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  1. Jun 11, 2009 #1
    We don't care about our space program.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2009 #2
    A 16% cut from 4billion dollars during economically hard times somehow equates to lack of caring?
  4. Jun 11, 2009 #3
    Yes it does, for the simple reason that we have been spending so little to begin with. Nasa's budget as it stands is a fraction of one percent of the total national budget.
  5. Jun 11, 2009 #4
    Why do we need to spend money on manned space missions, aquitaine?
  6. Jun 11, 2009 #5


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    To further develop our ability to adapt human life to extreme or alien conditions. While I don't see anything coming out of manned space missions themselves, the technology to support humans in space travel to orbit more efficiently, safely and comfortably will undoubtedly lead to some new inventions, materials, processes and techniques that will filter down to everyday life. (Home-water recirculation, etc. )

    Having said that, I support pulling back some spending across the board. Just so long as its temporary. I'd hate to see them cut it back 16% just so they can fight over a "Dems propose 19% increase in manned space exploration funding!!" fiasco in a few years. Which you know is how it would be framed. They'd have to make legislation that made it temporary to be reviewed again at a later time.
  7. Jun 11, 2009 #6

    I don't think thats worth the high sticker price. All those things could be developed for earth based applications for a lot less money.

    I'd like to know why they should fund any manned space flights anymore. We sent robots to mars, why is it necessary to send a +3000lb space station there to do the exact same thing, unnecessarily risk peoples lives, and cost 20x more.
  8. Jun 11, 2009 #7
    I totally agree, and these beneficial side effects are much more interesting to most people than any 'stamp-collecting science' that comes from robot missions. I'm not saying that the design of these robots does not lead to innovations, I am just saying that NASA should keep foremost the innovations in mind as opposed to the 'scientific' importance of the data that they are collecting.
  9. Jun 11, 2009 #8
    Your point about having people in space is more tangible to the general public because they can (ignorantly) think: "maybe some day I can go to space".

    I don't understand what you mean by 'stamp-collecting' science. What non stamp-collecting science does the shuttle missions do?

    The scientific importance of the data they collect is the only reason why we spend so much money on it.
  10. Jun 11, 2009 #9
    So during hard economic times with the largest money making state in the union on the verge of bankruptcy we should not decrease spending on things which do little to help or fix our poor economic situation just to show we care? I think we have our hands a bit too full dealing with people here on earth to be worry about putting people in space.
    Also the NASA budget total will still be increased by approximately one billion. They have only trimmed the budget for manned space flight apparently due to lack of a coherent direction and are open to amending their change to the budget if they see a good plan placed before them
  11. Jun 11, 2009 #10
    NASA still has a decent budget. And yes, with the economic downturn, you cannot blame the government for cutting funding. NASA can always collaborate with Russia, Europe and share resources.
  12. Jun 11, 2009 #11
    Relative to other things, we don't actually spend that much. Would you rather we spend nothing at all?

    Because there is a limit to what robots can do. They are slow, the distances involved create major problems with radio control due to lag, and they are dumb. That's right, dumb. They can't do even the simplest of problem solving. Of course there is a place for robots, but they aren't the uber-explorers they are made out to be. Besides, since when did we as a race ever get anywhere by playing it safe? Driving to the movie theater is an unnecessary risk, but I don't see calls to not go to movie theaters. What we need to do is invest in new technologies to reduce the cost of getting stuff into space like this thing

    It gives people good jobs, how is that bad? Besides, this isn't the first time California has had major budget problem. I'm also not saying we shouldn't have no funding cuts, but we do need to be careful with what gets cut. If we pulled out of Iraq, we could save $108 billion per year. Which would serve our children better?
    Space exploration, both manned and unmanned, is our promise to the future. That it has largely been stagnant for the last 30 years is the icon of our parents generation's general failure to realize the promises of the past for what could have been.

    You are referring to a group of people who are much more likely to know who the winner of last seasons' american idol than who is the speaker of the house or senate majority leader. The american public by and large doesn't care about space at all.
  13. Jun 11, 2009 #12


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    Can you let me know what humans exploring space have done that a robot couldn't do?
  14. Jun 11, 2009 #13
    As an Aerospace engineer, yes. As a rational taxper and scientist, no.

    I don't agree with your notion that robots are slow vs. having people in space. In what way are people faster? Radio control due to lag isnt a major issue because they are not radio contorolled. They work on their own, but recieve updates if necessary. Getting robots to work better autonomously is worth while cutting edge research where money benifitting that will benifit us back on earth far more than sending people up in tin cans to circle the earth for top dollar.

    Second point, robots are the explorers humans can never be.

    Third point, your last sentence lacks any sound logical basis. It's not about "risk", its about bang for the buck. Robots have a much larger bang for their buck than human space flights.

    True, and even more reason to not fund manned space flight.
  15. Jun 11, 2009 #14
    Cut back on military spending instead of science?
  16. Jun 11, 2009 #15


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    Fix the hubble telescope?
  17. Jun 11, 2009 #16


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    Interesting goal, even if a bit narcissistic in a human sense.

    Without getting too philosophical what is the purpose of adapting human life to extreme conditions? Are we going someplace? Is there some imperative that we must spread ourselves about beyond the borders of Sol?

    If understanding extremeophile forms is a goal, that would seem to be most easily conducted and developed on Earth or near Earth orbit.

    If in 400M years when the sun perhaps swells to red is there some relevance to spreading our spores about to far flung hostile environments?

    Isn't the real priority to enjoy our E ticket ride, and make sure all the passengers are comfortable as long as the ride lasts?

    I'm all for learning more about the Universe. It's a splendid tapestry. But really aren't pictures absent the pain and risk and inevitable losses preferable?
  18. Jun 11, 2009 #17

    D H

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    Wrong. The scientific importance of the data is one of the least important reasons we spend so much money on it. And we don't spend so much money on it. NASA's entire budget is 50% less than the amount Americans spend yearly on pizza.

    The only truly valuable assets up in space, as least insofar as Congress is concerned, are military satellites, weather satellites, and communications satellites. These are the domain of the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce, and private industry. The primary rationale for sending unmanned spacecraft to other planets is that one day humans might follow. What else justifies the $2.3 BILLION dollar price tag for the Mars Science Lab? How many grad students in a field that does have immediately tangible benefits to the US economy or to humanity as a whole would that $2.3 billion dollars fund?

    An easy test of your hypothesis is to look at how the various space-faring nations value the scientific importance of the data collected by their space agencies. The two countries that spend the most on space science are the US and Russia. Both have strong human spaceflight programs. France spends a lot on space science, a lot more than any other western European nation. France is also the nation that is trying to push ESA to have a stronger human spaceflight component and is the only western European nation that spends a significant amount of money on its own space agency.

    How about other space-faring nations? One western European nation has gone so far as to ban governmental involvement in any human spaceflight activities. If space science were so valuable, you would think that this nation would spend a lot on space science. It doesn't. Great Britain spends a paltry 0.05% of its total federal budget on space science. Take away the motivating factor that someday humans may go into space in significant numbers and you take away the rationale for spending money on space science, period.

    The primary reason for spending money on any space venture is politics.
  19. Jun 11, 2009 #18


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    I will grant that there should be some interest in developing space technologies to possibly aid in avoiding extinction events. But that does require detection and planning, which weighed as an expense is more a short term priority, than developing manned missions per se. In that regard I don't see developing tools for Armageddon-like, cowboy managed, manned asteroid adventures as being solutions to resolving far out future encounters, nearly as important as identifying what potential problems may be delectable, so that planning might be carried out well in advance, if needed, or possible at all.
  20. Jun 11, 2009 #19
    I am saying that I for one don't care about the science that is done by the manned missions anymore than the science that is done by the unmanned missions. It is all stamp-collecting science to me, e.g. cataloging facts. I don't believe that large numbers of people will ever be traveling to space using rocket technology, you won't see me arguing for anything like building a space colony for catastrophic evacuation of earth: I think that's just fantasy for the forseeable future. Therefore the facts about which stamps are availible are mars have neither an aesthetic appeal (because the're stamps) nor a pragmatic appeal (since we have no practical reasons to go there).

    What I do care about, and the reasons that I think NASA should have it's funding dectupled, are:

    (1) The engineering innovations developed by NASA have historically had a trickle-down effect that furthers the state of the art for practical technologies here on earth.

    (2) Not all jobs are simply a means to an end, some are ends in themselves, and aerospace engineers are above-average quality citizens, meaning that a progressive civilization will do well to support large number of them.
  21. Jun 11, 2009 #20

    D H

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    I'm all for increasing NASA's budget a bit. A factor of 10? No. That level of expenditure would require clear, very strongly motivated, and very imminent goals. NASA did receive monies of that sort during the Apollo era. Even with very clear and very timely goals, NASA wasted a lot of money back then. Moreover, those levels of expenditures were not sustainable.
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