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NASA To Drastically Cut Mars Mission Funding 191

Posted by timothy
from the pick-a-new-genre dept.
DesScorp writes "Faced with budget cuts, and forced to choose between deep space observation or a mission to Mars, CBS reports that NASA will kill most of its Mars exploration programs. Sources in NASA say that of the $300 million being cut from the space agency's budget, two-thirds were for a joint US-EU program for Martian exploration. NASA spokesman David Weaver said that, just like the rest of the federal government, the space agency has to make 'tough choices and live within our means.'"
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NASA To Drastically Cut Mars Mission Funding

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  • Good lord. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by breakspirit (827558) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:35AM (#39004473) Homepage
    We're never going to Mars at this rate. Well, America isn't at least. Good thing there are other, less short-sighted countries that will inevitably get there.
    • by gatkinso (15975)

      Clearly you missed the part which stated that two major manned systems are getting funding priority.

    • Re:Good lord. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jcnnghm (538570) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @02:46PM (#39006153)

      The total 2010 US Space budget was $64.6B. The entire rest of the world combined spent only $22.5B, including military space spending. NASA, the US civilian space programs 2010 budget was $18.7B, 83% of the spending for the entire rest of the world. All of Europe spent a paltry $4.6B on the ESA. Where is the spending from these enlightened, long-sighted countries?

      Consider this as well, many space projects aren't actually funded by NASA. For example, GPS is funded and operated by the Air Force Space Command. The United States is, by a massive margin, the country most invested in space exploration.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Your figures are a bit out of date, but the more important point is that other countries seem to be able to do a lot more for a lot less cash. The US space program has always been really expensive. I think NASA spends too much money making sure things will go perfectly first time, where as other countries (particularly Russia) do a lot more practical testing and just suffer the failures. Sure, stuff blows up, but it is a quicker and much cheaper way of developing the technology.

    • Re:Good lord. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday February 11, 2012 @04:01PM (#39006627) Homepage Journal

      We're never going to Mars at this rate. Well, America isn't at least.

      Baloney, Elon Musk is going to retire there. When he's not busy building electric cars or funding Ron Paul PAC's, he's building better rockets than NASA.

      NASA just needs to keep buying rockets from SpaceX - he'll use that money to get us to Mars.

      Oh, the government isn't gonna get us there. Yeah, that's been clear since the 70's.

    • by crutchy (1949900)

      We're never going to Mars at this rate. Well, America isn't at least.

      shame on you for believing it was ever going to happen in the first place

      Good thing there are other, less short-sighted countries that will inevitably get there.

      no, actually i think only the US is stupid and irresponsible enough to even consider such a pointless and wasteful exercise

      • by crutchy (1949900)

        only the US is stupid and irresponsible enough to even consider such a pointless and wasteful exercise

        and shame on the EU for tagging along with them in the first place, no doubt as a cooperative gesture, only to be butt-fucked by NASA when ESA has no doubt vested enough interest to make it difficult to call the whole thing off

  • Sorry folks... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:45AM (#39004537)

    The days of America's manned space program are over now that Medicare and Social Security are running deep into the red.

    • Re:Sorry folks... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 11, 2012 @12:18PM (#39005073)

      If you cut the income level, where does the money come from?
      The top tax rate in 1960 was 90%, now it is 35%. You need to pay and the Federal Government accomplished all of the great space goals like putting a man on the moon, building our highway system, and educating many.

      Check out the facts:http://tcftakingnote.typepad.com/.a/6a00e54ffb9698883301543328d90e970c-popup

      Medicare and Social Security are successful programs as well. You have plenty of opportunity to succeed in America and successful entrepnaures do not complain about the tax rate, they complain that we do not have enough skilled, educated workers to compete with other countries. Germany, which makes some great products has a higher tax rate than us and is still very competitive.

      Blaming the decline of the space program on Medicare and Social Security is far too simple.

      • by khallow (566160)

        Medicare and Social Security are successful programs as well.

        Of course, they're successful. All they require is someone to write checks and someone to cash them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mosb1000 (710161)

        Medicare and Social Security are successful programs as well.

        Sure. They didn't end poverty or provide medical care for everyone. And they're rapidly going bankrupt. Other than that, they're totally successful.

        • Re:Sorry folks... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jpapon (1877296) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @06:54PM (#39007845) Journal
          Social security is not going bankrupt anytime soon. Even if it were to go bankrupt, that would only be because the rest of the government robbed it.

          Social security, in and of itself, is a highly successful and worthwhile entity. The primary issue is that we let our government pilfer it for other programs/wars. So what was a good idea got ruined so we could buy more missiles.

      • The top tax rate in 1960 was 90%, now it is 35%.

        There's a huge difference between MARGINAL and EFFECTIVE tax rates. Simply looking at that percentage gives you nothing in the way of revenue. When JFK LOWERED the top marginal rate in his first year in office, the Federal Government got MORE revenue through taxation than they had in the last 20 years.

        And blaming the decline of the space program (which is a bloated mess in the first place, thank you Space Shuttle) on lower taxes is far too stupid. Most of the

        • by jpapon (1877296)
          I live in Germany (but I'm American), and I am constantly amazed how much I get for my effective tax rate of 30% of income.

          Full free medical care, free education, disability/unemployment insurance, investment in a good retirement pension, amazing infrastructure (highways/rail), and overall the best, most efficient government services that I've see anywhere in the world. Not to mention the multitude of other social services available for free should I need them.

          I wonder how many Americans back home would

          • There's also that 19% VAT... (7% on food and the like, according to the World Factbook).Plus 4.5% or so property tax, a corporate tax of 15%. And according to figures, the marginal tax rate is 45%, with an average tax rate of 40%... Just like the fees and other levies the US government has, Germany gets you in one way or another.

            I do not believe tax rates are the problem. It is the spending problems of the government. The United States government wastes a great deal of money, yet claims they need more all

            • by jpapon (1877296)
              Don't forget the taxes on gas.

              The 19% VAT isn't really as big of a deal as you might think... There are 8-9% sales taxes in most of the US as well. Things are more expensive, but I think alot of that is due to the exchange rate.

              I agree that spending in the USA is problematic, but mainly because of where the spending is happening. The budget of the US military, for instance, is completely out of control.

              My problem with the whole "spending problem" argument is that generally the proposed solution is to

          • Yeah, but Germany doesn't have a trillion dollar military influencing many aspects of its society like the US does.
    • Re:Sorry folks... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TC Wilcox (954812) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @12:41PM (#39005227)

      The days of America's manned space program are over now that Medicare and Social Security are running deep into the red.

      Not that I particularly like Medicare and Social Security, but I prefer both of those to our huge military build up and foreign wars.

    • Medicare and Social Security are funded separately from the rest of the budget and still have a hefty surplus of funds on paper but the federal government kept borrowing money from it until there wasn't any left. The payroll tax cuts are directly cutting funding from those two programs as well. How is the budget cut to NASA at all related to SS and M? Maybe you think they should have had MORE money available for the federal government to borrow to pay for other stuff like the NASA mission.
    • I don't know about Medicare, but Social Security runs on a surplus and has always run on a surplus. The problem is Congress "borrows" SS funds and calls it a deficit.

  • by jimmydigital (267697) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:46AM (#39004539) Homepage Journal

    If only there were a bank on Mars that needed bailed out... by god then we would get there! I wonder if there is enough atmosphere on the red planet to fly a helicopter from which we could drop money.. or lacking the funds... turkeys.

    • If there were a civilization on Mars that had not yet been converted to Jesus . . . by god we would already be on our way there.
      • Perhaps someone could fabricate a flying saucer the likes of the ones from The War of the Worlds and have it crash into the Twin Towers...you'd see how quick and easy it actually is to deploy units to Mars if you have the incentive. ;-)
    • The question is whether you're from western Pennsylvania.

  • Newt Gingrich does not approve.

  • by retroStick (1040570) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:52AM (#39004577)
    Put a NASA Mars mission on Kickstarter?
    • by demachina (71715) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @11:03AM (#39004635)

      Put a SpaceX Mars mission on Kickstarter?
      FTFY.

      Private citizens pouring money in the bureacratic maw of NASA is futility incarnate, though if you could channel it directly to JPL it might work. At least JPL still has technical and engineering competence, is somewhat isolated from NASA's bureaucracy, and gets things done.

      If you could funnel a few billion to SpaceX they could do some exciting stuff aimed at Mars. Since Elon Musk is aiming there anyway he just needs more funding. SpaceX has a truly phenomonal efficiency in getting engineering bang for their bucks. As I recall NASA spent a team their to study how they were doing so much for so little compared to NASA. Of course, one answer they probably missed is SpaceX probably doesn't squander money on doing studies on why other organizations are efficient, they just build stuff, efficiently, economically and quickly.

      • Actually, you miss some points as well.
        NASA is pouring money into SpaceX and private space BECAUSE they want cheap redundant human launch, Falcon Heavy, and the RED DRAGON.
        Cheap REDUNDANT Human launch should be obvious. It is not just for ISS access, but moon and mars. More importantly, if our launchers are busy and we have multiple companies launching monthly, then costs go down for NASA.
        And for NASA, the FH and red dragon are HUGE to Mars. The red dragon is a contained landing system for putting more
        • I think you are being a bit optimistic, but I understand. Elon Musk has done wonders with SpaceX (and not too shabby with Tesla), it is hard not to hope he really can pull all this off. I hope it doesn't happen, but I think at some point SpaceX is going to go the way of Boeing and Gencorp, and all the other big players and just become another subcon for NASA.
          -nB

          • I hope it doesn't happen, but I think at some point SpaceX is going to go the way of Boeing and Gencorp, and all the other big players and just become another subcon for NASA.

            As long as musk is there, it will not happen. HOWEVER, as the saying goes, all good things come to an end. Boeing and L-Mart became this way because they are able to control CONgress which controls NASA. If we can get private space to be honestly profitable and not just fleasing the feds, then we will see expansion and competition.

            • by Kjella (173770)

              With the single exception of launching satellites, practically all the money for say a Mars mission is likely to come from Congress one way or the other. What they must stay out of is the government's cost plus contracts. They're certainly useful sometimes for experimental technology no company would risk putting a price tag on, but they give all the wrong incentives. It reminds me a little bit of the state lottery here in Norway, I've been to their offices. All the profit is distributed to various organiza

              • by demachina (71715)

                I could be wrong but I dont think this is Elon's plan for Mars. He will, no doubt, take all the Federal money he can get to go to Mars but I think he trying to corner the market for LEO launches, turn it in to a profit center, and use that money to do the more advanced missions to Mars.

                If you actually WANT to go to Mars you totally cant sit around and wait for Congress and the President to fund it. A) in the current budget climate they probably won't B) as soon as the Congress/POTUS change hands they will

            • by gregrah (1605707)
              I know this is off topic, but... it is my opinion that altering some portion of a person or organization's name so as to give a negative connotation, as you have done with "CONgress" and "L-Mart", is the absolute lowest form of argument.

              It's not particularly clever to have noticed that the word "con" can be found in "congress" - especially when you consider that you were by no means the first person to come to this realization, and have probably copied this from someone else.

              It is most definitely
              • First off, CONgress DESERVES it. They SUCK. BOTH parties need to go. So, I will continue to call them CONgress. And it is CONgress, because it is the opposite of PROgress. Have you seen any good come out of CONgress for the last 30 years? Nope.

                As to L-Mart, I am not the one that gave them that name. Lockheed-Martian did. I have a number of friends that work at L-Mart Denver, and some others that work on the east coast. I have also been at various locations teaching for them. And internally, they call the
        • by demachina (71715)

          Its a bit of an exaggeration to say NASA is "pouring money" in to SpaceX. They are certainly contributing substantial funds to develop the COTS and CCDev capability but its a LOT less money than NASA squandered on Ares 1 and they got nothing at all for that money wasted.

          NASA is mostly contracting for the services SpaceX will be providing and they are pretty reasonably priced compared to old school NASA, Boeing and Lockheed prices.

          SpaceX has a large contract to launch the nex gen Iridium satellites, it has

    • Actually, that is pretty much what the X-Prize does, except reverse the order to "do work first, then get money". You could use Kickstarter to collect money to establish a prize.

  • by lessthan (977374) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:55AM (#39004599)

    I'm just shocked by this. Who would expect that NASA would be underfunded by Congress and have to cut the grandiose plans NASA has been telling us about?

    Seriously, who expects anything out of NASA these days? Congress has been trying to kill NASA off since the 80s. Now that private space flight is looking more and more like a reality, what good is a government run space program? ( I say that as a cynic. I know NASA is good for science. When was the last time science was a priority for the US government?)

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      As a active supporter of commercial space efforts both within NASA and outside of NASA, as well as a someone who's paying job involves the unmanned Mars program, I will be the first to say that private spaceflight does not negate the importance of publicly supported exploration - they complement each other.

      Government's job, in my opinion, is to do those things that private industry can't -- thinks that don't necessarily return an immediate profit (or shouldn't) but are nonetheless good or necessary for our

  • 1.7% cut? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:55AM (#39004603)
    with 18 billion dollar budget you'd think there would be enough waste and nonsense to deal with that 300 million cut without cutting programs.
    • Re:1.7% cut? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by networkBoy (774728) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @12:24PM (#39005115) Homepage Journal

      There is, but I'll let you in on a little funding secret:
      If you adsorb the losses by being more efficient then no-one notices and you can't use that money as a last ditch buffer (we forgot we need this widget, tighten up the ship, so we can buy it out of our existing budget). If you instead cut something noticeable you "make them pay" for cutting your budget. Happened to our IT department where I work. They had a 5% cut to their budget so they cut a service that saved labs all around the world untold $$$ by being essentially an internal craigslist to connect surplus equipment with labs that needed the kit. it was run by two dedicated staff, that's it. The rest of the 5% cut near as I can tell was adsorbed, but they made sure everyone noticed that this service was cut due to the budget constraints.
      -nb

  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:58AM (#39004611) Homepage Journal
    Not too sure why JWST is being blamed for this. JWST does impact support for other astronomy missions, but planetary exploration is its own program. Might just as well say that not closing the space station is to blame if these kinds of games are going to be played.
    • Re:JWST? (Score:4, Informative)

      by hde226868 (906048) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @11:42AM (#39004875) Homepage
      JWST's funding crisis does not only impact astronomy missions, but all of science funding. This includes planetary missions and also the manned space program. The space review (http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1926/1) has a good summary.
      • by mdsolar (1045926)
        That is a good summary. The main thing I take from it though is that slow funding has been the most important recent cost driver. Brinksmanship in Congress imposes extra costs as money is delayed. So, the question is, why does Congress not pay for its grandstanding?
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@ y a hoo.com> on Saturday February 11, 2012 @10:59AM (#39004615)

    I expected the colonization of Mars to start in the 60's, atmospheric mining on Venus to start the 70's, and the U.S. to become proficient in math and science by 80's. Sadly, I have come to believe none of the above will ever happen.

    • Welcome to the real world.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      If Americans had become proficient at math, they would have realized that landing on the moon wasn't nearly as big a step towards colonizing Mars and mining on Venus as they (and their favorite sci-fi authors) had assumed.
      • What do you mean? After the Moon, Mars is the next major astronomical body out, right? That means it's like halfway!

  • Didn't Obama repeatedly say in the past that he was going to increase [reuters.com] NASA's budgets over the next five years? What became of that? Is it all going to be funneled into earthbound stuff? Or into that heavy-lift launcher that congress demanded?
    • Obama has pushed hard to increase the NASA budget. It is the house republicans that have been gutting it.
      • Obama has pushed hard to increase the NASA budget. It is the house republicans that have been gutting it.

        If you call a five year freeze "pushing hard to increase the NASA budget", then, I guess Obama has pushed hard to increase the NASA budget.

        Alas, I'm not sure how one can see "freeze it at 2010 levels until I'm out of Office" as an "increase".

        It should also be noted that since Obama got into office (and well before the Republicans got control of the House), NASA's budget has declined as a fraction of th

    • Congress controls the budget. The president isn't a dictator.
  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @11:09AM (#39004683) Homepage

    NASA is a bankrupt bureaucracy plain and simple. Instead of axing the funding (many billions) on space adventures for man (mars, moon, whatever) and 'heavy lift' vehicles they axe funding in the one area where one could say they have a legitimate role - pure scientific exploration. There are no good reasons to race to get men on Mars. And there is no reason any longer for NASA to be developing rockets when private industry can take over and perhaps profit now that the government funded competition is out of the way. Imagine taking just 25% of what is planned for manned missions and associated vehicles and applying it to basic exploration like voyager, cassini, etc. NASA would have more than enough funding to focus on the things they do best.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      The problem is that the house republicans are pushing for the SLS. O fought against this waste of money, but he has enough issues to fight. Hopefully, on the next term, when the house reverts back to dems, then O will be able to kill SLS once and for all, and increase NASA's budget for doing private space.
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @11:42AM (#39004869)
      If people are interested, you can find the actual figures here:http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516674main_NASAFY12_Budget_Estimates-Overview-508.pdf [nasa.gov]

      The 2012 budget request is $5 billion for science (Earth Science, Planetary Science, Astrophysics, Heliophysics, James Webb Space Telescope) versus $9.6 billion for the manned program, which includes $3 billion for the International Space Station. That's a pretty staggering figure considering that NASA won't actually launch any manned vehicles into space in 2012.

      There's your problem: everything meaningful that NASA has done in the past 20 years has come out of the science program- the Hubble, the Mars rovers, monitoring the earth from space- but we spend almost twice as much on the manned program, which has produced no meaningful science to speak of. Even from the whole inspiring-future-scientists standpoint, I would suspect that vastly more children get interested in science because of Spirit, Opportunity, and the Hubble than because of the International Space Station. At this point, the manned space program really serves no purpose, it is nothing but an entitlement program for the defense industry- welfare for aerospace corporations.

  • "Anti-Piracy" campaigns, handouts to religious organizations, wellfare for illegal aliens who don't even pay taxes, bailouts, corn/pork/cheese subsidies, etc.

    But fuck it America, throw away the future! Live in the now! Run up your debt while you throw away anything related to education and science. Maybe you could go loan some money to the arabas again and then start some wars with them again. How about you keep bitching about communist China while you increasingly become a socialist nanny-state. Set your f

    • by buddyglass (925859) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @11:33AM (#39004823)

      Illegal aliens can't take advantage of welfare, if by welfare you mean TANF [wikipedia.org]. They pay property taxes, sales tax and the federal gas tax. Existing outside the federal income tax system they're also unable to take advantage of the EITC [wikipedia.org], which many would qualify for if they were filing federal returns.

      I also like how you simultaneously complain about a lack of federal education spending and rail against the socialist nanny state. What do you think free, compulsory public education is?

      • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @12:05PM (#39004995) Journal
        They only pay property tax if they own a place. They do pay sales tax, if they buy locally. However, in most states, the main money is from income taxes, not property taxes.

        In addition, by having illegals work here, they lower the salaries/wages, which lowers the taxes paid.

        Finally, look at alabama. [google.com]They enacted a anti-illegal bill. Now, I am not in favor of how harsh it is WRT privacy. The ability to stop a car and haul ppl in just because they 'look' illegal, is just plain wrong. BUT, the requirement of e-verify on ALL businesses has had a telling impact. Namely that for the last 6 months, they have fallen from 10% unemployment to 8% unemployment. In addition, gov. assistance PLUMMETED. Not only is taxes up, but they have said that they can now start increasing money back to education and other programs that had to be cut before. So, to say that illegals are useful to America, is just plain wrong.
        • by buddyglass (925859) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @12:35PM (#39005183)

          They only pay property tax if they own a place.

          Wrong. If they occupy space in a rental or apartment the owner pays property tax and rolls that into their rent. If none of them had ever immigrated then the overall population would be lower, less apartment complexes would have been built, meaning less property tax would be collected.

          They do pay sales tax, if they buy locally. However, in most states, the main money is from income taxes, not property taxes.

          This may not be true for those states with the largest illegal immigrant populations. Texas, for instance, derives almost all its revenue from sales and property taxes. There's also the question of how much income the state would actually collect from illegal immigrants if they filed, given the prevalence of low incomes among that population. The biggest "hit" would be that they'd have to pay federal payroll taxes. However, since they can't take advantage of SS or Medicare anyway...

          In addition, by having illegals work here, they lower the salaries/wages, which lowers the taxes paid.

          And by lowering wages they increase the profit margins of their employers and lower the price of goods to consumers.

          Finally, look at alabama.

          Driving out the illegals may also put many Alabama farmers out of business. You point out that unemployment is down and revenue is up. That's the case everywhere. The national unemployment rate is down as well, and most of the illegals who left Alabama are still living in the U.S. Another thing to consider is that the effectiveness of Alabama's new policy is enhanced by the fact that none of its neighbors have a similar policy. Illegals are leaving Alabama because there are better options nearby. If such a policy were enacted at the federal level, and enforced, then it would probably result in fewer illegals in the country, but the steady-state level would not be as low as it currently is in Alabama.

          Here are a couple articles that allege the new law has had less than beneficial effects:

          http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/july-dec11/alimmigration_10-13.html (See Jerry Spencer's comments)

          http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-15/alabama-s-imperiled-immigration-crackdown-clogs-machinery-of-government.html

          • And by lowering wages they increase the profit margins of their employers and lower the price of goods to consumers.

            Which is more or less compensated by those consumers having lower wages. In effect, it just makes money cheaper.

            The real problem is not lowering wages, though. It's lowering labor standards. If you have people who are willing to slave away for 14 hours a day in horrible conditions, market-wise, that's more "competitive" than a person who's actually asking for what the law demands he gets, like 40-hour work week. So if businesses can get away with it, they'll pick the first over the second, and hence the sec

      • I meant things like this: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/4132598-california-has-quarter-of-the-american-illegal-immigrant-population-an-essay-on-healthcare-and-illegal-immigrants [allvoices.com]
        That's just the first hit on a google search. There's plenty more.

        And you can have free education without the nanny state. But my point on education wasn't that it was a "socialized" venture it was that the education in America has become increasingly more awful, especially when compared to the rest of the world.

  • Sounds like someone needs to start a new project on Kickstarter. The lander will be covered in GoDaddy and IBM logos, and the astronauts will be drinking Coke (tm) and eating Hormel Chili.
    • by Salgak1 (20136)
      I'd invest. Hell, that was the plan of an organization ~10 or so years ago: they were giving presentations at SF Cons. (Cannot remember their name: something Greek mythology-related as I recall. . .) They expected their booster and lander, etc, would be FESTOONED with supporter logos. The model seems to work for NASCAR. . .
  • I suspect it's being strangled, like most oversized organizations, by people in the administration who focus on preserving jobs, salaries, and benefits of all the little people whose fate is in their hands, rather than the goals of the organization.

  • Look, we have republicans working to gut NASA, but at the same time, trying to keep the SLS going. The problem is, that space launch is no longer about capabilities, but about economics. As such, we NEED cheap redundant launch systems. The SLS is NOT IT. It is a 20 Billion boondoggle with a 1-2 billion launch cost, and that is just to get 70 tonnes to orbit.

    OTOH, if we halt major projects for a short time, AND get private space going, THEN, we can obtain CHEAP ECONOMIC LAUNCHES. In addition, we would hav
  • by Toad-san (64810) on Saturday February 11, 2012 @11:45AM (#39004891)

    They released that damned "John Carter" trailer. And now it's perfectly obviously that there won't be ANY naked slave girls [sniff].

    Adios, Barsoom! Alas, we'll never see those wondrous canals, the city ruins, the four-armed barbarians, Dejah Thoris in all her buxom fleshy glory ..

    http://www.cartermovie.com/borisjc10.jpg

    Sigh ...

  • I think NASA should get rid of its cadre of bureaucrats who do NOTHING but squabble over budgets, kill programs, and buy staplers. That way, they can let the brilliant (and I do NOT mean this sarcastically) engineers who still work there do their job.

    Here's a rule of thumb:

    If you're a civil servant and you have not worked on anything that has left the ground in the last 5 years, you get fired, and the engineers you manage get assigned to someone who HAS worked on something that has gone into space.

    • by Convector (897502)

      So that would eliminate many active missions. MESSENGER, for example,left the ground over seven years ago and is doing fantastic science, but has been in Mercury orbit less than a year. Cassini is still doing all kinds of stuff at Saturn, but it launched fifteen years ago.

      • by cowtamer (311087)

        Good point. Perhaps restrict this to Civil Servants who have NEVER worked on a flying mission -- it'd still either get rid of a lot of useless people or give them incentive to be useful :)

  • 10 NASA cuts projects laypeople can relate to in favor of obscure ones that only astronomers care about
    20 Come budget review time, constituents aren't asking their representatives to fund NASA, corporations aren't lobbying for it either
    30 NASA's budget is again cut
    40 GOTO 10

    Now, to be fair, NASA is favoring more cost effective programs. Discovering planets lightyears away is of great use to fields outside of astronomy and causes advancement in human-usable technologies I'm sure. But garnering fundin
    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      Look, I'm all for NASA swapping budget sizes with the Pentagon, and I gladly pay NASA's share of my taxes. But I don't know how any field outside of astronomy benefits at all from discovering planets lightyears away (excepting the remote possibilities of colonization and discovering intelligence or life there).

      • by Salgak1 (20136)
        You need to look a little harder at the science spinoffs. Better electronics, better medicine and medical sensors, improved weather reporting and prediction, orbital imaging for finding previously undiscovered natural resources, improved materials. . . . And that was all of thirty seconds review of stuff I personally know about the spinoffs. It's not ALL Tang. . . (Grin)
        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          You're not getting me. I favor funding NASA 10x its current budget, even raising my taxes to do so, but preferably at the expense of waste like the Pentagon.

          But even a committed NASA booster like me doesn't see how discovering exoplanets benefits any field but astronomy. Which for me is plenty worth it. But exoplanets don't improve electronics, medicine, medical sensors, weather reporting/prediction, orbital imaging for terrestrial resource exploration, materials. Nor does the instrumentation or science dev

  • We're sacrificing every great thing we have in this country. Never the military though. We need to have a bigger military than every country on earth x 2.
  • That corrupt gasbag New Gingrich screwed it all up for NASA by pandering to Florida Republicans with lies about how he'd establish a permanent Lunar base (by the end of his "second term" - what a jerk). Yet another good programme that's good for the country, and so popular with voters, grabbed by a lying megalomaniac who'd never do it once elected.

    Newt collapsed in the Florida election that week, and gave a Moon base a bad name. It's easy now in DC to mock NASA expansions, and Newt helped make that happen.

  • The comments here are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. "taxes are theft", "NASA is welfare", blah blah blah. I get sick of reading the same lame talking points that came right out of the CATO institute or Reason.

    These are the type of people that would have been fighting as mercs for the East India Company.
    • You must be new here. Or, for that matter, on any tech blog / website / discussion board. Geeks tend to be more politically extreme on average, on both sides of the spectrum. On the right, this means more libertarians. You can find a few real communists hereabouts, too - who'd have thought? Heck, we even have a resident fundamentalist Muslim, who will gladly explain to you how that whole worldwide Caliphate thing will work once it's established.

  • Except the military, who gets to spend as much as they like making the world a more dangerous and exploded place.

We gave you an atomic bomb, what do you want, mermaids? -- I. I. Rabi to the Atomic Energy Commission

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