Congress, Lobbying, NASA

As Europa looks more inviting, one group presses NASA for a mission there

On Thursday, NASA announced a significant discovery about Europa, the large icy moon of Jupiter: astronomers spotted evidence for geysers of water erupting from the moon’s southern polar regions. The discovery may be further proof that the moon has a subsurface ocean of liquid water that could, potentially, harbor life. Moreover, it comes a day after another team of scientists reported the discovery of “clay-like” minerals on Europa’s surface, which could provide the organic building blocks needed for life.

The Planetary Society wasted no time in using the discoveries to lobby for funding for a Europa mission. “We have to explore Europa,” Bill Nye, CEO of the organization, said in a press release Thursday. “It will take a small adjustment to the Planetary Science budget to mount a mission that will have us solving problems that have never been solved before; there will be innovations and economic benefits.”

A Europa orbiter mission, or the “Europa Clipper” concept that would orbit Jupiter but make multiple close flybys of Jupiter, has been a high priority for planetary scientists, but something NASA has not committed to, citing limited budgets. For fiscal year 2013, Congress did set aside $75 million of NASA’s planetary budget for Europa mission studies, and in its FY2014 appropriations bill, the House earmarked an additional $80 million for Europa mission studies, but the total cost of such a mission is likely on the order of $2 billion.

The Planetary Society release does include a statement of support from the biggest Congressional supporter for a Europa mission. “This exciting revelation further solidifies the need for the Flagship Class mission to Europa that the scientific community has been clamoring for, the Planetary Science Decadal Survey has endorsed, and we in Congress have mandated by law,” said Rep. John Culberson (R-TX). “I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that a Europa mission has the full support of the federal government.”

91 comments to As Europa looks more inviting, one group presses NASA for a mission there

  • Bennett In Vermont

    It would be nice, and incredibly interesting to see a Curiosity type mission to Europa. We all know the budgetary constraints and pork barrel waste however. Still…

    • amightywind

      It would be nice, and incredibly interesting to see a Curiosity type mission to Europa.

      Not so fast. As for the budget constraints, more money could be found if we had an adnministrator with the guts to reform the agency.

  • Hiram

    NASA science planning adheres strongly to the decadal surveys by the science constituency. The last one has already declared that for this coming decade, the second highest priority is JEO – the Jupiter Europa Orbiter. That mission has a projected cost of $4.7B in FY15 dollars. But …

    “If JEO were to be funded at this level within the currently projected NASA planetary budget it would lead to an unacceptable programmatic imbalance, eliminating too many other important missions. Therefore, while the committee recommends JEO as the second-highest-priority flagship mission, close behind MAX-C, it should fly in the decade 2013-2022 only if changes to both the mission and the NASA planetary budget make it affordable without eliminating any other recommended missions. These changes are likely to involve both a reduction in mission scope and a formal budgetary new start for JEO that is accompanied by an increase in the NASA planetary budget. NASA should immediately undertake an effort to find major cost reductions for JEO, with the goal of minimizing the size of the budget increase necessary to enable the mission.”

    So that’s what it’s going to take to do it, sez the 2010 planetary decadal. Now, Charlie Bolden is already looking at declining budgets, and at least an SLS system that will eat his lunch. So what’s been “solidifified” here is the idea that NASA is broke, and big things won’t happen until that’s fixed. Yes, JEO might be descoped, but it’s going to take more than that to do it. That descope, by the way, is right now Europa Clipper. Bill Nye is naive in saying that what it will take is a small adjustment to the Planetary Science budget to do the Clipper. Wishful thinking on his part, as a second priority flagship, and a lot of his thinking has been pretty wishful. Hard to believe that Nye is so clueless (or maybe it’s just NASA foot kissing) that he dreams about using an SLS to launch this mission.

    Bottom line. This is a wonderful, magnificent idea for a mission. It’s also programmatically unachievable. We’d better get used to saying stuff like that.

  • Curtis Quick

    Although I would love it to be otherwise – it ain’t gonna happen. For a Europa mission to get off the ground certain members of congress and the senate in charge of appropriations are going to have to agree that a Europa mission is more important than SLS/Orion. They would then have to cancel SLS/Orion and agree to use the freed up funding to finance a Europa mission. I bet NASA could even get a sweetheart deal out of SpaceX for a lower cost Falcon Heavy to launch the mission. One can always dream, but don’t hold your breath for this one!

    One thing we can all agree on – there will be no significant science missions out of NASA while SLS/Orion is eating up all available funding.

    You want Europa, kill SLS/Orion. Boy, imagine what you could accomplish in space exploration if only SLS/Orion did not stand in the way! Ironic isn’t it!

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Having a mission to Europa or anywhere else is a simple matter. The White House and the Congress have to behave like adults and pay for it. That means growing NASA’s budget to allow for everything that it desires to do.

    • Hiram

      “…. is a simple matter. The White House and the Congress have to behave like adults and pay for it.”

      Gosh, you make it sound so easy. That’s a suggestion that applies to *anything* *anyone* wants to do. More money!! Money me, money me!! Maybe the White House and Congress could behave like adults, and not pay for other things at NASA, ya think?

      • Mark R. Whittington

        No. NASA has been woefully underfunded for quite some time.

        • Hiram

          “NASA has been woefully underfunded for quite some time.”

          More money! Money me, money me!! You’re just repeating yourself (so I did too).

          What counts are priorities, and rationale. Europa isn’t a top priority (though perhaps it should be), and on a scale of national needs, what NASA does unfortunately doesn’t rate very highly. Maybe it’s “woefully underfunded” because it has made a woeful case for increasing its funding. SLS is just the latest sterling example of that woeful case. Shall we ladle more money on an agency that is building a rocket it can’t afford, for missions with it that are largely undetermined?

        • Robert G. Oler

          No NASA is not underfunded, it is funding to many over budget non performing programs…and you like most lovers of the military and space industrial complex are fine with that

          Robert G. Oler

          • Gary Warburton

            You are absolutely correct, Robert. If they weren`t spending buckets of money on the archaic, SLS monster rocket and Orion there would be plenty of money for projects like a trip to Europa, a space born interferometer and the James Web telescope.
            Good to see you back, Robert.

            • Robert G. Oler

              The problem is that NASA has become like the DoD…the greater good there is protecting industries which are no longer, without government help competitive in the market either government or commercial. It doesnt really matter what else is done, just that these industries “hang on” and they need federal dollars to do that.

              So we have SLS/Orion which actually detract from the notion of the US doing “things” in space because the build money is so much as is the “launch money”…and yet the political class hangs on to them tooth and nail

              They do this because they have learned how to manipulate a low information voter pool and their media…so now we have people talking about how SLS is needed to keep the chinese from taking the Moon.

              Odd if they did it, they did it without SLS :)

              Thanks Ihope to have more time. work is settling down Robert G. Oler

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “The White House and the Congress have to behave like adults and pay for it. That means growing NASA’s budget…”

      No, it doesn’t. If my kid wants a new video game, I don’t have to increase his allowance. I can tell him to stop spending his allowance on candy and save up for the video game.

      There are any number of lower priority, duplicative, and/or poorly performing programs at NASA that could pay for a mission like Europa Clipper. SLS, MPCV, STMD, Solar Probe, etc. Congress just has to have the guts to set priorities based on something other than jobs.

      “to allow for everything that it desires to do.”

      An unlimited blank check with no priorities or oversight. How asinine.

    • Vladislaw

      As a percentage NASA has been given increases. Increases in the pork premium have made a lot of NASA irrelavent. Especially anything relating to human spaceflight. The porkonauts in congress have literally spent NASA out of business.

  • James

    NASA Science is dying. The capacity and capabilities built up over the past 50 years is in rapid decline. Combine atrocious performance on JWST, MSL, there are others too, along with Weilers culture of ‘don’t worry about costs, I’m brilliant enough to get the money’, along with declining budgets, and you get maybe, or maybe not -depends on what day Bolden is speaking – one flag ship mission for all of SMD per decade? decreased flight rates for Discovery and New Frontier missions, and Explorers, and the end of many SMD science communities

    Aviation Week is reporting the NRC slams NASA science plans http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_12_09_2013_p28-643475.xml.

    Another report to ignore.

    Bolden & Grunsfeld are failing, but they doesn’t know it….yet. Look out for that iceberg!

    • Dark Blue Nine

      The outer solar system does go radio silent (i.e., no operating missions beyond the asteroid belt) starting in 2017 due to the failure to get a Europa mission off the ground and greatly reduced Discovery and New Frontiers mission opportunities.

      • Hiram

        Well, I think we’re going to be listening to Voyager and New Horizons for quite a while yet. Also, Juno is on it’s way to Jupiter, arriving in 2016. So the outer solar system is not going quiet in 2017.

        But indeed NASA has made a decision that the science community is not entirely comfortable with. That is to concentrate its resources into flagship missions, at the expense of smaller missions that better nurture the development of science and scientists to do it. Now, flagship missions are the ones that historically come away with the big scientific prizes, and best engage the public, but the recent performance of the relatively economical Kepler mission has changed that equation a bit. Grunsfeld and Bolden are probably looking at Kepler and thinking “Hmmm, maybe if the goal is right, we may not need mega-missions to sell ourselves.” That comes across as a challenge to the science community.

        • Dark Blue Nine

          “Well, I think we’re going to be listening to Voyager and New Horizons for quite a while yet.”

          Strictly speaking, the outer solar system is Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and their moons, rings, and Lagrange objects, as well as the Centaurs.

          Pluto, which New Horizons flies by in 2015, is in the Trans-Neptunian region and technically not part of the outer solar system. Same goes for the Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud, heliopause, etc. These are regions unto themselves.

          “Also, Juno is on it’s way to Jupiter, arriving in 2016.”

          Juno will be deorbited into Jupiter in October 2017 (to prevent collisions with Jupiter’s moons).

          “So the outer solar system is not going quiet in 2017.”

          Even if New Horizons or the Voyagers were still in the outer solar system come New Years 2018, I think most folks would agree that waiting decades for a spacecraft to cross a helio boundary and transmit that discovery with the power of a single cell phone is practically equivalent to radio silence. (It sure ain’t a Cassini or Galileo during prime mission phase.)

        • James

          You need both small missions and flagships. Flagships are the only mission with large enough budgets to develop new technologies. Because, sadly, new technology monies that are not aligned with a strategic mission, like a flag ship, get swooped up to pay for cost overruns on MSL and JWST. The smaller missions, competed through the AO process (Explorer’s, New Frontiers, Discovery’s) won’t be competitive unless they can show their technology is matured…and many of the proposals for these types of missions rely on technology developed via the Flag Ships. There is no bucket of money at NASA to mature technologies for these competed non strategic missions.

          Ergo, No Flagships, no new technologies; no new technologies, uncompetitive smaller missions. If the PI’s lie about their technology readiness, it will eventually catch up to them and they’ll get cancelled (see GEMS).

          On the other hand, once a Flag ship is selected via the Decadal process (the SMD bible), history has shown they won’t fly for another 17 ish years. So it’s hard to sustain a community that gets data once every 17 years. So one needs the smaller missions, as you point out, to keep the community stimulated and seeking answers, with focused science questions, to the mysteries that the flag ships reveal.

          So if Bolden thinks it’s ‘either or’ here, i.e. smaller missions, or flagships, are even if he thinks only one flag ship per decade for all of SMD, he is kidding himself and sending SMD right into that Iceberg over there!

          As I said, SMD is dying a slow death. Some of the astrophysics communities (of course not the JWST science communities) are going to die because there is lack of funds for larger missions, and NASA is outsourcing it’s science to ESA missions (see Euclid, Athena, LGW) which don’t fly till 2028, 2035. Planetary is also going through the death throws. Earth Science hasn’t flown one mission yet from its 2007 Decadal Report. Missions in development are costing more than expected and pushing others out to the right.

          And its not that NASA doesn’t know how to prioritize its science. It surely does, and it’s called the Decadal.

          If I were Congress thought, I wouldn’t appropriate any new monies for SMD until I see Bolden and Grunsfeld seriously implement major significant reforms in the way SMD does business through it’s field centers. Performance has been bad, and Congress doesn’t trust NASA to meet its commitments. To date, I haven’t seen any such conversation to look at how NASA develops missions, and could do better.

          • Hiram

            This is a good analysis, and probably spot-on about SMD dying a slow death. Let’s put that in some context however. SMD has achieved astonishing successes, and is VASTLY further from death-by-rationale than human space flight at NASA, which still hasn’t really figured out what it’s really trying to do, and whose modus operandi is trying to look like it did forty years ago.

            But that’s the problem, isn’t it? You can be dying a slow death even as you are raft with successes. That makes it easy to ignore the real problems. The media has tried to figure the NRC review of the SMD draft science plan as a “slam”, but it really isn’t that. It’s a serious caution about the real problem, which is how lack of constraints on missions, especially flagship missions, can harm the overall goals. Amusing, isn’t it, how the same caution should really apply to human space flight, but doesn’t (think Constellation, for example). How can NASA human space flight get away ignoring that caution? Because that program has no overall specific goals!

            SMD is in the position that it can’t go on doing what it’s doing. Asking the science community to regularly come up with priorities that are simply unserviceable. That guarantees that the whole decadal process, which is the pride of the science community, becomes largely meaningless. The capstones for success become the dreams of an earlier generation, most of whom have retired by the time that success occurs.

            What needs to be done for NASA is to really take a close look at first principles, which is something that NASA itself has demonstrated to be largely incapable of doing. The NRC Committee on Human Spaceflight might just come up with some first principles about human spaceflight, but simply in an advisory capacity. We’ll see. The “Review of the Draft 2014 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan” makes some very real challenges to SMD. We’ll see if SMD responds by just with words, or if they can really walk the talk.

            • James

              Human space flight is all about conquering nature……science is all about learning about nature.

              Conquering nature is a western mind set phenomena. Learning is a universal mind set.

              Conquering nature, especially outer-space, with humans is expensive, and I don’t think the American public is up to ‘conquering’ outer space.

              I believe the American public is thrilled with learning about nature, and if they knew the dire straights SMD is in, then i do believe they’d support more of it,,,especially if they could shift monies from HSF SLS/Orion to SMD

    • Aberwys

      I’m with James–NASA Science is declining.

      The old guard keeps the doors shut with respect to young people entering the mission realm, so there is no succession planning. In fact, I’ve seen young people with more experience trumped by people two years away from retirement, just because of the selfish needs of the soon-to-be retiree to have a “swan song” before they go. I’ve seen that more than once in the past year–to the point where I can consider it a local phenomenon.

      • DCSCA

        ‘I’m with James–NASA Science is declining.’

        NASA is a political instument– not a science agency.

        • James

          Wrong.
          NASA is an Agent of the American Public that seeks to address their concerns. Thus the term Agency.

          Because this Agency lives within a political environment, the short term ego-centric survival concerns of career politicians are trumping the concerns the Agency is chartered to fulfill.

          Democracy isn’t working either. But that is a thread for a different time and place

  • DCSCA

    Get a commercial sponsor. Musk, Bezos… McDonald’s… Exxon/Mobil, etc. Pitch a project and see how quicklyyou get laughed out of their congference rooms.

    Give’em a $500 million NASA budget sweetened by university endowments which choose to participate in the mission. Have the smart boys and girls design and fly a minimal, throw-away science probe, not a gold plated career perpetuator a la Curiosity– which still has failed to come anywhere close to returing and ‘science’ to justify its #2.6 billion price tag– and it’s 2 year mission is schedled, per NASA’s pitch-projection, to conclude in august, 2014.

    If they refuse to comply in creating a cost-effective probe- scuttle it. Europa has been there waiting for a few billion years or so– another decade or two won’t matter– except to desperatt space science faculty lounge set who want their carreers financed by others. And speakin g of others, the PRC successfully landed its rover on Luna today. Congratulations and welcome to the soft-landing on Luna club on the first try. There;s activity on the surface of our Moon– the Chinese are moving forward. So tonight, as America sleeps, it’s Red Moon rising.

    • Coastal Ron

      DCSCA opined:

      Give’em a $500 million NASA budget sweetened by university endowments which choose to participate in the mission.

      I think you’re kind of out of touch with 21st Century prices – it will cost about half of that $500M proposed budget of yours to launch the mission on an over-priced Atlas V. However if they used a Falcon Heavy they could do it for half what ULA charges, and be able to send a much more capable probe – that’s what SpaceX is bringing to the market, lower prices so organizations like NASA can do more for less.

      As to “sweetened by university endowments”, colleges don’t use their endowments to spend on space missions, and they rarely spend them on their students to lower the costs of tuition. Yet another area you are out of touch with reality…

      • DCSCA

        “I think you’re kind of out of touch with 21st Century prices..” whines Ron.

        =yawn= You’re out of touch with 21st cost-benefit analysis. If they get that budget- they’ll have to make it work. That’s the engineeering challenge for the science boys and girls from the beancounter set. Bear in mind, in flusher times, Voyager was rejected on its first proposal due to cost. The eggheads reworked the project, resubmitted it, got budget approval and the two probes were sent on their way– the rest is history.

        Give them $500 million and they’ll make it work, Ron. On not fly without ubserwriting from academia — or perhaps, the private sector subsidizing. Lottsa luck on selling that to a Musk or a Bezos, Ron. If you caught Musk’s intervoew on CNN’s FZ/GPS a few weeks ago, you’d know he’s still fixated on sending millions of people to MarsGet and in denial about hydrogen-fueled cars while his heavier Tesla batteries keep busrting intn flames. Get into this century, Ron. The PRC has– and they’re hallmarking it as theirs, leaving you commercialist buffs in the lunar dust.

        Look outside tonight, Ron. Red Moon rising, Comrade.

        “You’d think that would be space political news. The Chinese invest in lunar exploration. The US makes transfer payments to the indolent” notes Windy.

        NBC News aired a good package on it tonight. Chinese officials made it evident they’re planning to send people there eventually– and their kids are all part of it. America’s response was reruning 45 year old b/w video of Nthe late Neil Armstrong. That giant leap is looking smaller and smaller as it recedes into history’s rearview mirror for for fresh generations. There are three billion moer people alive today than in 1969– and they missed it. .

        In China, the kids are looking to space in classrooms across the land. In America, the kids are looking for gun-wielding nuts in their classrooms. The new Space Race has begun, Windy— thing is, it doesn’t appear the America of today is in any shape to make the run.

        “The Moon is easy enough…” quips Ron.

        Except it’s not.

        Which explains why in the whole history of everything, only three nations= GOVERNMENTS- not private corporations, Ron– have tried and successfully soft-landed spacecraft on Luna– and in the PRC’s case, did it on the first try– and this bird has a clever rover outfitted for a three month rollout. Pretty impressive for a nation that 40 years ago, as Mao said, ‘couldn’t even put a potato into space.’ Today, teir ‘spudnik’ did fine.

        “Curiosity ought to be chugging along ten years from now.” dreams Hiram.

        It’s objective was to return science, not verify it can exceed its design and engineering parameters. If you wanted to prove it could keep rolling in harsh environment, you could have turned it loose on the Mojave for a lot less that $2.6 billion– and still gotten lots of pretty red pictures. Voyager is sailing on as well– its primaery mission ending in 1989– and unlike Curiosity, Voyager was hugely cost-effective. And of course you’ll forgo your pension to pay to keep recieving the data from Curiosity for decades long after the 2 year NASA mission has ended and budgets shift to wiser projects, eh– or get a commecial sponsor– Bezos likes exotic, expensiver toys.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA whined:

          Give them $500 million and they’ll make it work…

          My point, which you missed, is that ULA doesn’t give discounts, but that SpaceX will be the new way that NASA sends missions beyond Earth in the future because Elon Musk focusing on value, not ripping off the government.

          On not fly without ubserwriting from academia…

          For someone who claimed they were part of the media, your communications skills are lacking.

          and in denial about hydrogen-fueled cars while his heavier Tesla batteries keep busrting intn flames.

          And how many hydrogen powered cars are there on the road? Yep, only a handful. Whereas Tesla sold over 5,500 of the Model S during the last quarter. The market has spoken.

          As to car fires, if being inflammable was the only criteria used for picking cars, we’d all be riding bicycles or walking, now wouldn’t we? What a maroon…

          It’s objective was to return science…

          No, not “was”, but as Hiram pointed out, it “is”, since it’s still operating and it is indeed returning lots of front page science. You just don’t notice it because you’re in your basement watching old video of the Apollo days.

          Get out of your basement and step into reality – here is just the latest headline Curiosity has generated:

          Mars Curiosity rover finds life-supporting chemicals

          And another one from back in May:

          Mars Rover Curiosity’s 7 Biggest Discoveries (So Far)

          Curiosity is doing great work helping us understand why Mars is, and continues to be, the primary destination we want to visit with humans when we eventually leave Earth’s orbit.

          • DCSCA

            My point, which you missed, is that ULA doesn’t give discounts, but that SpaceX will be the new way…”

            the new way goes no where, fast, Ron. Space X is a dead end. LEO is a tickt to no place, going in circles, no where, fast. And history has demonstrated repeatedly over the 80-plus years of modern rocketry that commercial has never taken the lead in this field, and has let government carry the load, socializing the rosk on the many, to benefit a select few. And lest you be reminded, Space X has flown nobody; nor has it soft landed spacecraft on Luna. A Luna every nation on Earth can see in the night sky. Red moon rising, Ron. There’s activity going on up there tonight– and it is Communist Chinese government w/ESA tracking networks helping out– not private American companies nor BAS. You’re being left behind n the lunar dust, Comrade.

            • Robert G. Oler

              So far outside of China the lunar mission is a big yawn. the crazies in the US have China conquering the Moon but then they were there already Robert G. Oler

            • Coastal Ron

              DCSCA said:

              Space X is a dead end. LEO is a tickt to no place, going in circles, no where, fast.

              What a broken record.

              Just a quick comparison between what SpaceX is doing with their reusable rockets and NASA with it’s “Rocket That Congress Won’t Use” shows us that the private market is not waiting for the government to do something or to just follow.

              As to “going in circles”, you are a HOOT! You would think you would be cheering on the private efforts to leave LEO, but instead you deride them – because “government is the answer” I suppose? You and Windy are certainly peas in a pod that way.

              You may not be alive when it happens, but SpaceX is far closer to going to Mars than NASA is to going back to the Moon. The era of “government projects of scale” are over for space-related efforts. And when SpaceX does go to Mars, you can bet the government will be hitching a ride with them… and we’ll be laughing at you. ;-)

            • DCSCA is right! The waste of further decades hovering around in LEO, is the clear tragedy, going on right now, with the American space program!! Commercial Crew will get us nothing & to nowhere!!
              I see great future promise & the lead-up to grand ambitions, with the Chinese unmanned soft-landing of a probe & rover upon the Moon! Chang’e 3, carries with it, strong implications for the future Chinese occupation of the Moon! It is in THIS arena, that true interplanetary space-flight with astronauts, will be hatched out! Luna offers the best test-bed & proving ground, for getting through all of the big engineering hurdles, involved in any departure from cis-lunar space.

        • Coastal Ron

          DCSCA whined:

          Red Moon rising, Comrade.

          Uh huh. We have how many flags does the U.S. have on the Moon from humans being there, not just little rovers? Yep.

          For someone who is supposedly unimpressed with U.S. companies doing today what it took our entire country to do in the 60′s, it’s amazing that you’re so afraid of an entire country doing something today that we did back in the 60′s.

          You lack consistency of thought and justification.

          And while it’s a significant achievement for China to be puttering around in Earth’s backyard, America is sending far larger and more capable rovers to other planets.

          As usual, you fail to impress…

          • @Coastal Ron,…..THAT WAS 40 SOLID YEARS AGO!!! America ignoring the Moon, & just bragging about its forty-years-ago laurels is like Spain quitting New World exploration in the 1510′s, and just being content with having other European nations do it, thenafter. China is building up, little by little, its space technology capabilities. Sure, it would be great if they could just leapfrog past all that stupid space-station repeat-of-the-U.S. thing—–and get their spacemen to the Moon by the 2020′s, but we’ll see how it eventually goes. LEO stations are the real dead end!
            I find it ludicrous how you anti-Moon people denigrate any manned return to the Moon, yet had no issues with a hundred LEO manned sortie missions——one after the other, on board the Shuttle, lasting roughly two weeks each, going around in circles, over & over again, throughout the 80′s & the 90′s!! If NASA can devote THAT much time & effort hovering in LEO, what could possibly be wrong with getting astronauts to the Lunar surface, once more??!
            I congratulate heartily, China’s emplacement of the first unmanned Moon-landing spacecraft, in the 21st century——something that has not been done in well over thirty years——not since the 1970′s!!! This soft-landing enterprise will have bountiful technological implications for future, ultra-advanced taikonaut expeditions. Expeditions that will exceed all that was possible, during the old Apollo missions—–four solid decades ago!

    • amightywind

      And speakin g of others, the PRC successfully landed its rover on Luna today. Congratulations and welcome to the soft-landing on Luna club on the first try. There;s activity on the surface of our Moon– the Chinese are moving forward.

      You’d think that would be space political news. The Chinese invest in lunar exploration. The US makes transfer payments to the indolent.

      • Coastal Ron

        amightywind said:

        You’d think that would be space political news.

        The Moon is easy enough that most of the world is leaving it up to universities and small companies to send rovers there. The hard stuff nowadays is landing 1-ton semi-autonomous rovers on the surface of Mars.

        I wish the Chinese well in their lunar endeavors.

        • Hiram

          It’s actually pretty interesting that Chang’e-3 landing, while widely reported, is not really getting above-the-fold coverage, and might not even be getting front page coverage. I think the American people understand exactly this, that the Chinese are doing something that is wonderful for the Chinese, but of little relevance to anyone else. It is hard stuff … for them.

          Oh, by the way, the Moon has been there for four billion years, and the Chinese have been here for several thousand. So let’s not get too worried about them, except for desperate aerospace contractors who want their careers financed by others in building huge uber-launchers and space chariots for humans.

          • Coastal Ron

            Hiram said:

            It’s actually pretty interesting that Chang’e-3 landing, while widely reported, is not really getting above-the-fold coverage, and might not even be getting front page coverage.

            I only get the Sunday paper, so most of my media references are from online sources, and it’s been pretty visible there. The New York Times had it on the top of their page for a while, and it was on the top of the CNN and NBC websites too. Still on their websites in the general news sections.

            Is it that important that is should get bigger coverage? I don’t think so. Give the same amount of money China used to MIT or one of our many other capable universities here in the U.S. and you’d get the same result, and maybe even better.

          • DCSCA

            It’s actually pretty interesting that Chang’e-3 landing, while widely reported, is not really getting above-the-fold coverage…”

            Pffft. With 27 year old news directors from the Ron Burgundy School of Broadcasting on the job, it’s no surprise at all– tonight’s ledes– snow storms, another U.S. school shotting and the lottery.

            The difference is Luna is about geo-politics; Europas is not. The leather-patched faculty lounge sdet who want thwir careers financed just have never been capable of craspni that. If the Red Shinese were rushing to the Red planet– or Europa- you’d get a political rationale from the corridors of government– nd jp on the ride. But if you ask the PRC if they’d take a Red Rover on Mars or a watery probe to Europa for laying claim to working Luna, visible in everybody’s night sky in ever land, slaved or free around the world, they’ll lay claim to halmarking Luna as theirs in a heartbeat. Space flighti is a political science.

            • Hiram

              “Space flighti is a political science.”

              You’re getting close. HUMAN space flight is political science, hands down. The news media is far more interested in political science than any other science, which is why Chang’e-3 isn’t quite headline news. Chang’e-3 is significant to you largely because of what it might portend about human space flight, and hands-on human domination of the cosmos. While contemporary news directors are less interested in such portents, they know what sells news, and politics is dominated by what sells news.

              To us, Luna isn’t geo-politics, though. We gave up that illusion forty years ago. On the other hand, as I said, we own Mars. Geopolitically, to the U.S., Mars, which is also visible in everybody’s night sky in every land, has been defined as the target of the next space race. The PRC will reach for Luna instead of Mars simply because they can. You don’t reach for what you can’t do. As to hallmarking it as theirs, they’d show more geopolitical power if they hallmarked LEO or GEO. Kinda strange they haven’t done that yet, no?

              • DCSCA

                =yawn= In case you didn’t notice, Hiram, the Chinese lunar landing was not a crewed touchdown — but it was a geo-political exercise at projecting a power and presence in related fiends on Earth. Spaceflight is political science– as this evening’s Red Moon rising clearly demonstrates. And only a fool would fail to be impressed with the progress demonstrated by the Peoples Republic of China in this field.

              • Coastal Ron

                DCSCA said:

                but it was a geo-political exercise at projecting a power and presence in related fiends on Earth.

                What “fiends” would that be?

                But as to “geo-political”, no one cares that China has finally (FINALLY!!) sent something to the Moon. You have been asked to explain this wild notion you have, but you have been utterly UNABLE to do so.

                as this evening’s Red Moon rising clearly demonstrates.

                For someone that PRETENDS to be an expert about the Apollo program, it’s amazing that you keep forgetting how much hardware we have on the Moon. Just in flags along the Moon is still White & Blue as much as it is Red.

                You sound like Chicken Little… ;-)

              • Hiram

                “And only a fool would fail to be impressed with the progress demonstrated by the Peoples Republic of China in this field.”

                Um, no fools on this end. I think it is a wonderful accomplishment. Never implied that it wasn’t.

                “=yawn= In case you didn’t notice, Hiram, the Chinese lunar landing was not a crewed touchdown — but it was a geo-political exercise at projecting a power and presence in related fiends on Earth.”

                Yes, I actually did notice that. The power and presence they projected was the stuff of forty or fifty year old U.S. accomplishment (which was pretty good!), or more precisely, as per Lunokhod, building on forty year old Russian technology. You really need to stop dancing and get some sleep.

                As noted, we have loads of hardware soft-landed on the Moon right now. I can only interpret your comments about Chang’e-3 as an expression of extreme fear. You should practice diving under your desk. Am I supposed to be scared that the Chinese will land a Yutu in my back yard?

          • @Hiram,….The task of soft-landing a space probe & rover onto the Moon may be hard & challenging for China——but it isn’t ANY easier for the U.S. to do, as well! In case you all haven’t noticed: China isn’t the nation that currently needs Russia to launch their spacemen to space! America lacks even a basic man-rated capsule, to reach LEO! At least the Chinese have their Shenzou craft, in which to fly missions with!
            If China is smart, it will leapfrog past the “need” to repeat the same old boring LEO station exercise, and will merely use the Tiangong as mainly a target vehicle, for practicing the reaching of a deep-space-bound craft, in a parking orbit. Tiangong could be the proto-type of a cis-lunar transport vehicle, which would involve both a lunar lander & an earth-escape-stage rocket. There’s clearly NO need for them to duplicate, in full scope, the ISS program! Sure, they could dabble a bit with a spartan, basic-type Skylab-like vehicle, for a while. But getting themselves fully bogged-down in Low Earth Orbit?—–THAT would be China’s true entry into stagnation & mediocrity!!

            • Hiram

              “The task of soft-landing a space probe & rover onto the Moon may be hard & challenging for China——but it isn’t ANY easier for the U.S. to do, as well!”

              Complete and utter BS. The U.S. has successfully landed *tons* of instruments on Mars. Farther away, making for stiffer lifetime and comm issues, entry and descent hurdles, and higher gravity. Landing such tonnage on the Moon by the U.S. would not be a big challenge. It is astonishing the way lunar scolds ignore our demonstrated capabilities elsewhere in the solar system.

              If China is smart, it will figure out why landing humans on the Moon is of value in the long run. We haven’t. They may well leapfrog past LEO, and go directly to landing a few humans on the Moon, who will be trying to figure out what they’re doing there besides flag planting and celebratory waving back to the Earth.

              In fact, one of the powerful roles of ISS is developing international cooperation in space accomplishment that can be brought to more distant challenges. China doesn’t have that now. International cooperation, especially in highly technical arenas, isn’t something you flick on and off like a light switch. The days of huge space accomplishments done solely by the U.S., without cooperation and investment by other countries, are over. A fair complaint is that this development hasn’t yet been used, but that gets back to the problem of establishing value in the long run.

      • Robert G. Oler

        the “indolent”…SLS and orion…an entitlement program that is one of the things that keeps us from doing wonderful things as a nation…we have to pay technowelfare. Robert G. Oler

      • “You’d think that would be space political news. The Chinese invest in lunar exploration. The US makes transfer payments to the indolent.”

        And so, LADEE must be chopped liver…

        • @Frank Glover,…..NOT exactly: the U.S. merely makes further multi-million-dollar payments to Russia, so that they’ll launch OUR astronauts into space!! This is, of course, since we as a nation totally lack even a single space capsule, with which to send anybody up!

    • Hiram

      Let me help you with your terminology. What’s going to “conclude”, for Curiosity, 23 months after landing, is the “primary mission”. The primary mission is defined (no, it’s not “pitch-projected”, whatever that means) as the operational duration that was designed in to the mission to achieve the highest priority science goals. That’s not when the mission gets turned off. That’s not when the science accomplishment stops. Consider Cassini, for example, whose “primary mission” concluded five years ago. Cassini is still doing amazing stuff. If we don’t drive it off a cliff, Curiosity ought to be chugging along ten years from now.

      As to getting a commercial sponsor for space science, why do that? I have no worry about being laughed out of the conference rooms of Musk, Bezos, McDonald’s and Exxon/Mobil, but you and I know that space science missions are not going to get laughed out of the conference rooms of Lockheed or Northrop Grumman. We know that the American people will buy it, and will do so without scarfing Big Macs, slurping gasoline, or buying tickets to outer space. The American public loves this stuff.

      As to Curiosity fulfilling science to justify its price tag, and your recurrent skepticism about that justification, you may continue your little dance. You may have missed the recent announcements at the AGU meeting, though. Pretty slick. The Red Moon may be rising, but the red planet is as well, and we own it. The science drivers for the latter are far greater than for the former.

      • DCSCA

        Please keep trying to defend a bloated, over budget, poorly managed martian probe which has failed to return any science that comes anywhere close to justifying its $2.8 billion expense.

        • Hiram

          It’s really pretty funny, because you’re the only one I’ve heard from, and the rest I’ve heard from are established senior science, management, and political experts, who thinks that the successes coming in from Curiosity aren’t worth it. I don’t need to lecture them about terminology either. Keep dancing. Not too many people dancing with you. Now, just about everything that NASA does is bloated, over budget and in many respects poorly managed (welcome to reality!), but that shouldn’t necessarily detract from value. Yeah, if it had cost only $500M, it would have been a steal. But NASA doesn’t steal.

          Now, it’s fair to say that perhaps we can’t afford these kinds of successes that Curiosity has achieved, but that’s a completely different argument.

  • There is the money to do things like Europa. However, the authorizers are killing NASA. NASA has very specific line items all of which are underfunded and thus, over budget.

    KILL SLS and Orion and you can do a lot of HSF and Science.

  • Robert G. Oler

    the problem is that these missions have gotten so expensive in large measure due to the way they are run planned and executed. there is something wrong with Webb, Curiosity, and most “flagship” programs overrun their budgets like a weapon system

    Notice the world wide yawn (except for the Chinese) over the Chinese landing RGO

    • Ben Russell-Gough

      Notice the world wide yawn (except for the Chinese) over the Chinese landing

      I think that this is at least partly due to the fact that that it hasn’t received quite the media coverage necessary to create global interest and debate. Partly, at least, this is due to bad luck (the death of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent events has dominated the news here in the UK to the point that almost nothing else, including the weather forecast, has been broadcast on some news channels). The other is, of course, the conscious ‘dumbing down’ of the media – science/technology is always low down compared to politics and celebrity scandal. That’s nice, easy reportage and guarantees high ratings, which is what the channel owners want.

      If (and this is a big if) Chang’e-3 and the context – the fact that fewer robot probes than ever are being planned and launched by NASA because of budget issues – were properly reported, then I imagine that there would have been more reaction, even if it was a Frank Wolf-style knee-jerk.

      • DCSCA

        “I think that this is at least partly due to the fact that that it hasn’t received quite the media coverage necessary to create global interest and debate. Partly, at least, this is due to bad luck (the death of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent events has dominated the news here in the UK to the point that almost nothing else, including the weather forecast, has been broadcast on some news channels).”

        Murdoch has been dumbing down media there for decades– and he ha infected the United States as well.

      • Robert G. Oler

        The alternative is that simply people are not interested…it doesnt remotely affect their lives so whats the story. RGO

        • @Robert G. Oler,…. The manned launch of a Dragon capsule to the ISS won’t remotely affect people’s lives either! Putt-putting around in Earth’s backyard, with a Commercial spacecraft, in mere LEO, won’t electrify nor mesmerize the general public either! It won’t matter which company or whose capsule is doing the flight!
          If Chang’e 3, is a repeat of the old Soviet Lunokhods, then a manned flight of the Dragon would be merely a repeat of the Gemini 1960′s flights! Oh, you say that Commercial Crew is sending men to a space station?—-then, that flight will be a mere repeat of the Skylab, from the 1970′s!!

          • Hiram

            “The manned launch of a Dragon capsule to the ISS won’t remotely affect people’s lives either!”

            Um, who just said “the U.S. merely makes further multi-million-dollar payments to Russia, so that they’ll launch OUR astronauts into space!! This is, of course, since we as a nation totally lack even a single space capsule, with which to send anybody up!” ?

            A manned launch of a Dragon capsule may not affect most peoples lives, but it really seems that it would affect yours. You could even use fewer exclamation marks in your posts.

  • SethG

    Congress has been suportive of a Europa mission. Appropriations provided $75M last year to begin laying groundwork. The House authorization provides an increase for planetary programs and explicitly sets a goal of 2021 for launch of a Europa mission. NASA leadership and OMB are the ones dragging their feet.

    At an estimated cost of about $2B, Europa Clipper mission would need $300 to $400M per yr on average, and that’s about 2-3% of NASA’s overall budget. To say such modest changes are impossible is to be eternally stuck in the status quo.

    Politically, both Mikulski and Feinstein have inetersts involved with JPL and APL leading the mission.

    There is plenty of fat in NASA’s infrastructure acounts that could be cut to put toward worthwhile missions like Europa. NASA needs leadership that is bold, not Bolden.

    • Neil Shipley

      And therein lies the flaw. $75million to ‘begin laying the groundwork’. No detailed planning I’ll bet, just some meetings no doubt costing $75 million.

  • S Brennan

    There is childlike mentality that runs through these comments.

    1] Every large organization has waste and inefficiency. Smaller organizations do too, it’s just that they run closer to capacity and as a result…they are less capable. Bang for the buck, Hezbollah is one hell of a fighting machine…so why doesn’t the organization “just” overwhelm the “bloated” US Military and crush the United States? Size matters boys, size matters.

    2] Anybody who offers to “rob Peter to pay Paul” insures that both “Peter & Paul” will be robbed, thus the biblical injunction not to “beggar thy neighbor” applies here…

    a) Particularly when those who “support” the privatizing of NASA, which is to say, taking the funds away from those enterprises that created the technologies and handing those NASA funds to those who copied the existing technologies. Now if Bezos & Musk developed new technologies that replaced the well developed technology of chemical rocketry, you’d have my ear, but having worked for one of them, I can assure you, getting clamped onto the public teat is job one. And I’ll add, wasteful activities befitting high school politics were widespread as anything I saw at Boeing….and at Boeing, politics is job one.

    b) Also, while the public supports space probes to the far reaches of the planetary system, they do so will the tacit understanding that humans will one day have the OPPORTUNITY to stand there. If all the treasure is given to sate the intellectual appetite of a subset of scientists, the public’s support will sublime away. Lewis & Clark were sent on a mission and that mission wasn’t to count flowers, it was to define this nation’s future borders.

    3] Cut all of NASA’s budget and what have you got? A savings that the citizen taxpayers of this country will neither notice..or appreciate. And that’s if we kill ALL of NASA.

    a) KILLING NASA’s ENTIRE BUDGET would have negligible effect on the budget. So cutting a program you don’t like is a personal pique, not something to advance this country’s interest in any definable manner. If past is prelude [and you have to show evidence to dispute this], then doubling NASA’s budget should increase GDP 3-5% range. Even if a project accomplished NOTHING, it still would contribute a 1:1.5 boost to GDP. So those who call for cuts on this board seem to know little about the economy, again, you are prescribing personal vendetta’s as public policy. Clearly, such naysayers do not offer an economic remedy…even when we contrive to create a worst on worst case…which would be off the trend line by a whole factor.

    b) That’s not to say that some would not gain, a powerful, but ever so tiny group would sleep easy know that fewer disruptive technologies would be developed by scientists and engineers whose intellectual property belonged to the public. No, all gain would be privately held…to develop, or not…as befits their economic vision. Does anybody here remember when Bill Gates gave his vision of the future – circa 1994? Gates declared, the internet wasn’t going to amount to much. Fine, he was as wrong, as wrong as a man can be…do you want one man, Bezos or Musk being the final arbitrator? What if their financial interests conflict with an emerging technology?

    c) But KILLING NASA’s ENTIRE BUDGET would surely cripple our nation’s science community and industrial development, in the process, devastating whole communities in the name of a discredited economic policy. Austerity, through the centuries, has always failed, those who prescribe it here should be treated here, as one would a person who still held the Ptolemaic view of planetary motion…worse really, Ptolemy never killed anyone and austerity policies kill millions every year.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      “…a) KILLING NASA’s ENTIRE BUDGET…
      …c) But KILLING NASA’s ENTIRE BUDGET…”

      No one recommended, suggested, or wrote about “killing NASA’s entire budget” in thus entire thread.

      Read, think, then rant.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Well…on one of your points. AQ came close to bogging down the US military in Iraq, is fighting it to stalemate (an expensive one) in Afland…and in both cases was able to frustrate US political ambitions in both countries. Now part of that has to do with fighting the home team when you are not really loved in the region to start with…

      But go look at how much money was spent in Iraq…and we ultimately left. We will do the same thing in Afland.

      So you point is? RGO

  • SethG

    Brennan. Not sure I follow the logic in all of your statements. I have a hard time believing that doubling NASA’s budget would add much to the GDP. Help me understand how you arrive at your conclusion on that.

    Nobodoy’s talking about zeroing NASA’s budget.

    Not sure what your referring to in robbing Peter to pay Paul. I suggest that NASA could make some adjustments to add money for science whil cutting back on infrastucture/overhead. This is not robbing peter…but setting priorities.

    • Vladislaw

      I agree, unless NASA acts as a pump primer, raise the TRL and then shovel the tech into the private sector and buy it off the shelf. I would prefre that NASA act more like the aerospace side in their human spaceflight endevors.

  • S Brennan

    As Mark Twain said, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding”

    …and of course you believe your priorities are the only ones that matter, however the people who keep the lights on don’t agree with you at all…and since they are paying the freight, not you, perhaps your “priorities” should not supercede the vast majorities of American taxpayers who think they get REAL value from NASA. The overwhelming majority want to see more investment in Space Infrastructure, not less and not cannibalization…or as you say “priorities” for your pet projects.

    So what does GDP do during and after the space program? 1960 to 1973 it doubles with no increase in real debt. Now of course you would argue that point as well…which brings us back to “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding”

    https://www.google.com/search?q=us+gdp+20th+century+inflation+adjusted&client=firefox-a&hs=Bb0&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=np&tbm=isch&source=iu&imgil=CAP-yJHAcAYWDM%253A%253Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fencrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com%252Fimages%253Fq%253Dtbn%253AANd9GcSqzFlE5vLbHKSeEiNL9j7wgp36k8bCHOyxF5s68RaaYfQsQUXO%253B900%253B613%253BQmhFOHfwPPlNWM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fen.wikipedia.org%25252Fwiki%25252FEconomy_of_the_United_States&sa=X&ei=SCWuUuS0JIP1oASq8IHACA&ved=0CEcQ9QEwBA&biw=1027&bih=581#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=2QoyL72kbpM5EM%3A%3BOVQ0xWDRLatB6M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Feducationmatters.blogs.newmanu.edu%252Ffiles%252F2011%252F03%252Fus-gdp-inflation-adjusted.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Feducationmatters.blogs.newmanu.edu%252Fpage%252F2%252F%3B2529%3B1271

    • Neil Shipley

      If you want, and it’s seems to be a big if, other posters to take notice of you and engage, then you need to cut the rant and start with your point of view on the article under discussion and reasons for that view. Just ranting won’t cut it. In addition, try to avoid the mixed metaphors. :)
      So far you’ve made 2 posts and neither is rational.

    • Coastal Ron

      S Brennan said:

      The overwhelming majority want to see more investment in Space Infrastructure, not less and not cannibalization…or as you say “priorities” for your pet projects.

      Maybe the overwhelming majority of those that care about space stuff want more investment. But I have failed to see any indication that the “overwhelming majority” of U.S. Taxpayers want to spend more on space.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see NASA’s budget go up – if spent wisely. But I’ve seen no indication that Congress wants to spend more on NASA, and I’ve seen no citizen demonstrations in the streets demanding that we spend more either.

      Where are you seeing a demand for more investment in space infrastructure?

    • Vladislaw

      When funding creates disruptive technologies that leads to increases in GDP, you can not then conclude, that increasing funding, at a different point in time, will generate the same distruptive technology gains as past funding did. It would be impossible to predict that increasing NASA’s budget today, will lead to the same GDP increases that it did in the 60′s and 70′s.

  • S Brennan

    Hmmm Neil, I think my opening remarks makes it pretty clear that I hold the commenters here in low regard. Now explain again why would I seek your approval?

    You accused me, without fact of being false, I provided information to back up my statement and you replied with a second unrelated ad hominem attack…nice, a perfect example of second rate thinking. Thank you for providing that.

    Informative, up to date site, I’ll just skip the comments from now on…there, feel better Neil?

  • Nothing like propping up a straw man so you can knock it over and demonstrate your machismo …

    Moving on.

  • S Brennan

    The commenters here are out of touch with working Americans:

    Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Manned Mars Mission

    SEVENTY-FIVE percent of respondents say NASA budget should be doubled in order to put a person on Mars.

    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/02/11/poll-americans-overwhelmingly-support-manned-mars-mission

    When Americans are told the truth instead of Media misrepresentations, they OVERWHELMING IN SUPPORT OF DOUBLING NASA’s BUDGET:

    “The poll was prefaced with information that NASA spending (about $18.4 billion in 2011) represents about half a percent of the overall federal budget. Poll respondents incorrectly estimated that NASA’s budget represents about 2.5 percent of the total budget. Given that information, 75 percent of poll respondents said that NASA’s funding should be increased to about 1 percent of the total federal budget in order to fund a Mars mission.”

    Of course, you guys would rather spend your energy badmouthing programs than growing the pie.

    • Dark Blue Nine

      The poll is biased. It’s funded by Boeing and a Mars exploration advocacy organization. Per your own link:

      “Explore Mars and Boeing funded the survey…”

      Unbiased and long-run reviews of polls show that the American public does not support a human Mars mission:

      “A human Mars mission also has never enjoyed much support from the American public. Consistently, as shown in Fig. 13, more people polled have opposed the mission than supported it.”

      http://www.academia.edu/179045/_Public_Opinion_Polls_and_Perceptions_of_US_Human_Spaceflight_

      That paper reviewed polls from 1969 to 1999.

      More recently, in 2012 after the Mars Curiosity mission landing, only 36% of the public supported a human Mars mission according to Rasmussen polling:

      “36% Support U.S. Manned Mission To Mars”

      http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/lifestyle/general_lifestyle/august_2012/36_support_u_s_manned_mission_to_mars

      “Of course, you guys would rather spend your energy badmouthing programs than growing the pie.”

      You can’t “grow a pie” in a democracy where the plurality of that democracy does not want to pay for your pie. You have to stop looking for handouts and learn to bake within your means.

    • Coastal Ron

      S Brennan said:

      SEVENTY-FIVE percent of respondents say NASA budget should be doubled in order to put a person on Mars.

      Even if the poll was not biased, doubling NASA’s budget is not enough to get them to Mars. For instance, SLS-sized payloads are likely to cost at least $10B each and take 10 years to get ready, so if you needed a fleet of SLS-size payloads, that would equal about $13B/year just to build and launch the payloads.

      However, NASA has not developed the technologies and techniques needed to leave LEO with competence and confidence, and that will likely require far more funding.

      I’d like to go to Mars, but not for “flags and footprints”, but to stay like we have so far with the ISS. While doubling NASA’s budget could help, the political pork aspirations will have to be kept in check to make sure it’s spent wisely. I don’t see that happening.

  • S Brennan

    Here’s a another paper that supports my contention fully…US Taxpayers like NASA. When they find out how little the US spends on NASA they are shocked and call for more spending. The simple fact of the matter is, the media has misrepresented NASA spending for decades…and you, the children of this propaganda are repeating those lies without conscious thought.

    http://www.academia.edu/179045/_Public_Opinion_Polls_and_Perceptions_of_US_Human_Spaceflight_

    It’s important to note that the severest critics of ANY space program since the seventies are those who wish to see the monies allotted by congress to one program flow to theirs. These clueless unwitting critics are used by opponents of Government programs to cut, contain and eliminate NASA programs. And if history is our guide…those cost saving are shifted into tax cuts on capital gains and carried interest.

    To give some scale to the idiocy critics who call for ending programs for budgetary reasons:

    In 2008 inflation adjusted dollars

    NASA – 1961 – 1973 ~ 125 Billion [that’s not just Apollo]
    TARP – 2009 – 11 ~ 875 Billion
    Quantitative Easing QE – 2008 – 2013 ~ 1,600 Billion
    Afghanistan & Iraq wars 2003 – 2022 4,000* – 6,000* Billion – *WaPo, included VA costs
    Viet Nam 1963-1972 686 Billion
    Cost of Bush/Obama tax cuts 2001 – 2012 ~ 2,800 Billion
    US National Security Apparatus ~ 330 Billion/year
    US Military Budget ~ 645 billion/year

    The people here…advocating robbing Peter [space program x] to pay Paul [space program y] are economically illiterate.

    Please continue to use the comments to demonstrate your ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for knowledge. Be sure to engage in ad hominem attacks, cherry pick to create straw men to argue against and show disbelief in presented material no matter how well documented.

    • Hiram

      The only “poll” that is relevant here is congressional elections. Legislators make it their business to read the needs and wants of their constituents. Their job depends on it. While many in Congress would love to see the NASA budget doubled, they’re pretty confident they can’t do it. So if the taxpayers consider it a priority to do that, they need to lean on their representatives. They aren’t doing that.

      It’s the same old story. What the public “likes” isn’t what the public wants to pay for. National appropriations aren’t run by public polls, thank goodness.

      By the way, Roger Launius’ paper (which is not “another paper”, as it was pointed out to you long before that last post of yours) does indeed claim that the public “likes” NASA. No one is saying they don’t. That’s the straw man you’re setting up here. That same paper also clearly concludes that the public hasn’t wanted the government to fund human trips to Mars. I believe it was part of your “contention” that the public did support such human trips. So the paper hardly supports your contention fully.

      As to your point that “the media has misrepresented NASA spending for decades” — huh? Evidence, please? That’s a fanciful claim. Maybe Rupert has been out there blathering about NASA accounting for 2.5% of the federal budget? I must have missed that.

    • DCSCA

      Spaceflight in general– and HSF in particular- is an instrument of politics; a means of projecting national policy– it’s political science, not rocket science that fuels it. And that comes from the top down, not the bottom up.

      Spaceflight, be it human or monkey or robotic lunar rovers- in this era projects geo-political influence, economic vigor and technical prowess, around the globe for the nation(s) that choose to do it. And it plays out on a stage with high visibility that demands performance with engineering excellence from all the actors. The bounties from which are all reaped by the participating nation(s) on Earth. That’s why government’s do it. That’s why the Soviets and the Americans did it; that’s why North Korea and Iran and and now the Red Chinese governments are doing it. Governments. Not private industry.

      It is space projects of scale that matter. Which is why, in the long run, short-sighted forays by deep-pocketed NewSpace hobbyists do not.

      HSF is, in effect, a loss leader in this era for projecting national power and nurturing a perception of leadership. And in politics, perception is a reality. Which makes a drive to establishing a permanent foothold on Luna, seen around the world by all peoples in their evening skies, all the more imperative for the United States in this century. The PRC is taking aim.And the Red moon is rising.

      Commercial is welcome to come along for the ride– to supplement and service an exploration/exploitation outpost on Luna, established by governent(s). But they’ll never lead the way in establishing such a facility on their own The largess of the capital requirements involved coupled w/t low to no ROI prevents it; the very parameters of the market it is trying to create and service. That’s why governments do it.

      The rationale for HSF by the United States government in the 21st century was made in the 20th century by Presdient Kennedy. It is as valid today as it was in 1960′s:“We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.”

      • Coastal Ron

        DCSCA whined:

        HSF in particular- is an instrument of politics; a means of projecting national policy

        Since you refuse to provide any proof of this silly assertion, it continues to be just that – silly.

        Oh, and how does Jon Stewart view the efforts of China on the Moon? I remember you noted how Newt Gingrich was derided in the media for his Moon idea, well apparently the media doesn’t agree with your “concern” about China somehow taking over known space.

        The Daily Show terms what China is doing “Space Race 1957“. Pretty funny, and right on point.

        Wake us up when China lands a 1-ton semi-autonomous rover on another world…

    • Vladislaw

      Support for NASA and space exploration is a mile wide and an inch deep. If you want to look at polls, look at the polls that give americans a long list of choices and to rank the importance of each item. Space exploration is never even in the top 20 … it always ranks near the bottom as a priority. So if a pollster calls and says “should we explore space” you get 100% … but as a priority… 101 things always come first.

  • S Brennan

    Hiram, your idea that Congress takes it’s ques from the public was put rest with TARP. TARP was opposed by a staggering 98% of the public who had an opinion on the matter. You are fool to cart out that dead horse.

    Only the Congress/Bush/Obama, to whom you say the public should bow supported handing over several trillions to those who collaborated in fraud to create false ratings to sell, fraudulent CDO’S which they bet against with CDS’s. You are depraved Hiram.

    Please quote from the article to support this ridiculous claim:

    “That same paper also clearly concludes that the public hasn’t wanted the government to fund human trips to Mars.”

    Americans Overwhelmingly Support Doubling NASA’s Budget, I have never had an argument in a working class bar about paying for NASA, upper class yes, but never where people work for a living.

    Polls have repeatedly shown that Americans believe we spend on average 20-25% of the budget on NASA, an error that’s off by a factor of 40 to 50 times reality. Hiram, you say that’s not the media’s fault, pray tell, where did Americans get the idea Saddam was in possession of “weapons of mass destruction”…simultaneous hallucinations?

    • Coastal Ron

      S Brennan said:

      Polls have repeatedly shown that Americans believe we spend on average 20-25% of the budget on NASA…

      What a load of bunk. That NASA rivals the Department of Defense in size? No one that works for NASA would think that, nor any of the contractors that work for NASA, nor anyone that works in the DoD or the contractors that work on DoD programs (some of which are the same as NASA).

      That’s a lot of people right there, so in order for your assertion to be true, the vast amount of other people in the U.S. must believe it’s true, whereas the vast amount of people in the U.S. that aren’t involved with NASA directly, or in STEM, are not even aware of NASA.

      This doesn’t even pass the smell test.

      • Hiram

        As I said, he’s right that at least one poll allegedly showed that. It’s referred to in the Launius paper, and Launius even presents those results in a graphic (see his Figure 15). Look, for those people who believe that NASA takes 25% of the budget, they probably also believe that DOD takes 95% of the budget, Interior has 50%, Commerce takes 60% and HUD rakes in 70%. What? It has to add up to 100%? Let’s not ask too much of these folks. Our PISA scores in math aren’t that impressive. Were there PISA scores in economics, we’d probably be pretty low as well.

    • Vladislaw

      I couldn’t find any reliable polling data that showed a staggering 98% oppossing tarp. Hell only a few percentage of people truely understood what the hell was happening in the banking industry much less what a derivative is and that it can include futures, forwards, swaps, options, and variations like caps, floors, collars, and credit default swaps.

      So saying 98% of americans had an opinion on Tarp is laughable. The media ran a ton of anti bailout headlines during tarp there is your opinion.

      sheesh

  • Hiram

    “TARP was opposed by a staggering 98% of the public who had an opinion on the matter.”

    Actually, according to Gallup in January 2009, 6/10 Americans wanted the release of the second half of TARP funds blocked until details were provided about how the funds would be spent. Not sure how the remaining 40% who were happy to have those funds released fit into your 2% who allegedly didn’t oppose TARP. But it is noteworthy that the public never successfully conveyed that “opinion” to their representatives in Congress. Congress takes its queues from the public when the public threatens electoral revenge. The public didn’t do that here.

    “Please quote from the article [Launius, Space Policy] to support this ridiculous claim: ‘That same paper also clearly concludes that the public hasn’t wanted the government to fund human trips to Mars.’”

    A human Mars mission also has never enjoyed much support from the American public. Consistently, as shown in Fig. 13, more people polled have opposed the mission than supported it.

    Which you’ll find near the end of Section 6 of that paper. The Figure 13 caption specifies that it is about government funding for a trip to Mars.

    “Americans Overwhelmingly Support Doubling NASA’s Budget”

    Of course they do. I agree completely. That’s what they “like”. But they won’t put their money where their mouth is. That’s the whole point.

    “Polls have repeatedly shown that Americans believe we spend on average 20-25% of the budget on NASA”

    Even the Mars Society-Boeing poll, that you proudly point to, contradicts that. It says that the average placement by survey participants of the percentage of the overall federal budget presumed to be devoted to NASA (on a sliding scale of 0-6%)was 2.43%. Of course, they amusingly restricted the responses to that 0-6% sliding scale to encourage some sense of economic sanity. It would be kind of embarrassing to the poll sponsors, who are reaching out to an allegedly knowledgeable public, to end up with numbers higher than that, no? The folks who really and truly believe that we spend 20-25% of the federal budget on NASA don’t represent any economic wisdom that you’d want to hang your hat on. That 20-25% number comes from the Launius paper as well, though the source of it isn’t specified. Not sure if that represented “repeated” polling as you claim. Would be interesting to understand where those numbers came from.

    “Hiram, you say that’s not the media’s fault …”

    Yep. I did say that. The media never said that NASA consumes a large fraction of the federal budget. The folks who think that NASA consumes 20-25% of the federal budget probably don’t listen to the evening news or read news media anyway. But I asked you for evidence that the media did say that. Maybe the entertainment media said that? C’mon. Fess up. Yes, hallucinations are a credible possibility for where Americans got that idea!

    • Hiram

      Let me add that the 20-25% numbers do indeed come from ONE “repeated” poll. They were three polls done by the Yakelovich group for Boeing (following regular polling done by that group for Rockwell, before its demise). Those polls were well cited in the Launius paper, but not explicitly connected to this question there. Those polls are available at the NASA History Office, though not obviously in an online form. The polls were done, I believe, by short interviews, so it would be interesting to see how people explained their assumption that NASA made up such a large piece of the federal budget.

      Also, let me correct myself. I said “Mars Society-Boeing poll”. In fact, it was “Explore Mars-Boeing poll”.

  • Neil Shipley

    This whole argument is mute. NASA is not going to suddenly get any significant increase in it’s budget. In fact it’s been surviving on CRs for a while now. It’ll be lucky to maintain it’s current funding.
    The malaise that’s attacking NASA is affecting all areas and just seems to be getting worse – large scale programs paying for pork jobs lacking any form of budgetary or schedule control and no management oversight and contributing nothing to any future direction ’cause NASA doesn’t have one. Recipe for disaster.
    Name the programs or projects: Orion/MPCV, JWST, SLS (run on from Cx), Curiosity killed the cat, sorry next missions not funded although admittedly that actually got to where it was supposed to go and is doing science.

    Meanwhile, CCiCap moves forward according to budget but schedule slips due to reduced funding 60% plus, COTS pretty successful, SpaceX continues to challenge the oldspace companies with a win on the latest front.

    The U.S. is extraordinarily fortunate that SpaceX came along and received some support within NASA otherwise the future would look very bleak indeed.

    On another bright note, Rep. Wolf is retiring thank god – what a numb nut!

    • DCSCA

      The U.S. is extraordinarily fortunate that SpaceX came along and received some support within NASA…

      Except its not. LEO is a ticket to no place, going in circles, no where, fast. Another decade of same is most decidedly unfortunate. Un less, of course, you’re chummy with the PRC, eh Comrade.

    • Robert G. Oler

      Neil…that is a pretty solid recanting of the situation

      The basic problem at NASA is that their model(s) for human spacelight are simply broken.

      the “big goal” programs no longer attract support…really SLS/Orion are only important to the politicans that support them for the technowelfare in their district. otherwise to the great “surprise” of the space followers the Chinese lunar probe and entireprogram generate almost no interest or alarm inside the country…and the American people could care less about the space station.

      These giant goal programs are shunned because 1) they never meet cost or 2) never meet performance goals and then 3) we are like where we are with the space station…costing a lot and doing nothing. So why have a Libration station costing a lot and doing nothing?

      RGO

      • Vladislaw

        I kinda disagree Robert. The american taxpayer, I believe was sold on the idea that the Nation would fund the development of this new transportation system and then IMMEDIATELY like ALL transportation systems it would shoveled over into the private sector and mass production would start and everyone would benefit and enjoy the fruits of that development. Hell Pan Am wanted to start selling tickets, Hilton wanted space hotels. But unfortunatly the space program was turned into a heros program. From now until forever, space would be hard and expensive and only america’s best would ever get ride to space.

        Congress passed no laws allowing or encouraging private rockets for passenger service. It was now locked up as a NASA only heros program. Flights could not be so routine it became boring. Nine human flights by the shuttle in one year. Can you imagine if only 9 airline flights took place a year?

        Once spaceflight became commercialized the NASA hero would disappear along with the big budgets.

        • Robert G. Oler

          Yes of course, had the shuttle say even flown 25 times a year at prices somewhere near what it was sold for history is very different. so I agree with you but my point was that 1) it didnt happen and 2) really never could have happened.

          there is a reason SpaceX is trying (and to be fair lets see if it works) to inch up the fight rate…if they cannot do that I bet they cannot make their cost numbers

          Robert G. Oler

    • Hiram

      “This whole argument is mute.”

      I wish the argument were mute. But there are some for which it isn’t. The argument isn’t about what NASA is going to do with all the new money that gets slathered on it, but whether there should be any expectations about new money. But it is eternally amusing how dyed in the wool space advocates have convinced themselves that NASA, and especially human space flight at NASA, are royally deserving. Some serious psychological counseling is in order before any real progress will be made.

      “LEO is a ticket to no place …”

      Robert Heinlein would disagree. Of course, he is well known for having said “Get to low-Earth orbit and you’re halfway to anywhere in the solar system.” What SpaceX has accomplished is radically dropping the price of getting halfway out into the solar system. That’s a bigger ticket to someplace than an unaffordable HLV. Now that Wolf is on his way out, maybe we will indeed get chummy with the PRC. It would be nice to properly welcome them to the club of comrades in space. That would not likely be a harbinger for a decade of same.

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