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#4462013 - 02/19/19 05:43 PM NASA'S Boondoggle  
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This has a good chance of going PWEC but I'll give it a shot here anyway, it deserves a wide audience. NASA today isn't the same NASA that met JFK'S challenge to land men on the moon in the 1960's.

After nearly $50 billion, NASA’s deep-space plans remain grounded

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During the last 15 years, the US Congress has authorized budgets totaling $46 billion for various NASA deep-space exploration plans. By late summer, 2020, that total is likely to exceed $50 billion, most of which has been spent on developing a heavy-lift rocket and deep-space capsule that may carry humans into deep space.

In a new analysis that includes NASA's recently approved fiscal year 2019 budget, aerospace analyst Laura Forczyk found that, of this total, NASA has spent $16 billion on the Orion capsule, $14 billion on the Space Launch System rocket, and most of the remainder on ground systems development along with the Ares I and Ares V rockets.


“Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost comes in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.” - Milton Friedman
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#4462016 - 02/19/19 05:50 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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The fundamental issue here is that NASA is run by a bureaucracy under the auspices of an even larger bureaucracy. This often leads to the phenomena known as "misallocated funds".


To be fair though, the 1950's and 1960's were a unique and ideal time for an endeavor like space exploration. It was virgin territory plus there was the Cold War with the Soviets which greatly added incentive to competition.


“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
#4462017 - 02/19/19 05:50 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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That article sums it up quite nicely
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"As far as I'm concerned, SLS and Orion are doing their jobs of providing work for NASA centers and contractors and giving the US a sense of national pride to have a major goal to work toward," Forczyk said. "They are not meant to be quick, cost efficient, or sustainable. They are symbolic grand acts of a grand nation."


I'm glad to see the current administration is willing to look beyond their own term period and has reignited the plan to get to the moon in 2028, but will all the red tape around NASA and the unwillingness of the public to risk human lives for space exploration, I doubt they'll be succesful to reach the 2028 deadline

#4462019 - 02/19/19 06:08 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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50 billion and still nothing tangible to show for it. Imagine if we had given Space X that money...

50 billion should have gotten us halfway to an alcubierre drive--the new planned Large Hadron Collider ring, at 100 kilometers long, has been budgeted at 22 billion. 22 billion to discover further subatomic particle properties, and potentially unlocking the mechanism for how the Higgs boson attaches to spacetime. 22 billion to turn the keys to understanding how we, ourselves and deform spacetime in new ways which could lead to a true, working alcubierre drive. 22 billion would leave us 28 billion to take what we discover and turn it into something useful.

Not a #%&*$# rocket.

50 billion wasted on a capsule and a rocket is a farce.


How much influence should a single president have on NASA's programs? Bush proposed one thing, Obama cancelled and then another, Trump a third... NASA depends on science to achieve the impossible, and much research depends on long-term continuity. Should we revise how NASA is directed, too?

#4462020 - 02/19/19 06:10 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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+1 Blastman.

Well said!


“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
#4462021 - 02/19/19 06:23 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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If SpaceX had that money, we would have bases on the moon and Mars.


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#4462036 - 02/19/19 07:27 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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SpaceX is in it for the money. The USA didn't go to the moon for the money.

I agree with Mr_Blastman, the lack of continuity results in huge waste. The Canadian military is experiencing exactly this due to frequent leadership rotation without continuity planning (at least, this is what it looks like on the surface) for certain things. Changes that take longer to implement than the current leader's term might not survive a change of leadership.


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#4462050 - 02/19/19 08:41 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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I think the money is a means to an end for Elon Musk getting SpaceX to Mars. Obviously, it won't break his heart to make a profit along the way, but I get the sense he really is driven by a strong desire to make humanity a multi-planet species.

If the satellite based internet service works out for SpaceX, they will likely be able to afford to do what they want.

As for NASA... I think they should concentrate more upon commercialization of the manned exploration efforts. In other words, dump the Orion / SLS and let SpaceX, Boeing, et al compete to accomplish the goals.

NASA / JPL have done well on robotic / unmanned exploration, which should continue. Their accumulated expertise on training astronauts is worth preserving and sharing of that knowledge with the private sector is a good thing.

Keep in mind on the political aspects, it's not just the presidential administrations... there is a lot of money getting spread around various congressional districts / states that factors into things, too.

#4462058 - 02/19/19 09:04 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: CyBerkut]  
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Originally Posted by CyBerkut
I think the money is a means to an end for Elon Musk getting SpaceX to Mars. Obviously, it won't break his heart to make a profit along the way, but I get the sense he really is driven by a strong desire to make humanity a multi-planet species.
.



+1

If Musk were all about the money he never would have started SpaceX, or Tesla for that matter.


“Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost comes in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.” - Milton Friedman
#4462066 - 02/19/19 11:19 PM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Wasn't part of NASA's problem the fact that today's human spaceflight missions and hardware were not being designed (or at least put into action) long before the shuttle retired?

It's been a few years, but for some reason that point comes to memory, regarding a general expression of uselessness and waste around NASA around that time.

I'm not very close to this area, but I would imagine that anything we'd hope for NASA to be doing in the 10 years after the Shuttle retirement, probably would have been in-works going back to what... the mid 1990s?

Last edited by adlabs6; 02/19/19 11:24 PM.

WARNING: This post contains opinions produced in a facility which also occasionally processes fact products.
#4462087 - 02/20/19 03:12 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: adlabs6]  
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Originally Posted by adlabs6
Wasn't part of NASA's problem the fact that today's human spaceflight missions and hardware were not being designed (or at least put into action) long before the shuttle retired?

It's been a few years, but for some reason that point comes to memory, regarding a general expression of uselessness and waste around NASA around that time.

I'm not very close to this area, but I would imagine that anything we'd hope for NASA to be doing in the 10 years after the Shuttle retirement, probably would have been in-works going back to what... the mid 1990s?



1 - The SLS was supposedly to be built utilizing shuttle componentry, IE the external tank with shuttle engines underneath and other existing hardware. That would make it cheap, and quick.

2 - Back in the 1960's we went from practically nothing to the surface of the moon in ten years. That entailed developing Mercury, Gemini, the Apollo command module and lunar module along with all the boosters. Plus worldwide tracking systems, launch pads at the cape etc. as well as just figuring out how to do this "space stuff" for the first time with various probes to orbit/land on the moon etc. SLS / Orion is just one rocket and one capsule. Yes NASA's budget was bigger back then but adjusted for inflation we did all of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo plus everything else it took to land 12 Americans on the moon for $200 billion, SLS/Orion has cost 25% of that amount and hasn't put anyone in space yet.


“Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost comes in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.” - Milton Friedman
#4462092 - 02/20/19 05:01 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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the function of NASA is to collect funding for NASA. same as every other government function.


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#4462095 - 02/20/19 06:24 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: adlabs6]  
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Originally Posted by adlabs6
Wasn't part of NASA's problem the fact that today's human spaceflight missions and hardware were not being designed (or at least put into action) long before the shuttle retired?

It's been a few years, but for some reason that point comes to memory, regarding a general expression of uselessness and waste around NASA around that time.

I'm not very close to this area, but I would imagine that anything we'd hope for NASA to be doing in the 10 years after the Shuttle retirement, probably would have been in-works going back to what... the mid 1990s?


NASA has labored under the whims of the political purse string holders. They are not provided an unlimited budget (nor should they be), and must prioritize and allocate accordingly. Things get further complicated when a fatal mishap occurs... as it becomes not only an engineering problem, but also a political problem.

Whatever NASA may have been working on in parallel to the shuttle / ISS programs most likely was adversely affected by the Columbia mishap, for instance.

#4462097 - 02/20/19 07:34 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: Mr_Blastman]  
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Originally Posted by Mr_Blastman
22 billion to turn the keys to understanding how we, ourselves and deform spacetime in new ways which could lead to a true, working alcubierre drive.


That concept is so esoteric and involves so many obstacles that even individually are so likely to be insurmountable that we may as well focus instead on the march toward a technological singularity (which itself is a very debatable possibility) and let it have a crack at the problem.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive#Difficulties

#4462098 - 02/20/19 07:45 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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Let's see - WITHOUT GOING PWEC take a look at cost estimates for a BORDER WALL!

Also, the ISS cost around $100 billion - and that's a lot "simpler" than sending people to Mars, landing, staying, then returning - oh, and NASA had, well, international help on that one...

I think most people vastly underestimate the difference in difficulty between the lunar missions and a manned Mars mission. Moon and back = days. Mars and back = nearly two years!!! Moon and back = half a million miles, and never more than a quarter million away from Earth. Mars and back = what, north of 100 million miles? Moon landing = a gentle descent to the surface. Mars landing = atmospheric entry, and at speeds far higher than for Earth due to thinner atmosphere, so then you need way more stopping power for the same reason. Lunar departure = straight up, very low gravity, no atmosphere to fight. Mars departure = much more gravity, and an atmosphere to fight. Lunar mission = days worth of radiation exposure. Mars mission = nearly two years.

And I'd strongly bet I'm just barely scratching the surface compared to what the NASA people know.

But hey, "Joe Public Armchair Experts" know better, right?

But with all that said I think this is the wrong century to be spending money on manned Mars missions in the first place. Put the money into unmanned missions - NASA has been having GREAT success with that on so many fronts for far less money...

Last edited by Zamzow; 02/20/19 07:54 AM. Reason: expansion of comment
#4462099 - 02/20/19 07:58 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: Vaderini]  
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Originally Posted by Vaderini


I'm glad to see the current administration is willing to look beyond their own term period and has reignited the plan to get to the moon in 2028, but will all the red tape around NASA and the unwillingness of the public to risk human lives for space exploration, I doubt they'll be succesful to reach the 2028 deadline


And what would be gained by sending people back to the moon that rovers couldn't do? We did this NINE times! We brought back 800+ pounds of lunar material!

And since when do we trust politicians more than scientists - oh wait, nevermind, too many "other cans of worms" might get opened there...

#4462100 - 02/20/19 08:56 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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And what would be gained by sending people back to the moon that rovers couldn't do?

Apart from a testing bed for Mars technology, low-gravity hub for space mining, observation of solar winds, research of exosphere symbiosis, research of organic behavior, finding out more about the history of the moon, observation of objects inside the solar system, and god knows what else I can't think of off the top of my head?

Putting your money in rovers is like putting your money is a straw to look through, rather than a pair of spectacles. Furthermore, Earth won't last forever. To continue mankind we must leave the confines of our solar system, which means we need to take a step forward.

And where did you get the idea that the ISS was a simpler project than a Mars mission?

#4462107 - 02/20/19 10:21 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: Vaderini]  
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Originally Posted by Vaderini
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And what would be gained by sending people back to the moon that rovers couldn't do?

Apart from a testing bed for Mars technology, low-gravity hub for space mining, observation of solar winds, research of exosphere symbiosis, research of organic behavior, finding out more about the history of the moon, observation of objects inside the solar system, and god knows what else I can't think of off the top of my head?

Putting your money in rovers is like putting your money is a straw to look through, rather than a pair of spectacles. Furthermore, Earth won't last forever. To continue mankind we must leave the confines of our solar system, which means we need to take a step forward.

And where did you get the idea that the ISS was a simpler project than a Mars mission?


Going from the bottom up - it's a lot easier to get people back to Earth from the ISS than from Mars. I'd say that's number one. I won't go into the many, many other things.

Next up - I maintain that technology should be allowed to progress much further before we worry about being responsible for the fate of humanity after the Earth is gone.

And going to to the top of your post - testing bed for Mars technology? Survival on the lunar vs Martian surfaces are complete apples and oranges. If you want to go down that road let's test that in ANTARCTICA, where water and air are limitless! Oh sure we have "colonies" there, but self sustaining? Nope.

Low gravity space mining? I'll give you that one - but what's to mine on the moon, economically, right now? Nothing.

Observation of solar winds? We're already doing that, no "moon base" needed, and no advantage doing it from the moon.

All the rest you cite, this has already been done, and is being done, and no "moon base" needed.

#4462108 - 02/20/19 10:30 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: F4UDash4]  
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I'm going to repeat something here - if anyone thinks the moon is the place to start testing survivability technologies/strategies in terms of MARS they're on the wrong track.

Do it in ANTARCTICA, and self sustaining or self supplied for return operations and then we can talk.

Send a crew to ANTARCTICA for nearly two years, on a ship that cannot be restocked, cannot be supported by other ships, planes, etc, and has to get back to just another CONTINENT on it's own...

Can't do that? Then we're not ready for doing it with either the moon or Mars.

#4462111 - 02/20/19 11:19 AM Re: NASA'S Boondoggle [Re: Zamzow]  
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Originally Posted by Zamzow
I think most people vastly underestimate the difference in difficulty between the lunar missions and a manned Mars mission.


Which has nothing to do with SLS / Orion. They're not designed to go to Mars.

NASA has no plans to send humans to Mars. They have aspirations, desires, goals even. But they have zero actual, concrete, defined plans to send humans to Mars.


Originally Posted by Zamzow

And what would be gained by sending people back to the moon that rovers couldn't do? We did this NINE times! We brought back 800+ pounds of lunar material!


The surface of the Moon is equivalent to the entire country of Russia. And Canada. And China. Combined. Six human landings on an area this size is a good start but nothing more. There are many unique, distinct areas of lunar geology humans have never visited.

Oh and for the $50B thus far spent SLS / Orion can't visit any of those areas on the moon either, since no lander has been funded as of yet.

Last edited by F4UDash4; 02/20/19 12:49 PM. Reason: Typos

“Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost comes in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.” - Milton Friedman
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