Congress, Lobbying, NASA, White House

Science hoping for the best, preparing for the worst in FY13 budget

Early month the White House will release its fiscal year 2013 budget proposal. While most of the details of that budget proposal have been, or very soon will be, nailed down, some organizations are making a last-minute push to lobby for funding for NASA science programs in particular. Others, though, worried about what the budget proposal may contain, are already looking ahead to Congressional action on the budget.

The Planetary Society is in the first camp. This week the organization released a letter it sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on NASA science funding. In the letter the society asks OMB for a “small but significant” change in NASA science funding, so that it accounts for 30 percent of NASA’s overall budget. (In FY2012 science accounts for $5.09 billion out of the agency’s $17.8-billion budget, or 28.6%.) This “modest rebalancing”, the society argues, would support the agency’s portfolio of science programs in an era of tight budgets. “If NASA’s overall budget shrinks, we are concerned that the Science program will carry a disproportionate burden of any reduction,” the letter states. “Increasing the share of the NASA budget for Science is the best place for the agency to make the most effective use of the taxpayers’ money in today’s austere budget environment.”

The Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is more pessimistic about the administration’s budget request, particularly for the planetary science portion of the overall NASA science budget. “The reality is that within NASA’s science budget, planetary science is nowhere near the Administration’s top priority and that does leave us vulnerable to budget pressures,” DPS chair Dan Britt writes in a DPS newsletter published this week. A cut to planetary science funding, he notes, would jeopardize a wide range of missions as well as research funding.

However, he is more optimistic about how Congress will deal with planetary science funding. “Planetary science has a lot of friends on both sides the aisle in Congress. Congress likes the results the planetary science program, they like the consensus plan in the Decadal Survey, and they want to see it continue,” he writes. NASA’s planetary science program got a largely sympathetic hearing by the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee in November, with the OMB blamed for problems like the apparent unwillingness to commit to cooperation with Europe on Mars exploration. Britt adds, though, that Congress won’t act on its own. “While Congress is a potentially friendly forum, it’s going to be up to us, the planetary science community, to make the case for continued priority support.”

78 comments to Science hoping for the best, preparing for the worst in FY13 budget

  • You could zero out SMD and the world will still turn.

  • common sense

    @ Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 7:34 am

    “You could zero out SMD and the world will still turn.”

    What a profound comment.

    What else could we zero out and yet the world would still turn? Should it be a criterion for investment?

    Whatever.

  • Das Boese

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 7:34 am

    You could zero out SMD and the world will still turn.

    Oh yeah, awesome idea. Eradicate all US predominance in space science, abandon billions of dollars worth of equipment and as a bonus turn your country all but blind to space weather (have fun when the next geomagnetic storm hits your power grid). Yup, thumbs up, you really thought this through.

  • vulture4

    Planetary and space science fills a vast emotional and intellectual need we have for understanding the universe, but all our hopes of offworld industry notwithstanding, it creates no immediate profit. Consequently private industry and investors simply cannot, except in rare cases, fund it, or any basic science, and it falls to Congress and the taxpayers. Groups like the Planetary Society, the NSS, AAS, and many others have done a pretty good job of persuading Congress that planetary science has customers among a substantial group of voters, and the lobbyists and voters are customers of Congress. Ultimately building strong public interests and support is the only way we can maintain funding for basic research in any of the fields we believe are important.

  • Byeman

    “You could zero out SMD and the world will still turn.”
    Actually it is more true for HSF. There is no return from it.

  • @common sense:

    What a profound comment.

    What else could we zero out and yet the world would still turn? Should it be a criterion for investment?

    Apparently yours is keeping Bill Nye happy and his magazine in business.

    @Boese:

    Oh yeah, awesome idea. Eradicate all US predominance in space science…

    Isn’t that similar to eradicating US predominance in dolphin recipes?

    …abandon billions of dollars worth of equipment…

    Ah, but think of the billions you’ll recoup annually by doing so.

    …and as a bonus turn your country all but blind to space weather (have fun when the next geomagnetic storm hits your power grid).

    Curious, how do you magically mitigate against space weather with little more than a few pieces of paper?

    Yup, thumbs up, you really thought this through.

    You apparently have not?

  • gregori

    Well Prez Cannady’s contempt for doing actual science is not all that surprising. Once they build a giant rocket to nowhere, I think he will be more or less happy.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 7:34 am
    “You could zero out SMD and the world will still turn.”

    You could zero out the human race and the world will still turn. You know, angular momentum doesn’t need people to be conserved.

    But the concerns of planetary astronomers are telling. Space exploration can be viewed as being strongly driven by SMD. Our “being there” is happening robotically around the solar system with great success. Planetary astronomers see the huge overruns on JWST as almost certainly impacting their own efforts, as well as would more general cuts to the agency budget. The identification of JWST as one of the prime priorities for the whole agency, as opposed to, say, Mars sample return, has to be somewhat jarring for them. What got JWST to that lofty priority is mainly fiscal screwups, which is not a very constructive forward-looking incentive.

    Like it or not, for roughly the same yearly budget, NASA science has been hugely productive in what we can call “space exploration”, as in bringing us (and not just a couple of astronauts) to places we’ve never been before. As usual, the argument here is what “space exploration” really should be. The Administration and Congress have not really bought into the idea that space is full of resources that need humans with bulldozers and pickaxes, or that we need to colonize other worlds.

  • @vulture4:

    Planetary and space science fills a vast emotional and intellectual need we have for understanding the universe…

    This is poetry. Bad poetry. And at $5 billion a year, expensive to boot.

    …but all our hopes of offworld industry notwithstanding, it creates no immediate profit. Consequently private industry and investors simply cannot, except in rare cases, fund it, or any basic science, and it falls to Congress and the taxpayers.

    So here’s a thought. How about redirecting $5 billion towards carving footholds needed to establish offworld industry? If your going to harp quixotically about Congress’ HSF slush fund, then you can afford to have the cosmic navel gazers can wait until affordable access to space is realized.

    Groups like the Planetary Society, the NSS, AAS, and many others have done a pretty good job of persuading Congress that planetary science has customers among a substantial group of voters, and the lobbyists and voters are customers of Congress.

    Give me a break. These organizations can chalk their “success” up to the fact that no one is motivated enough to go after their cash cow. SLS is a blessing. It may be a pork boon, but at least it forces Congress to think about national space priorities in times of constrained budgets. Now’s the time to make the argument for space science to take a back seat.

  • @Byeman:

    Actually it is more true for HSF. There is no return from it.

    There’s no return from SMD, which employees considerably less bodies in considerably fewer Congressional districts per dollar spent. If you care about access to space, about developing space for the benefit of folks other than a handful of astronomers and astronauts, then it’s time you learned to pick your battles.

  • amightywind

    Planetary science could absorb a 10% cut. They would actually have to prioritize, like the rest of us do in the real world. Cut the dead weight (people and missions) and move forward.

  • common sense

    @Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 10:36 am

    “Apparently yours is keeping Bill Nye happy and his magazine in business.”

    Wow more and more amazing. So much substance. Are you a scientist or something?

    Your posts are rapidly turning into the most trolling, circular and void arguments we have here.

  • Byeman

    There are many ways to mitigate the effects of space weather if giving a warning

    BTW, Prez Cannady is a new member

    http://gaetanomarano.blogspot.com/2012/01/consolidated-list.html

  • E.P. Grondine

    Sometimes you don’t get to pick your battles.

    Generally people here are looking at this in terms of NASA probes to Mars.
    That’s “fun” I can’t enjoy in right now, as I am firmly convivnced that
    other SMD priorties are far more pressing.

    That said, I would like to mention that the US electric power grid has already been strengthened to resist EMP from solar acrivity to some degree.

  • Byeman

    Prez is wrong again. “There’s no return from SMD” Earth science is one of the greatest returns from SMD.
    Shows that Prez doesn’t know he is talking about. SMD is not just planetary science.

    “”, which employees considerably less bodies in considerably fewer Congressional districts per dollar spent”
    So, SMD is less pork than HSF.

    “access to space” is not HSF.

    “carving footholds needed to establish offworld industry?
    thinking HSF can do that is fool’s folly.
    SMD can do it better.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 11:26 am

    SLS is a blessing. It may be a pork boon, but at least it forces Congress to think about national space priorities in times of constrained budgets.

    How do you figure? Congress itself is made up of 595 members, yet only a small handful are involved in determining what NASA does with it’s 0.5% of the Federal budget.

    The SLS is an example of top-down political involvement, in that there was no official constituency within NASA or the Administration that was pushing for it. A handful in Congress didn’t want their Constellation gravy train to end, and thus SLS was born. Don’t confuse that for Congress creating any thoughtful “national space priorities”, where Congress as a whole votes on NASA specific legislation. It didn’t force Congress to think.

    BTW, congrats on making the list. ;-)

  • Doug Lassiter

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 11:28 am
    “There’s no return from SMD, which employees considerably less bodies in considerably fewer Congressional districts per dollar spent.”

    OK, let’s suppose the only thing worth doing by NASA was human space flight. Where would human spaceflight be without the work that NASA SMD has done? Nope, you wouldn’t know zip about the Moon (because Ranger and Surveyor paved the way for Apollo). You wouldn’t know there was water ice there, nor would you have a clue about other ore deposits. You’d know precious little about Mars, except maybe those canals, ya know? You wouldn’t have a clue about radiation fields (solar and GCR) in deep space. As for orbital dynamics, you’d be doing Hohmann transfers until you were blue in the face, and Martian aerobraking would be totally hypothetical because you’d have barely have any conception about the structure of the Martian atmosphere. Hmm. Even for human spaceflight the return from SMD is pretty potent. I could go on and on and on.

    Oh, but HEOMD could do all those measurements themselves, no? With their masterful command of remote sensing technology, pointing, and robotic systems. Yeah, sure.

    If you care about access to space, about developing space for the benefit of folks other than a handful of astronomers and astronauts, then it’s time you learned to pick your battles.

    You really think SMD employs fewer people in fewer congressional districts than HEOMD? Reference? In fact, the number of people employed by a directorate is almost exactly proportional to the budget, because that’s where the vast majority of the money goes — into salaries. Unless maybe HSF engineers and astronauts are paid a lot less than scientists. If you just look at the range of congressional districts that receive SMD grant support, it’s actually pretty mind blowing.

  • @Byeman:

    There are many ways to mitigate the effects of space weather if giving a warning.

    I see you neglect to name any.

    @Lassiter:

    But the concerns of planetary astronomers are telling.

    Any more so that say the concerns of any other random group of people?

    Space exploration can be viewed as being strongly driven by SMD.

    Sure. If your definition of “driven” amounts to dollar spent, then SMD amounts to a quarter of it. SLS/MPCV amounts to another fifth this year. Crossagency support amounts to fifteen percent. Not sure how valuable a measure that is, though.

    Like it or not, for roughly the same yearly budget, NASA science has been hugely productive in what we can call “space exploration”, as in bringing us (and not just a couple of astronauts) to places we’ve never been before.

    I’m not sure what math allows you to count zero bodies as all bodies.

    As usual, the argument here is what “space exploration” really should be. The Administration and Congress have not really bought into the idea that space is full of resources that need humans with bulldozers and pickaxes, or that we need to colonize other worlds.

    I wonder why? Hint. Look in the mirror.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    How do you figure? Congress itself is made up of 595 members, yet only a small handful are involved in determining what NASA does with it’s 0.5% of the Federal budget.

    Not sure what this has to do with Congress setting priorities in its NASA appropriation.

    The SLS is an example of top-down political involvement, in that there was no official constituency within NASA or the Administration that was pushing for it.

    Also not sure what you mean by “official constituency,” but SLS certainly found a home real quick.

    A handful in Congress didn’t want their Constellation gravy train to end, and thus SLS was born.

    I believe I made that point.

    Don’t confuse that for Congress creating any thoughtful “national space priorities”…

    Your qualification, not mine.

    BTW, congrats on making the list.

    Nice to know some random nobody’s thinking of me.

  • @Lassiter

    OK, let’s suppose the only thing worth doing by NASA was human space flight.

    Let’s not, since I said no such thing.

    Where would human spaceflight be without the work that NASA SMD has done?

    So we should spend $5 billion annually out of respect for a cherry picked slate (we can argue the particulars of that later) of SMD’s past accomplishments? Well, that’s a bit better than our current rationale: a memorial to one dead president and one dead astronomer.

    You really think SMD employs fewer people in fewer congressional districts than HEOMD? Reference?

    Certainly. Here you go. It’s conveniently sectioned out into Science, Exploration, and the like. The line item of interest is “[d]irect civilian full-time equivalent employment.”

    In fact, the number of people employed by a directorate is almost exactly proportional to the budget, because that’s where the vast majority of the money goes — into salaries.

    Funny, so how is it that Exploration accounts for 40 percent to twice as many FTEs as Science?

    If you just look at the range of congressional districts that receive SMD grant support, it’s actually pretty mind blowing.

    Your turn. References?

  • @Byeman:

    Prez is wrong again. “There’s no return from SMD” Earth science is one of the greatest returns from SMD.

    How does pointing out that SMD does Earth science show that there’s a return from SMD?

    So, SMD is less pork than HSF.

    Not sure how zero return for more money amounts to “less pork.”

    “access to space” is not HSF.

    I’m sure that’s a very important point that has something to do with the cost of tea in China to at least one of your imaginary adversaries.

    thinking HSF can do that is fool’s folly.

    Possibly. If HSF launch costs remain at $25,000/kg then almost certainly.

    SMD can do it better.

    Certainly hasn’t to date.

  • MrEarl

    Congrats Prez, Windy made an inflamitory statement and has mostly been ignored. I gues they can only feed one “troll” at a time.

    Back to the core subject;
    I’m supprised that the AAS and DPS are betting that congress will bail out science funding when it seems to me that the administration has been a bigger supporter of the science and technology side.

  • @Grondine:

    Sometimes you don’t get to pick your battles.

    Fortunately, this isn’t one of those times. We all want more affordable access to space. Congress isn’t giving up on SLS. Science, on the other hand, is low hanging fruit.

    Generally people here are looking at this in terms of NASA probes to Mars.

    Since I’m the only one talking about taking an axe to SMD, I think you mean me. And I’m certainly not one to be impressed by already sunk outlays when there’s a whole mess of small, recurring costs in astronomy, astrophysics, Earth science, and the like that all add up. I say kill the entire directorate, repurpose what you can for doing whatever you have to reduce the cost of lift and kicking down doors for new economic reasons for going to space in the first place.

  • @Gregori:

    Well Prez Cannady’s contempt for doing actual science is not all that surprising. Once they build a giant rocket to nowhere, I think he will be more or less happy.

    I wouldn’t object to SLS magically zeroing out tomorrow. I wouldn’t object to winning the lottery, either. For now, I’m not terribly displeased with the budget. I’d be considerably happier if policy realigned with the objectives laid out in 2004.

  • common sense

    @ MrEarl wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I think there is a time for everything. Technology without science won’t last very long.

    But today what is important, really important is that NASA (and others) contribute as much they can to our society.

    For an organization like NASA it is mostly done by technology transfer. Therefore the emphasis must be made on technology. If NASA wants to be relevant to the 21st century economy it MUST show it is relevant to the community. Not by building an SLS/MPCV with only limited impact on jobs and almost zero actual value. However if you pick one technology developed for answering NASA’s mission and you can transfer it to the community there is a potential for creating value (cash) henceforth jobs.

  • Aberwys

    Do any of you know what kind of work is done in SMD? It’s not just rocks and pretty pictures of planets. It’s also the source of fundamental architecture for Space Communication & for how we understand this planet. Do you know how much Martian science (particularly atmosphere data) has been employed to help earth scientists with climate change?

    Just because you don’t see it on Fox News or wherever you are getting your meager understanding of what Planetary Science & SMD in general contribute, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

    Open your eyes and look beyond the surface. Thea folks are fighting for support because they see and work in areas of broad connection and impact.

    Most planetary scientists I know want to make a difference to humanity. It’s not the Ivory Tower that mass media frames it to be.

  • Aberwys

    And as for technology, I’m sorry to say this, but NASA is not bureaucratically equipped to support breakthroughs.

    As someone who has felt the first-hand sting of innovating and getting politically slapped for it (e.g. withheld promotions) and seeing others experience that as well, I can tell you that there is a true art to getting breakthrough technology accepted by NASA.

    So, wither technology development, NASA? How does the Space Technology enterprise and NIAC want to accomplish their goals and have them accepted? Is it really innovation if the path that NASA defines is the one that will be funded and followed?

  • @Aberwys:

    Do any of you know what kind of work is done in SMD?

    Seeing as the work’s not exactly covert, don’t you see a problem with your inability to neatly summarize SMD’s value?

    It’s not just rocks and pretty pictures of planets.

    Of course not. It’s also people who study rocks and less pretty pictures of planets.

    It’s also the source of fundamental architecture for Space Communication…

    How much money did SMD spend on the “fundamental architecture for Space Communication” in 2011?

    Do you know how much Martian science (particularly atmosphere data) has been employed to help earth scientists with climate change?

    If hit counts from Google Scholar are any measure, less than 1 percent.

    Most planetary scientists I know want to make a difference to humanity.

    Good. They can start by identifying feasible and affordable ways to do so.

  • gregori

    People bemoan NASA as failing because human spaceflight has not achieved very much in the past few decades and ignore a whole other thing NASA does. Science and Robotic exploration is actually probably the only worthwhile thing NASA has been doing in the past few decades. It would be a shame to cut the thing that excels in order to feed worthless stunts.

  • NASA Fan

    SMD is arguable the most successful enterprise within NASA. Great accomplishments from all the Divisions;

    However, as many are aware, NASA is doing a poor job of maintaining cost and schedule commitments; hence mission cost more money and take longer; hence – given flat budgets- there is going to be less and less of SMD missions – especially this next decade.

    Last year Obama’s FY12 budget submit whacked a bunch of Earth Science missions- now cancelled/delayed indefinitely. Implementation of the Earth Science 2007 decadal report is a failure.

    Implementation of the Astrophysics 2010 Decadal will also prove to be a failure as not withstanding some Small Explorers that have been in the pipeline for nearly 8 years (NuSTar) and in serious trouble and threatend with cancelations (GEMS); nothing much is going to happen in the next decade due to the JWST sucking sound.

    Planetary folks already see canceled partnerships with ESA for next MARS missions, and a “Dark Decade” ahead.

    etc. etc. etc.

    Look for more layoffs in the world of SMD as the FY 13 budget is rolled out and JPL, GSFC, LaRC, and other centers realize (and I suspect they already see this coming) that they have too many people, too many buildings and too much grass to mow for the budget they can expect over the next decade.

  • @gregori:

    It would be a shame to cut the thing that excels in order to feed worthless stunts.

    And there you have it. This is space advocacy today, kids. Pitting one jobs program against another in the pursuit of nothing at all.

  • @NASA Fan:

    SMD is arguable the most successful enterprise within NASA.

    Successful by what yardstick?

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi AW –

    Actually, I didn’t mean you.

    And like I said, sometimes you don’t get to pick your batles.

    You see that “the job” has to be done, know that you have to try to do it,
    and proceed.

  • common sense

    @ Aberwys wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    “And as for technology, I’m sorry to say this, but NASA is not bureaucratically equipped to support breakthroughs.”

    I do not agree. It may be ill equipped. Also you know where there is a will there is a means.

    “As someone who has felt the first-hand sting of innovating and getting politically slapped for it (e.g. withheld promotions) and seeing others experience that as well, I can tell you that there is a true art to getting breakthrough technology accepted by NASA.”

    It is not because you had a bad experience that the goal has to be removed. Again the only saving grace for NASA in the near future will be technology transfer.

    “So, wither technology development, NASA? How does the Space Technology enterprise and NIAC want to accomplish their goals and have them accepted? Is it really innovation if the path that NASA defines is the one that will be funded and followed?”

    Now you’re being vague. NIAC is a survivor. Is it perfect? Probably not. Would you rather not have it? But this is not tech transfer, I mean NIAC is not. NIAC is investment in low TRL techs. Whether you were approved a NIAC proposal or not does not diminish its value. And if you just realized that those awards are political then welcome to the real world. They ALL are. ALL, no exception.

  • common sense

    @ gregori wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    “People bemoan NASA as failing because human spaceflight has not achieved very much in the past few decades and ignore a whole other thing NASA does.”

    Yes and No. An organization whose more than half budget goes to waste cannot be called a success now can it? Whether or not the rest of the organization is successful. In the industry the ill org would be cut from the parts that work. But well it is not the industry so it goes along affecting the rest of the organization…

  • NASA Fan wrote:

    Last year Obama’s FY12 budget submit whacked a bunch of Earth Science missions- now cancelled/delayed indefinitely.

    In the reality-based world, the Obama administration proposed increasing the Earth Sciences budget for FY12:

    http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516645main_NASAFY12_Budget_Estimates-Science_Earth-508.pdf

    And the five-year projection continues to increase it for all years except for a slight dip in FY 2014 before it goes back up.

    The requested FY 12 budget was 1.653 billion. The administration projects raising it to 1.727 billion by FY 16.

  • Joe

    Well Prez Cannady has finally ‘cracked the code’ on (at least in the comments section) what this website is really all about.

    Exactly why you were all willing to leave the entire future of HSF to untested new entities was always a puzzle, but now it makes sense. You are (by and large) merely a bunch ‘robot über alles types’. You want libertarianism for HSF because you want it to fail (or at least do not care whether or not it does), but you want a ‘government centric’ program for ‘space science’ because you care about it.

    Well kiddies, welcome to the ‘Brave New World’ of your own creation. You probably have destroyed a lot of other people’s dreams, but now your own are likely to be destroyed as well.

    I wish I could say I was pleased by this outcome, but I am only nauseated.

  • Robert G. Oler

    common sense wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Yes and No. An organization whose more than half budget goes to waste cannot be called a success now can it?>>

    an organization that takes 1000 people to do what 50 should be able to accomplish is a flop…thats NASA RGO

  • gregori

    @Pres Cannady

    Nice rhetorical trick trying to lower science to being a jobs program and there by making SLS seem equally worthwhile. No, they’re not the same.

    A rocket to nowhere using outdated technology is purely a jobs program. It has no payloads. SMD does have payloads and actual missions that get something back other than paychecks. They are not vehicle-centric operations that are focused on developing means of transport. They do the sane thing and just buy the capability from the industry and share costs with other users.

    No one wants SLS (apart from those who will be employed by it or get contracts) There is no need for it. The Pentagon have no use for it, nor do NOAA or any conceivable science mission NASA might actually do. Even if there was an argument for having a HLV, we don’t need THAT HLV! There are several far better options for heavy lift that would be cheaper, more flexible and evolvable. The industry is capable of providing such vehicles quicker and cheaper than SLS. NASA has not successfully developed a launch vehicle in over 30 years.

    Doing science, exploration and research actually has value and merit. The value of this doesn’t come from how many people it employs unlike SLS. The knowledge gained from all the probes, robots, rovers, telescopes etc are the evidence of the success.

    You get knowledge from the activities of the SMD. You get stunts and overly expensive rockets from congressionally designed space programs.

  • Byeman

    ” I say kill the entire directorate, repurpose what you can for doing whatever you have to reduce the cost of lift and kicking down doors for new economic reasons for going to space in the first place.”

    Then do it to SOMD/HSF,

  • NASA Fan

    @ Steve Smith: Obama’s FY11 budget plus’d up Earth Science and allowed a few missions to be pulled to the left due to the increase. But what the left hand giveth, the right hand taketh, and so in response to the republican takeover of the house in v Nov 2010, the Feb 11, FY12 budget wacked some of the FY 11 increase, thus cancelling some missions and pushing further to the right others. Typical way to deal with cuts

    @ Prez Cannady: yardstick: Science return per dollar, and papers published per dollar from SMD exceed , Aero, and HSF.

  • Das Boese

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Curious, how do you magically mitigate against space weather with little more than a few pieces of paper?

    I’m sure this sentence makes sense in whatever parallel universe you come from, to me it doesn’t.

  • Doug Lassiter

    I said … OK, let’s suppose the only thing worth doing by NASA was human space flight.

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 4:07 pm
    “Let’s not, since I said no such thing.”

    Ah, you mean they should be doing aeronautics too? How generous.

    “So we should spend $5 billion annually out of respect for a cherry picked slate (we can argue the particulars of that later) of SMD’s past accomplishments? Well, that’s a bit better than our current rationale: a memorial to one dead president and one dead astronomer.”

    I confess that I don’t have a clue about what you’re talking about here. Respect for a cherry picked slate? Memorial to a dead president? Well, some dead presidents might have been pretty Swift in their day, or a real ACE, and some thought they provided Spirit and Opportunity. SMD has, as I said, a pretty ambitious Grant program to support researchers. NASA does have a top agency priority now that is a grossly mismanaged observatory named for a dead NASA administrator. Of course HSF likes to name things like Destiny, Harmony, and Unity. How sweet.

    I said … You really think SMD employs fewer people in fewer congressional districts than HEOMD? Reference?

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 4:07 pm
    “Certainly. Here you go. It’s conveniently sectioned out into Science, Exploration, and the like. The line item of interest is “[d]irect civilian full-time equivalent employment. Your turn. References?”

    The best reference to illustrate your massive misunderstanding, is this
    http://nasapeople.nasa.gov/workforce/default.htm
    Therein you will see, if you follow the links, and add up your “[d]irect civilian full-time equivalent employment” numbers, that the numbers you’re pointing to are CIVIL SERVICE EMPLOYEES, which is actually a small fraction of the number of salaries that NASA funds pay for. There were 17,287 of those in FY12, worth perhaps (fully burdened) about $2-3B. Yes, NASA funds support VASTLY more people than that each year. By a factor of almost ten.

    I’m just saying that NASA SMD money goes not only to the aerospace industry and NASA centers, but also to Podunk U. in eastern Montanastan.

    Yes, it is pretty interesting that NASA pays more civil service HSF people (or even just Exploration people), who are concentrated in ten congressional districts, than SMD does in those districts. Pretty clearly, SMD pays more non-civil service people outside of those congressional districts than HSF does.

    “Funny, so how is it that Exploration accounts for 40 percent to twice as many FTEs as Science?”

    That’s how. Because SMD doesn’t spend as much money on civil servants (concentrated at NASA centers) as Exploration does.

  • Doug Lassiter

    NASA Fan said
    “SMD is arguable the most successful enterprise within NASA.”

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 8:02 pm
    “Successful by what yardstick?”

    Bringing our senses to new places. Seeing new things. Probing frontiers. Dropping jaws of the taxpayers. Making us feel really good about ourselves, and what great things we can accomplish.

    And what would it be for human space flight? I’ll give you a foot-long ruler, and I welcome fractions. Success is about accomplishment, not about potential.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist …

  • Das Boese

    Joe wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    Well Prez Cannady has finally ‘cracked the code’ on (at least in the comments section) what this website is really all about.

    I don’t know if they’ve been doing any cracking of code, but they might have been doing some crack. It’d explain the pants-on-fire absurdity of their posts.

    Exactly why you were all willing to leave the entire future of HSF to untested new entities was always a puzzle, but now it makes sense. You are (by and large) merely a bunch ‘robot über alles types’.

    Nice Godwin, never saw that coming.
    Most of the commercial COTS and CCDev participants are hardly “new entities”, except for SpaceX who have been (and still are) fighting an uphill battle because of it.
    In any case the point is that HSF doesn’t have a future unless you involve the private sector at some point. It’s amazing that people have not learned this after two Shuttle disasters and the failure of Constellation.

    You want libertarianism for HSF because you want it to fail (or at least do not care whether or not it does), but you want a ‘government centric’ program for ‘space science’ because you care about it.

    That’s a great conspiracy theory, but you’re not up to timecube levels of crazy yet. Keep it together, man!

    You see what’s actually happening is “Government centric” science missions have been buying commercial launches forever, which makes some people wonder why “government centric” HSF can’t do the same.

    Well kiddies, welcome to the ‘Brave New World’ of your own creation. You probably have destroyed a lot of other people’s dreams, but now your own are likely to be destroyed as well.

    Cute, if melodramatic. You know that there is practically zero chance for Prez Cannady’s deluded fantasy of defunding SMD ever happening, right?

    I wish I could say I was pleased by this outcome, but I am only nauseated.

    Maybe you should stop spinning, that’ll help with the nausea.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 7:34 am

    You could zero out SMD and the world will still turn.>>

    true both in reality and metaphorically for all of NASA’s budget. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Joe wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    You want libertarianism for HSF…

    Yep, that great libertarian Ronald Reagan started it all by creating a space policy “…requiring federal agencies to procure launch services from the private sector to the fullest extent feasible.

    Even that lesser libertarian, Bush 43, got into the act by laying the foundation for not only commercial cargo, but commercial crew too.

    I’m sure that’s why you voted for Obama, hoping he would turn back those über libertarian policies, but apparently he was drawn to the dark side, and even accelerated the implementation of the policy. Obviously a conspiracy… ;-)

  • @gregori:

    Nice rhetorical trick trying to lower science to being a jobs program and there by making SLS seem equally worthwhile.

    It’s not a rhetorical drick, son. It’s a fact.

    No, they’re not the same.

    Apparently only because you say so.

    A rocket to nowhere using outdated technology is purely a jobs program. It has no payloads.

    So what?

    SMD does have payloads and actual missions that get something back other than paychecks.

    Show me the profit.

    Doing science, exploration and research actually has value and merit.

    Seriously, put up or shut up time. Show me a profit. Show me a single dollar return. Otherwise, you’re full of it.

  • @Byeman:

    Then do it to SOMD/HSF.

    Easier to kill SMD.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 21st, 2012 at 5:55 am
    “Seriously, put up or shut up time. Show me a profit. Show me a single dollar return. Otherwise, you’re full of it.”

    If this is your response to the assertion that scientific research has value and merit, then it would seem that your single metric for value and merit is dollar return. Probably the best way to expose the fallacy of that metric is to consider other federally funded pursuits. Human spaceflight is an easy one. A dollar never came out of that. Department of Defense accounts for almost a quarter of our federal expenditures, and they never made a dime for us. Never seen a dollar come out of Medicaid or Medicare. That’s not to say that they aren’t profoundly important, or that they don’t have value and merit, but just that the value and merit is not measured in monetary profit returned.

    The value and merit of these pursuits is measured in quality of life (security, health) for the nation, rather than in dollars produced. Does space science increase our quality of life? I won’t blather about inspiration, which is a popular and somewhat insipid word to use these days with regard to all facets of NASA. But a spirit of curiosity, and the challenge of doing hard things technically is a fundamental requirement for a technically sophisticated culture. Space science cultivates that spirit strongly and, in many respects, human space flight can as well. On the scale of the federal budget, they do it pretty economically.

    If you measure the world in dollars, it’s not hard to find cultures for whom curiosity and the challenge of doing hard things technically doesn’t seem to be a priority. Compare their budgetary resources to ours, and you can use the dollar metric to assess the value of curiosity and the challenge of doing hard things.

    No, I don’t think Presley Cannady has finally ‘cracked the code’ on what this website is really all about. What this website is about is using words to discuss and argue policy. Even what are seen by many as the less reputable members of this forum do that pretty well. Mr. Cannady uses very few words in his arguments, perhaps because he’s a busy guy, off making the dollars that are so important to him, but perhaps because he just doesn’t have a lot to say. It’s pretty easy, and perhaps somewhat unfair, to argue with someone who doesn’t have a lot to say.

  • vulture4

    Aberwys wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 5:10 pm “And as for technology, I’m sorry to say this, but NASA is not bureaucratically equipped to support breakthroughs.”

    I have struggled with the same problems for over twenty years, but I still think it is worth trying to change the system. There are people in the agency who really are capable of doing very useful technology development in many fields. Where someone manages to justify useful work, it is usually with the (often questionable) claim that it is essential to human spaceflight. We need to get beyond the idea that we are restricted to a single symbolic mission.

    Ironically I agree with Prez that profits are important. No HSF activity will ever be profitable, even for the country as a whole, unless costs are first reduced by at least an order of magnitude. This requires that NASA focus HSF efforts on developing fully reusable launch systems rather than spending tens of billions on “exploration” with existing technology. SLS is a dead end and will delay real progress by at least a decade.

  • @Lassiter:

    If this is your response to the assertion that scientific research has value and merit, then it would seem that your single metric for value and merit is dollar return.

    It’s my response to the assertion that Science generates more value than Exploration. If you’d like to start there, feel free; otherwise, I’ll chalk up your remaining comments on this point to misunderstanding.

    No, I don’t think Presley Cannady has finally ‘cracked the code’ on what this website is really all about. What this website is about is using words to discuss and argue policy….Mr. Cannady uses very few words in his arguments, perhaps because he’s a busy guy…It’s pretty easy, and perhaps somewhat unfair, to argue with someone who doesn’t have a lot to say.

    Translation: Lassiter believes a point’s strength lies in his capacity to drag it on and on and on.

  • Vladislaw

    Joe wrote:

    “You want libertarianism for HSF because you want it to fail (or at least do not care whether or not it does), but you want a ‘government centric’ program for ‘space science’ because you care about it.”

    You could not be further from the truth. What we want is some actual fiscal sanity and capitalism.

    The cold war race to the moon was about a command economy and communism v.s. a market economy and democratic capitalism. How did we respond? With the strength of our systems or with a top down, command economy response?

    It cost 8 million a seat to put astronauts on Skylab, with commercial companies building for NASA to operate, it should have moved straight into commercial operations at the time. Instead, 7-8 years later we are paying 50 million a seat with the shuttle and by the end of that program we are paying 100 million plus per seat, while the russians are charging 8 million a seat. Once they had the monopoly it is not going to be closer to 63 million a seat.

    Capitalism, is what we fought the cold war for, not a stalinist big government, pork ridden solution to transportation. We allow commercial entities to provide all our transportation needs and it is time for commercial to take over the government monopoly of space access.

    You are making a false comparison, transportation has an immediate return. Commercial science does not. I have no problem with government funding big science and commercial handling transportation.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 21st, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Translation: Lassiter believes a point’s strength lies in his capacity to drag it on and on and on.

    I tend to agree with Doug Lassiter. Discussion is not just disagreement or supposedly witty retort, it needs to have content and context.

    You tend to ask a lot of questions, and critique posts others make, but I don’t get a lot of information out of you. Maybe you’re trying for the “deep thought” angle (i.e. 5 Whys type stuff) – hard to tell even for that one, as your posts can be too reticent to fully understand.

    Everyone has a different reason for posting here – mine is to discuss, debate and learn about space related issues, and over these past few years I have certainly learned a lot from many of the people that post here. From you, not so much. Who knows maybe that will change, but I won’t hold my breath… ;-)

  • Doug Lassiter

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 21st, 2012 at 1:09 pm
    “It’s my response to the assertion that Science generates more value than Exploration.”

    Let’s be clear. You started this discussion with the suggestion that SMD could be zeroed out. You went on to suggest that $5B (presumably all of SMD) be “redirected”. You then asserted that there was “no return” from SMD. In fact, you asked to see “a single dollar of return” from SMD. So this response was aimed at the assertion that SMD generates any value at all. This was very much an effort to drag your point on and on and on which, as you suggest, hardly makes it strong.

    Let’s also be clear that by “Exploration” you mean human space flight, rather than the NASA directorate that no longer exists. Let’s not fall into the trap of identifying “exploration ” (uncapitalized) uniquely with human space flight and not science. That’s a historically based travesty of confusing expeditions with explorations that NASA unfortunately signed up to.

    But if you really want to talk about comparative value, it should be understood that the value of SMD and NASA human space flight is of a different kind. Much as for Department of Defense and Medicare. You don’t kill the Department of Defense to double Medicare.

    Comparing value, as I said about about “success”, when it comes to bringing our senses to new places, seeing new things, probing frontiers, dropping jaws of the taxpayers, making us feel really good about ourselves and what great things we can accomplish, SMD has done it better than NASA human space flight. Doesn’t have to be this way, but that’s pretty much the way it is. How many places has human space flight taken our senses in the last few decades? Now NASA human space flight has created a capability to build large things in space, and keep people in space. Those are awesomely important things, and can be considered frontiers of a sort, but it’s a stretch to call them “exploration”.

    I’d like to believe that we can go mine the heavens and find our pot of gold out there at the end of the rainbow. It’s hardly clear that requires people to be out there, but it’s more than science. Yes, I’d like to believe it, but it’s hallucinatory to think that we’re anywhere close to doing it. In many ways, space science is paving the way to such a goal, to find out as much as we can about the celestial fields we wish to reap.

    I think it’s healthy to challenge ourselves about the value of what our space agency does. But simplistic plaints to show the dollar profits are not very constructive.

  • gregori

    @Prez Cannady

    It is a cheap trick. Calling people you don’t know “son” is really just name calling and shows you would rather demean people than make a logical point. The science missions are not measured by how many people they employ, but what they discover. SLS is is different. Its ONLY reason to exist is to keep contracts and jobs in place. There are no missions for it or money to do such missions. There is nothing factual in that assertion…. its just a baseless assertion because you see science as being an enemy of funding mega-rockets and want to make SLS seem equally worthwhile. Its up there with building pyramids in terms of worth.

    The fact that you are saying “so what?” to SLS being a jobs program without payloads speaks volumes. You don’t care if it actually has something to launch or performs missions that further human knowledge and ability. Paying huge amounts of money to achieve nothing is obviously idiotic and irresponsible. If that is all its is, they should shut it all down tomorrow. There a million better ways to spend that money. The could even employ 10 times as many people outside of space with same money if it was just to create useless jobs.

    Asking for the “profit” from NASA’s science missions is just another trick to make it seem worthless and that somehow a rocket to nowhere is equally valid. Tracking and studying asteroids and comets that could end our civilization is obviously worthwhile. Studying weather on several different planets is useful in understanding the factors behind climate change. Searching planets for signs of life helps us know about our origins and place in the universe. Telescopes that can look back in time helps us understand what are physical forces that underlie and shape the universe. There is not an immediate profit to these activities, but we can’t afford to be ignorant of things could determine our fate. These missions push the technology forward which has economic benefits further down the line. SLS doesn’t, it repeats technology that is 40 years old, that has no commercial application.

  • @vulture4:

    [Cutting the cost of spacelift by an order of magnitude] requires that NASA focus HSF efforts on developing fully reusable launch systems rather than spending tens of billions on “exploration” with existing technology. SLS is a dead end and will delay real progress by at least a decade.

    How will SLS delay progress on the RLV front?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 21st, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    How will SLS delay progress on the RLV front?”

    the easy answer is 1) by consuming money, 2) by consuming talent and 3) by perpetuating a useless bureaucracy.

    Go look at the rush to develop aviation in this country in the 30′s particularly as “war” looked like a real possibility…put NACA on useless projects instead of technology pushes and you find American aviation a pretty sad place or well about on par with the Germans.

    NACA did the ground breaking work on both NACA scoops, wind tunnels and (a third) airflow that made the radiator system on the P-51 Merlin installation work. When I was at test pilots school another group project (we did the Tomahawk spin issue) tried to replicate a P-51 type installation on a BD-5…interesting thing is that “inches” separate a functional design from something that isnt.

    RLV’s are going to need some breakthroughs in technology and engine…there is going to be NO repeat NO technological breakthroughs on an SLS design.

    But the cool thing is about SLS is that we are going to see if Marcel is correct…thanks to South Carolina. At least in the primary RGO

  • @Coastal Ron:

    I tend to agree with Doug Lassiter.

    What else is new?

    Discussion is not just disagreement or supposedly witty retort…

    Depends. If you say something obviously pulled out of thin air, a simple “now you’re just making things up” suffices.

    …it needs to have content…

    Evidence, which in this forum usually constitutes links to source material or authority.

    …and context.

    Hence, blockquotes.

    You tend to ask a lot of questions…

    That’s what people normally do when either seeking an answer or clarification.

    …and critique posts others make…

    That’s what people normally do when they disagree with the content others present.

    …but I don’t get a lot of information out of you.

    Considering almost every discussion boils down to the same handful of points story after story, what more information do you need? It’s plainly obvious where you’re coming from; should be pretty clear where I am by now:

    1. Congress isn”t giving up on SLS,
    2. Super HLV–even as badly architected as SLS–can compete pound for pound with smaller lifters within the limit of historically achievable flight rates,
    3. SLS is no impediment to commercial spacelift and alternative exploration architectures under current law, and
    4. if push comes to shove, there’s about $5 billion a year in easy money to re-program.

    Maybe you’re trying for the “deep thought” angle (i.e. 5 Whys type stuff)

    Navel gazing isn’t cup of tea. When I ask “why blah blah blah,” I mean exactly that. If you can’t offer a concrete response, then why should anyone accept it?

    – hard to tell even for that one, as your posts can be too reticent to fully understand.

    You’re a pseudonymous stranger. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to read between the lines of your remarks. You might try taking my comments at face value and starting from there.

  • @Lassiter:

    Let’s be clear.

    You’re doing your damnedest not to be.

    Gregori said: “Doing science, exploration and research [as opposed to the current manned exploration program] actually has value and merit.”

    I responded: “Seriously, put up or shut up time. Show me a profit. Show me a single dollar return. Otherwise, you’re full of it.”

    You stumbled in: “If this is your response to the assertion that scientific research has value and merit, then it would seem that your single metric for value and merit is dollar return.”

    See? That’s the chain of conversation leading to where we are now. Simple, no?

    [quote]So this response was aimed at the assertion that SMD generates any value at all.

    [quote]This was very much an effort to drag your point on and on and on which, as you suggest, hardly makes it strong.[/quote]

    What effort? I’ve pointed out that SMD generates no value. Neither you nor anyone else here–despite all your lengthy filibustering–has shown that it does. It’s gotten to the point where I can excise close to two-thirds of your comment from the blockquotes as strawmen or base filler.

    [Some really bad analogies and terribly poetry omitted]

    I think it’s healthy to challenge ourselves about the value of what our space agency does. But simplistic plaints to show the dollar profits are not very constructive.

    Then stop whining about SLS. It’s valuable to somebody.

  • @gregori:

    And yet another long speech.

    It is a cheap trick.

    There’s no trick to it.

    Calling people you don’t know “son” is really just name calling and shows you would rather demean people than make a logical point.

    Couching contempt in lengthy meanderings desperately clawing for a point indicates you enjoy the sound of your own voice.

    The science missions are not measured by how many people they employ, but what they discover.

    What’s the dollar value of what they discover?

    SLS is is different. Its ONLY reason to exist is to keep contracts and jobs in place.

    Except for that whole putting men in space thing.

    There are no missions for it or money to do such missions.

    There are as many missions as Congress is willing to appropriate, and last I checked $1.5 billion is less than $18 billion.

    There is nothing factual in that assertion….

    I assume you mean the assertion that SMD offers nothing of value. You’ve had ample opportunity to show that it does. Your answer is boils down to “well, fooey! I like SMD better than SLS!”

    …its just a baseless assertion because you see science as being an enemy of funding mega-rockets and want to make SLS seem equally worthwhile.

    How is pointing out that Exploration employs more people than SMD a baseless assertion?

    Its up there with building pyramids in terms of worth.

    Possibly, but what does that say about a $5 billion science program that produces no value whatsoever?

    The fact that you are saying “so what?” to SLS being a jobs program without payloads speaks volumes. You don’t care if it actually has something to launch or performs missions that further human knowledge and ability.

    Honestly, no I don’t. Wouldn’t care if SLS were canceled tomorrow either. But seeing as Congress is hell bent on funding it from here ’til kingdom come, why waste time and effort fighting it?

    Paying huge amounts of money to achieve nothing is obviously idiotic and irresponsible.

    You got that right, and there’s $5 billion a year going down the drain just waiting to be reprogrammed for more useful ends.

    Asking for the “profit” from NASA’s science missions is just another trick to make it seem worthless…

    Then show me a trick by which you can argue that SMD is worth it. And pray its more compelling than “I like science.”

  • @Oler:

    the easy answer is 1) by consuming money, 2) by consuming talent and 3) by perpetuating a useless bureaucracy.

    What’s the shortfall in money and talent? And what does a useless bureaucracy have to do with anything?

  • @ Prez Canady:

    “It’s my response to the assertion that Science generates more value than Exploration.”

    It might help if you explained what you see as the difference between the two.

    Just so we’re all on the same page…

  • Doug Lassiter

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 22nd, 2012 at 12:03 am
    “I’ve pointed out that SMD generates no value. Neither you nor anyone else here–despite all your lengthy filibustering–has shown that it does.”

    No, not at all. You’ve pointed out that SMD generates no dollars directly. As in, pull the lever and quarters come shooting out. No one is arguing with you about that. It’s just that most of us, and Congress included, use other things as well as metrics for value. In particular, we believe that understanding space (and Earth) is an investment that will offer eventual value. Those other metrics are what all of NASA is based on. Our educational system has no value, by your metric. Does my local public school district write me, a taxpayer, a check every year? No way. Charter and private schools won’t do it either. Money spent on education is an investment. As I said, same with Department of Defense and Medicare (which I’m not eligible for, as it turns out).

    “Then stop whining about SLS. It’s valuable to somebody” you said in response to my post.

    I never said anything about SLS. But you’re exactly right about it being valuable to somebody. It’s hugely valuable to the aerospace company that gets the contract, the NASA center that is responsible for that contract and, reflexively, the legislators whose districts those entities are in. The question is whether SLS is valuable to the nation.

    The word “filibustering”, by the way, means a single individual extending debate, preventing other views from being expressed. I’ve made no such attempt to do so, nor do I have the power to do that, and you know it. I’ll say it again. This forum is about words. So do try to use the right ones.

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 22nd, 2012 at 12:24 am

    and there’s $5 billion a year going down the drain just waiting to be reprogrammed for more useful ends.

    Well Son, if it’s so easy, then what’s the issue? I’m sure all you’ll have to do is corner a Congresscritter and point out the error of their ways… ;-)

  • Coastal Ron

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 22nd, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I’ve pointed out that SMD generates no value.

    No, you haven’t. Your whole point was that it didn’t generate profit, not that it didn’t generate value. Knowledge and understanding is value, and that in my mind is what NASA has been returning with it’s science missions. Lot’s of people would say that they have received value out of NASA science missions.

    And in fact you prove this later when you said about the SLS:

    Then stop whining about SLS. It’s valuable to somebody.

    So stop whining about SMD. It’s valuable to somebody.

    Our point about the SLS has been that there are less expensive alternatives for the same function (i.e. getting mass into space), and that the SLS solves no unique problems. And yes we get it that it is currently funded, but as we all saw with the Constellation program, that can change quickly. I’ve always thought it would be killed in 2013, so I’m quite willing to take the long view on this.

    Your point seems to be that you want an alternate use for the funding SMD currently gets – something completely different than science, or at least the science that is currently being done. Yet you have failed to show where Congress has any interest in making such a change. Could they? Sure. Will they? I haven’t seen any indications, and Congress has a long history or funding science missions for NASA – far longer than building mega-rockets with no funded missions.

  • gregori

    @ Prez Cannady

    You are repeating ad nauseum the point of “where is the profit”? when its been pointed out a million times that this is not the only metric of value. Its a straw-man. No one is claiming that space science or exploration is a commercial enterprise. Space exploitation is the job of a corporation which NASA is not.

    SLS has zero value, other than employment value….. and it doesn’t even employ that many people for the 10′s of billions that are going to be thrown at it. It doesn’t advance technology or lower the cost of access to space. No one in industry, military or NOAA needs it. Its too expensive to actually do any “exploration” missions, manned or unmanned. It doesn’t help further human knowledge in any way or generate any profit.

    NASA would still be a great agency tomorrow if backed away from obsolete rocket building programs and focused on science, advanced technology and exploration….. both manned and unmanned. It could even afford to execute these programs on time, which would be a great improvement. Lowering the cost of access to orbit would have enormous economic benefits and NASA could be facilitating that.

  • @gregori:

    I see you have no response to my challenge. On the not so slight chance you missed it while regurgitating your usual talking points, here it is again–in bold for your benefit:

    Show me a trick by which you can argue that SMD is worth it. And pray its more compelling than ‘I like science.’

    You are repeating ad nauseum the point of “where is the profit”? when its been pointed out a million times that this is not the only metric of value.

    You’ve been asked to present these alternative metrics time and time again.

    Its a straw-man.

    I’m pretty sure you have no idea what that term means.

    No one is claiming that space science or exploration is a commercial enterprise.

    What does SMD’s commercial quality–or lack thereof–have to do with the cost of tea in China?

    Space exploitation is the job of a corporation…

    Says who?

    SLS has zero value…

    Oh, I imagine I can appeal to the same Metric Fairy you have for whatever it is you use to measure SMD’s worth.

    …other than employment value….. and it doesn’t even employ that many people for the 10′s of billions that are going to be thrown at it.

    More people than SMD does for the 10′s of billions thrown at it.

    It doesn’t advance technology or lower the cost of access to space.

    Neither does SMD.

    No one in industry, military or NOAA needs it.

    No less so than SMD.

    Its too expensive to actually do any “exploration” missions, manned or unmanned.

    You just made that up. There’s at least $5 billion a year just waiting to be plucked for exploration missions.

    It doesn’t help further human knowledge in any way or generate any profit.

    No less so than SMD.

  • @Coastal Ron:

    Well Son, if it’s so easy, then what’s the issue? I’m sure all you’ll have to do is corner a Congresscritter and point out the error of their ways…

    I’m satisfied with how Congress approached FY2012, and I expect more good things in 2013.

  • So stop whining about SMD. It’s valuable to somebody.

    You first. After all, you’re the one who wants to take up the cause of academics at the expense of far larger Congressional constituencies.

    Our point about the SLS has been that there are less expensive alternatives for the same function (i.e. getting mass into space)…

    So what?

    …and that the SLS solves no unique problems.

    Wrong, but I’ll let it slide this time.

    And yes we get it that it is currently funded, but as we all saw with the Constellation program, that can change quickly.

    Seeing as we’ve gone from one government funded and operated super heavy lift arch to another, larger one, not sure if your definition of “change” is meaningful.

    I’ve always thought it would be killed in 2013…

    Fat chance.

    Your point seems to be that you want an alternate use for the funding SMD currently gets – something completely different than science, or at least the science that is currently being done.

    Specifically, I wouldn’t mind seeing SMD reprogrammed for cislunar development activities. It’s already host to LPRP, so there you go.

    Yet you have failed to show where Congress has any interest in making such a change. Could they? Sure. Will they? I haven’t seen any indications, and Congress has a long history or funding science missions for NASA –

    I’ve shown that Congress is willing to make a change. All the time in fact, considering the comparatively short dev-to-launch lifecycles of SMD programs. So what’s your point?

    far longer than building mega-rockets with no funded missions.

    What’re you talking about? NASA’s been funding one mega-rocket program or another since its founding.

  • Space Cadet

    (To quote Weiler): “Exploration without science is tourism.”

  • @Space Cadet:

    “Exploration without science is tourism.”

    For tourists, Da Gama, Columbus, Hudson, Lewis and Clark did damned good work.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Prez Cannady wrote @ January 22nd, 2012 at 4:47 pm
    “I’m satisfied with how Congress approached FY2012, and I expect more good things in 2013.”

    In the context of this discussion, your satisfaction is sure curious. In FY12, Congress appropriated 3.5% less for NASA than it did last year. For SMD, it appropriated 3.1% more than last year. If we’re going to get more such good things out of them in FY2013, SMD will be on a roll. Your satisfaction is surprising, but appreciated. In fact, the FY12 approps report language had nothing to say about what you could call cis-lunar science, and the budget it supported included only a small increase (to an already small number) for lunar science.

    I have to assume that your satisfaction is aimed at funding for SLS. But that’s not really what this thread is about.

    “For tourists, Da Gama, Columbus, Hudson, Lewis and Clark did damned good work.”

    Re exploration, science and tourism, that remark — “Exploration without science is tourism” is often ascribed to Ed Weiler, but was actually first made by the former president of the American Astronomical Society, Bob Kirshner. HIstorical explorers were scientists if just in that they allowed us to see places we’d never seen before. Back then, we had no more economical or less risky way of doing that. Those historical explorers discovered new things about our world and the cultures on it. Yes, Da Gama, Columbus, Hudson, Lewis and Clark did damned good work. But in this day and age, human explorers really aren’t needed to do that kind of thing in space. Certainly not to interact with other cultures. There are good reasons for putting humans in space, but not to do what those historical explorers did.

  • Space Cadet

    @ Prez Cannady wrote @ January 20th, 2012 at 4:07 pm
    “Certainly. Here you go. It’s conveniently sectioned out into Science, Exploration, and the like. The line item of interest is “[d]irect civilian full-time equivalent employment. Your turn. References?”

    A meaningless statistic as it counts only civil servants. All this indicates is that the robotic exploration centers on average employ a higher proportion of contractors (for e.g. JPL is 0% civil servants) than the human exploration centers.

  • Space Cadet

    Exploration without science is tourism.

    Prez Cannady: “For tourists, Da Gama, Columbus, Hudson, Lewis and Clark did damned good work.”

    Exactly the point. Da Gama, Columbus, Hudson, Lewis and Clark are examples of exploration-WITH-science missions. Darwin’s famous voyage on the Beagle would be another example. They mapped and learned about the place they visited, its ecology, inhabitants, minerals, etc.. The product of these early expeditions was knowledge, which enabled future economic exploitation.

  • @Space Cadet:

    Da Gama, Columbus, Hudson, Lewis and Clark are examples of exploration-WITH-science missions.

    How do you figure?

  • pathfinder_01

    “Da Gama, Columbus, Hudson, Lewis and Clark are examples of exploration-WITH-science missions.”

    They were not sent out to just host a flag in strange land or show the world whose’ exploration technology is better than others. They were also sent out to do the things we do today with probes. In the case of Lewis and Clark, map new areas, scout out resources (water, rivers for transport, ect.), send back specimens of wild life(what sorts of plants and animals grow in the area), even to some extent gather information about the natives then living in the area, gather information about what are the weather conditions in an area ect.

    Jefferson wanted a way to trade with China (i.e. via say some overland waterways) but that was not possible. They also had commercial goals (what riches can be exploited in this new area).

    Today’s technology means that we use space probes to do what once took a real human being. Heck if it were the 60ies you would not be able to detect water at the lunar poles without sending a crew (and Apollo was not capable of polar missions…just equatorial ones).

  • @pathfinder_01:

    They were not sent out to just host a flag in strange land or show the world whose’ exploration technology is better than others.

    And they weren’t dispatched on anything remotely resembling a scientific expedition. Space Cadet presented a false choice, that’s all there is to it.

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