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back to article House bill: 'Hey NASA, that asteroid retrieval plan? Fuggedaboutit'

If the Republican-led House Subcommittee on Space has its way, NASA's proposed asteroid-retrieval mission will be killed, the agency's budget will be capped for the next two years at about 5 per cent less than last year's, and NASA's Earth observation efforts will be cut back. In addition, Congressional control over the choice …

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Flip-flop

To Mars! No, the Moon then Mars! Nah, stick with the ISS! Scrap the ISS, We're going to MARS! Stop! check out asteroids first! No no no! To the Moon then Mars!

Somebody seriously needs to put Congress on Ritalin!

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Re: Flip-flop

"I'd be happier with people randomly selected from the populace than these clowns."

Appropriately, Robert Heinlein's masterpiece, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moon-Harsh-Mistress-S-F-MASTERWORKS/dp/0575082410) has some superb exploration of this line of thought...

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Re: Flip-flop

Because taken seperately the two can be managed. But combine them and they form a nearly invincible Voltron of Stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Flip-flop

The UK has been through this kind of thing before, in the 1950's we were the technological kings in aviation and the nuclear industry. Successive labour Governments killed all that off mostly because they didn't understand. Now we've got the possibility of a Labour Government in 2015 where 80% of their candidates are Union officials.

That will stifle industry.

Good luck USA, but you will find your country playing second fiddle in the next few years if you don't see the light.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Flip-flop

The Chinese will show you how it's done, and that makes me sad.

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Unhappy

Re: Flip-flop

"I'm also going to propose a bill that will prevent any Republican from Texas from belonging to any committee that involves science or history."

You need to be aware of the big problems with space.

Texas. Most of the human spaceflight work is done here. As far as they are concerned if it take 10 years for the next crewed launch they don't care. That's 10 years more work for them.

Alabama. Design big rockets. Von Brauns old home base.Haven't actually built a new rocket for decades. It's no accident that Orion "just happened" to be too big for either Atlas V or Delta IV (although, surprise surprise it can launch on a Delta IV in 2017 after a bit of diet).

Utah. Where they make the big solid SRB's. Possible the worst place in the US for building a structure which is a)Mostly a large chunk of high explosive b)Too wide, too long and too dangerous to ship by road then moving it to Florida. BTW the staff and tech need to make them have nothing to do with the tech for ICBM motors. I asked if you could block build them and store them vertically in basically holes in the desert, after all ICBM do that for years. I was told the propellant "slumps." So any story about "synergy" between SLS and "national defense" is BS.

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Re: Flip-flop

The Chinese will show you how it's done, and that makes me sad.

Sad to some extent, but outweighed by great happiness that at least someone will be doing it.

Personally I really don't care if the inventor of the warp drive is Chinese, as long as it gets invented!

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Re: Flip-flop

Without anything to copy the Chinese will not get any further than "cheap copy of Sojus/Apollo/Shuttle" made from "aquired plans" either

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Yag
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Facepalm

"Without anything to copy..."

Yes, sure, it's not like they invented or discovered anything through the ages.

Yes, sure, it's not like you can expect quite some intelligent and creative people in a billion-strong population.

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Re: "Without anything to copy..."

In the last 100+ years? What?

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Re: Flip-flop

Just shows why you should never have politicians in charge or anything. They have no long term plan other than getting re-elected. They have no interest in the people except to use them for votes. They have no pride in their country except to make their own egos bigger. Scrap all politicians, they are just a waste of space. They should be on the B-Ark.

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Meh

Re: Flip-flop @John Smith 19

I'm well aware of the role Texas plays in the space program. One of our biggest aerospace clients works almost exclusively on projects for the space center and we make some equipment for them. I have to go to Texas seven or eight times a year, which is why I rag on Texas so much, can't stand it.

You're dead on about Houston not caring about the program. They're still working on some projects from the 80's that will never be completed, technology advances have made them obsolete, but their Congressmen make sure those projects get funding. I'm not sure if you've ever seen the space flight training facilities (tour the center sometime if you're out that way, it's still a neat place) but a Kickstarter campaign could get them a new swimming pool and cover the costs of moving their rock collection.

The guys at MSFC on the other hand, seem genuinely interested in the program. They are excited every time I have to visit Alabama and they don't treat their work as a piggybank, unlike the johnsons at Johnson. They also do some human training so lets give them a new pool.

I realize the difficulties it would pose to move NASA out of Texas but it just bothers me that the state that is famous for an almost anti-science stance on anything that doesn't burn or go moo has such control in our exploration of space. As far as I'm concerned the politics and protectionist practices coming out of Houston are the biggest stumbling blocks to advancing our space program.

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Re: In the last 100+ years? What?

Well, we've got Maoism and the Great Leap Forward.

...

Oh, you mean beneficial advancements. Well, in that case no.

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Unhappy

Re: Flip-flop @John Smith 19

"I realize the difficulties it would pose to move NASA out of Texas "

Well that's part of the problem.

NASA does not control what centres it is allowed to open or close.

I'm not sure it can even control their headcount.

Note also that NASA (IIRC) has the 2nd highest number of "earmarks" on its funding behind the DoD budget, which is somewhat larger.

But remember "Authorization" means nothing. It's Appropriations that count.

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Re: Flip-flop

Good luck getting said bill past the very ones who would be removed from their committees by said bill.

They won't give up their special interest contributions so easily.

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Re: Flip-flop

His "Starship Troopers" also explored only permitting those who served their government be permitted to be a full citizen and vote. Don't serve, never go into political leadership or vote.

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Re: Flip-flop

Too late. The PRC is already producing more scientists and engineers than the US is. They're also essentially the world's manufacturing base. Quite soon, they'll not need to spy and steal designs, they'll be postured to be the R&D and manufacturing capitol of the world.

Years ago, Reagan suggested we turn into an R&D center for the world. Bush the Greater decided to move us to a service economy.

The problem with a service economy is one is servicing oneself and not generating profit. An R&D economy could have licensed all manner of new designs and products to be produced by whoever wishes to build them.

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Re: Flip-flop

The Orion was designed to be hefted by the Ares system, later the SLS. It was always designed to be to large for Delta or Orion.

The rest is somewhat spot on, save that the SLS could be used for military purposes. Unlikely that NASA would give up something that their funds were spent on R&D on though and the military has their own vehicles.

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Unhappy

Re: Flip-flop @John Smith 19

"NASA does not control what centres it is allowed to open or close."

Yeah, I know. It sucks. Congress sucks. I feel sorry for the NASA guys honestly. They're just wanting to explore but they've got to play kiss ass to Congress to do anything.

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Re: Flip-flop

Regrettably, you are far off of the mark. Their egos are up there in their considerations, however, the special interests that pumped in over 8 billion dollars in campaign contributions in the last Congressional race and a like amount in the Presidential race are of paramount interest. Lest they lose the source of their campaign funding in favor of someone who will tend to their master's wishes and desired.

Hence, the blocking of Earth Science, lest further evidence of climate change be revealed.

In the military, we had an old joke. "When the revolution comes, the VA is against the wall right after Congress."

Yes, the US military.

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Re: Flip-flop @John Smith 19

The majority of the federal budget goes to the DoD, what goes to NASA is miniscule, pennies on the dollar miniscule.

Last year's NASA budget was $17.77 billion dollars. Last year's DoD budget was between $1.030–$1.415 trillion.

Can't find the Congressional authorization, but Obama requested "$553 billion in discretionary budget authority to fund base defense programs and $118 billion to support overseas contingency operations (OCO), primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Some bright folks did figure out the interest from past wars being paid: "Interest on debt incurred in past wars $109.1–$431.5 billion Between 23% and 91% of total interest".

The US has long spent money on the military like it was at war, even when there was no war. We have to keep Daddy Warbucks happy and to hell with real science unless it burns, blows up or goes moo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Flip-flop

Interesting subject, and I agree people who think the earth is 5000 or 10000 years old should not exist, and not be elected to any office. The funny thing is that Americans seem to be pissed off with Washington taking all their money, but at the same time the Army, the Navy, the Air Force are given all that money from Washington and that is OK. Cut the military by 50% and NASA could do something important even considering the defence in the future.

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Unhappy

Re: Flip-flop

There are plenty (read lots) of people who are very opposed to the ridiculous DoD budget. Only madmen and those poor souls who are in fear of [bad guy] approve of our perpetual war footing. The amount of FUD surrounding defense spending is phenomenal though and that's the problem.

The big radio station here in DC, WTOP, runs crazy adverts every year during Congressional budget time. There are f'ing ads for advanced missile systems, armored troop transports, aircraft, the list just keep going. The ads are accompanied by serious voice overs telling the public how "our troops and our safety depend on the latest advances in war fighting technology developed by [global_corp]". "Contact your Congressman today and tell them to support the [explodey_thing] contract. Your safety depends on it."

Our own government and its defense contractors are terrorizing the population with stuff like this. When the machine has become so powerful it scares even those who are supposed to be managing it things have gone terribly pear shaped. Until these fears can be overcome I don't believe DoD spending will be reduced.

On that note, I think it is hilarious, in a sad way, that it's illegal to advertise tobacco or alcohol on the radio but if you want to sell a goddamn tank or missile system it's all Hell Yeah.

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Meh

Re: Flip-flop

Hey, we've got some decent to good Dems here in Texas. They are just wildly outnumbered.

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Re: Flip-flop

"one is servicing oneself"

Snigger.

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Re: Flip-flop

"They should be on the B-Ark."

That might cause riots among the telephone handset sanitizers. They have have their standards.

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Unhappy

Re: Flip-flop @John Smith 19

""NASA does not control what centres it is allowed to open or close."

Yeah, I know. It sucks. Congress sucks. I feel sorry for the NASA guys honestly. They're just wanting to explore but they've got to play kiss ass to Congress to do anything."

TBF (not something I'm known for :) ) I'm no expert on the US political system (except some of the bits that deal with NASA) so AFAIK NASA is one of 24 "Federal Agencies," like DEA, NOAA, FEMA. I wonder wheather they have autonomy over such operation matters or is solely NASA that has this handicap?

Also NASA is not really a single entity. It's more like a "federation" and some of its parts seem to to have more in common with the fictional NID in Stargate SG1 than a properly behaved office of a large bureaucracy.

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Stasis guaranteed

Whipsawing NASA on an annual basis will ensure that we go exactly nowhere.

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Re: Stasis guaranteed

If it goes on like this in the USA, the next men on the Moon will certainly be Chinese. They appear to be working determinedly on developing manned space capability.

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Re: Stasis guaranteed

The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

NASA's current space capability is roughly where it was in 1962 in real terms

They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc - so they are starting from scratch and they'll never get the wherewithal to overtake China

Never-mind that the asteroid mission would give NASA valuable experience in long distance teleoperation, conditions outside Earths Magnetosphere and care and feeding of high isp drives - Congress decided its a detour so away it goes, and now were back to fiddling around on the moon (which pretty much has no point unless your planning a permanent settlement) which will provide sod-all experience at getting to Mars (they only thing they really have in common is they aren't on Earth)

Thats also 8 astronauts that are essentially out of a job on their second day of work - I wonder if they can lodge a hostile workplace grievance?

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Facepalm

Re: Stasis guaranteed

Looking at the Congresscritters involved, I don't think they're concerned, as I can't help they nagging suspicion that their thought processes run along the line "The Rapture will happen before then".

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Re: Stasis guaranteed

The Saturn 5 blueprints still exist, as do the plans for the Ford model T. The primary issue is that the huge Saturn 5 assembly lines and in some cases the manufacturers themselves simply do not exist anymore.

The cost to start fabricating Saturn 5's again would never be funded... Unless there's another country threatening to beat them to it again!

If funding wasn't diverted from the Saturn 5 program in the 1970's in favor of the Shuttle it would have been possible to assemble the ISS in only five launches!

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Re: Stasis guaranteed

Quite agree with you.

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Unhappy

Re: Stasis guaranteed

"They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc - so they are starting from scratch and they'll never get the wherewithal to overtake China"

That's a UL. The schematics exist and are IIRC in a warehouse in Kansas City.

The Moon could like deep space give experience of long term closed loop life support and (possibly) the use of small(ish) nuclear reactor power systems.

But so could the asteroid mission. What it can't give is experience of work well outside the Earth Moon system.

But your right trouble comes when the Legislature sets the goals.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

Maybe. Is the Chinese State really all that interested in space, or is it that they want to show how rich and clever they are. After all, once upon a time the US seemed rather interested in space, but now ...

I reckon that there's a pretty good chance that once the Chinese have done something important sounding (man on the moon, whatever), they'll give up on the adventurous stuff and stick to pissing about in low orbit like the rest, maybe sending the odd science probe out to here or there.

And anyway,. better the Chinese, than nobody at all.

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Boffin

Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

The chinese will want a base on the moon. It's easy to throw rice from there..

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Yag
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Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

The US seemed rather interested in space for two main reasons :

- Because of the other use of rockets. You know, the one with the funny explosive devices on top.

- Because the other side was beating them to it.

You may think "FOR SCIENCE!" should be in the list, but it was probably not considered very important...

Now, the question is... Why are the chineese interested in space? i'ld say the first reason still apply for them, but i'ld also wager that they are planning long term exploitation of space-based ressources.

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Re: They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc

No they didn't. They just couldn't find them for a while. If you've ever seen a government inventory control system you'd understand how it happens. About 5 years back they found them again. But even at that, we'd be better off engineering a new system. An orbital station from which Moon missions are launched would be better for long term planetary exploration anyway. Build the transit vehicles and engines in orbit, then gather fuel from either the Moon or asteroids. Less gravity tax getting it there that way.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stasis guaranteed

Actually, copies of the specs for the F1 engines are in Hutchinson, where the recovered F1 engines are being conserved.

http://www.cosmo.org/newsroom/ne_nw_article.cfm?id=182

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

... and silly people will congregate where it will land.

Fair Dinkum, tovarich.

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Re: Stasis guaranteed

"They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc"

Even if that were true, what use would they be? It'd be like starting with the plans for a Ford Model T with the intention of building a Ferrari.

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Re: The next man on the Moon will be Chinese

**The chinese will want a base on the moon. It's easy to throw rice from there.**

...or rocks.

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Same?

Is this the same "science" committee that is led by a life-long creationist Republican who doesn't actually "believe" in science, and thinks that some goat-herding stone-age tribe had it right and 6000 years of scientific progress has it all wrong? Or was that another US "science" committee?

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Re: Same?

"thinks that some goat-herding stone-age tribe"

To be fair, they were iron-age. The oldest parts of the Bible only go back to about 800-600 BC; the book of Daniel only to about 150BC. Still a load of rubbish, like, but relatively recent rubbish.

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Re: Same?

Yes, but those tales are based on earlier very similar fairy tales. Perhaps one could say it was science then, "who are we, where did we come from, where are we going". We still ask the same questions, but the problem with religion is that as soon as the priests got the power they had to stick to the old tales to stay in power. That is where science broke free. For the church (any) it has been about walking on a thin line trying to keep both the power and the tales. But more recent rubbish we find from "modern" times with rubbish like Mormons and Scientology and what not.

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What about incidental data?

Presumably if satellites incidentally collects data that might be used for climate research they too will be for the chopping block? Do these morons understand the overlap in data collection? Why do I bother asking?

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Anonymous Coward

Self fulfilling prophecy?

Religious types (AKA Republicans) don't worry too much about science as 'god' has their back.

They think that 'god' will end the world (many think its started).

So IF a planet killer did hit us, then they would say it was 'god's' will/plan. Not some random space missile hurtling unchecked through space.

Trouble is, most people on this rock are neither Republican, American or even Christian.

It's probably true to say the whole World relies on the USA for serious space adventures*

* less so every day

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