back to article NASA budget shock: Climate studies? GTFO. We're making the Moon great again, says Trump

President Trump's administration has handed down a budget for 2019 to NASA – and it effectively kills off key projects in exchange for a vague promise to go back to the Moon. For the year, America's space agency has been awarded $19.9bn, around $500m more than the previous year, albeit with significant changes of focus. The …

Page:

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    "Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we're pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense."

    Indeed, a very sad day.

    Trump wants to privatize the space station, and sell it off to commercial concerns

    WTF? I still can't wrap my head around that.

    "Urban air mobility will be a common mode of transport – yes you'll have your Jetson car," he predicted.

    Ok... so forget everything else.... all is well now.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      The ISS, although very useful for a lot of things, isn't really "state of the art". It's tested a number of very good ideas, one of which is the inflatable module.

      OK - now we get to look and see what Boeing, SpaceX, and others are considering to replace the ISS. We just got a new 'heavy lift' rocket from SpaceX [still more work to do no doubt but a great start], and NASA will be shifting their fix to a LUNAR SPACE STATION, which is a hell of a lot more interesting.

      As for climate change - it's not "climate change" that's the hoax (climate changes ALL of the time, like ice ages and warming periods), it's the idea that HUMANS are causing it via CO2 "pollution", which is not only bat-guano LUDICROUS, it's CLUELESS with respect to chemistry, physics, other areas of science, common sense, and the well-known observations of solar cycles and normal climate behavior.

      Not even bothering with the [obvious] point of its IR absorption spectrum, CO2 is such a small amount of the atmosphere (0.04%) , it could be as high as 2% without a (significant) negative impacting on animal life, and an increase in its concentration stimulates plant and algae growth in order to increase its depletion rate (so it's at an equilibrium). Maybe we just do NOT need "rocket science" devoting itself to chasing the tail of climate change politics.

      /me points out that in a space station, CO2 levels will probably exceed 1% all of the time, because you need enough concentration for the scrubbers to work efficiently. You just need to keep it in the low 1% range or everybody will get headaches and become really grumpy... (my submarine experience tells me that).

      And while they're looking into a Lunar Orbit station, maybe they can work on solving the ENERGY REQUIREMENTS for a Lunar station, maybe refueling rockets for the return trip to earth with Lunar-minded materials, and so on. Wouldn't that be worthwhile? And consider fusion reactor research in space, where they can afford to take bigger risks... and have a natural vacuum to assist them.

      Developing Fusion power would eliminate the need for all of this CO2 nonsense, anyway, so it SHOULD be the focus, but it's not, because, politics. Good riddance to THAT at NASA for the next few years, at any rate.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Not what they say, what they do

        Trump's other wall has planning permission. Like most Republican leaders Trump is utterly convinced of the dangers of climate change, but doesn't want any evidence. This is why Earth monitoring satellites have been cancelled.

        A fusion reactor in space is well beyond daft. ITER is a technology demonstrator that is far too small to produce more (electrical) power than it uses to operate. It will need 50MW to get started and will produce 500MW of heat. Its core is >5000t and holds <0.5g of tritium. Catastrophic failure will cause the fuel to touch the side of the reactor and instantly cool to the point that fusion stops. We put 400g/year of tritium into things that glow. The strength required to keep the vacuum is small compared to that required to hold the magnets together.

        You will not get a license for RTGs in Earth orbit, so ITER in space would required >70,000m² of solar panels - only 5 SLS launches! The core requires 38 SLS launches and >1,400,000m² of radiators to dump the heat need 131 SLS launches. ITER requires a large mass of ancillary kit like helium extractors that will add many more launches. After you get the thing running, you then have to dismantle it, ship bits back to Earth and measure what the intense neutron flux has done to the materials.

        I have been using (effectively cancelled) block 2 SLS launches. Double for block 1 or halve for (expendable!) BFR.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Not what they say, what they do

          Like most Republican leaders Trump is utterly convinced of the dangers of climate change, but doesn't want any evidence.

          No, they are just being the best democracy money can buy.

          1. JEDIDIAH
            Devil

            Re: Not what they say, what they do

            > No, they are just being the best democracy money can buy.

            Climate change is now taken as an article of faith. If you indicate any kind of disagreement, people start building bonfires to burn you with.

            At this point, fixating on watching the fire burn doesn't really make any sense any more. We know the house is on fire (or rather, you're certain of it). We're way past the time to actually do something about it. That action may be nothing more that getting your ready bag and running out of the house.

            Spending money to watch the house burn is a bit dubious at this point. Not wanting to spend that money any more is not what you think it means.

            1. onefang Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: Not what they say, what they do

              "Climate change is now taken as an article of faith. If you indicate any kind of disagreement, people start building bonfires to burn you with."

              Noooo, not bonfires, think of the CO2 output. Better to use a solar oven.

        2. jmch Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Not what they say, what they do

          "A fusion reactor in space is well beyond daft"

          Well, we're doing rather well with the one we have already :)

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Not what they say, what they do

          "Like most Republican leaders Trump is utterly convinced of the dangers of climate change"

          No, you're wrong in your assumptions about Trump, and only a handful of Republo-Crats have actually swallowed the koolaid on man-made-<whiny-voice>ClimateChange</whiny-voice>

          Trump said he had an "open mind". I know that global-warming-fascist types assume that means "swallows their propaganda and asks for another" but his governance obviously says the opposite. Top 10 results in an online search confirm this.

          And why do you assume that "fusion experiments in space" mean shipping ITER there? I think your vision on what is possible may be a bit too narrow. In space, you can cross multiple proton beams without containment, as one possible research example. The biggest problem with fusion (in my opinion) is the containment. The second is the confinement. Eliminating containment problems gives you more options for researching how to do the confinement better, and a LOT of things have probably NOT been tried, and don't require "what you said" to be launched into orbit.

          Anyway, that's just ONE thing that space helps with.

          I'm also looking forward to a 2001-like space station, with multiple gravity levels for various purposes.

          But yeah you have to think out of the box for some of this stuff. being stuck in the mindset of what everyone else is doing at the moment doesn't give you a whole lot of freedom for how to do things.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "And consider fusion reactor research in space, where they can afford to take bigger risks... and have a natural vacuum to assist them."

        Your comment seemed rational up until this point, I realized you were crazy. The current research reactors are massive, and it would take a large fortune to lift one to orbit. And you need a convention power plant to fire the fusion reactor. And the issue holding back research on fusion power, isn't risk containment, but the fact that no one knows how to make them work.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Facepalm

          " The current research reactors are massive"

          when you pay people for RESEARCH, that is what you get. When you pay for RESULTS, on the other hand...

          Have you ever worked on a shoestring budget and did miraculous things with what little you have access to? I have. Every day. Think different [to borrow Apple's old slogan].

          The entire point here is NOT to drag up a bunch of equipment like you'd see on earth. A lot of potential designs [including ones that COULD work for 'impulse' style engines] have not been tried.

          Example: resonance confinement, using particle beams and resonant cavities and wire coils. Study how a travelling wave tube works. then you'll understand how this would work, too.

          You could build that in space, or launch pre-built modules that are small, for a lot less than a ginormous "research only" power plant, and not worry too much about whether it explodes or not [when you crank up the flow rate on fuel] since it"s "out in space".

          anyway, THAT is the point. you can't let earth-bound thinking limit the possibilities here.

      3. Stu Mac

        See how all the Sheeple have down voted you. SAD!

      4. John H Woods Silver badge

        "climate changes ALL of the time, like ice ages and warming periods"

        How do you know? You take it on trust from the very same scientists who are mostly convinced that we are now seeing an anthropogenic effect. If expertise is only of use to you when it agrees with your per-conceived notions, I suggest you get a job in politics.

        Even if you are right, and they are wrong, the idea that they are clueless, or that AGW is 'ludicrous' is untenable. [As is the idea that there is a giant conspiracy theory (if you've met any academics you'd know they couldn't possibly disagree in private and put on a united front in public).]

        It may, of course, possibly be the case that they have all largely convinced themselves of something that is not really correct, and that you and the minority of skeptics are right. But even if you are right, you are not *obviously* right and your belief that it is all very straightforward, and only an idiot would think otherwise, undermines your credibility rather than reinforcing it.

        I think it is also rather telling that you are cheering the demise of the few programmes that could pretty much prove that AGW is false ...

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Devil

          Been there. Done that.

          > How do you know? You take it on trust from the very same scientists

          I've lived long enough to experience it personally. Kids get excited about a cold snap or some unusually nasty weather and I get nostalgiac rather than going into a media induced panic whining about "climate change" that had to be "re-branded".

      5. Faux Science Slayer

        "Mommie, Can We Play Obombie Truth Origami" at FauxScienceSlayer (.)com

        There is NO greenhouse gas and the Alarmist/Lukewarmist debate is FAKE.

        There is NO peak oil...."Fracturing the Fossil Fuel Fable" at FauxScienceSlayer

        There is NO green energy...."Green Prince of Darkness"....at FSS....share Truth

        1. Rik Myslewski

          Re: "Mommie, Can We Play Obombie Truth Origami" at FauxScienceSlayer (.)com

          Not to put too fine a point on it, sir and/or madam, but you are a fact-ignoring, science-misunderstanding, thoughourly moronic idiot.

          Just trying to be objective, m’kay?

      6. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "And consider fusion reactor research in space, where they can afford to take bigger risks... and have a natural vacuum to assist them."

        Actually, a fusion reactor in space would face an almost insurmountable problem that Earth-bound reactors solve quite easily: heat disposal.

        You see, your common or garden power station generates about twice as much heat as it does electricity and then uses a heat engine at less than 100% efficiency to convert the heat to leccy. The remaining heat then has to be disposed of. On Earth, that usually involves warming up a few buckets of water and chucking it away. In space, you'd need a closed-cycle alternative capable of shedding roughly as much heat as your reactor was delivering in electricity. Since convection and conduction are out (pesky vacuums) that leaves radiation, so we're probably talking about a space station that is "very bright in the near infrared".

        I'm not an engineer, but the problem would appear to be Quite Hard.

      7. tfb Silver badge
        Boffin

        I like your trick of sneakily moving from a paragraph on CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere (all standard troll bullshit of course) to one on CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere of a space station, as if those two things had *anything* to do with each other. Admirable, in a way, if you weren't such an evil shit.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Trump wants to privatize the space station, and sell it off to commercial concerns

      He is welcome to. After the Russians and the Eu have detached the American modules and have left them float. AFAIK they have neither life support, nor propulsion of their own.

      I am surprised the Russians have not done it already. With all the vehement russophobia promoted by the USA lately this is very long overdue.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "He is welcome to. After the Russians and the Eu have detached the American modules and have left them float. AFAIK they have neither life support, nor propulsion of their own."

        Well, they are welcome too. But since NASA put in $58B, and Russia and the EU only put in $12B and $5B respectively, it would render the station pretty useless. Plus, Roscosmos (Russia) has only guaranteed funding to 2024, the same as the US. And the Russians were studying the possibility of breaking some modules off the ISS, when the ISS was defunded, and then re-using them for a new station back in 2009, because most people didn't think it was going to be funded even this long. The ISS has become the most expensive thing ever constructed.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          But since NASA put in $58B, and Russia and the EU only put in $12B and $5B respectively

          You are forgetting the fact that Russian costs are generally ~ 25% of NASA costs. So that makes Russian contribution nearly equal. While at it - in terms of numbers Canada, Japan and Eu have not contributed that much, but some of the elements they shipped are key to station operation. For example - remove Canada-Arm and you remove Space-X and all other means of resupply except Progress.

          In other words - how much who paid is totally irrelevant. What is relevant is what was bought for that money. Looking at the list of modules, it is possible to still have a fully functional station after detaching all American ones. At the same time, you cannot assemble anything working just out of the American pieces.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Eu have not contributed that much,"

            Look where even some of the US modules were built....

      2. Roj Blake Silver badge

        The ISS would make a good replacement for Trump Tower if you ask me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The ISS would make a good replacement for Trump Tower if you ask me.

          Or a decoration on top of of whatever is left Trump Tower or even better Mar et Largo. If it is deorbited correctly.

        2. Blank Reg

          I say we make it the new white house, we can tell trump he is now president of the world so he needs to be where he can keep an eye on all of it.

          Then after he's up there, along with all his accomplices, we can just ignore then, they won't last long.

          1. The Nazz Silver badge

            re blank reg

            Please, please make it an audition for President of the World then we will probably get Blair up there too.

            Simple question : What did more damage to the UK 1997-2010

            a) Global Warming (as it was thus described)

            b) Nu Labour

      3. JEDIDIAH
        Mushroom

        All of this to avoid fessing up.

        > I am surprised the Russians have not done it already. With all the vehement russophobia promoted by the USA lately this is very long overdue.

        Democrats have selective amnesia. They forgot who shuttered our manned space program and who we now have to hitch hike with in order to get to the ISS.

      4. William Higinbotham

        Trump Plasa Moontel

    3. Triggerfish

      Trump wants to privatize the space station, and sell it off to commercial concerns

      WTF? I still can't wrap my head around that.

      Think of the presidency as a hostile corporate takeover, with asset stripping.

  2. ridley

    We don't need no education

    "The agency's department of education, which inspires kids into science and technology careers, will be eliminated."

    FFS, I remember as a 7 or 8 year old writing to NASA for information and them sending back a huge pack of badges, posters, info on the upcoming shuttle etc etc.

    I loved it.

    Today I teach Physics to our next generation.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: We don't need no education

      well, just to explain things better: too many federal gummint things are replicated and/or disorganized. Also, there's a general move to eliminate the Department of Education entirely, leaving education up to the states and local gummints, which is how things used to be. With education spending being the HIGHEST IN THE WORLD, and per-dollar performance some of the LOWEST, I'd say that gummint inefficiency has simply inflated the bureaucracy, and inflated the overall cost, while SIMULTANEOUSLY making things WORSE.

      Although I'd like to see more science and technology in education, a "top down from the fed" approach isn't working. THAT is why it's being dropped [and not to make kids 'do without' because they won't].

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: We don't need no education

        @ bombastic bob

        It's just possible that you have forgotten that some of the dumbest parts of the western world we find in the USA. To let those parts of the country choose what to teach their kids is just not such a good idea and that is why you need help from the "gummint", for what that is worth these days.

        1. Triggerfish

          Re: We don't need no education @Lars

          Balderdash it would be easier for us all to do geometry if we change Pi and square the circle. I'm all for it. History and Biology would be easier as well with every answer being God did it, grades would be a record high.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: We don't need no education

          "To let those parts of the country choose what to teach their kids"

          This is precisely the kind of arrogant thinking I despise, when the elite decide "what is best for us".

          I have much more 'faith' in the individual people deciding for themselves what is best for their own lives.

          1. DanceMan

            Re: We don't need no education

            "I have much more 'faith' in the individual people deciding for themselves what is best for their own lives."

            Like they do in the northern territories of Pakistan where the madrassas have the children rocking back and forth while they memorize the Koran. Or in Bountiful in BC where they brainwash young women into "celestial marriage."

      2. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: We don't need no education

        Bob:

        "With education spending being the HIGHEST IN THE WORLD, and per-dollar performance some of the LOWEST,"

        With access to statistics and the ability to both read and do math, you would understand why what you say here is utter tripe. And it would also provide you with the understanding of what is *actually* wrong with the education system in the united states.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: We don't need no education

          "With access to statistics and the ability to both read and do math, you would understand why what you say here is utter tripe"

          you mean, like this?

          https://rossieronline.usc.edu/blog/u-s-education-versus-the-world-infographic/

          Although literacy rate [being carefully trained to read socialist propaganda and poetry by Maya Angeloo, heh] is good, math and science [the things that REALLY matter] are pretty poor. Per dollar, especially.

          Note I compared the money being spent to actual performance. The USA spends more money per student than any other country. Yet math+science performance are pretty BAD by comparison. I also have my doubts about the "literacy rate" comparison, not knowing how that's being scored. If you score one way, reading comprehension and composition, it would give different results than "being able to read at all" which is still a problem in a lot of places in the world.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            Re: We don't need no education

            NASA teaching space science is not "the elite deciding", it's those with relevant experience passing on the knowledge gained from it.

            By the way what do you possibly think you are achieving by using the word "gummint" except to make yourself appear childish?

      3. phuzz Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: We don't need no education

        "With education spending being the HIGHEST IN THE WORLD"

        No. The US is actually the 56th highest in the world behind, well basically everywhere.

        "per-dollar performance some of the LOWEST"

        Well, this is a tricky one to prove either way, what's a measure of 'education performance'?. Different countries have different educational focuses, eg, some countries focus on maths skills as being more important than languages. Some countries ignore humanities, in favour of the sciences.

        Either way, the US has a slightly above average rate of secondary education, which given how little they spend is ok.

        Not great, but not terrible either, which seems a fair assessment of US education in general.

        1. JEDIDIAH

          Re: We don't need no education

          You are committing numeric fraud that would make Disraeli blush.

          You are conflating "GDP" with anything concrete.

          The real ranking is more like #5 with countries like Germany, France, and the UK spending less.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: We don't need no education

          "The US is actually the 56th highest in the world behind, well basically everywhere."

          that site lists spending per %GDP, and not actual dollar figures. Apples and oranges comparison, sorry. Lies, Damn Lies, and statistics.

      4. JEDIDIAH
        Mushroom

        Re: We don't need no education

        > eliminate the Department of Education entirely, leaving education up to the states and local gummints, which is how things used to be.

        No. It's always been like that. Creating a new ministry in DC really didn't change that. What happens at the local level in your own town still is the most relevant thing. That includes local tax measures, the local school board, and even your own PTA.

        Americans really need to be bludgeoned with a civics text book until it starts to sink in.

        The rest of you have an excuse.

      5. Esme

        Re: We don't need no education

        @Bombastic Bob Hmmn. From this side of the Pond, seems to me that if the US has a very expensive educational system and yet gets poor results therefrom, that surely argues against having a privately run educational system, as companies inevitably charge as much as they possibly can for whatever service they're providing, in order to enrich shareholders. Whereas government is supposed to act in the best interests of ALL the citizens it represents, not just the wealthy few. (although given the US voting system is so open to abuse by wealthy organisations, I guess one could argue slightly the other way, but so far as I can tell the states individually have the same problem as the US as a whole, there..)

        Still not seeing what your problem with the notion of human-created climate change is, Bob. Year on year, more data supports that we're having a warming effect on the climate, putting more energy into the system, and thus helping to drive more extreme weather events. One can work out the average amount of heat generated by (or on behalf of) each human on the planet, and as our population increases unless the power/heat generated goes down, the overall effect is to add heat to the planet, affecting our climate and weather. then there's the effect of gaseous pollutants, changes in albedo due to land use, etc. ..

        Given that there were just 3,000 million people on the planet when I was born, and there's now more than that number of extra people on the planet, and that the rate of urbanisation has increased even faster, it just doesn't seem credible that there's be NO effect on weather/climate, Bob, which is the stance that you appear to be taking. And as someone not directly involved in the field (but with degree-level education), I have to apply Occam's Razor - if the bulk of scientists doing climate science say that human activities are causing effects on the climate that would not otherwise have happened, then the bulk are probably right, because so many capable minds have looked at the evidence, done the mathematics, checked, re-checked and come to the same conclusion.

        Heck, I've had a turn-around in my own thinking about the size of population we might be able to feed thanks to a paper on urban farming that I've seen recently. To my extreme surprise, it does indeed look like technically we could feed far more folk than I'd thought. Whether or not we'll have the political will or let factionalism overcome simple humanity and do so or not is another matter, but technically, I can see that we're not necessarily as doomed on the feeding folk front as I had thought - because I've seen compelling evidence to the contrary.

        Still not seeing compelling evidence against human-created climate change, though, Bob...

        1. tfb Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: We don't need no education

          One can work out the average amount of heat generated by (or on behalf of) each human on the planet, and as our population increases unless the power/heat generated goes down, the overall effect is to add heat to the planet, affecting our climate and weather. then there's the effect of gaseous pollutants, changes in albedo due to land use, etc.

          It's important to understand that this is not the mechanism for global warming as it's currently meant. It is not the case that the system is warming mostly because we are generating a lot of power (but see below). Rather, the warming we are worried about is because we're doing things (mostly dumping a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere) which alter the way the power the Sun pours onto the Earth (over 1kW/m^2 at the top of the atmosphere) gets absorbed and reradiated by altering the opacity of the atmosphere at different frequencies. This has the effect of altering the average temperature of the surface somewhat. This is actually a fairly easy mechanism to understand in a naive-physicist way, although to understand it (and all the related mechanisms) well enough to get good numerical answers out becomes extremely complicated. So global warming is not to do with human power output heating the system: it's to do with human pollution generation (that pollution, of course, being a result of one kind of power generation) fucking with the system.

          This complexity in the details is the reason we need Earth-observation satellites, of course: they tell us what is actually happening and we can compare that with what we predict should be happening. Anyone who actually had doubts about the mechanisms and the predictions would, of course, support such satellites since their data would help prove the doubts correct. People who want to stop flying the satellites are doing so for some other reason: I won't speculate on what that reason is here, but there are a number of options, none of them good.

          As an aside: there is a long-term problem with human power generation as well. This has gone up by over 2.3%/year since the 17th century: it is increasing approximately exponentially in other words. If this is extrapolated then we do run into problems: in about 400 years we would be using the entire amount of the Sun's power that hits the Earth for instance. In about 450 years (assuming we find some other source of power: nuclear fusion perhaps) we would boil the oceans. This is a different kind of global warming, and it's not a short-term problem, but it does show that there are fairly hard limits to this increase in human power generation, however we generate that power which we will hit in due course.

    2. malle-herbert Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: We don't need no education

      Yes you do, You've just used a double negative !

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: We don't need no education

      Yes, it's exactly people like you they have to stop... it will be far easier later to assert the Earth is flat and was created 6,000 years ago.

      "Ignorance is strength"

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We don't need no education

      Today I teach Physics to our next generation.

      This is not needed for real estate speculation and swapping Slavic trophy wives every few decades. So there is no reason to fund it.

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Devil

        Re: We don't need no education

        >> Today I teach Physics to our next generation.

        >

        > This is not needed for real estate speculation and swapping Slavic trophy wives every few decades. So there is no reason to fund it.

        Physics is very handy for teaching genuine, practical, repeatable science. You can do real science, on your own, in the class room. It makes you far less prone to being vulnerable to every flim-flam man that comes along. This drives "science groupies" nuts though.

        REAL civil engineering is very relevant to real estate.

        Numeracy is also very important in business.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: We don't need no education

          > It makes you far less prone to being vulnerable to every flim-flam man that comes along.

          That is why Trump and the Republicans want to eliminate this, they are the flim-flam men.

    5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: We don't need no education

      Today I teach Physics to our next generation.

      Which is exactly why these extremists recruiting videos need to be taken down.

      The next generation should be taught to believe whatever their local pastor and Koch brothers tell them - not this fancy pants thinking business

      1. JEDIDIAH
        Devil

        Re: We don't need no education

        > The next generation should be taught to believe whatever their local pastor and Koch brothers tell them - not this fancy pants thinking business

        The fun thing about high school level physics is that you can do it yourself. You can't do that with "climate science".

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019