are being hauled into Finance, where their talent and skills only enrich those companies, and produce little. Engineer's work benefits the entire world through their efforts.

          What th' heck do I know, I work for a living...

          by SamuraiArtGuy on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 07:13:46 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Iraq could have paid for Mars. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Whimsical, elfling

        Or could have converted the US to fully climate-clean energy supplies.  

        By the time the full accounting is in hand, it could probably have done both.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 12:00:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  wrong. hell, not even wrong. (7+ / 0-)

      There are numerous other places to find "the money" than to take it from basic science.  The overall cost of basic science is minimal by comparison.

      Pitting basic science against social needs is what Republicans do.  You've just fallen for their arguement.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:32:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm an engineer because of Voyager (6+ / 0-)

      I saw the pictures, said "I want to do that" and then found out what kind of people did that, and became one.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 10:27:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well actually the dumb-ass war on terror (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, vacantlook, Whimsical

      could pay for kids college for all the kids ($100 billion), health care for everyone under 25 ($50 billion), and a healthy planetary exploration program (a handful of billions)... with a ton of money left over.

      But we have fucked up national priorities, so instead we're just going to kill a lot of poor people with the money and enrich some defense contractors.

    •  Perhaps you don't comprehend that NASA (6+ / 0-)

      doesn't actually shoot $100 bills into space.  They spend that money DOWN HERE.  To people with kids, mortgages, and other needs.

  •  Too bad... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phrogge prince, G2geek

    ...even Newt knows Florida would like a major NASA endeavor. Say what you want about the Republicans -- they know how to buy a state.

  •  I still say it's a planet (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, G2geek, GrumpyOldGeek

    There. I said it, It's out.

    JP

    Defending bad taste and liberalism since 2005.

    by jurassicpork on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:57:37 PM PST

  •  All that needs to be said about this... (14+ / 0-)

    ...is here: http://xkcd.com/...

    "The Universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space -- each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."

    Defunding NASA is defunding science. Defunding science is defunding the future.

    Oh but we can, you know, hope it all suddenly turns around.

    Austerity: feel the excitement.

    jad.Blog - another cog in the Internet revolution.

    by aerojad on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 07:58:30 PM PST

  •  Global Funding (0+ / 0-)

    Why should the US fund manned exploration of Mars on our own?  If it is important enough to plan a mission perhaps it should be a global effort, funded by more than the US.

  •  HSF => Highly Skilled Technical Jobs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dancing Frog, G2geek, sixeight120bpm

    I'm of an understanding that here's a lot that goes into launching a rocket, then tracking and recovering its payload. All of it, I would think, must need some well skilled work for it to happen - whether human spaceflight or cargo spaceflight (though  far moreso, in the case of human spaceflight)

    If there would be nothing else a red state might be willing to grasp about it, offhand, I'd wonder if that might be it...

  •  What NASA spends in a year the Pentagon blows (13+ / 0-)

    through in 15 seconds.  Our priorities are light years beyond screwed up.

    "There's nothing in the dark that's not there when the lights are on" ~ Rod Serling

    by jwinIL14 on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 08:14:08 PM PST

  •  Good. (0+ / 0-)

    How a manned Mars program is justified by Pentagon waste is isn't clear to me.

  •  The Case for Mars (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cdembrey, G2geek
    The American people want and deserve a space program that really is going somewhere. But no goal can be sustained unless it can be backed up, and not by "rationales," but by reasons.

    There are real and vital reasons why we should venture to Mars. It is the key to unlocking the secret of life in the universe. It is the challenge to adventure that will inspire millions of young people to enter science and engineering, and whose acceptance will reaffirm the nature of our society as a nation of pioneers. It is the door to an open future, a new frontier on a new world, a planet that can be settled, the beginning of humanity's career as a spacefaring species, with no limits to its resources or aspirations, as it continues to push outward into the infinite universe beyond.

    For the science, for the challenge, for the future; that's why we should go to Mars.

    http://io9.com/...
  •  One could say, "so much for winning the future," (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, marsanges

    but I have to wonder how much of this is just killing off the Bush Administration's Vision for Space Exploration which was nothing more than an exercise in grandstanding. It doesn't make much sense unless there is some exercise in reverse psychology going on here. Perhaps, it is an attempt to bait the republicans into protecting the "Bush Legacy," but I haven't heard anybody in the halls of power singing his praises lately on the GOP side.

    •  Apparently the Republican Party (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dancing Frog

      has rather conveniently forgotten the Bush Administration UTTERLY. It's Obvious that President Obama is responsible for all the ills of the Nation. And in the current narrative, came into office opportunistically following St. Ronald Regan.

      Sorry. Snarking.

      What th' heck do I know, I work for a living...

      by SamuraiArtGuy on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 07:22:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "inspire a future generation of kids" - unlikely (0+ / 0-)

    You can come up with some reasons for space research, but this isn't one of them.  The only people who get excited by the notion of "Space" are non-scientists and people who were old enough to remember the jingoism surrounding Neil Armstrong and Sputnik.  Morons like George W Bush think it's what science is all about (see Jan 15, 2004 speech.)  

    I've been an electrical engineer for 15 years and I've never heard one person I worked with express any interest in it or in working at NASA. If space exploration was going to inspire kids to become electrical and mechanical engineers and physicists (which you need to be if you want to be an astronaut), then why didn't it happen during the 30 years that NASA marketed itself through the space shuttle?

    •  because there wasn't a nearly-universal sense of.. (4+ / 0-)

      ... national commitment to purpose and goals, something larger than self, something inherently meaningful that individuals could become part of.  

      The Shuttle missions became routine and the big picture wasn't clearly articulated by the political leadership.  Meanwhile the thought of landing a job at NASA seemed remote to most people, and so many who might have joined up went for work that was more accessible.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 12:12:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a pretty facile explanation. (0+ / 0-)

        Why is space research somehow selfless? The vast majority of new aerospace technology ends up being used by the military. People don't become interested in esoteric scientific research because it's well-marketed.

  •  Privatization of NASA (0+ / 0-)

    No more USA trained astronauts and exploration projects.  We'll be subsidizing corporations in a race for profit and competition for govt contracts. The NASA industrial complex.

    Another bait and switch at the expense of public sector employment.

  •  This will not be nearly enough to start... (0+ / 0-)

    building Newt's moonbase...

    "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Candide08 on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 06:01:47 AM PST

  •  We've turned back.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sacto Joe

    from the last frontier of any particular note. And we're also turning back from science and exploration. In the last three years we've seen NASA be eviscerated and it's mission short of running up small (and therefore cheap) space probes. But there's nothing left to capture the imagination of the public. Pure science probes just don't do it except for space geeks like me, not like manned exploration.

    And since the Bush years, science has been vilified and outsided. When scientists routinely kept bringing discoveries and technologies that led to greater American commercial might and better weapons, great! There were heroes. But when they get out of control, and start talking about stuff like environmental degradation, resource depletion, and climate change - all unwelcome themes to the big money and the status quo - they have to be suppressed and discredited. Those snotty primma donna longhairs are not with the program anymore! Get away from that boring environmental stuff and get back to new and better weapons!

    NASA has played a major role in bringing many of the above issues to light. To the Right, that's a major betrayal from the agency that used to bring glory and affirmation of American might over the Godless Communist threat.  Environmental Science? Earth Watch? Monitoring Weather and Climate? Oh NO. No wonder NASA is out of favor.

    Growing up with Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Shuttle, it's sad watching NASA retire and dismantle the Shuttle program, with no viable replacement even on the drawing boards, and lay off their engineers and skilled workforce. I constantly fear, with each new budget and downsize,  NASA best days are gone, and their days as a major government agency are numbered. And America is finished in Space, unless the private space initiatives take off, so to speak and capture the public's imagination.

    What th' heck do I know, I work for a living...

    by SamuraiArtGuy on Tue Feb 14, 2012 at 07:00:35 AM PST

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