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  2012 party platforms on space exploration

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Author Topic:   2012 party platforms on space exploration
Fra Mauro
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From: Maspeth, NY
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posted 09-04-2012 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are the Republican and Democratic party platforms of space exploration:
Republican Platform
(excerpt from GOP.com)

The exploration of space has been a key part of U.S. global leadership and has supported innovation and ownership of technology. Over the last half-century, in partnership with our aerospace industry, the work of NASA has helped define and strengthen our nation's technological prowess. From building the world's most powerful rockets to landing men on the Moon, sending robotic spacecraft throughout our solar system and beyond, building the International Space Station, and launching space-based telescopes that allow scientists to better understand our universe, NASA science and engineering have produced spectacular results. The technologies that emerged from those programs propelled our aerospace industrial base and directly benefit our national security, safety, economy, and quality of life. Through its achievements, NASA has inspired generations of Americans to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, leading to careers that drive our country's technological and economic engines.

Today, America's leadership in space is challenged by countries eager to emulate — and surpass — NASA's accomplishments. To preserve our national security interests and foster innovation and competitiveness, we must sustain our preeminence in space, launching more science missions, guaranteeing unfettered access, and maintaining a source of high-value American jobs.

Democratic Platform
(excerpt from Democrats.org)

President Obama has charted a new mission for NASA to lead us to a future that builds on America's legacy of innovation and exploration.

Both parties should be ashamed of themselves... while it is only supposed to be a document of principles, it is disheartening.

Spaceguy5
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posted 09-04-2012 11:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find the democrat's short sentence to be the most disheartening.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-04-2012 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Democratic platform just forgoes the prologue to deliver a policy statement that is as equally brief and vague as the Republican platform.

Frankly, this is probably for the best: when was the last time that Congress or the President turned to the party platform to set space policy? And would you really want them to?

moorouge
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posted 09-04-2012 02:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A Party platform - the cynical outsider in me says we've had 'Pigs in Space' so why not Elephants or Donkeys?

Fra Mauro
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posted 09-04-2012 06:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The party platform, to me, shows the party's enthusiasm for a topic. I don't expect policy details. If I had to hold my nose and pick one, the Republican sounds slightly better.

dogcrew5369
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posted 09-05-2012 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I second that. Not to get into politics, but at the rate our debt is going I doubt it will take long before we can't afford a viable space program. Right now a projected $20 trillion deficit by 2016 is disastrous.

Spaceguy5
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From: Pampa, TX, US
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posted 09-05-2012 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you think about it, $20 trillion isn't much if you consider the global assets that the government owns (particularly real estate). Plus if they allocated money from unnecessary defense projects... I think it's more that congress doesn't want to pay it off right away, than that they can't afford it.

But that's another debate. The cost of space exploration is really pretty negligible compared to many other parts of the federal budget.

Something that really put things into perspective for me... The movie Avatar. Earned almost $2.8 billion at the box office alone. Curiosity cost about $2.6 billion.

Americans spent more money in a few weeks watching a movie where we pretended to go to another planet, than our taxpayer dollars went (over an ~8 year span) towards actually going to another planet.

moorouge
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posted 09-06-2012 01:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It worries me when discussing budgets and whether or not space should be a prominent part of government spending. All too often comparisons are made to justify funding space activities that do not compare likes.

As has been said before in these forums, members who would cheerfully slash other funding to see NASA resume manned flights are the vast majority. Unfortunately, they become a small minority in the population at large and it is these that politicians listen to.

Meanwhile, perhaps this bumper (sorry - fender) sticker seen in Cocoa Beach sums it all up.

Fra Mauro
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posted 09-06-2012 06:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As for not being able to afford a space program, that's nonsense if you consider the many Federal programs that are bleeding money and wasteful. There is a fallacy among the general population that if we cut NASA, all will be right with the nation. That mindset was one of the reasons Apollo was curtailed. Well, have things really gotten better because we stopped going to the moon?

issman1
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posted 09-06-2012 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As a foreigner I find it amusing that some (though thankfully not all) registered American voters are naive enough to believe that either presidential candidate will make NASA a national priority.

Obama's policy of elevating commerical cargo resupply to commercial crew deserves some veneration. He has talked openly about the possibility of NASA astronauts venturing towards an asteroid and eventually Mars.

But I'm not naive enough to believe that a Mars mission will happen before I become an old aged pensioner (or senior citizen). Of course, Romney could have made such an electoral pledge but has not and probably won't - whether he wins or not.

At least I may live to see low earth orbit exploited into becoming a vacationing destination, rather than the exclusive preserve of government astronauts and cosmonauts as it has been mostly for over five decades.

moorouge
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posted 09-07-2012 01:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm broadly in agreement with the last post. However, one should remember that there is a huge difference between a 'statement of intent' and an actual policy which is capable of being implemented.

For example, my statement of intent is to become supreme ruler of the whole universe, but I've yet to achieve that in the tiny piece of it I call 'home'.

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
Registered: Aug 2005

posted 09-07-2012 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Spaceguy5:
If you think about it, $20 trillion isn't much if you consider the global assets that the government owns (particularly real estate). Plus if they allocated money from unnecessary defense projects... I think it's more that congress doesn't want to pay it off right away, than that they can't afford it. ...

At $16 trillion, the US national debt now exceeds the market value of all final goods and services from the United States' economy for an entire year (2011 gross domestic product was just over $15 trillion).

And if you completely eliminated the entire US DoD budget, the US would still have in the neighborhood of a $500 billion budget deficit.

Finally, the US is now spending on average $8.7 billion per week on interest on the debt alone. If no policy changes are made and spending continues to grow as currently programmed, the GAO determined that between 2030 and 2040 entitlement spending alone will exceed net revenues. That means elimination of most of the DoD budget, Dept of Education, Housing and Urban Development, State Dept, Homeland Security, Dept of Energy, Dept of Justice, NASA, National Intelligence Program, and ... well, all other non-discretionary funding for various agencies.

That is why we must seriously address these issues now, not when 2030 rolls around and it is a no-kidding crisis. As the situation currently stands, Congress definitely does not have the ability to choose to pay it off right away.

** All data sourced from the Government Accounting Office (primarily the Citizen's Guide to the 2011 Financial Report of the United States Government and from the Congressional Budget Office

arjuna
unregistered
posted 09-08-2012 12:15 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
As the situation currently stands, Congress definitely does not have the ability to choose to pay it off right away.

Nor would that be a good idea even if it were possible. As you imply, discretionary spending isn't really the problem.

What's important is to slow the growth in defense and entitlement spending and create a credible and fair path for the restoration of the surpluses that existed prior to 2001. Obviously a government solely composed of DoD and entitlement spending that has crowded out all discretionary spending is an untenable proposition. This is an eminently solvable problem were there sufficient political will to modestly increase revenues and cut spending growth in a way that doesn't create undue hardship for any particular segment of society. It doesn't have to be done overnight, but there has to be a reasonable long-term plan.

capoetc
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posted 09-08-2012 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by arjuna:
...and create a credible and fair path for the restoration of the surpluses that existed prior to 2001.
It will be challenging to re-create the perfect storm of the end of the Cold War along with the explosion of information technology that made private enterprise more efficient and profitable in the 1990's.

Add that to the fact that, in the 1990's, Social Security was still running a surplus -- that revenue is all gone now, and there will likely never again be enough workers to pay for all the baby boomers who will now be retired, collecting Social Security, and living into their 80's or longer. Even broadening FICA taxes to cover all income over $110,100 plus investment income is not enough to cover the shortfall -- and that calculation does not include an extra 15 million people being added to the Medicaid rolls shortly via Obamacare.

Difficult challenges indeed...

WAWalsh
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From: Cortlandt Manor, NY
Registered: May 2000

posted 09-10-2012 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for WAWalsh   Click Here to Email WAWalsh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agree that it is all disheartening. "Mission to Mars" was on AMC yesterday afternoon. The silliness of the final half hour or so aside, it is a pity we will not achieve by 2020, the flight, space station and surface capability that is identified in the film.

arjuna
unregistered
posted 09-11-2012 04:33 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
It will be challenging to re-create the perfect storm of the end of the Cold War along with the explosion of information technology that made private enterprise more efficient and profitable in the 1990's.

This isn't the place for a debate - even a friendly one, which is what it certainly would be! - but just to say that your points about the 1990s are correct yet also perhaps not the full story.

Without minimizing the very real problems facing the U.S. (or the world for that matter), with reasonable, sensible policies we are actually in relatively good shape in many ways. Unlike China, Japan, or Europe, our population is not declining, and there are technological revolutions still to be had. And that's without mentioning the inevitable black swans, of which the internet was also one. I will, however, grant you that policies that are "sensible" and "reasonable" may be quite a heroic assumptions given some of the silliness we see today, but beyond that general observation I won't venture further.

John, I know we touched on this in a recent discussion on the same topic, but for those who are interested in how practical (or reasonable or sensible) their ideas are on how to balance the long-term budget, there are a number of good online budget calculators. I recommend this one put together by the non-partisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. I suggest this one since it includes an explicit option for "Restart the NASA Moon Mission and Create a Moon Colony". Try it - it's quite illuminating.

In short, it's quite possible to get back to a stable budget trajectory. It's the politics that are hard, not the economics.

moorouge
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posted 09-11-2012 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a couple of brief points about the last post.

It may be that the politics are hard. However, hard politics make for hard economics. One cannot separate the two.

Second, according to Carl Sagan, an increasing population leads to an earthbound existence. May I quote from his book 'Cosmos' - No civilization can possibly survive to an interstellar spacefaring phase unless it limits its numbers. Any society with a marked population explosion will be forced to devote all its energies and technological skills to feeding and caring for the population on its home planet. .... Conversely, any civilization that engages in serious interstellar exploration ... must have exercised zero population growth or something very close to it for many generations, It's an unfortunate fact that the Earth's population is growing at an alarming rate and with it an increasing pressure to lessen the gap between the 'them' and 'us'.

By this, I think that Sagan is saying that at the present time any savings made from defense budgets, for example, will be quickly swallowed in the basic requirement to feed us and care for our welfare. In the final analysis, this is what politics is all about. Politicians are elected on the basis of what they will do to satisfy those needs and not on grandiose schemes that Joe Public sees as having little to do with him.

Spaceguy5
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posted 09-11-2012 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by capoetc:
At $16 trillion, the US national debt now exceeds the market value of all final goods and services from the United States' economy for an entire year (2011 gross domestic product was just over $15 trillion).

That's if you consider how much the country makes in a year. But what about what the country already owns? Paying off 16 trillion is certainly a huge undertaking, but it could be done at the cost of cutting budgets and especially selling off a lot of assets (either to corporations or other countries).

fredtrav
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posted 09-11-2012 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for fredtrav   Click Here to Email fredtrav     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Selling off a lot of assets is not a great option. Certainly there are a number of assets that can be sold, but there is not the bonanza most people think. There are unused or underused government buildings certainly, and some liquid assets like our gold reserve but selling these would barely scratch the surface of the problem, perhaps a few hundred billion. And it is a one time thing once they are gone, they are gone.

Selling some assets would merely be in effect a regressive tax hike on everyone. If you sell of the interstate system for example, they would be converted to toll roads.

You have to cut spending and increase revenue to balance the budget. You cannot do it any other way.

moorouge
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posted 09-12-2012 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The thought occurs to me that, interesting though this discussion is, aren't we asking the wrong question?

Should we be discussing not can we afford it (manned flights in particular) but can we afford not to afford it?

As has been pointed out previously, the 1960's were a time of tremendous technological advance that created a situation where there were compelling reasons for the Governments of the time to say, "We cannot afford not to do this."

Obviously, those conditions do not exist today. So, is the lack of enthusiasm for spaceflight because we can afford not to do it?

moorouge
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posted 09-14-2012 01:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would seem that the lack of any cogent reason otherwise to my last post from the enthusiastic members of this forum provides the answer to my query.

This is that 'YES' both Republican and Democratic political parties have decided that the US can afford not to afford an expanding space programme and, in particular, one that includes manned flights.

Isn't this the real reason why NASA has to live with year on year budget cuts?

Fra Mauro
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posted 09-15-2012 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I feel that both parties get away with this because many Americans just don't care about manned spaceflight. Who is to blame for this? Well, a lot of people — from the media to the schools, to our ignorant pop culture, to our politicians . That fallacy from the 60's that "space is a waste of money," and "why spend all that money up there?" is way too prevalent. My fellow citizens, and I know this isn't true of the folks on cS, simply don't care.

issman1
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posted 09-15-2012 09:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That misconception about human spaceflight is not exclusive to Americans, but if you want to give one solid reason for a Mars mission then how about looking for present life (that's right Martians)?

I'm surprised neither Obama or Romney milked the triumph of the Curiosity rover and the passing of Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong to even vaguely justify going far beyond the ISS orbit.

But it seems neither candidate has the courage of their convictions, if any, to do so. As of today the Orion crew vehicle and space launch system have no pre-defined destination - it's just idle speculation whether NASA astronauts will ever visit an asteroid or land on Mars.

It makes Kennedy's much-vaunted September 1962 speech all the more aberrant, in that none of his successors have managed to articulate/offer a good enough reason to give NASA a blank cheque or a new mission. Is it fear of being ridiculed before America, like Gingrich? Or have they the pulse of the nation, knowing from surveys that the people may well be fascinated but aren't that bothered due to the dire state of the nation (which is also synonymous here in the UK).

Fra Mauro
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posted 09-16-2012 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If either candidate spoke about Curiosity too much, they might (gasp) be seen as pro-space.

I firmly believe that if a President/candidate articulated a clear and responsible plan, people would get behind it. As for Orion/SLS, the optimist in me can't wait. But then reality hits... SLS is already underfunded, no money yet for a service module or lander, flying every few years is not sustainable... plus a few others... and I can hear Pres. Obama/Romney shutting the whole thing down.

As for the budget thing, if you follow U.S. spending, there is so much waste and mismanagement, so find that money... and not blame spaceflight for the fiscal problems.

moorouge
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posted 09-18-2012 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fra Mauro:
As for the budget thing, if you follow U.S. spending, there is so much waste and mismanagement, so find that money... and not blame spaceflight for the fiscal problems.

But it's NOT Budget. In the 1960's there were cogent reasons to pursue an aggressive space policy. Today there are not. For this reason politicians have decided that they can follow space related policies that allow them to afford not to.

The corollary is that if there was a cogent reason(s), then the money would be found regargless of the economic situation, just as it was in 1961.

Fra Mauro
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posted 09-19-2012 08:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with you on that point, although they stand behind the budget arguments while they can still say, "no one loves NASA more than me."

The feeling towards manned spaceflight in this country saddens me. Our country certainly isn't any better off since we stopped flying the shuttles.

All times are CT (US)

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