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back to article Obama to scrap Moon, Mars expeditions - report

President Barack Obama is set to effectively scrap all US manned spaceflight plans beyond Earth orbit for the foreseeable future, according to a newspaper report. The Orlando Sentinel - which has proven itself to have good sources in US space circles in the past - says that the White House budget proposal for the US space …

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WTF?

May I be one of the first to say..

This sucks balls.

I was REALLY looking forward to seeing a push to further our horizons.

Shame

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Thank goodness for that

While I would love to see people back on the moon and mars, sacrificing the ISS and unmanned missions to help fund it was just dumb.

We should be concentrating on developing cheaper ways to get to orbit by fostering commercial competition, combined with a station large enough to facilitate some real science and the construction of craft to head out into the solar-system.

Spend the intervening time developing some of the interesting new ideas for interplanetary drives.

Just building more big dumb rockets to chuck at the moon was shallow popularism by Bush.

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Living on the moon

As a child, I was promised that we'd all be living on the moon or Mars by now, so I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand "How dare they hold back manned exploration of our solar system!!!!!"

On the other hand "The money would be better spent fixing the country."

But I guess the money will actually be put into paying off the Taliban, or paying contractors $27Million to move A few gallons of fuel 300 miles to Baghdad, when a normal company charges $3000

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Pirate

Next in line?

There is always the next 'threat to democracy' to look forward to.

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Lack of vision, except the vision to blow stuff up

"NASA can't design space programs to create jobs... that's the view of the president".

Not that the Apollo program created jobs or anything. Oh, wait, it did - not just jobs, it catalysed entire industries which the US went on to dominate for decades.

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Obama compared to Kennedy

Here in the states (sry, colonies), people seemed to be quick to compare Obama to JFK. I wonder how well that comparison is holding up now.

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Coat

my thought exactly on reading the news

It would be quite a bit of vision to display, wouldn't it?

But then these are quite different times to the sixties, and he was voted in on an agenda of change. Perhaps the bigger vision now is to lay off the expensive, slightly stagnant space stuff for a while til the technology has progressed a little more, and concentrate on putting the country to rights.

Given that we've already gone to the moon and all once already, but you could hardly claim that the civil rights movement's work is yet done, I think the down-to-earth plan might have a greater and more lasting impact right now.

Mine's the one with the secret Chinese space elevator, guaranteed basic healthcare and vastly reduced national debt in the breast pocket, next to the biros.

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Kennedy on the moon

kennedy was initially quite a sceptic of the lunar landing programme.

It was only when he needed a big idea that the Russians would struggle to equal - given the Russians had pretty much pioneered every 'first' in space until that time, and the US population were less than enamoured with the situation - that he went along with the idea.

Obama does not face the same sort of challenges. These are different times. The Taliban aren't developing a ship to Mars, or even launching satellites.

I would be hugely pleased to see vast sums of US taxpayers' money spent on a lunar and Mars programme, but can understand why it is no rush for Obama.

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...but how would we do that?

"But then these are quite different times to the sixties, and he was voted in on an agenda of change. Perhaps the bigger vision now is to lay off the expensive, slightly stagnant space stuff for a while til the technology has progressed a little more, and concentrate on putting the country to rights."

Yes, there's always another reason to spend the money for something else, but if we don't get out THERE and use the technology we have, we will never know how to improve the technology. If English sailors had not gone out and used the 16th century sailing technology, they would not have figured out how to improve upon it.

NASA and Lockheed had a great idea to make a single stage to orbit vehicle called the X-33. They ran into some technological problems, but rather then working through it, they threw in the towel, and surrendered. Now it's 40 years later, and we never go beyond low earth orbit. More's the pity for the human race.

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No problem...

...we can always pay the Russians and Chinese to visit their bases.

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We already do...

We already pay the Russians to use their spacecraft. There was a question at the KSC press conference wondering if the Russians are going to jack up their prices. "Of course not!"

Yeah, sure. Oh well, the Russians need jobs even worse than we do. Personally, I hope they quadruple the prices.

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Paris Hilton

For one brilliant, glorious moment

I thought that headline said "Obama to scrap moon".

Well, you'd certainly get quite a lot back off the salvage wouldn't you.

Don't hurt me, I was blond when I was little... some of it stuck.

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Unhappy

Why go today?

When we can do it tomorrow at greater expense in a frantic hurry with duct tape technology trying to win political points and beat the damned *fill in with whoever* there.

Or

Earth was good enuf for me Pa, so I'll be damned if it ain't good enuf for Junior!

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I just want to know...

Where's my &%@$ing jetpack?!?

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Unhappy

What did you expect?

After Bush and the Banks had finished looting there is really not much left for Obama to work with.

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Unhappy

Obama to scrap moon?

WHAT?!

Oh, you've gone for the 'Americanized' comma in the headline.

Please make it stop.

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Now is not the time

Yeah I agree, shallow popularism. The moonshot was great in its day, but we now have other problems to worry about, and unless there is a desperate need to go to the moon, mars or anywhere else, one that will pay for itself in a sensibly projected timescale (oil on mars anyone?) then we simply don't need to go there.

I'd LOVE to see us extending our horizons to other worlds, but now is not the time. We are in a time of recession, two wars, a still relatively new presidency and fickle relations with other international partners. Going to the moon or mars sounds cool, neat, a fantastic achievement, something we can be proud of and all that... what a cool way to re-start our exploration of the universe beyond our current boundaries... but for what? Just the coolness of it? That's not a good enough reason. There needs to be a suitably well thought out business case for doing it, not just "we think it's a cool idea".

At the moment, we just don't NEED to. Until someone finds a reason why we need to get resources from other planets or a pressing need to do good science not just for its own sake but in the name of recovering from the mess we're currently in, then I'd say the Obama administration has got it right. Besides, what was the point of building the space station if it's only going to last another 5 years. I always thought 2015 was a very short timescale for something that has cost so many billions. Lets make use of it for as long as we can, do the good science we need to do right here in our own earth orbit, do what is within our means, and wait until we have a real NEED to go elsewhere. We'd love to do frivilous missions on the basis of human exploration being "cool", but we simply can't pay for them right now, or ever, until that business case exists.

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What angers me...

People talk of the "huge waste" and all the better uses that money could be put to. LIKE F*ING WHAT? Another couple billion to follow the many trillions we've poured on entitlement programs? Do you, for one second, believe that would even be visible? The entire NASA budget for the decade would disappear into the miscellaneous admin bucket of Medicare on any given weekday.

And perhaps we shouldn't look too closely at the question: who said "they" were entitled to anything other than a chance? Nor the fact that the government has deprived everyone of that chance by destroying the economy.

As for NASA proper, what possible science can we do in LEO? Learning if ants can sort tiny screws in space? [Simpsons]. We accomplished all the "science" there was to be done 20 (30?) years ago. It seems a terrible waste to abandon ISS, but the real waste was building it to begin with.

Adding insult to injury we get to: "study climate change". PLEASE!!! The climate is not changing! OK?! Get that straight. Global warming was a global scam. BUSH's people came up with "climate change" because they knew they'd already missed the normal solar heating cycle and will soon have to start talking about Global Cooling. EXACTLY like they were doing in the 1970s - we were headed for another ice age. But I digress.

Supporting commercial launch could be good. But won't be good. The EELV (Boeing & Lockheed) rockets are barely operational from the last big "commercial space" boondoggle. By most any quantitative measure they are failures. Not catastrophes since they are functional but they're certainly not worth a fraction of the investment to create them.

Going back to the moon is a dubious undertaking but would be the minimum acceptable undertaking. A much better plan, and the ONLY one with any chance of actual long range benefit would be a Mars colony.

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Boffin

The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus

Dear Terry H, try doing a little basic research before digging up another long-discredited Zombie Argument:

http://ams.allenpress.com/archive/1520-0477/89/9/pdf/i1520-0477-89-9-1325.pdf

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WTF?

What angers me? Well, what amuses me is...

"PLEASE!!! The climate is not changing! OK?! Get that straight. Global warming was a global scam. BUSH's people came up with "climate change" because they knew they'd already missed the normal solar heating cycle and will soon have to start talking about Global Cooling. EXACTLY like they were doing in the 1970s - we were headed for another ice age."

Please, please, please tell me that was irony. Apart from the fact that there is a huge weight of scientific evidence to show that you are talking bollocks, do you really think Bush, of all people, with his well known strong ties to the oil industry, would promote some sort of vast conspiracy, the result of which would be to damage his own not insubstantial financial interests?

Eejit.

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Jobs Horns

leaving the space race

"children born in the last few years no longer have any chance of growing up to walk on Mars."

I think you meant "children born in America..."

(Unless their parents are Chinese or Indian citizens, which I suppose is actually quite common these days.)

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Linux

Children born in America...

You took the words from my mouth

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Welcome

Earth Final Conflict?

Aliens are already here, as hinted at by Astronomer Royal, Lord Rees of the Royal Society - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8478033.stm

Obama has obviously been told by our new alien overlords (whom I for one welcome!) not to bother with this space exploration...

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FAIL

Good

Given how much the ISS has done for science and commercial applications of its tech (heavy sarcasm), I'm glad we're not going to throw $100bn into a pit to put someone on Mars to do what unmanned rovers are already doing there, right now, at a fraction of the cost. Manned space travel has a deadly combination of romantic allure and monumentally horrible return on investment, and in the end economics always wins. If it weren't for the Cold War, we'd probably still be waiting for someone to set foot on the Moon...

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Bad -- and shows how little you know

"Given how much the ISS has done for science and commercial applications of its tech (heavy sarcasm), I'm glad we're not going to throw $100bn into a pit to put someone on Mars to do what unmanned rovers are already doing there, right now, at a fraction of the cost."

---Since the station was first occupied on a permanent basis in November 2000 NASA has been able to perform a surprisingly large amount of research. This is detailed in the NASA report “International Space Station Science Research Accomplishments During the Assembly Years: An Analysis of Results from 2000-2008.” Overall in the first ten years of the ISS lifetime NASA has done almost all the scientific research it could reasonably be expected to do. The Columbia disaster set the program back by at least three years. Now that there is a full six-person crew on board much more work can be done. For the US government it is now a question of how much future research will reflect US priorities versus how much will be done by others to suit their national goals.

One factor that may affect the station’s utilization is a provision in a NASA authorization bill in 2005 that designated the US elements of the ISS as a national laboratory. That designation opened the door for NASA to cooperate with other government agencies and private entities regarding use of the station. NASA has signed several memoranda of understanding since then, including with the Department of Agriculture and the National Institutes of Health, to cooperate on ISS research applications.

"Manned space travel has a deadly combination of romantic allure and monumentally horrible return on investment, and in the end economics always wins."

-- Wrong again. A November 1971 study of NASA released by the Midwest Research Institute of Kansas City, Missouri concluded that “the $25 billion in 1958 dollars spent on civilian space R & D during the 1958-1969 period has returned $52 billion through 1971 -- and will continue to produce pay offs through 1987, at which time the total pay off will have been $181 billion. The discounted rate of return for this investment will have been 33 percent.”

This statement is plausible since those were the years when NASA’s spending on Apollo was at its height. However, NASA also invested in other programs, and they are included in the mix, so the conclusion is not as definitive as one would like. Also, a 33% Return on Investment (ROI) is not really big enough to make the normal venture capitalist go wild, but for a government program, it is quite respectable.

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Ye GODs .......AIMind Game for ARGonauts

If you want to fly to Alien Locations, you gotta get into Virtual TelePortation ...... for with IT you can Instantly Beam/BroadBandCast Youself into Any Other Alien Beings World and Arrange for Transfer and XSSXXXXChange of Powers and Controls for Earthly Goods Credited and Delivered for Creative JOINT AIdDVenturing in Virtually Real Rising Sun House Parties. But for those, you definitely have to be more of an Eastern Zen Master than a Western Cowboy Blaster. And yes it is AI NeuroLinguistic MkUltraSensitive MindMelding and Mentoring Programming that Uses Different and Alien Intelligence rather than wasting Time looking for the Sound of IT.

Man is very Primitive, isn't he, when he doesn't Think to Imagine the Future for the Present to Deliver and Realise. What on Earth does he Think Virtualisation is All about, or does he not bother to Imagine Things just Happening with the Greater Sharing of Thoughts? Crikey, how Crazy is that, to live in a Place where Greater Thoughts are not Shared in a Time whenever they All can be Shared in an Instant for the Lightness of Flights into Virtual Being with Globalised Operating Devices in OrbIT.

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Anonymous Coward

Bama is going doen

Looks like Bama ain't able to B.S. all the people all the time, any more. His days as thief-in-charge are numbered. History will show his reign of terror was one of the worst in U.S. history. Don't let the door...

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The previous post...

... was brought to you by Fox News.

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Flame

You are an arse.

See above.

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FAIL

Nasa's budget

17 billion dollars or so

Remind me again how much money was thrown at the banks to dig them out of a hole of their own making

As for the spin offs.... guess the US does'nt want to be world leader any more

My own line of work with CNC controlled industrial robots was spawned and partly financed at first by the US airforce who wanted a better way of making aircraft wings.

Now the robots are everywhere making stuff faster and cheaper than a factory full of old style machinists.

Nobody foresaw that.

But there will be nay sayers saying spend that 17 billion on curing poverty...

That money could run the UK's welfare system.

For about 3 weeks

Or the US's welfare system for about 3 days

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FAIL

Outsourcing claims another scalp

the Yanks bumble around at home while the Indians and Chinese get on with the actual business of doing stuff.

Excellent work, America.

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Grenade

It's the right move

Sending humans into space is wasteful and pointless. Machines can do a better job for a fraction of the money. The sooner we get past the anachronistic Buck Rogers paradigm of space exploration the better.

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Anonymous Coward

Buck Rogers wouldn't have got stuck in a sandtrap

unlike some robotic explorers I could mention

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Ummm

Buck rogers would have died following his accident in space, not woken up 200 years later. You appear to be conflating fantasy with reality.

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Ummm - Part Deux

You want to talk reality? How about the UK's Beagle 2? The USA's Mars Observer and Mars Polar Lander? Russia's Mars 1 and Mars 2 and countless other failed unmanned vehicles that presumably made smoking holes somewhere?

I tired of the "Either/Or" argument of Manned vs. Unmanned; It's "Both/And" since they should compliment each other wherever necessary with the unmanned serving as the pathfinders and the manned (or "crewed" for the PC gallery) to follow up.

As someone else was famously quoted, “Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft, and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor” and “Don't tell me that man doesn't belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to go -- and he'll do plenty well when he gets there.”

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Good decision.

Spent that money instead for education and decent healthcare (for all). Take a some of it to

feed some think tanks to develop waterproof, workable strategies to deal with global crisis, there

will be more than a few hand full of those in the next years.

Which earth do we want to leave to the next generations, certainly one question deserving decent,

honest answers - and actions to make sure this continues to be a planet worth living on.

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I'd like to leave my children with a world

where we're not scared of exploration just because of cost.

Where they're far, far away from any possible global warming issues

Where they've got plenty of power, plenty of food and plenty of clean water.

The money we'd spend on Space Travel would be best spent on Space Travel. It's insignificant if added to the budgets of the NHS- even a few companies wouldn't find it that much of a boost over the massive incomes they have today.

And, most importantly, where we don't spend billions on think tanks coming up with waterproof, workable strategies. They won't work except in the most broadly sweeping, general terms- "build more airships to allow rubble removal and supply distribution in places like Haiti"- and broadly sweeping, general plans will again be too expensive for people like you. You'd moan about the expensive Helium content or the flammability of the hydrogen. You'd complain that they're not able to help far away places immediately, but also complain that we've been paying to keep the hard-to-recruit / train crews on standby for a year with no major incidents.

This will begin to be a planet worth living on only when we have the choice to leave it. If we can't, then our decision to stay here is nothing to do with big-heartedly loving Nature and wanting to have a better planet. It's purely fear that things will be unpleasant for _you_ in the future. The UK is a bit screwed up so I'm working towards emigrating to somewhere that suits me better. I'll still love the UK- its' history, its' obvious and limitless potential, and it's home- but it's not somewhere that I'll choose to live. So the things I do, post-move, to make the UK better will be more meaningful than those stuck in it who don't want to move because of their own fear of the unknown.

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Flame

This deserves every flame it gets.

The sheer idocy of the statements here is absurd, but should probably be expected from politicians. Especially after the state of the Union address.

"we certainly don't need to go back to the moon"

Technically, you don't need to eat either, but there's a good chance you'll die if you don't. Space programs--manned or not--have had huge effects on the world today. Its pretty obvious that there are a lot of people that work in these industries, from the engineers, to the construction personell, to the scientists and astronauts as well as all the people required to make sure those people can do their jobs: managers, janitors, receptionists, etc. As well as all the jobs produced by the less obvious things that they consume. The vast majority of the science and engineering that is produced in these endevours comes back to terrestrial applications as well.

"NASA can't design space programs to create jobs... that's the view of the president".

Ok, I doubt that NASA designs space programs to produce jobs. That would be stupid. That's what the US military does. Instead NASA designs space programs for scientiic and engineering reasons. This, in turn, produces jobs.

And not only jobs, visible science, like manned space programs has been one of the most effective means of getting children into science and engineering classes and professions. Undoubtably, not all of these people eventually go into working on manned space programs, but they can then go into other science and engineering areas and produce new innovations there, because they have the background to do so.

"sacrificing the ISS and unmanned missions to help fund it was just dumb."

Certainly, but NASA doesn't have a huge budget to begin with, it would've been much easier to get the money from where the majority of it goes now. In 2009, NASA had a budget of about $17 billion. The US military got over $500 billion which doesn't include the cost of any wars. NASA's budget could be doubled without even affecting the rounding there in the military's budget. The NSF on the other hand got less than $7 billion, so there's obviously some other useful places to put that money too.

"We should be concentrating on developing cheaper ways to get to orbit by fostering commercial competition, combined with a station large enough to facilitate some real science and the construction of craft to head out into the solar-system."

That was part of the idea behind the new vehicles, though, like any other new project of this type, it would've taken a long time before it would've been able to show that it was cheaper. And fostering commercial competiton is easy when it only costs a couple million dollars to produce a prototype, but when the prototype will cost billions of dollars, its a lot harder to get any real competition no matter what. So far, only one "company" has been very successful at what its tried, and even that only compares to the first unmanned space missions that NASA did. This isn't the kind of problem that can be solved by holding a million dollar contest or throwing out a couple million dollars in subsidies. There's a reason why there are only a couple of COUNTRIES that are interested in manned space exploration. There just aren't that many places where that much money can come from.

"The money would be better spent fixing the country."

There's lots of better uses for the money, but it always ends up being wasted in the same places. Putting money into NASA doesn't pay off too well in the immediate future. At least not if you ignore the fact that NASA spends money, and that money is then used by the suppliers to buy supplies and hire workers... but that part of government spending seems to be conveniently overlooked lately. Putting money into NASA is really not much different than funding basic science. The payoffs tend to be enormous, but can take decades to arrive. So, most politicians don't really want to fund it, since there isn't anything to point at the next day to say that it improved the lives of their countrymen.

TL;DR: Politicians have no clue about anything.

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WTF?

Politicians have no clue about anything.

And you clearly have no idea how to construct a sensible argument!

You complain about the "sheer idiocy" of the arguments, but then you go from "we don't need to go back to the moon" to "Technically, you don't need to eat either". Tell me, have you ever heard the expression "Straw Man"?

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Shame

That's a crying shame. I know it's loads-a money but exploration and acquisition of knowledge has always been the thrust of mankind and if it costs, so be it. There must be tangible beneficial spin-offs from space exploration, surely?

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Well, robot rovers...

...are a lot cheaper than humans.

Just be sure they are cute.

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Ho hum.

Plenty of innovative countries in the former developing world gearing up to do what the West has lost the will to. The rewards are undefinable looking forward but I wish them every success in reaping them and hope they will send us in the West some by-then-needed aid (and associated cultural colonialism) since we will need them both by then to drag us into the mid 21st century.

Posting from Australia - once known for being the world leader in space launch services, now best known for bad-mannered ex-pats and attempts to criminalise possession of small boobs.

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Coat

@LaeMing -

At least we will get the benefit of having sold the raw materials for the infrastructure for the Chinese space program.

"Please sir, can we have a rid ein your shiny rocket?"

That is assuming of course they don't own it all anyway by then.....

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Alien

Move along! Nothing to see out there.

Our hidden Lizard Overlords have determined they just don't want us mucking about out there until the new ID scheme has been put in place. No visiting the outer planets & buying Venusian cig's without the proper ID.

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WTF?

Eastern promise

Keep an eye on the Chinese.

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Pint

In America...

...if you intentionally endanger the population, you get a very hefty fine. After several years.

In china, they shoot you. Right Away.

American Business culture has been maimed by avarice. Once you have maximixed profits by smart, honest, optimazition, the only avenue left is *************ing people.

The Unites States Constution is on of the most intelligent documents ever written. It took almost 200 years for the rich to take over.

A beer because it's not as bad after a few 211's.

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So they are ramping up the COTS programm?

Thumbs up for the continuing effort to shut down the Shuttle programme. It is *long* past time when the 5000+ Standing army" that supports the shuttle (estimated cost per staffer $128k PA) along with the numerous contractor staff (at least of those contractors who are still in business)

it is time that NASA got out of the launch vehicle design business and started making fuller use of the launch vehicles that exist. Claims that major existing options cannot be man rated (BTW the Shuttle cannon meet those requirements either) and was too weak to lift the NASA capsule design (despite comments by various people that their design was grossly oversized for its payload) could be re-visited as well

Both SpaecX and Orbital Sciences are on track to deliver live cargo capsules and SpaceX state they could meet a crew rated capsule (they designed their launcher to be man rated from day 1) within 36 months of go ahead.

With a different perspective perhaps NASA senior management might put more effort into working out how to use those faciliites, rather than trying to shake more funds out of Congress to do it all in house.

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Anonymous Coward

Different perspective from the point of history

I am quite amused by John Smith's comment that "NASA should get out of the launch vehicle business." That statement is so simplistic as to be disingenuous.

NASA has never really built any rockets in its 51 years of existence; NASA hires contractors to do that.

For example, the Saturn V was built in pieces: the S1C first stage was built by the aerospace division of the Chrysler automotive company (how times have changed!), the S-II second stage by North American Aviation, the S-IVB third stage by McDonnell Douglas, the Lunar Module by Grumman, and the Command/Service modules by North American. Even the famed "Mission Control" in Houston was contracted by Ford Aerospace.

Getting to low earth orbit is neither routine nor easy. Anybody that has really tried to do it -- past the viewgraph engineering stage -- can attest that getting to LEO is hard; just ask Elon Musk after the first three failures of his Falcon 1 -- or Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites who has blood on its hands after killing three of their own during a "routine" ground test.

Several statements from "new space" entrepreneurs concerning space flight safety acknowledge that an accident would be devastating for the commercial crew launch business, so they profess that each of them who are attempting to put human spacecraft in orbit (or sub-orbit) is committed to safety.

However, intentions are not enough. Mortgage lenders claimed that giving loans to people who cannot repay those loans was bad for business and could cause the mortgage company to fail. Surely nobody would do that, right?

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I love it.

Manned space flight passed it's prime before Apollo was scrubbed. We get 10x the science for the same price when we eliminate the Astrotard. There may yet come a day when people serve a purpose in space, until then lets just send the science labs.

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FAIL

Did Western civilisation peak in the 1960's?

Why are we less ambitious and indeed truly less capable of pulling off successful big projects than fifty years ago despite the technological advances?

I suggest the combined advance of risk aversion, managerialism, 'all must have prizes' education systems, and politicians who think no further ahead than a 24 hour news cycle.

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