Third Party & Independents Archives

Space: The Wasteful Frontier

The United States spent 16.2 billion on space exploration during 2005. The five other countries with major space exploration programs spent a combined 8.5 billion in 2005 (Russia: 1 billion, Japan: 2 billion, China: 1 billion, India: 1 billion, and the European Union: 3.5 billion) (1). This 16.2 billion could be better spent.

What do we really get from this money spent on space exploration. It doesn't help cure any disease, educate Americans, protect our border, keep our streets safe, or serve any real world function that helps the everyday life of an average citizen.

Here is a look at what else we could get for our 16.2 billion.

At approximately $12127 a year, which includes tuition, room, and board, a student can be put through a public university. At this rate we could pay for tuition, room, and board for 1,335,862 students a year wth that 16.2 billion (2).

To keep our streets safe we need more police. The median salary for a police officer is $45,564, at this rate we could employ 355,543 more police officers with that 16.2 billion (3).

Many of our public schools are understaffed. Our country needs more teachers. On average in 2005 an American teacher made $46,752 a year. With that 16.2 billion we could hire 346,509 more teachers. (4)

Outside of being understaffed many of our public schools are in horrid condition. According to estimates in Arizona a new public high school can be built for approximately $36 million, at this rate we could build 450 new schools each year in this country with that 16.2 billion. (5)

Of course we could also spend $5 billion more a year on cancer research, $5 billion more a year on AIDS research, and $6.2 billion more on research involving other diseases.

Think about what we really get from space exploration and is it really worth it.

Works Cited:

Posted by Richard Rhodes at July 10, 2006 1:30 AM
Comment #166260

Think what we could have done with what was spent on this war!!

Posted by: womanmarine at July 10, 2006 1:49 AM
Comment #166261

womanmarine- I completely agree with you the money on this war could have spent in many ways that would have done much more good.

However, Comments are expected to remain on the topic of the published article.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 10, 2006 1:57 AM
Comment #166272

Space exploration has indeed generated great and wonderful benefits in areas like medicine, new materials, and consumer products as well as deepening our understanding of the universe.

That said, womanmarine is quite right in implying that there are huge opportunity costs associated with the war, but also with space program as well. These opportunity costs (other places we could spend the same money for greater benefit and return) are made huge by our ever growing national debt and fiscal irresponsibility.

Were our national debt at or below what it was when Clinton left office, and we had legislation that charted a successful course through the baby boom retirement dilemmas of Soc. Sec. and Medicare, corporate pension and retirement plan collapses, the costs associated with space exploration could even be expanded some from current levels.

But reality exists, to be redundant! And the space program is costing future retirees and future generations of workers grotesque losses in quality of life and payroll tax deductions which absolutely must increase well beyond today’s levels if we are to ever get a responsible handle on our debt.

This Republican government makes Democrats the fiscally responsible party. Democrats back “pay as you go spending” which does not dump our spending today on the backs of tomorrows workers and generations. Republicans lack even that level of responsibility in fiscal matters, preferring to argue debt doesn’t matter proferring false arguments that growing the economy will take care of it. Hell, even conservative economists agree now that growing the economy can never dig ourselves out of the debt burden Republicans have created. If congress does not vote to spend on extra dollar on new programs from this point forward, the laws already passed and commitments therein have us committed to an 11 trillion dollar national debt by the end of this decade. That is about double the debt when Clinton left office.

Neither Clinton nor the Republican congress seperately can take credit for the balanced budget when Clinton left office. They must share the credit as they checked and balanced each other on spending. The biggest favor and investment voters can give themselves this November is a Democratic House or Senate win, which can act as check on Bush’s budgets and spending, as the Republican Congress did against Clintons budgets and spending.

Space is an investment in the future. But, does it make sense to invest part of your pay for a 7% return when your credit cards, car payments and mortgage have you paying 9% in interest. No matter how you cut it, it makes no sense to invest in the future when you are losing ground daily in interest payments attached to an ever growing debt level.

It is time to cut space and NASA spending. Seriously. It is time to enter more joint ventures with other nation’s space programs whereever possible and affordable. We have a 100’s of billions of dollars of tax dollars being spent on the interest on our national debt each year. And more than 40% of those dollars are going to overseas fat cats like Middle Eastern oil investors and owners.

Cut the space spending, and a great deal more, and at least begin exercising some fiscal responsibility for our children’s future’s sake.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 10, 2006 6:52 AM
Comment #166274

I like space exploration, probably more for emotional than practical reasons. Knowledge is a good thing and we get a lot out of it.

I won’t argue that point, however. I will take issue with the alternative spending estimates. Thing do not really work like that. I remember a couple years back someone estimated that Bill Gates could buy all the farm land in the Midwest. Of course, if he started to do that, the prices would rise so he could not do it.

College education seems to be very sensitive to government subsidies for students. Tuition and fees rise with financial aid. It is kind of like the old joke. A: How much does this cost? B: How much have you got? A: Answers. B: What a coincidence, that is exactly the price.

It is also true that some sorts of research or other work cannot be accelerated by putting in more money. Things just take time.

Finally, if you leave money in the government, somebody spends it. As in the joke, programs will use the amount of money you give them. So if we cut spending on space, we probably would not find an additional 16 billion still available.

It will all be sucked up by entitlements in a few years anyway if we do not address that problem.

Posted by: Jack at July 10, 2006 7:50 AM
Comment #166276

Though I would gladly see the red tape and bureaucracy be thinned from NASA, I think going after NASA’s funding as one way to deal with the budget is a bad idea.

Already, we’re putting our ability to track changes in the Earth’s biosphere at risk, with funding cuts endangering LANDsat. We’re also on the verge of losing what funding remains for our first interstellar mission, the Voyager program.

Ultimately, the problem we have here is a point of view that calls itself pragmatic, but really is devoted to the technological status quo, to short term thinking about what the world’s like now. Never mind that through the technology developed for NASA’s missions over the years, the averag person’s standard of living has increased. How many scientists have been trained, how much science has been possible about this planet of ours? We watch weather forecasts, follow our GPS trackers, and watch 500 channels by means of technology that exists because of NASA, either directly or indirectly.

Fiscal responsiblity is not synonymous with corner cutting. Efficiency in government begins with the purpose of what we ask it to do. The Spending cuts already employed at NASA have been at the expense of both the science and the spaceflight program. Now some talk of private enterprise taking over on somethings, and as far as commercial satellites go, okay.

But otherwise, is private enterprise anywhere near where NASA is now, much less where NASA was in the time of the Moon landing?

NASA gets picked on because it’s science, and we have a culture in this country that comfortably sits on the shoulder of previous scientific achievements and asks thoughtlessly what use there is spending on science and technology, or learning about the same.

Our complacency does not serve us well. We got to where we are by being the most inventive sons of bitches on the planet, not by sitting on our laurels like half the countries on the planet. We’ve used our freedom to both attract and keep the best minds in the world. It use to be, before being learned and wise fell out of fashion, that we had a passion for being the best minds ourselves. Instead, though, we have taken up the pseudo-rustic or pseudo street-wise position that we know all we need to know, and that we can let the increasingly user friendly technology take care of itself. Science, many people unfortunately believe, is for people who don’t have lives. Ironically, these people increasingly sit around televisions, computers, and play video games; most people of times past would call that not having a life.

NASA is about exploration. It’s about America once again becoming the nation that leads technological revolutions rather than merely following them. To give up on NASA is to give up on that premise. NASA with it’s small budget, in the scheme of things, will do more good for our society and it’s prosperity than any sacrificial spending cuts.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 10, 2006 8:09 AM
Comment #166282

Europe in 1500: Think of the money we are spending on outfitting ships to explore the new World. The money wasted on this silly adventure could be better spent here in Europe. The money could be used to mount a new campaign to free the Holy land from the infidels or a hundred other projects that will benefit Europe more than this ill begotten exploration. We will never see a return on the money spent exploring that land called the Americas.

Posted by: jlw at July 10, 2006 9:32 AM
Comment #166285


I don’t know if you are old enough to remember the massive loss of jobs that occurred with the end of the “space race”.
I know that both Jack and David are.

You’re aren’t just talking about NASA when you talk about space.
There are millions of people, in thousands of companies that are associated with our quest into the unknown. Those people too will take the hit.

“What do we really get from this money spent on space exploration. It doesn’t help cure any disease, educate Americans, protect our border, keep our streets safe, or serve any real world function that helps the everyday life of an average citizen.”

Do you truly think that our aerospace industry is only about Tang and Velcro?

Posted by: Rocky at July 10, 2006 10:05 AM
Comment #166295

I don’t know if I agree with the idea that the more money you throw at finding cures for diseases, the more intelligent of insightful the researchers will become. I agree that finding ways to help prevent cancer and aids related deaths until a cure can be found is a very worthy cause, but I also know that this is already being done. Perhaps it may not be being done to the tune of 16.2 billion dollars, but enough so that government subsidy is unneccessary. Pharmecutical Labratories worldwide are working the issue.

The remainder of your suggestions have one thing in common which is that there would be a redistribution proportionate to need, nore more police are needed in the safest communities, and no more teachers or building repairs are needed in the schools that are adequately supported. This would indicate that the majority of these resources would go into economically challenged areas. I won’t go into a disertaion on how subsidy can breed dependence, but will say that the spirit of independence that Space Exploration has given us has been given freely and equally among all Americans. It’s one of the only dreams that we all share, and without it we would be diminished.

Posted by: DOC at July 10, 2006 11:54 AM
Comment #166308

DOC, it is our children who will be diminished by the 11 plus trillion dollar national debt and the interest on that debt coming out of their paychecks at the very time they are trying to provide for their parents and grandparents medical costs, and in many costs just living costs.

I don’t think anyone here is calling for abandoning the space program, but, we could certainly put off the spending on landing humans on Mars for a decade or two and try to salvage this Republican fiscal mess they have put us all in.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 10, 2006 12:29 PM
Comment #166310


For the sake of argument, how exactly are we supposed to deal with problems like the DC school system. They don’t have enough teachers, and their facilities are the worst in the country. DC schools resemble the schools in Bosnia more than they do the schools in America.

If you don’t have a school system which can create employees, then you don’t have jobs. This means that there is an ever shrinking tax base in the district, as more and more jobs go to those who live in the suburbs in Maryland.

How does DC recover from this? They don’t have the money to fix their schools, they aren’t making any more money from their population, what exactly do they do in this situation?

Maryland has the same problem, in that Baltimore city, Baltimore and PG counties, and the eastern shore all have funding shortages, but the rich counties get a majority of the funding, and the poor counties get worse and worse. What do you do in that situation? You have to have a redistributive policy to solve these shortfalls.

Posted by: iandanger at July 10, 2006 12:38 PM
Comment #166313

NASA, for the most part, has proved to be a waste of valuable time and money. I agree that America should have a space program, but it would better suit the interest of the public if that program was privatized and chartered to individual companies, with government oversight, of course.

This would drastically reduce the amount of funds the government must spend on the space program, and allow less needless government regulation and bureaucratic inefficiencies, culminating in more efficient research and more rapid growth.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 10, 2006 12:58 PM
Comment #166316


“NASA, for the most part, has proved to be a waste of valuable time and money. I agree that America should have a space program, but it would better suit the interest of the public if that program was privatized and chartered to individual companies, with government oversight, of course.”

Gee, then we could create yet another government bureaucracy and waste even more money.

How much do you think the “private” contractors will overcharge the government to put DoD hardware, for instance, into space?

How much will the contractors overcharge to service what we already have up there?

While I don’t see the need to go to Mars quite yet, there have been medical experiments taking place on the shuttle since it became our only means of getting into space.

Posted by: Rocky at July 10, 2006 1:09 PM
Comment #166321

David R. - Perhaps I’ve lost my ability to relate, but I don’t see how one can logically suggest the end of social security woes and s zero deficit, with a redirection of the NASA budget. You do have an arguable point however, we could pay off the deficit if we put put NASA funding on hold for 680 years. My children won’t benefit.

Sorry, it just doesn’t make sense.

Posted by: DOC at July 10, 2006 1:38 PM
Comment #166322

I think the problem with the way many people regard budget cutting and fiscal discipline today is that they forget that things have to work. You don’t get something for nothing.

Scientists have to get paid like everybody else. They have to buy specialized equipment and supplies. They have to pay other people to do the work they don’t have the expertise or time to do. We’re not paying for insight. Rather, we’re paying for the time, effort and research it takes to gain that insight. People talk about throwing money at problems without acknowledging that there’s a difference between having a purpose and having the means to carry it out. These are not fiscal problems, often enough, but instead can be management or practical issues. I think this is where the Republican’s anti-big government attitude has created the most bureaucratic mess- they have no motivation to optimize the operations of the bureaucracy.

Even if we were to pay for the NASA budget for the decade this year, NASA’s budget would be less than we spend in one year for defense, Social Security, or paying down interest on our debt. What about taking down all that porkbarrel stuff first, get rid of the useless stuff that won’t give our country a heads-up in the world.

Oh, yes. Real waste. All those satellites we put into orbit, all the technology invented, the fact that this nation, alone among all nations on Earth can claim that they sent men to the moon and brought them back safely to Earth. Yeah, real useless. Tell me, then, where would the military you so love be without GPS or Keyhole Elint?

Truth is, any large organization is going to have bureaucratic troubles. That’s not a money problem though, like I said before, it’s a management problem.

Many of the critics here are missing the crucial distinction there. Great things can be done for minimal price, but it’s not just a matter of finding the parts on sale and paying our employees rock-bottom salaries. It’s a matter of putting the knowledge, expertise, and coordination in place so that things run smoothly, and so the wrong corners aren’t cut, causing expensive mistakes, delays, and coverups.

It’s time to get beyond political philosophy and look to the real world.

For example, attempts to privatize parts of FEMA ended up backfiring, as things that would have been better managed in house were not done there, and as corruption got the best of companies.

We need better management than that, and more in our imaginations than the typical right-wing rhetoric about over-sized government being the problem.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 10, 2006 1:39 PM
Comment #166325


You must have missed the part about government oversight. The government would subsidize these companies, while ensuring that they don’t get ripped off in the process. I understand the need for the government to have broad control of our space program, which is why they would oversee the companies in a way that ensures government involvement but does not inhibit the research process.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 10, 2006 1:41 PM
Comment #166327


“You must have missed the part about government oversight.”

Doesn’t “oversight” require an agency to do the “overseeing”?


Please don’t say Congress will do it. We already know how good they are at that.

Posted by: Rocky at July 10, 2006 1:46 PM
Comment #166331

No, Congress wouldn’t do it. NASA, now whittled down to a mid-sized office building, would provide the oversight. They would ensure the government still has a hand in the space program, but they would have little say on the research aspects of the program, outside of broad, loose regulations.

They would also report directly to a high ranking government official (Defense, perhaps) to avoid an overabundance of bureaucracy.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 10, 2006 1:58 PM
Comment #166332
Oh, yes. Real waste. All those satellites we put into orbit, all the technology invented, the fact that this nation, alone among all nations on Earth can claim that they sent men to the moon and brought them back safely to Earth. Yeah, real useless. Tell me, then, where would the military you so love be without GPS or Keyhole Elint?


For the amount of money we’ve spent on NASA they should’ve put us on Pluto by now. All I’m saying is that we, the taxpayers, are not getting our money’s worth for NASA…we’re not spending billions of dollars per year so NASA can conjure up neat looking GPS systems.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 10, 2006 2:04 PM
Comment #166337


“They would ensure the government still has a hand in the space program, but they would have little say on the research aspects of the program, outside of broad, loose regulations.”

Have you ever watched the movie “Outland”?

I realize that the story is SciFi, but the premise isn’t so far fetched, given human nature, and the nature of corporations to do whatever it takes (including going outside of the regulations), to accomplish their goal, which is to make a profit, sometimes at any cost.

In case you haven’t recognized it, I like the fact that my government is involved in space. It gives me hope for the future of this country that we have finally seen that co-operation with other countries can make a diference.

Posted by: Rocky at July 10, 2006 2:13 PM
Comment #166341

iandanger - The collection of weath in D.C. is held by people who all work for the same company. From my understanding there is an extremely small mid-income class to support the needs of the low-income population. There is no easy answer for this as there are a multitude of issues in D.C. that simply rebuilding schools and hiring better teachers won’t fix. Finding a way for the community to flouirish as a whole, in spite of, and separate from the government would be a start. It’s the chicken/egg question. Do you attract business with employees or do you attract employees to business.

Money will ease symptoms but is not a cure.

Posted by: DOC at July 10, 2006 2:22 PM
Comment #166350


“For the amount of money we’ve spent on NASA they should’ve put us on Pluto by now.”

That’s a joke right?

Do you realize that 50 years ago there wasn’t anything man made in space?

That 50 years ago we were still having trouble getting a rocket off the launch pad?

Getting to the Moon was all about DoD winning the Cold War. Anything else we gained from it was just a convenient happenstance. It’s only in the last 15 years that we have iniciated co-operation with other countries toward the international space station, hopefully as a jumping off point for deep space exploration.

You guys are bitching about a paltry 16 billion dollars, when we have spent nearly 20 times that much in the last 3 years attempting to create a democracy in Iraq.

You want to assure the survival of mankind?

Space exploration is the “one small step” toward accomplishing that goal.

Posted by: Rocky at July 10, 2006 2:44 PM
Comment #166366

Stephen, c’mon, man, we are talking an 11 Trillion dollar national debt with accompanying multi-billions in interest payments on that debt. Bring down the debt, then we can afford NASA on the interest savings alone.

Democrats, no better than Republicans when it comes to fiscal constraint and priorities. One exception, at least Democrats would return us to Pay as you Go for all new legislation instead of adding untold sums to the next generation’s national debt burden. But, that really is the only difference so far.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 10, 2006 3:46 PM
Comment #166372


Surely you don’t think D.C. needs more money for education? They already have the second highest dollars per pupil in the country. They are conversley last in achievement. See the link for info:’Average%20Spending%20by%20State%20on%20Public%20Education’

Btw, first is Minnesota who is only $200 above the national average in per pupil spending (21st overall).

Money won’t fix the schools, Ian. The problem is much, much deeper than the schools.

Posted by: Rob at July 10, 2006 4:38 PM
Comment #166378
NASA, for the most part, has proved to be a waste of valuable time and money. I agree that America should have a space program, but it would better suit the interest of the public if that program was privatized and chartered to individual companies, with government oversight, of course.

NASA has been hugely successful to my mind and all Americans should be proud of its accomplishment. To be the first country to reach the moon is an amazing achievement.

I do think funding should be cut, but, unlike Alex, I don’t think that will automatically translate into greater progress. I don’t buy that argument for common sense reasons. But in the spirit of fair play I think Republicans should give up some programs too, such as the missile shield, which has achieved anything. Why not cut the programs that have truly, truly, acheived nothing?

And hell yeah this war would be a good start. Talking about cutting spending of any kind without talking about the war is like trying find a bandaid for a papercut after a limb has been hacked off.

Posted by: Max at July 10, 2006 5:16 PM
Comment #166468

I do think funding should be cut, but, unlike Alex, I don’t think that will automatically translate into greater progress. I don’t buy that argument for common sense reasons.


I want to cut NASA’s public spending b/c the space program can flourish if privatized.


Yes, the pluto thing was a joke. We can debate all day about the successes and failures of NASA, but it just seems to me that for 16 bill. they should be doing a lot more, more often.

And yes, I want mankind to survive, but keeping the spage program public will not aid this endeavour.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at July 11, 2006 12:15 AM
Comment #166474


Have you actually gone to NASA’s website?

I highly recomend it.

Also google NASA+budget you will see where your money is going.

Posted by: Rocky at July 11, 2006 12:40 AM
Comment #166486

DOC stated: “The remainder of your suggestions have one thing in common which is that there would be a redistribution proportionate to need”

Granted this is what it would seem like, but in all actuality my motivation was to put more money into education, if you notice three of the five suggestions involve education.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at July 11, 2006 2:18 AM
Comment #166519

Richard - My point was missed. Education is a very worthy cause, it provides the ability to reach for the stars. But not the motivation. The motivation comes from watching someone else try. How can someone aspire to be a fireman if they’ve never seen a fireman? How can someone
aspire to be an astronaut, if there aren’t any around?

You’re basically giving more people the “ability” not “motivation” to reach thier dreams, at the expense of the hard work and dreams of others.

Posted by: DOC at July 11, 2006 9:31 AM
Comment #166521

Unfortunately, in this era of greed, moral, & fiscal bankruptcy, government waste is rampant.
Our Federal Reserve is a ponzi-scheme, and so is Social Security (surpluses being spent and replaced with worthless bonds).

But, at least NASA is not outright waste.
There are many technological advances and spin offs from NASA. At least NASA produces something. Some space exploration is wise too if we are to ever find a way to deflect asteroids and comets in the path of the Earth’s orbit (and some have already been found that may strike the Earth in the future (see Asteroid 1950 DA )). So, NASA is not a total waste.

Rather than picking on NASA, how about picking on the real wasters ?

If you want to concentrate on real waste, greed, and corruption, there are many better targets.

For example, here are numerous other examples of waste and greed.

Look at the $25 billion misplaced by the Pentagon (yeah right; misplaced my ass) …

1. The Missing $25 Billion:

Buried in the Department of the Treasury’s 2003 Financial Report of the United States Government is a short section titled “Unreconciled Transactions Affecting the Change in Net Position,” which explains that these unreconciled transactions totaled $24.5 billion in 2003.
The unreconciled transactions are funds for which auditors cannot account: The government knows that $25 billion was spent by someone, somewhere, on something, but auditors do not know who spent it, where it was spent, or on what it was spent. Blaming these unreconciled transactions on the failure of federal agencies to report their expenditures adequately, the Treasury report con­cludes that locating the money is “a priority.”

The unreconciled $25 billion could have funded the entire Department of Justice for an entire year.

Then trot over to Citizens Against Government Waste ( ) to get a real dose of government waste, greed, and corruption.

If apathetic voters are tired of corruption, waste, greed, government FOR-SALE, government that is controlled & manipulated by a very few with vast wealth and power, then stop whinin’ about it and do somethin’ about it. Simply what you voters were supposed to do all along, always …

  • Stop Repeat Offenders.
  • Don’t Re-Elect Them !
Posted by: d.a.n at July 11, 2006 9:59 AM
Comment #166578

That 25 billion represents the exact same amount as the Federal Gov’t. giving every wage earner in America a $172.41, rebate check. (145 million wage earners assumed).

Talk about ripping off the tax payers. OUCH! That’s 2.5 fillups on my pick up truck, today. Or 4.5 fillups when Bush took office in 2001.

Thank you Mr. President for the inflation and thank you Congress for the unlubricated shaft. I will be sure to remember every incumbent in my district on November 7 so I can avoid voting for them.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 11, 2006 2:45 PM
Comment #166623


Were you around to feel the euphoria when man first set foot on the moon?
I was.
If you were, did you feel the same when “Spaceship One” broke into space?
I didn’t.
Do you truly want a corporation to be the one that creates our view of the future in space?
I don’t and I am willing to give back my tax cuts to fund NASA.

Posted by: Rocky at July 11, 2006 5:54 PM
Comment #166630

I scoff at this blogs stupidity, obviously few of you have ever thought of how much danger we are in.

The danger posed by asteriod strikes, nuclear war, ice ages, man-made disasters, and even some far off things like alien invasion or technological singularity are all real, like it or not.

Therefore, is having a insurance policy all that bad?

Posted by: Lawman at July 11, 2006 6:17 PM
Comment #166663

Why don’t ya tell us what ya really think?
You didn’t really mean the blog is stupid, did you?
And questioning about NASA spending isn’t stupid either.

Still, I support NASA, because I believe it is one of the very few government programs that actually produces something of value.

And, yes you are correct.
The threat of asteriods, comets, and other natural disasters is very real.

NASA is a very good investment to help us avoid a collision with the inevitable impact of an asteriod or comet. And it will happen again someday. It’s not a matter of IF. It’s a matter of WHEN.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 11, 2006 8:06 PM
Comment #166666

Besides, half of the $29 billion for pork-barrel in 2006, and the $25 billion for pork-barrel in 2005, and the 24 billion for pork-barrel in 2004, … , would pay for NASA many times over.

What we really need is to get a handle on our out-of-control, irresponsible, out-of-control, money-printing, bought-and-paid-for, arrogant, and mostly worthless, incumbent politicians. They waste so much, it would fill volumes.

But, NASA is an easy target, because they are a group of engineers, scientists, chemists, mathematicians, and astronomers. The worst of them is probably a few in administration.

So, lets first concentrate on those things and persons that are far, far, far more irresponsible.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 11, 2006 8:13 PM
Comment #166669

HEY d.a.n, good to hear from you, is was not that long ago when one of those huge asteriods went wizzing by. and it came a heck of a lot closer than they calculated it to! and the shuttle is going to retire in 2010!.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at July 11, 2006 8:20 PM
Comment #166685

Hello Rodney,
Good to hear from you too.
Yep. Here is a picture that will freak you out, because there are so many asteriods around us … more than many realize. It’s a shooting gallery. It’s just a matter of time. That’s why we would be wise to think about ways to deflect them (when necessary).

Asteroid 1950 DA is on a collision course with Earth, and it it 1 kilometer in diameter.
That’s enough to lay waste to a continent, and change the weather for a long, long time.

Posted by: d.a.n at July 11, 2006 8:54 PM
Comment #166699


No offence pal, but 2880 is a long time from now, and a .33% chance of it colliding with earth is kind of long shot, don’t you think?

Posted by: Rocky at July 11, 2006 9:53 PM
Comment #166702

the one i was talking about was in 2002 and it was the size of a soccer field and it missed hitting earth bt only 75,000 miles that is close my friend.i believe that should prompt some serious attention.the one that wiped out siberia in 1908 was much smaller. and no population.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at July 11, 2006 10:19 PM
Comment #166703

That’s just one we know of.
There is no telling how many we don’t know of.
Did you see the link to the graphic ?

Posted by: d.a.n at July 11, 2006 10:42 PM
Comment #166732

Lawman said: “I scoff at this blogs stupidity, obviously few of you have ever thought of how much danger we are in.”

I scoff at the incredible ignorance of your comment. The risk of our economy going belly up as a result of the incredible national debt and continuing record deficits in the wake of a Soc. Sec. and Medicare meltdown in 2 decades is magnitudes larger than getting hit by a asteroid. Where is your sense of priorities and rationality?

We should not end NASA spending, but, we should back off putting people on that wasteland called the Moon or that red waterless airless planet called Mars until we have our fiscal house in order, don’t you think? We can continue to invest in earth defense from asteroids, but, we can also trim half or more of NASA’s budget by backshelving the Space based nuclear missiles and colonies on the Moon and Mars, until America gets a grip on its economic disaster coming in just 15 years.

Posted by: David R. Remer at July 12, 2006 5:14 AM
Comment #166841

The trouble is, by doing so, we may be depriving ourselves of real, useful technological benefits that would offset the price of continued funding.

What if we had cut the DARPANet program thirty years ago, based on its then lack of wide usefulness?

The problem in NASA is a management problem, pure and simple. We have a billion dollar a flight Space Shuttle that has mostly served as a cash-cow for aerospace contractors, and have stuck to that in the name of fiscal discipline for years now.

We should have been aiming for broader goals, aiming to reduce the price per pound of boosting materials to orbit, making new goals to replace the ones we cast aside when Apollo brought us to the moon successfuly. Bureaucracies drift and bloat when they don’t have a cause and culture to dedicate themselves to. Our focus should be on breaking out of this blue planet of a shell. This is one of the next expansions of Global culture that will be necessary if we are do anything other than sit here and exhaust our resources.

Getting our fiscal house in order, and our butts out of Earth’s gravity well are not mutually exclusive goals. Hell, if we cut “Star Wars” and use the money to fund more space exploration, we could end up closer to Lucas’s vision than the malfunctioning missile defense would ever take us.

I don’t disagree with doing this pay as you go, but for heaven’s sake, there’s plenty worse offenders to get rid of than NASA. Let those worthless programs and corporate welfare items do the paying, so Americans can go and get our footholds in the solar system.

You underestimate the difficulty of interplanetary travel. Let me put it in perspective: 2-5 years for Mars alone, depending on when we go. That’s just to get a few million miles, Pluto is hundreds of billions of miles further out.

We have to deal with what happens to people in the course of the flight. We have to try and find faster propulsion. We have to find a way to carry or generate the fuel and supplies needed to get there. Too many folks have their impression of space travel informed by the adventures of actors on sets.

GPS is nothing to scoff at. It’s what allows your weapons to hit with our famous precision. It’s what allows our military to navigate precisely. It was actually first intended for their use, and only later got turned to Civilian uses.

NASA’s problem is one of management, and a lack of real goals outside of the Space Shuttle/International Space Station holding pattern. Now I don’t doubt that private companies could eventually replace NASA’s role as primary space mover, and I’d like to see that. That said, it brings up some daunting financial and technological problems, not the least of which is how much it costs to get things into orbit. We don’t really have an infrastructure for this.

Now if you said we should relax regulations so as to allow greater private involvement, I say by all means. We need that. Keeping the space program going at NASA, though, is necessary for the simple economies of scales it affords for massive undertakings. Until Private Business can match that, any talk of privatizing is premature, especially with others in the world aiming to take our crown. Do we really want to give China the headstart so they can be planting flags on the Sea of Tranquility? I’d think that would be the final insult. I’m not big on nationalism, but I’m patriotic enough to want to see us return first and prove we’re still capable of our father’s successes, that we are worthy successors to the greatest generation.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 12, 2006 2:44 PM
Comment #166853

correction: Pluto’s distance is measured in hundreds of millions. Hundreds of billions would probably put it in interstellar space.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at July 12, 2006 3:48 PM
Comment #166884

Hmmm I must say going private witht he space program would prolly not be a great idea in a few respects.

Sor one, i have heard many times that big business is the devil.

So I’ll pretend they ARE actually evil cooperations:

So let’s start with one of the big evil ones…let’s say Microsoft is the first ppl to actually get working software for space travel.. now its not just Windows they have a monopoly on, but space travel systems as well, they make a deal with Dell to optimize computers for the electronics to control the flight and navigation systems.. both having patents on their products of course.

so now the highest areospace bidder comes in and buys Windows Starship, and pays them a bit extra for exclusive rights to use it.

That would make one company in america having sole rights to all technology involving space flight. Ao , all satilite repairs are done by their repairmen ISS trips are on their schedual and payloads are charged accordingly.

Yes free enterprise would make for some competition , but there are only so many companys rich enough to be able to invest the sums needed to embark on such a thing. I do not belive a private space monopoly is a good idea to risk, any technology they create or invent is their private property and of course they would be unwiling and uncompelled to share technology for the greater good since private means profit.

Now if the private sector wanted in some way to assist and aid NASA in some manners that would be fine.. as long as the space shuttle didn’t end up looking like a NASCAR.

Posted by: RHancheck at July 12, 2006 5:53 PM
Comment #173169

Poorly researched and utterly reactionary article.

1) NASA funds science and technology research which provides thousands of college grads with BS degrees something to do other than work at WalMart.

2) Maintaining a technological lead enables the people in the US to lead a horribly wasteful lifestyle and maintain ridiculously low expectations for being “green.” Since when does driving a vehicle 20 times your own weight that requires the creation and dispersion of hundreds of pounds of toxic and environment damaging materials qualify as being environmentally concious? In case you didn’t realize, I was talking about the Toyota Prius.

3) NASA is a huge government assistance program that creates jobs more efficiently than tax cuts ever will.

4) NASA is vital to national security. Living in the most naturally endowed nation on earth (per capita) it is stupid to not worry about national security. History is filled with gluttonous empires being carved up by “barbarians” and being a gluttonous empire, we should be mindful of this ever-present threat.

Posted by: Nash at August 4, 2006 12:04 AM
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