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Pres. Obama still wants to end the Constellation space program, which will cost NASA millions

As NASA prepares to wind down its manned shuttle mission, the U.S. space agency is telling contractors to prepare for a slowdown in manned moon research.  In addition to the anticipated job loss, ending the Constellation program will cost NASA millions in cancellation fees on top of the billions already invested in the project.

Over the past five years, NASA has racked up $10 billion in space research and development to try and take astronauts back to the moon.  The most recent budget includes a clause put in by Congress to ensure that President Obama is unable to end the Constellation program without approval.

If Constellation ends, NASA believes as many as two-thirds of the current 7,800 contractors involved in the project could end up unemployed.  It'll cost almost $1 billion to pay cancellation costs to Lockheed Martin, Alliant Techsystems, and other contractors currently working for NASA.

Neither company is expected to receive additional funds, but it's an issue that NASA needs to figure out.

"In a brief check with people more knowledgeable than me, NASA has never held contractors' liable for termination liability," said Dr. Scott Pace, former NASA associate administrator and Space Policy Institute Director.  “If this is to be the new agency policy and practice, then NASA should shift responsibility for termination liability on all of its current contracts, not simply Constellation.  “As it stands, this appears to be purposefully punitive against a specific set of NASA contractors.” 

Obama is expected to discuss the topic further with Congress and current space experts, but it's unknown what must be done for both sides to reach a working agreement.

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By Codeman03xx on 6/14/2010 5:09:46 PM , Rating: 2
I know this sounds crazy but think of the advances in tech that we could get with contacting an alien colony. We need to keep pushing forward with the space program, any more delays in the space program will push tech possibly 1000's of years off track. Who really knows when an Einstein type person could be around maybe they could find intelligent life that will help us.

By Codeman03xx on 6/14/2010 6:04:23 PM , Rating: 1
Hey im just saying if nobody would have listened to Einstein and other geniuses then we would be far behind from what we are now. No Nuclear energy would be Armageddon. The world would be in Chaos starved for fossil fuels and no way of producing enough energy. Not to say we will ever meet ET or ever bacteria on another planet, but if there is any chance that we ever wood we need to make the steps in the right direction. Stopping NASA all together is silly Once tech. becomes good enough such as carbon nano tubes we will be able to create "safe" space travel, but until then it should be business as usual at NASA.

By kfonda on 6/15/2010 12:44:22 AM , Rating: 2
It will push tech back, I don't know how far, but it will. Once the engineers stop working on the program, the experience starts to slip away. If they want to start manned flights again they have to re-learn everything they already know. Don't say the books and records will be enough to teach them, it requires hands on experience.

For a very small scale example, look at the Y2K software issues. There were very few experienced COBOL and ADA programmers left and a ton of old COBOL and ADA software that needed to be fixed.

By michael67 on 6/15/2010 9:06:33 AM , Rating: 1
This would never have created the same push that the Appolo project had in the 60s as it would have just refined some of the now a days tech.
In the 60s it was finding out how to do things ware this project would only be about finding out how to do things a bid better.

Also the Appolo project was done in a time ware the engineers ware working 60~80 hours a day to find out new stuff to make it work, ware this project would just get most of them do a just 9 to 5 job and that it.

The Japanese project on the other hand is pushing for real new tech whit everything done by robots.

There is also a benefit from this, all these engineers are going to look for other work and have to do this harder in the public sector, then on a mega project as this one, and make them push harder to distinguish them self from others in a smaller.

Imo this project was just a other one of Bushes wet dreams to be remembered as a great President, sorry Bush but your no JFK!

By troysavary on 6/15/2010 2:06:16 PM , Rating: 2
How does one get both "where" and "were" spelled wrong in the same way?

By Pjotr on 6/15/2010 7:38:00 AM , Rating: 2
The current program is not many years old. It doesn't take a thousand years to start a new project when the economic future looks better.

Tech advancements can be made just as well with any other subject. The NASA budget put into research in other fields will be just as useful to mankinds technical development as flying in space. It's more about the amount put into research than the subject itself.

By maven81 on 6/15/2010 8:04:05 AM , Rating: 2
NASA does not equal mankind. Don't forget that there are other space programs as well. It pains me to see that we are not pressing ahead nearly as much as I think we should, but just because we will not, doesn't mean no one will.

NASA's flaccid moon program
By tinwhiskers on 6/14/2010 6:22:01 PM , Rating: 3
Unfortunately, while NASA is pulling out of the moon, the Chinese space program is penetrating harder and deeper than ever before!

RE: NASA's flaccid moon program
By Gnoad on 6/14/2010 7:17:50 PM , Rating: 1
That's what she said.

By marvdmartian on 6/15/2010 9:05:26 AM , Rating: 2
NASA: We're pulling out of this target, and shooting straight for Uranus! ;)

We need to get our asses back on the moon.
By CrazyBernie on 6/14/2010 4:01:11 PM , Rating: 2
I think the importance of this is grossly underestimated.

RE: We need to get our asses back on the moon.
By CyborgTMT on 6/14/2010 6:31:43 PM , Rating: 2
While I 100% agree about the moon, I also feel that it's not the gov. role to get us back there. The knowledge and technology to get to the moon is readily available, abet at a cost. So what you must determine is if the cost justifies the expense. For the government it doesn't. There's minimal use of the moon for NASA. For private companies this is a totally different story. Mining alone could justify the costs of going there. Add in other industries such as tourism and the private sector has a much larger return for the effort.

Personally I'd rather have my money spent figuring out how to do new things, develop new technology, and go where we haven't been before. Once we figure out how, let the others who can make use of the knowledge follow.

RE: We need to get our asses back on the moon.
By Ronmarr1 on 6/15/10, Rating: -1
By Akrovah on 6/15/2010 2:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
Take a physics course. There is practically nothing we could do that would result in what you are talking about.

Maybe a big opportunity here
By JediJeb on 6/14/2010 6:02:17 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe all the contractors can get together and form a group, finish the project then become the private company getting all the money to return us to space.

Of course I would rather companies like SpaceX be the ones that actually do it instead of Lockheed since SpaceX would probably do it at 1/10 the cost.

Where is Corellian Engineering Corporation when we need then? I want my YT1300!

RE: Maybe a big opportunity here
By rykerabel on 6/15/2010 1:39:05 AM , Rating: 2
By theArchMichael on 6/14/2010 4:39:57 PM , Rating: 3
... It's always more satisfying to wait till the last second before telling your partner.

Ocean > Space
By Kosh401 on 6/14/2010 7:46:47 PM , Rating: 3
Personally, I'd rather see us spending more on exploring and understanding the ocean floor (except in the Gulf, because it's all f*cked up now).

How many new species were discovered after the Tsunami a few years back? Stuff like that I think is pretty cool, and I think as a people and planet we would be better off exploring and understanding our own planet before we spend these amounts of money to revisit the moon, mars etc. Who knows what sort of things we could learn from ocean creatures and plant life? So many cures and treatments we have today come from animal and plant life (reptile venoms, etc), who knows what sort of actually tangible benefits could be down in the oceans.

I'm not saying abandon space - I'm all for R&D towards propulsion, satellites, telescopes, etc. - it's just that I don't think we're there yet to get as much benefit out of going back to the moon (or Mars) as we are from ocean floor.

Anyway, just some food for though!

By chromal on 6/14/2010 4:03:27 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder how much of the Apollo program was subject to contracted cancellation fees.

By monkeyman1140 on 6/16/2010 4:41:22 AM , Rating: 2
We won't be able to afford to conquer space.

By Daniel8uk on 6/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: 1969...
By Redwin on 6/14/2010 4:36:58 PM , Rating: 4
I'm sure you know this and you're just being sarcastic, but...

First, we obviously don't have the original equipment from Apollo, and rebuilding it even identical to the 1960's specs in today's dollars would be far from cheap.

Secondly, as you just said yourself, we've already been there, planted a flag, and come home. That is all a capsule with the specs of Apollo was capable of (and even that just barely). If we go back, we want to stay a while, and do something much more interesting than turn around and come home. This will obviously require an entirely new ship, which means there's not a whole lot you can re-use from Apollo.

Lastly, Apollo was done at a different time, when beating the Soviets was a much higher national priority than the safety of our astronauts. We essentially sent men to the moon in tin cans with the computing power of a modern graphing calculator and no margins for error. This would be unacceptable today.

Incidentally, I don't really agree with that 3rd one, personally... manned space flight is one area where we should be willing to take big risks for bigger rewards... but it seems like that's just not where we are as a country any more.

RE: 1969...
By phxfreddy on 6/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: 1969...
By knutjb on 6/14/2010 7:23:43 PM , Rating: 5
The Dear Leader Obama won't spend a dime if it is not going to one of his cronies. NASA is not populated by union thugs and thus they will not get one thin dime.
How true just follow the money and do it on your own so you can see the source. Look at the stimulus package 787,000,000,000.00 and he wants to spend another 50,000,000,000.00 to save teachers and firefighters. BTW those are union jobs.

No speak of tightening belts and trimming from the middle and top where the money really is. Nope, just the guilt trip that your kids will be stupid and and your house will burn down with your parents inside dying from a heart attack.

Our current president is taking from all areas that don't have much in the way of union or community activist funding. Prove my assertions wrong. He would take more from the military if he could. Look back to Carter and Clinton then Reagan and Bush II to find out that they had to throw massive amounts of money to simply restock the military.

It costs more when politicians yo-yo spending with only the contractors making out. They get paid to shut down and restart producing nothing in-between i.e. the B-1. Same goes for NASA.

NASA has been relatively cheap compared to other programs and to base on the moon to explore elsewhere makes a lot of sense. Sure cut the budget but not without cutting elsewhere too.

To the naysayers: use your brain. You need to hold both sides accountable for blowing your money and not get lost in the tear jerking diatribe.

RE: 1969...
By maven81 on 6/15/10, Rating: 0
RE: 1969...
By knutjb on 6/15/2010 1:51:48 PM , Rating: 2
Considering that he actually increased military spending, and escalated the conflict in Afghanistan your rant is absolutely baseless.
I said if he could but there is this little war thing going on. The war supplementals and personnel pay are what keep military spending high. The DoD is looking at everything to cut spending but congress keeps pumping up their pet projects. Other than NASA and the military where else are we cutting spending?

The usual left response to over spending, cut from the military. They don't want to even think about looking at all areas for redundancies or improper or useless social programs. Only the conflict is getting funded the rest is being cut. Show me any social program that does what it claims to do. Obama's stimulus plan alone is wasting more money than Bush spent on both wars in his tenure. 787 vs 687 and that doesn't even include the health care fiasco.

But Obama was sure up to cutting soldier pay; they cannot be unionized by law. Any other pay cuts in the government, not that I've seen or heard.

If it weren't for the war Obama would have gutted the military since it is such a large pot to raid for social programs... Clinton did

Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't. Franklin and others.

There is no silver or bronze medal in war, just the gold. Obama is stuck in a very hard place, on one side his far left ideologies of social welfare dependence and on the other the realities of the world, terrorism, and war. The left loves moral relativism to marginalize opposing views.

RE: 1969...
By maven81 on 6/15/2010 2:13:35 PM , Rating: 2
"I said if he could but there is this little war thing going on."

You said "he would take more if he could" which means he's already taking some now, get it? This is blatantly false as the budget for the military was increased. Presented with actual facts, you pulled the usual wingnut tricks of 1. turning it into a hypothetical (well if there wasn't a war going on...) 2. Saying he'd do something because Clinton did and 3. Lying. (as a matter of fact he has proposed cuts in government spending, and that's not always a good thing).

This is childish stuff that's not even on topic. You want to blame him for something? Blame him for things he actually has done that are not hypothetical, such as going back on campaign promises or taking a hands off approach on a large crisis. Now let's get back to NASA.

RE: 1969...
By knutjb on 6/15/2010 10:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
I have listened to what Obama has SAID and watched what he has DONE. Like the Joe the plumber comment of taking from the wealthy to give to the poor. What I have said is based on what I have learned from the past and what I believe he will do. You said
3. Lying. (as a matter of fact he has proposed cuts in government spending, and that's not always a good thing).
Oh yeah that big Whitehouse working group to cut what was it 100,000,000.00 after throwing out 787,000,000,000.00 in cronyism. Yes cronyism, because the law forces companies to use union labor or they are ineligible for any of the contracts. Read this source or others but do read. Cutting government has proven to be very productive, expanding social welfare has proven to damage the economy.

A damaged economy creates the conditions that lead to events like NASA having to shrink. Raising taxes and careless talk of increasing taxes will continue the bad economy because companies hold onto their money and not expand. That is what happened after the 29 meltdown through WWII. Watch what happens when the Bush tax cuts expire.

Once naive, twice stupid. He is going to push Cap & Tax before we know what happened, take over BP or a part thereof (if he doesn't run the company into the ground first like Schummer did with IndyMac Bank), it is someones fault but never his own, he doesn't want to do it but the crisis forces him to take emergency action, never let a crisis go to waste, its still Bush's fault for (insert problem here), though he says he is taking responsibility little happens, and on it goes.

Put your head in the sand if you choose. Failing to be skeptical of all politicians methods and motives that they use to manipulate people to push through unpopular political ideologies that will lead to dire consequences. I know this because it has happened before and will do so again if we allow it to.

Personally I find Obama's Progressivism not original nor creative but very damaging to the country, just like Woodrow Wilson. Obama is creating an "us and them" society, rich and not rich, and the rich are his bad guys to beat up on regardless of how much they pay in taxes. I think I have seen that happen a couple times in the past...

Money has power, particularly with the scale of the government. NASA has money. Obama wants more and bigger social programs, he has said and done so. After NASA falls then the military. As soon as he can get the troops out he will start cutting, I know because I have seen it before. Social programs and areas heavy with union labor, mostly civil servants, will not see decreases in funding so long as the Dems hold the House and Senate. He has said so. The most recent 50,000,000,000.00 safety net, stimulus, unemployment benefits, or what ever he chooses to call it, that is going through congress is to save union jobs.

Sure some of it is hypothetical but my hypothesis based on previous events and that we have a very bad habit of repeating ourselves. Yes the military budget did increase but that is not what he wanted to do, why because he said so and did try to reduce military pay but the blow back was unpalatable.

RE: 1969...
By MozeeToby on 6/14/2010 4:39:35 PM , Rating: 1
The answer to the cost question, at least part of it, is pork, pork, and more pork. Every senator and house rep pushing to have doodad number 1221234 manufactured in their home state, whether NASA actually wants doodad number 1221234 doesn't even enter into the equation.

Also, $10 billion is less than half what it cost for the Apollo program ($24+ billion) and the constellation would have been much more ambitious. They can't just go back and use the old designs for several reasons, first and foremost being that they don't have most of them, and the people who did the work have long, long since retired or even passed away.

RE: 1969...
By mellomonk on 6/14/2010 6:05:24 PM , Rating: 4
The $25 billion figure for the original Apollo program was in 1969 dollars. Adjusted for inflation that is around $152 billion in 2010. Apollo at it's peak funding (66') consumed 4% of the budget. A huge percentage by today's standards.

Constellation was moving fairly well, and there was a good deal of hardware built and work done. New engine test stands in MS, New production facilities and tooling, tow escape systems developed, launch pad remodeled, Orion design very far along, Aries 1 test article launched, new modular space suits developed, ect. It is not like most of this work is for not, for it lays a groundwork for whatever comes next, but it is a shame the program is derailed.

We can find $400+ billion to feed our voracious military/industrial complex and defend ourselves primarily from our own fears. Yet we can not find a few 10s of billions to reach for our dreams and move our country, and mankind forward. Sad.

RE: 1969...
By Zingam on 6/14/10, Rating: 0
RE: 1969...
By KC7SWH on 6/14/2010 5:47:29 PM , Rating: 2
According to Wiki (not that you can trust it) the AIR FORCE has 20 of the things. That's not a lot of planes to amortize all the R&D costs.

RE: 1969...
By hughlle on 6/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: 1969...
By knutjb on 6/14/2010 7:54:07 PM , Rating: 2
One B2 bomber costs 2 billion for what? And how many does the US army have?
Ummm.... you need to do more research on the topic before you show your ignorance, the Army does not have B-2 Bombers the Air Force does. The 2B cost is all of the R&D included and the R&D gets used in other projects too. If they would have produce the projected number they would have cost "only" $500M. BTW MILITARY spending brought you the ability, both technically and verbally, to do what you are doing, free speech...

The ultimate goal of Obama is
By NanoTube1 on 6/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: The ultimate goal of Obama is
By Bateluer on 6/14/2010 6:55:35 PM , Rating: 1
Hopefully his successor in 2013 has more forward sense.

By Yaos on 6/14/10, Rating: -1
RE: Privitization.
By nafhan on 6/14/2010 4:58:27 PM , Rating: 5
Screw science! People need free health care!
That's a direct quote. From someone. I think...

Seriously, the whole "private companies can do it" thing is just one more excuse to take money away from NASA. Nothing more.

RE: Privitization.
By pequin06 on 6/14/2010 5:04:26 PM , Rating: 5
Pretty naive.
The Presidents track record is anything but privatization.
He's just going to spend the money somehwere else.

RE: Privitization.
By freezervv on 6/14/2010 6:24:28 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, God knows he likes taking over companies.

Like BP.

... Oh wait, aren't people bitching over that one because he isn't interfering enough there?

What's the party line?! I'm so confused!!

RE: Privitization.
By knutjb on 6/14/2010 7:57:39 PM , Rating: 5
You forgot banks through the FDIC and GM & Chrysler... He does have a track record in preventing economic cycles. We will pay dearly for it too.

Some animals are more equal than others... Orwell.

RE: Privitization.
By Hydrofirex on 6/14/2010 10:28:58 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, 1-year gives you a HUGE track record from which to draw from...


RE: Privitization.
By kyleb2112 on 6/15/2010 4:19:59 AM , Rating: 2
Well, that's a quarter of his entire presidency.

RE: Privitization.
By NA1NSXR on 6/15/2010 5:06:40 AM , Rating: 2
Its not like he magically appeared out of thin air last year. The President is a person like anyone else with a working track record, references, associations, and a ton of the same professional history/reputation every normal person has.

RE: Privitization.
By FITCamaro on 6/14/2010 8:25:43 PM , Rating: 3
Learn to spell privatization, then get an opinion that's more informed.

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