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Author Topic:   Constellation cancelled: NASA's new approach
Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-01-2010 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This thread, which begins with the release of NASA's 2011 budget, continues the discussion of the Review of US Human Space Flight, and references the releases and documents posted to NASA: Bold New Approach To Exploration.
OMB: NASA's Constellation program -- based largely on existing technologies -- was based on a vision of returning astronauts back to the Moon by 2020. However, the program was over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest in critical new technologies. Using a broad range of criteria an independent review panel determined that even if fully funded, NASA's program to repeat many of the achievements of the Apollo era, 50 years later, was the least attractive approach to space exploration as compared to potential alternatives. Furthermore, NASA's attempts to pursue its moon goals, while inadequate to that task, had drawn funding away from other NASA programs, including robotic space exploration, science, and Earth observations. The President's Budget cancels Constellation and replaces it with a bold new approach that invests in the building blocks of a more capable approach to space exploration.

Mercury7
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posted 02-01-2010 09:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercury7   Click Here to Email Mercury7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been surprised at the division among space enthusiasts, with some shrugging off the end of Constellation and others predicting the demise of NASA because if it. I am very sad and I am in the camp believing this is the end of America's leadership in space. I also believe it is disingenuous to pay lip service to Mars exploration without either firm or fuzzy dates to bring fruition. Time will tell if I am right and although I am disappointed that we are not all united on this, in many ways it is the very reason it got cancelled, it is our fault for not inspiring others to share our vision, to tilt public opinion enough that no one would dare take exploration away from us.

Today we lost the Moon but more importantly today is the day America lost its leadership in space.

Fra Mauro
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posted 02-01-2010 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I totally agree with you Mercury7. I thought the Augustine Commission was a setup all along. They can sugarcoat it all they want but it is the end of an independent manned space program for the U.S. Now I know why it took so long to get a new NASA administrator, no one wanted the job.

I too am surprised by the "there's nothing we can do but accept it" attitude among space enthusiasts. Among former astronauts, the only one I have heard speak out is Cernan. Maybe America doesn't deserve a space program after all.

Matt T
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posted 02-01-2010 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Am I the only one who just knew that they'd use the word 'bold' in the press release?

Well clap, clap, clap - I'm so excited. Just wait till I tell my kids we're not going back to the moon - but NASA are thinking about having some really great ideas eventually that we could use to go to Mars. If they can get funding to build - blah, blah, blah.

Bold.

P.S. As I posted this my eye was caught by the 'Disable Smilies In This Post' check-box.

Checked.

328KF
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posted 02-01-2010 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the OMB's "Fact Sheet":
NASA's attempts to pursue its moon goals, while inadequate to that task, had drawn funding away from other NASA programs.
NASA was inadequate to the task? Did they really say that?

The release goes on to mention:

future heavy-lift rocket systems

increase the capabilities and reduce the cost of future exploration activities

so that our future human and robotic exploration missions are both highly capable and affordable

to increase the safety and capability of future human missions

aimed at increasing the capabilities and reducing the cost of future NASA, other government, and commercial space activities.

additional high-priority performance goals are expected to be formulated in the near future

Do we see a trend here? How far in the future? Will any of the results of all of this happen in any of our lifetimes?

This doesn't sound like a space exploration program, rather it is a space exploration deferral program. I am looking forward to how this gets spun at 12:30, but I am not optimistic.

bobzz
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posted 02-01-2010 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobzz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Let me be clear"... NASA 1959-2010


Matt T
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posted 02-01-2010 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anything more upbeat than a eulogy at 12.30 would be pretty offensive.

328KF
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posted 02-01-2010 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"During the State of the Union, I turned to David Gregory and Andrea Mitchell and blurted out the obvious: I could never be president. The specific reason I gave was that I'd bankrupt the nation by re-starting an all-out push into space - back to the moon, to Mars and beyond.

I mention this (and we will tonight on the broadcast) because of the report out today (a preview of more on Monday) saying the American "manned space flight era" is about to come to an end, for the foreseeable future."

- Brian Williams, NBC News anchor

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-01-2010 10:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala) release
NASA Budget Begins Death March For U.S. Human Space Flight

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, today issued a statement sharply criticizing the Obama Administration's proposed NASA budget for fiscal year 2011. NASA's budget is under the jurisdiction of the CJS Subcommittee. Constellation is NASA's current human space flight program. A critical component of Constellation, the Ares I rocket, completed a successful test flight in October of 2009. Disregarding Constellation's progress, the Obama Administration's proposed fiscal year 2011 budget for NASA, released today, would cancel the program and instead fund "commercial" providers who have failed to fulfill current contracts with NASA to deliver even cargo to the International Space Station.

Despite an attempt to drastically cut funding for Constellation in the House version of the fiscal year 2010 omnibus appropriations bill, Shelby was successful in restoring $600 million to the program, funded at $3.46 billion total. Shelby was also instrumental in including language that limits NASA's ability to terminate or alter the current Constellation program. This requires the Administration to work with Congress and wait for approval prior to changing any current human exploration plans.

The President's annual budget request is a proposal. Congress determines final funding levels for departments, agencies, and programs. Shelby's statement on the Obama Administration's fiscal year 2011 NASA budget proposal is as follows:

"The President's proposed NASA budget begins the death march for the future of US human space flight. The cancelation of the Constellation program and the end of human space flight does represent change - but it is certainly not the change I believe in. Congress cannot and will not sit back and watch the reckless abandonment of sound principles, a proven track record, a steady path to success, and the destruction of our human space flight program.

"Constellation is the only path forward that maintains America's leadership in space. The successful test launch of the Ares I rocket in October represented years of work and great advancement in our Nation's human space flight program. To discard Ares I as the foundation of space exploration without demonstrated capability or proven superiority of an alternative vehicle, is irresponsible and not cost-effective. There is no other rocket today that is as safe, or that has successfully demonstrated it can meet the country's needs for the exploration of space.

"We cannot continue to coddle the dreams of rocket hobbyists and so-called 'commercial' providers who claim the future of US human space flight can be achieved faster and cheaper than Constellation. I have consistently stated the fallacy of believing the cure-all hype of these 'commercial' space companies, and my position has been supported time and again by both the experts and the facts. Those who believe that it is in our nation's best interest to rely on 'commercial' space companies need only examine their current track record. Of the companies enlisted to deliver only cargo to space, not humans, one company failed to move beyond paper drawings, another is years behind schedule, and a replacement company for the first failure will not even be ready for test flights for years to come.

"As a resounding rebuke to the Augustine Commission Report, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, whose sole focus is on ensuring lives are not needlessly lost in our space program, stated in their 2009 report, that no commercial manufacturer 'is currently human-rating requirements qualified, despite some claims and beliefs to the contrary.' This is after their 2008 report, written in part by the current NASA Administrator, declared that commercial vehicles 'are not proven to be appropriate to transport NASA personnel.' NASA's safety experts agree that current commercial vehicles are untested and unworthy of carrying our most valuable assets - our nation's astronauts.

"It is unfortunate that on the anniversary of the loss of the Columbia crew this Administration is choosing to abandon our nation's only chance at remaining the leader in human space flight. It is ironic that Constellation, a program borne out of the recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, would be eliminated in lieu of rockets repeatedly deemed unsafe for astronauts by NASA's own Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel.

"Rocket science is not simple and it is not easy. Newcomers to this arena are continuing to learn this lesson as they struggle with repeated delays in getting their operations off the ground. It makes little sense for NASA to establish yet another social welfare program for these 'commercial' companies. It is simply not 'commercial' when the development work for your company is funded by the Government. That may be the General Motors model, but it should certainly not be considered the commercial model.

"On Friday, India announced they will be ready for their first manned space flight by 2016. With this administration's nonsensical NASA budget request, the US will still be working on launching people on rockets that do not exist while Russia, China, and India are actually doing it. If this budget is enacted, NASA will no longer be an agency of innovation and hard science; it will be the agency of pipe dreams and fairy tales.

"I will never support a NASA budget that does not have a robust human space exploration program grounded in reality. New commercial space companies do have a chance at being successful, but that time is still too far in the future. Now is not the time to turn human space flight over to inexperience and hopeful aspirations. Instead, it is the time to cement our leadership in space with a program we know will keep America at the forefront of space exploration. Constellation as envisioned successfully delivers that objective."

328KF
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posted 02-01-2010 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
He's got my vote.

We should all write letters like that to every member of Congress!

issman1
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posted 02-01-2010 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I welcome the paradigm shift from government to private sector.

NASA made access to space the preserve of government astronauts. It promised to make it routine, but failed repeatedly.

So afer 51 years, perhaps the the entrepeneurs "can", to quote Obama.

Lunar_module_5
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posted 02-01-2010 10:48 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
7 years ago today, was a sad day. Today feels like that day again.

GoesTo11
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posted 02-01-2010 10:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Show of hands... anyone who still thinks this Administration is committed to American leadership in anything other than government expansion.

Congratulations to the Astronaut Class of 2009. We're all chumps now.

jimsz
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posted 02-01-2010 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
Congratulations to the Astronaut Class of 2009. We're all chumps now.
The larger question is how many of these astronauts will actually ever travel in space?

The shuttle is done. Even if extensions are granted the infrastructure is being dismantled. The ISS will become a small footnote and the US involvement will hopefully be gone next.

If the Astronaut Corp is populated by those who actually wish to travel to space, why stick around NASA? There may be few seats available in the very near future.

Matt T
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posted 02-01-2010 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe it's time to start apostrophising 'astronaut' when discussing NASA.

jimsz
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posted 02-01-2010 11:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mercury7:
it is our fault for not inspiring others to share our vision, to tilt public opinion enough that no one would dare take exploration away from us.
If NASA has been unable to sway public opinion with the shuttle and ISS that is not the fault of anyone but NASA.

They gambled on an uninspired three decade long series of missions and they are now paying the price. The children who grew up to be uninspired by those missions to LEO are the same ones that are now voting, paying taxes, etc., they are apathetic because NASA has been apathetic.

bobzz
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posted 02-01-2010 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobzz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You can hear the roar of footsteps in Houston as they head for the exits and the unemployment line. The private sector is not going to invest billions without a chance of a return.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-01-2010 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jimsz:
There may be few seats available in the very near future.
Or there may be many, only a short time will tell. Space X has said they can have a manned version of their Dragon taxiing Americans to and from the ISS within two to three years.

And if not, then a contract already exists to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the ISS by Soyuz, as they are today.

The President and Congress may not see eye to eye on this new plan, but both have expressed strong support for extending ISS through at least 2020.

GoesTo11
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posted 02-01-2010 11:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it's safe to assume we'll see a mass exodus from the Astronaut Office over the next few months. I can't see the point in sticking around Houston doing "busy work" with no real prospect of flying in space when their skill sets could be more gainfully (and profitably) employed in the private sector, or in academia.

BC
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posted 02-01-2010 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a tragedy of huge proportions. Dismantling America's human space program will be catastrophic. Turning our astronauts into hitchhikers on other country's spacecraft is an insult to all that America has ever stood for. That it's coming from this administration is no surprise. When will this madness end?

bobzz
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posted 02-01-2010 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobzz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
I think it's safe to assume we'll see a mass exodus from the Astronaut Office over the next few months.
Once we lose the talent it would be tough to jump start any return to manned spaceflight even if the present regime is toppled in 2012.

BC
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posted 02-01-2010 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mercury7:
Today we lost the Moon but more importantly today is the day America lost its leadership in space.
That rumbling sound you hear is JFK rolling over in his grave. "Whatever mankind undertakes, free men must fully share." Not any more. We have a president that wants to spend us into oblivion and cut the very program that has kept us at the forefront of science and technology for half a century.

GoesTo11
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posted 02-01-2010 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, you're obviously more "dialed in" than most of us...Do you have a sense of the morale in the Astronaut Office, and JSC in general?

BC
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posted 02-01-2010 11:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bobzz:
Once we lose the talent it would be tough to jump start any return to manned spaceflight even if the present regime is toppled in 2012.
You are so correct. The only thing that might make a difference will be a 21st century version of Sputnik. And even by then it might be too late.

cjh5801
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posted 02-01-2010 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cjh5801   Click Here to Email cjh5801     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala) release...

He talks big, but isn't he from the same Congress that underfunded NASA by over $1 billion a year for the past 5 years? Where was the support that might have kept this program alive?

minipci
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posted 02-01-2010 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for minipci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Deepest sympathies from a non-American. This is such a sad day. Not only for you, but also for all freedom loving people everywhere.

Jeff
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posted 02-01-2010 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff   Click Here to Email Jeff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Let Me Be Clear"... This is just more "Change" that so many naive people bought into. A truly sad time for America. I completely agree with the previous posts on this subject... we not only lost the Moon but we've turned away from our leading role in manned spaceflight.

It reminds me of Jack Schmitt's reaction to Nixon's speech all those years ago when Nixon said "This may be the last time in this century that men walk on the moon..."

In his book, Andrew Chaikin describes how Schmitt "Hated those words --- hated them for their lack of vision. These words, from the leader of a nation! Even if Nixon believed them, he didn't have to say so in a public statement, taking away the hopes of a generation of young people."

So, once again we're left to look through a telescope with our children and grandchildren knowing that it's the closest they will ever get and wonder what it would have been like to see Americans go back.

kking
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posted 02-01-2010 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kking   Click Here to Email kking     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very sad day, NASA 1958-2010. In his State of the Union he called for creating jobs. That's a joke. I see thousands and thousands of job losses in the not to distant future. Who's ever heard of a laid off astronaut?

BC
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posted 02-01-2010 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BC     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We can only hope Congress will step forward and do their job of keeping us at the forefront of manned space exploration.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-01-2010 11:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
Robert, you're obviously more "dialed in" than most of us... Do you have a sense of the morale in the Astronaut Office, and JSC in general?
It's funny you should mention "dialed in," given that I am currently "dialed in" to the NASA budget briefing teleconference starting in about 15 minutes.

As one person who works at Johnson Space Center put it, "We may have lost the Moon in 2020, but we've just gained the ability to go anywhere we want..."

issman1
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posted 02-01-2010 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The impression I get (as a non-American) is that Obama was thinking outside the box, and decided NASA was not a spur but a hindrance.

This is borne out by facts rather than supposition. Let the private companies have their chance.

Apollo11
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posted 02-01-2010 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo11   Click Here to Email Apollo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by jimsz:
They gambled on an uninspired three decade long series of missions and they are now paying the price.
NASA did not gamble on anything! They did the very best they could do with the much too-limited money they were given by the then administration(s) and Congress. It is the same short-sightedness in leadership that is the problem today. We can never do "cutting edge technology" on the cheap. Been there, tried that. The loss of Challenger and Columbia attest to that fact. Obviously, the current administration has no desire to "change." And that you CAN believe in.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-01-2010 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The NASA briefing teleconference has begun. You can listen it to it live here.

bobzz
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posted 02-01-2010 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bobzz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Remember that political realities force decisions that insure voter loyalty. Space is a highly visible program easy to demonize. It is an easy target for scoring "cost cutting" points. Hanging manned spaceflight on the wall covers up a lot of extraordinary spending being proposed today by Obama in his budget. The death of manned spaceflight will be the headline today as the huge deficit spending is slid under your nose!

issman1
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posted 02-01-2010 11:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is the doom-and-gloom to do with the fact some here are politically opposed to Obama?

Former NASA administrator Griffin chose the Ares/Orion concept.

He could have picked an all-in-one heavy-lift vehicle to serve both cargo and crew, but "gambled" on the inferior Ares. So NASA can be every bit as "short-sighted" as any politician.

NASA set some unrealistic timelines about lunar missions which were dependent upon the Ares family being developed on schedule.

This has nothing to do with Obama who wasn't even a US Senator when Bush made his big speech in January 2004. In fact, the-then administrator O'Keefe was more interested in cancelling the Hubble servicing mission rather than proposing a plan to match Bush's "vision".

When something is unsustainable then you make a conscientious decision to make it sustainable. Obama's plan is revolutionary compared to the vacuum of the last 6 years.

Jobs will be lost, new ones will be created. That's social evolution.

jimsz
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posted 02-01-2010 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Apollo11:
NASA did not gamble on anything! They did the very best they could do with the much too-limited money they were given by the then administration(s) and Congress.
I respectfully disagree.

The uninspired ISS and the trucker missions of the last 15 years has hindered real exploration so that Americans can hear about broken toilets and maintenance which is about all the ISS had to show for nearly it's entire existence.

The Shuttle should have been mothballed 20 years ago.

We are paying the price now for NASA's lack of ambition and fear of taking chances and relying on 1970's technology and planning with the Shuttles.

Mercury7
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posted 02-01-2010 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercury7   Click Here to Email Mercury7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, there are many places to place blame but the bottom line rest with the President, he killed it, therefore he owns it. History will record President Obama as the man who killed NASA. I just read Bolden's speech and while reading it I imagined that even he did not believe what he was saying. All these things that he is talking about are things that should be done in lock step with exploration, not instead of.

The plan has no vision, no inspiration, no goal. Things get invented because you develop a need for them in relation to a plan, Obama is asking for inventions for something that does not show a need to be invented, it makes no sense and defies common sense.

cjh5801
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posted 02-01-2010 12:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cjh5801   Click Here to Email cjh5801     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
Is the doom-and-gloom to do with the fact some here are politically opposed to Obama?
I suspect it has a lot to do with it. I'm extremely disappointed that we won't be going to the Moon, but the path we were going on would have gotten us there on the cheap -- with nothing to show for it other than a few more abandoned pieces of used hardware. When we go back to the Moon, I hope we'll do it right -- spending the money necessary to develop colonies and stay.
quote:
Originally posted by jimsz:
We are paying the price now for NASA's lack of ambition and fear of taking chances and replying on 1970's technology and planning with the Shuttles.
Despite our vast philosophical differences, here's something with which I can pretty much agree. The manned space program has been on a treadmill for over 30 years. It's time for a change.

Perhaps the current administration's plans will plant the seeds for that change. Perhaps not. It's too soon for me to draw conclusions.

GoesTo11
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posted 02-01-2010 12:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let's not forget who's really responsible for all this: We, the voters. We put these people in office.

I've long been of the opinion that in the post-Apollo era NASA has devoted far too much of its PR energy and resources to "inspiring the next generation" of engineers and scientists (and astronauts) and not enough to educating the taxpayers of today. I'm constantly amazed, when discussing the space program with non-enthusiasts, at the chasm between their perception of how much we spend on "space" and the reality of how little (proportionately) of the federal budget NASA actually consumes. You could triple NASA spending tomorrow and it would still be a drop in the ocean of what our government plans to spend in the next few years. But those big loud rockets are such an easy target, and Joe Sixpack probably doesn't know any astronauts anyway.

Mercury7
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posted 02-01-2010 12:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mercury7   Click Here to Email Mercury7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
Is the doom-and-gloom to do with the fact some here are politically opposed to Obama?
Although Obama bashers will use anything they can, I would like to discredit this statement.

I am only becoming politically opposed now because of this, I voted for him and supported him, it does not mean I believe in all of his views but I believed him when he said he would support the return to the Moon in 2020. I was lied to so he lost my vote. Obviously the moonshot was a big deal to me.


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Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





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