NASA, Other

Saving a nonexistent $100 billion

Did you know that “The U.S. government is planning to spend $100 billion on the international space station over the next several years”? So claims Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily in an editorial today. Of course, he’s slipped a decimal point or two in his calculations: $100 billion is about six years of NASA’s entire budget at its current level, of which the ISS is just one relatively modest part. Cutting the ISS won’t save $100 billion except for sufficiently very large values of “several years”, most likely far larger than the lifetime of the station. $100 billion is far closer to the lifetime expense of the station (depending on one’s accounting), a large fraction of which has already been spent.

Farah goes on to claim that, during the Shuttle-Constellation gap, “only Russia will be able to supply the international space station – making it, effectively, a Russian project”. Right now only Russia will have the ability to send crews to and from the station once the shuttle is retired, but Europe (and perhaps Japan, depending on the development of the HTV) will be able to send cargo to the station. Moreover. SpaceX and/or Orbital may have demonstrated the ability to send cargo to the station, with SpaceX having the option for crew transfer not long after as well. So much for the case where the ISS “is entirely under the control of a foreign government.”

If you get past these blunders, Farah does ask some interesting questions: should taxpayers “only be asked to support projects of vital national interest” instead of “international feel-good plans”? Given the development of commercial ISS resupply services, “why not just turn the entire business of space exploration over to private industry?” But then he asks “What are NASA’s goals for the future?”, apparently ignorant of the Vision for Space Exploration.

3 comments to Saving a nonexistent $100 billion

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