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NASA To Face $1.3 Billion Cut Next Year Under Sequestration 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-for-less dept.
littlesparkvt writes "A budget forecast that was released on Friday shows that the defense department isn't the only department getting hammered: NASA is as well, if the automatic budget cuts happen. According to Nature magazine, NASA will lose '$417 million from its science budget, $346 for space operations, $309 for exploration, $246 for cross agency support, among other cuts.'"
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NASA To Face $1.3 Billion Cut Next Year Under Sequestration

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  • by mostwanted678452056 (2597853) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:43PM (#41353939)
    It is because of NASA we are enjoying the fruits of GPS and other such technical marvels. I don't think there should the any more budget cuts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wrong. The cost of GPS and "other such technical marvels" could easily be absorbed into the federal budget. The real problem is that we choose not to. It's all politics, and neither party really has a good stance on the issue.
    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <<richardprice> <at> <gmail.com>> on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:15PM (#41354277)

      I think the DoD would have something to say about your assertion, since GPS was their toy from day one, ad it was under their budget that the constellation was launched and maintained...

      • The USAF launched and still launches GPS satellites via USAF owned/operated facilities at both Vandenberg AFB, CA and Cape Canaveral AS, FL. Since the DoD is the parent organization of the USAF you could say the DoD launched/launches GPS but that's kind of silly. The DoD pays the USAF to do this as it's part of the USAF's expertise.
        • by AsmCoder8088 (745645) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @03:05PM (#41354775)
          Actually, I would like to point out that as a taxpayer Al Gore contributed to DoD's budget and therefore took the initiative in creating what we know of today as GPS.
        • While that is true, it ignores the long road to the launch of the first GPS satellite by the USAF, which includes generationally improving systems by both the US Navy (Transit and Timation in the 1960s) and the US Army (SECOR in the 1960s), all of which were used as the basis for the GPS proposed in the 1970s.

          The USAF didn't do this in isolation.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Since the DoD is the parent organization of the USAF you could say the DoD launched/launches GPS but that's kind of silly.

          And why is that considered silly? It's a correct observation and the USAF doesn't have any significant degree of autonomy.

          • Then why stop with the DoD and just say America launched GPS or say North America or the northern hemisphere or the Western World or earthlings launched it. That's why I think it's silly. The USAF launched and operates GPS (via 2SOPS) not the DoD.
            • by khallow (566160)
              Because the DoD has a great degree of autonomy compared to the USAF. The intent, design, and initial users of GPS came from the DoD. They got Congress to fund it. The USAF merely implemented GPS.
    • The Debt is what matters. Everything else, in age of austerity, pales in comparison. We need to find joy in despair. We need to find wisdom in the void. Only then will we know the truth.

    • James Hansen et al aren't contributing much to space exploration much less national well being.
    • Everybody has an opinion about how the government should be run, but nobody can seem to take the time to learn how the government actually is run. This is an across the board sequestration of government spending [csmonitor.com] not a spending cut aimed at NASA.

    • NASA by donation, anyone? I'd throw in 50 or 100 bucks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 16, 2012 @01:46PM (#41353965)

    Those damn Democrats and their spending cuts! Why don't they spend more, like good Republicans?

    • by pecosdave (536896) * on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:14PM (#41354263) Homepage Journal

      Neither party really tries to spend more or less than the other.

      What people fail to realize is there's very little difference between the two parties. Those issues everyone campaigns on? They're to polarize people to give them a sense of duty to vote for one party or the other. If you'll notice very little actually gets accomplished on polarizing issues, those issues exist to keep you from voting third party.

      What is the real difference in the parties? It's like a sports franchise. Each party is playing for different companies.

      Obviously the Republicans are playing for defense contractors and some other civil engineering types.

      The Democrats are obviously playing for unions, health insurance, and pharmaceutical companies. (non-health insurance companies fall anywhere in the spectrum)

      So in the NFL what happens when two teams go to the Superbowl? One team wins and the other loses. Does that mean the losing team doesn't make any money? NO! The losing team makes a huge profit, the winning team gets the glory and makes an even bigger profit.

      Tax money is like a river to these people. There's a fork in the river with a dam going to each fork. Winning an election is winning the right to open up the gates to your fork a little wider so your team gets more of the profit, like winning the Super Bowl. The other team still gets some.

      As tax payers we've lost focus. We've put all of our focus into deciding who to trust with the gate controls further down the line. Fact is the river is supposed to come off of a lake, the lake is nearly empty because all the waters been diverted to the river. Sure some asshole keeps setting the trees on fire in the mountains to melt snow into water (inflation) but that's destroying the land we live in. We need to close the dam where the river starts and turn our taxes into a stream, not the friggin Mississippi. As long as you're voting for the NFL we all lose.

      • by Greyfox (87712)
        You kind of lost me there at the end, but I think I want to say "Yup! They're both the same!" Pretty much any method of selecting our leaders would work better than what we have now. We could select people randomly out of a phone book and treat Congress like jury duty and have better leadership than we do now.

        In the past I've thought we should just install a revolving door on Congress and vote in new people in each election cycle. Congress would change polarity every election cycle, but they'd all be new

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Sequestration isn't a spending cut, per se. It was an agreement so that the Congress would make themselves come up with a budget or they would face automatic across the board spending cuts. By doing it that way, the belief was that the Congress would be forced to compromise because the congresspeople would lose money spent on their own constituents if it was an across the board cut. That and the cuts might actually hit things that needed to be funded continuously.

      The problem with that is, it doesn't seem

  • DoD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Can we please just cut $1.3B extra from Defense and leave NASA alone? Seriously, $1.3 is only like half a B2 bomber - DoD can absorb that cost.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      B2 bombers are already bought and paid for by now. You need to find a new DoD boondoggle to attack.

      Maybe the F-22?

    • Re:DoD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:59PM (#41354693) Homepage Journal

      1.3 Billion? That's 5 F-35 Lightning II's the DoD will have to cut out of it's budget! (Yes I know the A version costs "only" 197 million, but just wait...)

      In any case, sequestration will hit the DoD (and Veterans Affairs) as well. If you weren't paying attention, last year Congress refused to raise the misleading named "debt ceiling" -- which is not a ceiling on actual *debt*, but rather securitizing *debt* already incurred. In other words, they wouldn't allow the treasury to issue notes or bonds to pay for expenses already budgeted, authorized and incurred. In order to avoid sovereign default, the administration worked out a deal where it would iron out the budget differences with Congress after the election. To give that commmitment teeth they arranged for automatic budget cuts, split evenly between DoD and the rest of the federal budget, if they failed to achieve 1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.

      Since this voluntary deficit reduction will almost certainly have to be achieved without tax increases or defense spending cuts, NASA's prospects don't look any brighter if we avoid sequestration. Without a huge and probably unrealistic economic boom we're going to be cutting stuff that the public cares about a lot more than NASA. Sure, NASA's costing the average taxpayer less than 20 cents a day, but we'll be scrounging under the sofa cushions for pennies.

  • So cancel the museum at Slidell, close Stennis, cut headquarters staff, and lay off most of the PR department.

  • How fucking sad. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:00PM (#41354107)

    NASA is where all the money should go.

    • by agm (467017)

      People who think like you should donate your own money. Don't expect the state to force other people to hand over theirs.

  • by Whatsmynickname (557867) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:01PM (#41354113)

    When the republicans temporarily shut down the government while budget battles raged on, we had 24/7 wall to wall coverage of this. [wikipedia.org] Contrast this with today where absolute NO TV and virtually no newspaper coverage exists for this event. Why?

    • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:21PM (#41354337)

      Contrast this with today where absolute NO TV and virtually no newspaper coverage exists for this event. Why?

      Because Fox News Corp. and AOL Time Warner doesn't want to show the republicans as the reason nothing gets done during the election season. This way if the republicans sweep all the elections, they can brag about how they were the ones to finally get something passed.

      • by Ferretman (224859)
        Nice try, but you know that's not the reason. The mainstream media....NBC/CBS/ABC/NPR and basically every newspaper in the nation are hardcore in the tank for Obama. Do you *really* think that if they couldn't effectively pin this on the Republicans that they *wouldn't*? No, the reasons boil down to foolishness on the part of BOTH parties in Congress AND the President, and this would come out plain as day if anybody besides the financial radio shows were to talk about it (by the way, most of the financi
    • Here's an example from cnn:

      http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/11/boehner-not-confident-at-all-on-budget-deal [cnn.com]

      I see it quite frequently mentioned on cnn.

  • America Fuck yeah coming to obstructing congress to save the day!
  • by MindPrison (864299) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:03PM (#41354153) Journal

    Nasa is the spearhead of innovation, if it wasn't for them, we'd not have a lot of the materials today that we make our innovations even more innovative with. Nasa isn't just all about space exploration, but what we can do with materials in near zero gravity, search for alternative energy sources that can literally save our lives, nanotechnology and beyond.

    To see such an innovative organization being stripped down like that, rips my heart apart.

    • by fluffy99 (870997)

      Nasa is the spearhead of innovation, if it wasn't for them, we'd not have a lot of the materials today that we make our innovations even more innovative with. Nasa isn't just all about space exploration, but what we can do with materials in near zero gravity, search for alternative energy sources that can literally save our lives, nanotechnology and beyond.

      To see such an innovative organization being stripped down like that, rips my heart apart.

      NASA WAS a spear head of innovation in the 60's and 70's. Not so much today as they are using primarily off-the-shelf components. Other industries, including DOD and the personal electronics market are driving innovation much faster. Shooting probes to Mars is fun and all, but it's just providing a very myopic archaeological perspective of the planet. Imagine an alien race visiting 4 places on earth and looking at maybe a few square miles. It's just delusional to think that's representative of anythin

      • I'd much rather see that money diverted towards something with a larger social impact, like curing a disease or producing a vaccine for something like Norovirus which accounts for half of all food-borne illness and affects 20-million people each year. Depending on your wage estimates and taking the person of of action for 1-2 days, that's easily 500-billion in lost wages.

        You know, we're already spending a metric shitload of money on various and sundry illnesses and diseases. A tiny bit towards physics, astronomy and assorted engineering subjects bothers me not a one bit. If you killed NASA completely and gave all that money to the NIH I would argue that very litte (if anything at all) would change.

        Cut back on the DOD more than a little bit, then we're talking.

        • by fluffy99 (870997)

          I'd much rather see that money diverted towards something with a larger social impact, like curing a disease or producing a vaccine for something like Norovirus which accounts for half of all food-borne illness and affects 20-million people each year. Depending on your wage estimates and taking the person of of action for 1-2 days, that's easily 500-billion in lost wages.

          You know, we're already spending a metric shitload of money on various and sundry illnesses and diseases. A tiny bit towards physics, astronomy and assorted engineering subjects bothers me not a one bit. If you killed NASA completely and gave all that money to the NIH I would argue that very litte (if anything at all) would change.

          Cut back on the DOD more than a little bit, then we're talking.

          NIH and grant driven research has it's own flaws, mostly due to politics.

          I wouldn't advocate cutting back on the DOD budget, so much as stop getting involved in costly military actions. I have no problem with the cost of maintaining a standing Army, Navy, Air Force and the ongoing cost of maintaining our technological edge. We need that capability to ensure our security. It's crap like spending a trillion dollars intervening in conflicts in the middle east that we really can't afford. Bin Laden was righ

    • Nasa is the spearhead of innovation, if it wasn't for them, we'd not have a lot of the materials today that we make our innovations even more innovative with.

      Wow, that sentence makes my head hurt.
       
      But the reality is that no, NASA isn't really a "spearhead of innovation". It's a "spearhead of spin and taking credit for stuff they only had a modest hand in". They have one of the most effective PR/propaganda machines on the planet.

  • I think the public debt is a problem. I enter life at the tail end of it falling, then in the 80's it doubled as a percentage of GDP and we say a lot of problems from it. Not so much the interest rate, which only hurt families that lived on debt, but the lack of good jobs at the end of the 80's. Then in the 90's we got good jobs with the debt was falling, and then those went away in 2000's as the debt began to double as percentage of the GDP again. We are seeing the end of that doubling now. The only t
    • The "medicare part d" according to Wikipedia cost just under $50 billion in 2008. The cost of "homeland security" from 2001 to 2011 was $649 billion according to: http://costsofwar.org/article/homeland-security-budget [costsofwar.org] . Even on a ten year basis these things are hardly "trillion dollar" anything. Your primary discussion is on the debt, which I generally agree that a debt is bad to at least carry —no doubt with one as large as the United States has. Debt itself is not bad, because governments can use i
  • Much as I like NASA, if that's what it takes to get the deficit under control, then that's what needs to happen. Given that the DOD takes the brunt of the cuts, it seems fair. And a billion dollar in cuts for NASA amounts to pocket change when distributed about all the billionaires that are currently financing private space ventures. We'll probably do better altogether by getting the economy going again and having them work on getting to space than to keep financing bloated DOD and other programs an rely

    • by vitriolum (1280610) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:20PM (#41354327)

      Except NASA's budget goes right back into the pockets of the American people, plus we get space missions.

      "The economic benefits of NASA's programs are greater than generally realized. The main beneficiaries (the American public) may not even realize the source of their good fortune. . ." - paper in Nature, 1992

      In 2002, the aerospace industry accounted for $95 billion of economic activity in the United States, including $23.5 billion in employee earnings dispersed among some 576,000 employees (source: Federal Aviation Administration, March 2004).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA#Economic_impact_of_NASA_funding [wikipedia.org]

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        You could say the same about DoD money going back into the pockets of the people. I mean they do give us real tangible benefits too. Like the Internet and GPS and a few other things like lots and lots of jobs. I get that they also blow up other people, and that's bad and all, but it does happen to be a job that we do need the ability to do.

        Perhaps NASA is more efficient than DoD at distributing that money, but they're a government bureaucracy too, so I am not sure that is the case.

        Incidentally, the only

        • Yes, DoD money helps too. I don't know which (if either) is better. What I'm getting at is that fixing the deficit by cutting government spending is not guaranteed to do any good for the overall economy at all. In fact, it will probably hurt the economy. That leads to less tax revenue, which requires more cuts to spending, and so on.

          I'm hoping we can avoid this sequestration and solve the problem with a combination of well thought out spending cuts and revenue increases.

      • Except NASA's budget goes right back into the pockets of the American people, plus we get space missions.

        That's the Democratic version of "trickle down economics", and it is just as dumb as the Republican version. The real question is whether NASA is using the money more efficiently than the people you took it from would have used it, and that's doubtful. NASA has excessively strict safety standards, and it has been wasting huge amounts of money on useless projects like the space shuttle. The analysis yo

      • by khallow (566160)

        Except NASA's budget goes right back into the pockets of the American people, plus we get space missions.

        Not taxing people or borrowing money in the first place leaves that money in the pockets of the American people. In the absence of productive use of that tax money, you're just redirecting unproductively a portion of the wealth of the US.

        This is just a variation of the broken window fallacy (here the broken window being the redirecting of funds through taxes). Somehow taking money from one person and giving it to another for a poor reason is somehow seen as good for the US economy. Why I don't know. But

      • Except NASA's budget goes right back into the pockets of the American people, plus we get space missions.

        So does the DoD budget by that standard.

        n 2002, the aerospace industry accounted for $95 billion of economic activity in the United States, including $23.5 billion in employee earnings dispersed among some 576,000 employees (source: Federal Aviation Administration, March 2004).

        I hate to break it to you - but NASA is a very small slice of the aerospace pie. The DoD and commercial aviation make up

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      Given that the DOD takes the brunt of the cuts

      Don't hold your breath.

    • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:31PM (#41354419)

      Much as I like NASA, if that's what it takes to get the deficit under control, then that's what needs to happen.

      NASA's budget is insignificant compared to the entitlement programs and DOD spending. Cutting NASA's budget doesn't upset the old people, the welfare recipients, and the retired military veterans. Cutting NASA's budget does little for actually balancing the budget. It's just the least important to that good o' red blooded american voter that is so important this time of year.

      The problem with the budget has always been that politicians do not look at what will be good for the nation's future when making decisions. Instead they look at what is good for their individual political future and saying "I cut welfare, defense spending, and social security" won't win them any votes. They particularly love the elderly vote since they outnumber the rest of us and they don't let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy story.

      • NASA's budget is insignificant compared to the entitlement programs and DOD spending

        Can't you read? I said that this is to be seen in the context of larger DOD budget cuts. Across the board budget cuts in discretionary spending are going to make a difference. And furthermore, until discretionary spending gets cut noticeably, people will not realize that there is a problem.

        Cutting NASA's budget does little for actually balancing the budget. It's just the least important to that good o' red blooded america

    • by Sgs-Cruz (526085)

      It would be one thing if the cuts ("sequestration") really happened as planned, equally distributed between defense and non-defense discretionary spending.

      Except that the defense industry has been on top of it for months now, and have a very good lobbying campaign going to scare the shit out of Washington about what will happen if the defense cuts go through. So I fear that what will happen is either the defense cuts will be reversed, and the other cuts will still happen, or else none of the cuts will happe

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Much as I like NASA, if that's what it takes to get the deficit under control, then that's what needs to happen.

      This won't do squat about getting the deficit under control. The cause of the deficit is Medicare/Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office has been telling us this for over a dozen years. Left as it is, Medicare/Medicaid will consume all tax revenue in 50-70 years [cbpp.org]. All the savings from cutting defense since the 1960s (when it consumed over 10% of GDP - half the federal budget) has been count [thefiscaltimes.com]

      • This won't do squat about getting the deficit under control.

        Spending cuts for NASA by themselves won't, but across-the-board spending cuts for "discretionary funding" will, not just because they actually do have some effect, but also because people actually will notice.

        The cause of the deficit is Medicare/Medicaid. ... We've known for 3 Presidents exactly what the problem is. We've just refused to do anything about it.

        People won't vote to cut entitlements until they start realizing that they have to. And

    • by ThorGod (456163)

      The deficit...so much populist misunderstanding about the difference between public and private debt. The worst part is politicians willingly feed (aren't aware of?) the important difference between private and public debt.

      Read up on Keynesian economics.

    • by jamstar7 (694492)
      Except this spending cut on the DoD is for manditory (i.e., day to day) funding for things like payrolls, base and equipment upkeep, resupply funding, and so forth. The wars are being fought on discretionary funding that's in addition to the manditory funding, and the discretionary funding hasn't even been looked at. So, don't count on the wars winding down for lack of money. And expect the DoD to lose the cash in manditory funding and get it right back in appropriations bills for discretionary funding.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Given that the DOD takes the brunt of the cuts, it seems fair.

      What the hell are you talking about?
      The whole point of the automatic budget cuts (aka sequestration) is that it's 50/50 split between military and non-Social Security and non-Medicaid domestic spending.
      The whole point is that no one thought the other guy would be willing to pull that trigger by refusing to pass a deficit management plan.

      If nothing is done and the sequestration takes effect, the USA's debt rating is going to get cut again.

  • by QilessQi (2044624) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:12PM (#41354233)

    I'm sure there are a depressingly-large number of Americans who would be overjoyed at the prospect of NASA being monetarily crippled, if not defunded altogether. Not only is it a haven for climate scientists (NASA has Earth-looking satellites, and has monitored the Antactic ozone hole for years), but it's packed to the gills with astrophysicists who maintain that the universe is billions of years old instead of a mere six thousand.

    • by QilessQi (2044624)

      Sigh... "Antarctic ozone hole".

  • Forrest and Trees (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jasnw (1913892) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:14PM (#41354259)

    All this focus on the released details of the bad things that will happen to each agency is a waste of energy. The administration put this document together because Congress insisted on it, and if it had been dropped in my lap I would have done as litle as necessary to put this useless exercise in budgetary masturbation together. This is all focusing on the "trees" of "OMG, my favorite NASA program will be axed" when it should be on the forrest of "DAMN, Congress is about to put a shotgun to the head of the US economy and pull the trigger." We should be furious about the short-sighted, infantile, "he's touching me" inability to work together of what passes for leadership in Congress, particularly on the REPUBLICAN (there, I said it) side of the aisle. NASA losing $1.3B is a candle against the general confligration this disaster will cause to the US.

    • by Ferretman (224859)
      Naturally it's the DEMOCRATS who are primarily responsible, but otherwise I tend to agree with you.

      This is going to be a disaster if allowed to go through.

      Ferret
  • ... I can say that the waste and inefficiency at NASA is for worse than in DOD (which I worked in for 20 years).

    This would be for the best... if you are looking to eliminate waste.

    • by Simulant (528590)
      <quote><p>... I can say that the waste and inefficiency at NASA is for worse than in DOD (which I worked in for 20 years).</p><p>This would be for the best... if you are looking to eliminate waste.</p></quote>

      If this is true then good riddance. The DOD is a money flushing machine.
  • by PerMolestiasEruditio (1118269) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:34PM (#41354449)

    The real waste in the Budget is in things like Medicare. US spends 15% of GDP on health, while most OECD countries spend about 7-8% on evil "socialised medicine" yet have everyone is covered and in many cases they have higher life expectancies. 7% of us GDP is about $1 Trillion per year, I realise that isn't the federal budget but it is money that people could use for other things if they weren't wasting it.

    Higher education 3% of GDP vs OECD average 1.5%. College attendees are getting screwed to the tune of $200 billion per year.

    Around $1000 per person spent on tax filing per year due to ridiculously complex tax system - another 2-300 $billion per year.

    And I am not even going to bother talking about the Pentagon.

    Point is that there are ways of saving all that needs to be saved without impacting negatively on peoples standard of living, but the US needs to be willing to adopt the best practices of the rest of the west, regardless of philosophical objections about free-markets etc.

  • Ain't gonna happen (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Sunday September 16, 2012 @02:35PM (#41354453)

    These sequestration cuts will not happen. After the upcoming election, minds will be concentrated, horses will be traded at a furious rate, and this can will be kicked down the road. The details of the can-kicking and horse-trading will depend on the nature of the election results, but the can will be kicked down the road. Of that you can be sure.

What this country needs is a good five dollar plasma weapon.

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