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Dubslow 2012-06-06 06:15

NASA Budget
 
Here' some more :ch:.

[url]http://penny4nasa.org/[/url]

[quote=Just click the link :)]
NASA’s budget currently represents 0.5% of the US budget, and has been relatively unchanged for 25 years. We are calling for their budget to be increased to 1% of the US budget.[/quote]

The following video is on the page. I signed the petition before watching it, but boy oh boy is it worth watching.

[YOUTUBE]CbIZU8cQWXc[/YouTUBE]

jasong 2012-06-09 02:15

I feel the amateurs of late have accomplished more than Nasa, and with significantly less money.

I say kill Nasa and focus on supporting independent private stuff when it comes to anything involving off-world travel.

Dubslow 2012-06-09 03:15

First off, what amateurs? I only see really big companies going at it. (Or Richard Branson, who only sort of counts as an amateur and whose venture only sort of counts as "off world" travel.)

Secondly, those really big companies are still only just getting in LEO, it'll be a long time until they get anywhere else. In the meantime, NASA should be and is aiming for going to other extra-terrestrial bodies (e.g. Mars).

fivemack 2012-06-09 08:34

Heinlein's argument that LEO is half-way to anywhere is quite close to true; the requirements to get to anywhere in the System from LEO aren't that strenuous (in particular, you've got a lot of time to do things and don't have to do them as energetically as when you're fighting a first stage through atmosphere against 1G) though they're not requirements that SpaceX has demonstrably addressed yet.

The big question is whether NASA's job is designing big rockets to be built on fairly expensive contracts by Big US Aerospace, or sending astronauts into space, or acting as the shared-infrastructure-development and grant-awarding agency for the planetary science and astrophysics departments of the United States.

You want rather different-shaped organisations for those three tasks, and if you're trying to do the third task exclusively then you have quite a hard PR issue in saying why planetary scientists deserve funding at more than 50% of the NIH's level.

If you do the first task then the very substantial lobbying efforts of Big US Aerospace are on your side, which helps; but at the moment NASA's efforts on the first task have spent an awful lot of money without building any particularly perceptible rockets.

If you do the second task then people will ask what the astronauts achieve other than a hard-working holiday with the best views off Earth; the demonstrated science return of the Station in fields other than 'what happens to astronauts kept in a space station for significant periods' is really not very high.

Dubslow 2012-06-09 08:43

Perhaps physically speaking, e.g. energy requirements, yes LEO is a major step. But everything else, such as 100% reliability away from Earth, [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MARS-500"]long durations in tight quarters with the same few people[/URL], food, water, waste, etc. are all non-trivial problems that have yet to be solved simultaneously.

As for NASA's organization, I'd say historically the 1st is what it had done, i.e. the 1960s. Though you make a good point about not having anything to show for it, don't forget that whatever-they're-designing gets cancelled every two years.
[url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constellation_program[/url]
Re-designed once and then cancelled altogether. In other words, they haven't been allowed to produce anything. The rockets they had planned on making were morphed into [URL="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Launch_System"]this[/URL]. (Note that they at least managed to retain all the design work on the Constellation capsule, and that will be used for the SLS.

Edit: In further reading, it seems the SLS is designed to do a great many things -- I hope it doesn't go the way of the F-35.

fivemack 2012-06-09 13:18

If I'm reading my history correctly, NASA basically designed two rockets: the Saturn series and the Space Shuttle. They also designed the Centaur upper stage.

For Mercury and Gemini, NASA defined the ways in which pre-existing ICBMs had to be updated before they were willing to launch humans on them, but basically what was used were Convair Atlas or Martin Titan missiles.

I think I agree quite strongly with Congressman Tom McClintock's argument that the Congressional mandates forcing NASA to use Space Shuttle components for SLS 'amount to a de-facto non-competitive, single source requirement assuring contracts to existing shuttle suppliers'; it all seems much more like corporate welfare for Big Aerospace than like the cheapest available route to get astronauts to interesting places.

Dubslow 2012-06-09 13:46

Once Constellation was cancelled, I gave up on keeping close tabs on things.

Uncwilly 2012-06-09 13:48

[QUOTE=fivemack;301809]Heinlein's argument that LEO is half-way to anywhere is quite close to true; the requirements to get to anywhere in the System from LEO aren't that strenuous (in particular, you've got a lot of time to do things and don't have to do them as energetically as when you're fighting a first stage through atmosphere against 1G) though they're not requirements that SpaceX has demonstrably addressed yet.[/QUOTE]
Space-X's Falcon Heavy is working toward that end. It is a 2 and a half stage rocket that acts more like a 3 stage (by virtue of cross feeding). It has the ability to loft more than double the weight to LEO of anything else recently flying. First launch is slated for end of 2012 (IIRC).

ewmayer 2012-06-09 18:53

[QUOTE=fivemack;301830]I think I agree quite strongly with Congressman Tom McClintock's argument that the Congressional mandates forcing NASA to use Space Shuttle components for SLS 'amount to a de-facto non-competitive, single source requirement assuring contracts to existing shuttle suppliers'; it all seems much more like corporate welfare for Big Aerospace than like the cheapest available route to get astronauts to interesting places.[/QUOTE]

This argument would carry more weight with me if the amounts in question were not utterly dwarfed by the ongoing Wall Street bailouts. AIG, anyone? How much did Wall Street pay out in bonuses last year?

(Note that to his credit, McClintock did not vote for TARP).

Dubslow 2012-06-09 22:18

[QUOTE=ewmayer;301867]This argument would carry more weight with me if the amounts in question were not utterly dwarfed by the ongoing Wall Street bailouts. AIG, anyone? How much did Wall Street pay out in bonuses last year?
[/QUOTE]
Heh, the video in the link in OP has NdGT saying something like "the $700B bank bailout was more money than NASA's entire budget across its whole history".

fivemack 2012-06-09 22:37

Isn't that the argument that got Americans into trouble in the first place - that if they'd spent an enormous amount on solving one serious problem, they might as well spend some substantially smaller sum on something much more frivolous? That having borrowed to buy the expensive house, they might as well borrow to buy the extravagant car.

Spending a few million dollars to keep one engineer in a job at Boeing Space Widgets when he'd be reasonably likely to end up with a perfectly acceptable job at some medical-device manufacturer after a short period of unemployment is a pretty awful use of public money.


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