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The future of the U.S. manned shuttle mission is considered bleak, as NASA needs at least $3 billion more per year

The U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee now believes NASA must come up with an additional $3 billion per year to be able to launch manned missions to the moon or to Mars.

The committee said the U.S. space agency absolutely must rely more on private contractors to help fly astronauts back to the International Space Station, and other low Earth-orbit destinations.  Five years ago during the Bush era, it was planned for NASA to get back to the moon by 2020 -- a goal that is extremely unlikely to be met.

Although China, Russia, Japan, India, and the United States all have outlined plans to get back to the moon, it seems like Mars is the true goal for every major space nation.

"You can say that Mars is a destination, but it's really more like Mars is a goal because we're not setting a date," said Leroy Chiao, a member of the 10-person committee, who spoke with Reuters.  "It's saying these are the things we need to do to build up the infrastructure to get to Mars, this is how much money we have now, and we'll see in the next several years what we think we can get done. Then it'll be for the next budget cycles after that to figure out when we might actually get to Mars."

China is expected to be the next country to reach the moon again, according to U.S. space officials, noting there just isn't enough funding going into NASA's long-term manned missions.

Furthermore, the current fleet of space shuttles, which were supposed to be retired in 2010, will likely fly into 2011, the panel said.  President Barack Obama's advisers will analyze the committee's findings, but it's unknown when the president will begin to outline what lies ahead for NASA over the next few years.

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Not Obama's fault
By Kuroyama on 9/9/2009 8:44:57 AM , Rating: 4
Before people start blaming Obama it's worth giving a quote from another article:
The panel said that those plans were “reasonable” when they were announced in 2005, but that largely because NASA never received the expected financing ...

I heard a lecture by an astronomer who made similar comments, that promises were made to go to Mars but that the Bush White House never provided any of the money.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By tmouse on 9/9/2009 8:54:54 AM , Rating: 5
Actually the President can only budget money he cannot provide it, that Congresses' duty. They can also earmark as much extra money as they want, anytime they want, THEN and only THEN can the administration choose to spend it or not (if it was earmarked for a specific purpose the president could not spend it for something else just choose not to spend it for the marked project). This is true no matter who is president.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By FITCamaro on 9/9/2009 8:53:38 AM , Rating: 4
Right now its not really a matter of not being funded in the past, its a matter of not giving NASA money while giving groups like ACORN, the NEA, and others millions, if not billions, of dollars.

Which has a better impact on our economy? NASA which advances scientific research or a group that assists in voter fraud.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By MrBlastman on 9/9/2009 11:39:00 AM , Rating: 1
As far as our Government is concerned, they only do what is in their own best interests or their special interest groups (read: lobbyists) interests.

The concept of them doing what the people want went out the door a loooong time ago. The only notable exception might have been Reagan.

ACORN and NEA serve a purpose, to help the left stay in office. If they can fund these programs, much like Hitler funded the Hitler Youth, they can help spread the dissonance and confusion to the masses thus luring them into voting for the left. It is sick, but it is going on everywhere.

So, they have a better impact on the Administration and their agenda. If they can keep us here on Earth, they can keep us enslaved under their rule in the future. Any resistance to them, in their eyes, is futile. :(

I'm with you though, NASA, like wartime, has lead to some of the greatest technological advancements in our society. Both single handedly I might argue made some of the largest impacts in our development as mankind.

What it takes though, is not just more funding, but those in Congress to grow a pair once more and realize that space exploration is not without risks, lives are at stake and if people die trying, they knew of the risks and it is no reason to cease exploration due to the loss of human life. Since when did mankind give up after the first few tries just because it hurt?

RE: Not Obama's fault
By SigmundEXactos on 9/9/2009 12:43:08 PM , Rating: 5
Okay, I totally agree with the 2nd half of your statement. I really think we need to at least triple NASA's budget and give them a clear goal (like establish a colony on Mars and the Moon). And as someone who has worked for NASA and associated groups like the APL, we all want that.

But for the 1st half....what planet are you from? The NEA??? The National Endowment for the Arts....really. You're comparing the NEA to the Hitler're really comparing a group (with ~$150 million in funding) that funds the Hitler Youth.

As for ACORN, 95% of the organization does things like run homeless shelters, rebuild poor neighborhoods, build schools, run soup kitchens, and train and mentor people so they can get jobs and OFF of welfare. However you view the stimulus package, the money that goes to ACORN goes to their Housing division, which builds homes and schools for the poor. Their political arm (the other 5%) is privately funded (as it should be).

We can disagree with spending priorities and the size of government.

I used to be a Republican until ~2002 (voted for McCain in the 2000 Primaries, Bush was NOT a conservative like me--he expanded government and increased deficit spending). It's stupid crazies like how you are acting that completely turned me off of the Republican Party. When shock jocks like Rush Limbaugh is leading the Republican Party, you know there is something horribly wrong. Imaging Howard Stern being the voice of the Democratic Party (shudder). There is a reason why New England states like New Hampshire and Maine used to be 60% Republican are now 20-30% Republican within a decade.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By Ammohunt on 9/9/2009 2:14:38 PM , Rating: 1
Nice try at faking conservatism you had me laughing at "voted for McCain in the 2000 Primaries" Rush Limbaugh being a "shock jock" its obvious that you know nothing about either person. You leftists are really getting pathetic.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By FITCamaro on 9/9/2009 2:28:46 PM , Rating: 1
You claim to be a conservative but then say you prefer a guy like McCain to Bush? Bush stuck to his principles during his first term which were largely conservative. The greater spending and increased government came as a result of the 9/11 attacks, not some innate desire to expand government.

McCain is a moderate at best. He's siding with Republicans right now because he wants to get re-elected.

And the government should not be funding groups like ACORN. Private contributions should be if they were as non-partisan as you claim. The group does nothing but promote Obama and preach hate against anyone who doesn't agree with him.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By MrBlastman on 9/9/2009 3:30:54 PM , Rating: 2
I never said I'm a conservative. I get a chuckle everytime people assume automatically I am a Republican. Sure, I mentioned Reagan--I think he was the greatest president we've had in the last 40-60 years or so, but that doesn't automatically make me a Republican.

How quick we are to assume aren't we? ;) I'm a moderate with a conservative lean but I truly do not consider myself a Republican anymore. Bush's radical lean with a leftist prophensity to spend (though he did have strong convictions), McCain's weirdness and his choice of Palin (Palin? are you serious) turned me off completely. If you look at my voting record you'll definitely see that I'm not hardline either.

I definitely could not be grouped in the same category as Rush or Hannity either. But, you quickly assume I could be. There are some free-thinkers left in this country amazingly enough--I like to consider myself one. I call it like I see it.

Obama's flash, sizzle and big spending on propaganda to further his cause. His catering to special interests groups to further his agenda and his outright near-domination of the mass media (print news, television, Hollywood) all reeks of the 1930's Fascist movement which swept Germany like a storm. People got so caught up in the hype being spewed out they didin't pay attention to what was being said--and now that people are finding out what really was planned, some are starting to get angry.

That isn't my fault. It is theirs-no, ours, and America's fathers would shed a tear for the travesties that are occuring in Washington now--not just by Obama, but by Bush as well.

I don't want my kids indoctrinated by Obama at a young age, do you?

RE: Not Obama's fault
By ClownPuncher on 9/9/2009 3:51:56 PM , Rating: 1
My kids are already enrolled in the Obama Youth SS. Oh, crazy can be fun.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By ksherman on 9/9/2009 8:57:24 AM , Rating: 3
And I doubt the Obama White House will just throw all the money at them easily. $2 billion gets food, shelter and medical treatment to a lot of homeless people or others in need. Just saying, with more social-focused policies the attention will be mostly down here on Earth. And yes, I know he is a supporter on Science and Technology, but when push comes to shove, there is a lot more pressure to feed people than go to Mars, you cannot deny that.

(well, at the rate they spend these days, could just print up another $2bill and call it a day).

RE: Not Obama's fault
By Misty Dingos on 9/9/2009 10:02:59 AM , Rating: 3
Ten trillion dollars have been spent on the "recovery" between Bush and Obama. That is ten thousand billion dollars.

NASA requested 18.7 billion dollars for 2010. Call it 20 billion for fun. We could fund NASA at the current level for 500 years. It took the US federal government less than one year to spend enough money to fund NASA for 500 years.

Will we get some of the 10 trillion back? Yea some of it will get back to the treasury but most of it will line the pockets of dumbasses that made bad business deals.

My point is that the only reason that NASA is the mess that it is because we lack the national will to do anything visionary with it. The USA lost its lead when it cancelled Apollo and lost its balls when Challenger blew up.

NASA should be scrapped and we should just start from scratch with a new paradigm.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By shazbotron on 9/9/2009 11:18:49 AM , Rating: 3
Just out of curiosity, what type of new paradigm do you suggest? Another government funded civilian run organization? Private enterprise funding? Unified global space research?

I'm not sure which model would be best, but I know I'm not that enthusiastic about any of them.

RE: Not Obama's fault
By scrapsma54 on 9/9/2009 9:51:15 PM , Rating: 3
Well actually its everyone in the governments fault. The solution has been simple, and very simple. Privatize Nasa and stimulate a growth in an open space market.
Space is a frontier, therefore just one company providing for all of mankinds endeavors is kinda pathetic.

Traveling to space is best done outside the government.

Maybe it's a good thing in the long run
By Moohbear on 9/9/2009 9:02:41 AM , Rating: 5
When Soviet Union put Gagarin in space, it was a big shock for the public in the West and especially in the US. That forced the then current administration to act decisively. Maybe the same thing will happen when the Chinese land on the Moon. Some kind of realization that one cannot rest on their laurels for ever and must continuously move forward to keep their place.

RE: Maybe it's a good thing in the long run
By guacamojo on 9/9/2009 10:20:38 AM , Rating: 5
Hear hear!

IMO, Americans need competition in order to shine. My dad once told me how when Sputnik went up, immediately half of his graduating HS class signed up for engineering school. (of course, probably half of them promptly flunked out)

When it was a race against the USSR, we figured it out. But who's the competition now? No other country has managed to match our accomplishments of 40 years ago. And that's why we're complacent. We need a good hard kick in the a$$ to get going again. Maybe China will do it.

Of course, by the time it happens, US industry might be so eroded by outsourcing that we can't respond. I guess we'll see.

An aside: it'll probably be the youngest generation that picks up the pace. We'll probably be seen as the slacker generations that let the U.S. slip behind. I was surprised to read that the average age of mission control personnel during Apollo 11 was 26. Flight Director Gene Krantz was the oldest guy in the room at 32. That's pretty wild.

RE: Maybe it's a good thing in the long run
By FITCamaro on 9/9/2009 12:07:09 PM , Rating: 4
The difference is your father's class feared the Soviets. Today kids only care about American Idol. Seeing China go to the moon would mean nothing to them. If they even noticed to begin with.

That's what we need to change. I'm not saying we want kids to fear other countries. But to be aware of events and realize the impact they can have at a later date.

RE: Maybe it's a good thing in the long run
By kattanna on 9/9/2009 12:47:43 PM , Rating: 2
we need to take it a step further and simply make getting back to the moon, or such, a reality tv show.

THEN! it will get some attention

By JediJeb on 9/9/2009 2:49:20 PM , Rating: 3
It is really sad to think about it but this is way more true than anyone wants to admit. It seems the only thing the vast majority of the US population is worried about anymore is entertainment. The only reason we work is to buy a bigger TV or take a trip to some place more exciting that last year.

Maybe if the government gave SpaceX and Virgin Galactic $10 billion of the $900 billion of stimulus money and made their effort to be the first commercial group to put a man on the moon and build a permenant base there into an ongoing TV series like Deadliest Catch or Ice Road Truckers then we would be there in a few years. Take the add revenue from the show and put it back into funding the space project and it would have tons of money behind it.

By Felofasofa on 9/9/2009 9:21:02 PM , Rating: 3
What has got you so damn scared about China going to the moon? Why the need for one-upmanship? Your fear is as transparent as it is unsophisticated. A bit like you ideas on freedom, you know when you can own a gun and shoot dead any bugger that threatens your freedom. Oh the irony! The world is changing, elevate your thinking if you desire leadership.

Misty Dingos your miss informed
By mugiebahar on 9/9/2009 10:26:03 AM , Rating: 1
Your wrong I'm sorry to say, the government did not spend ten trillion dollars on the recovery, it's more like 1.5 trillion 700 billion with bush and 800 billion with Obama. 10 trillion is the total debt of Americans owing to other nations such as China and Japan.

Human lives are more important then the moon or Mars. We should care for our fellow man before vein things such as who reaches the moon again first or Mars for that fact. Besides if anyone in NASA really cared about going to the moon then why don't they all volunteer there time and stop getting paid the 6 figure incomes or more they all seem to have.

Also a toilet seat should not cost $25,000. Hell NASA spent 1 million on a pen that could write in space. The soviets are smarter they just used a pencil.

RE: Misty Dingos your miss informed
By Lhyet on 9/9/2009 10:46:00 AM , Rating: 2
Hell NASA spent 1 million on a pen that could write in space. The soviets are smarter they just used a pencil.

And then had to deal with tiny pieces of wood and lead that broke off during writing which would float around in space and cause a health hazard.

There's a reason for everything~

By mugiebahar on 9/9/2009 3:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
Please read this link,
The total debt now carried by the U.S is estimated at close to 10 trillion not 10 trillion a year.

RE: Misty Dingos your miss informed
By werepossum on 9/10/2009 1:06:28 PM , Rating: 2
And then had to deal with tiny pieces of wood and lead that broke off during writing which would float around in space and cause a health hazard. There's a reason for everything~

Graphite is highly conductive and makes very small particles. Anyone who would use pencils in a zero G environment is either hatter mad, Biden stupid, or funded by an economic system which can afford nothing better.

RE: Misty Dingos your miss informed
By maven81 on 9/10/2009 7:38:12 PM , Rating: 2
Then I guess NASA is stupid because you two are quoting an urban legend.
Both the Soviets and NASA used pencils. And the space pen wasn't developed by NASA, it was developed by the Parker company, who gave it to NASA for free (if memory serves). A PR stunt.

By MrBlastman on 9/9/2009 11:11:38 AM , Rating: 5
Human lives are more important then the moon or Mars.

You are right, they are! That is why we NEED to further our spacefaring ability.


Because if we don't, mankind WILL eventually blow itself to pieces, it is inevitable. Global peace is a fallacy and can never occur. Man will always try to best the next man.

So, if you really want to save millions of lives, you will encourage spending on space exploration. Getting us of this rock is imperative to the advancement of society. Sure, we'll still kill each other in space, but at least we won't be confined to a single petri dish anymore.

By FITCamaro on 9/9/2009 12:12:10 PM , Rating: 2
No YOU'RE wrong.

The stimulus will cost far more than the 800 billion. And if they're able to tack on government run health care and cap and trade, we might as well just start burning our money since it won't be worth anything. Sh*t a penny is already worth less than a penny.

And I can assure you, not everyone at NASA makes 6 figures. And those who do, earn it. And the space toilet cost over a million. Why? Well why don't we shoot you into space and let you discover how much more complicated taking a piss or a crap is in a zero-g environment.

By JKflipflop98 on 9/9/2009 6:19:13 PM , Rating: 2
"Hell NASA spent 1 million on a pen that could write in space. The soviets are smarter they just used a pencil."

Wrong on both counts. See what taking in TV shows as education does?

something else we could do
By kattanna on 9/9/2009 10:05:01 AM , Rating: 2
first off.. i'd LOVE to see us get back to the moon, mars and beyond.

but since it doesnt seem we have the collective will anymore, there is something else we could focus on that would actually be immensely more useful to us in the long run.

after we get private industry to get us and cargo up to the station, and maybe even flush out the station some more, we dont we put our collective efforts into a new method of getting up there.

im talking about a MUCH more efficient method that would lower the cost of transport by an order of magnitude.

it would probably be an air breathing plane that took off from a runway, flew up to high altitude, then used rocket engines to get that last bit up. come back and land at said airport.

if we can get a method going that drops the cost of getting people/cargo up there by 10-100 times, it would literally be a game changer.

RE: something else we could do
By guacamojo on 9/9/2009 10:52:45 AM , Rating: 2
im talking about a MUCH more efficient method that would lower the cost of transport by an order of magnitude.

it would probably be an air breathing plane that took off from a runway, flew up to high altitude, then used rocket engines to get that last bit up. come back and land at said airport.

Um, that's not very revolutionary. Orbital Sciences had this for small satellite launches 15 years ago. (OSC Pegasus) Scaled Composites took a similar approach with the White Knight/SpaceCraftOne combination for the X-Prize.

Neither one reduced launch costs by 1-2 orders of magnitude. Consider this: LEO is usually defined by a minimum altitude of 100 miles and requires a delta-V of > 9.3 km/sec. Launching from an aircraft traveling 680 mi/hr (0.3 km/sec) at 40,000 feet (7.5 miles) doesn't have a huge impact on those numbers.

Is it a reduction in propellant? Absolutely. But the economics of flying a large aircraft-based launch platform are hardly clear-cut. Others who have investigated cost-effective launchers (notably SpaceX) have drawn the opposite conclusion, and are launching from the ground with less-complex hardware.

RE: something else we could do
By HotFoot on 9/9/2009 11:58:42 AM , Rating: 2
I'm pretty sure the biggest advantage of launching from 40,000 ft is that the rocket nozzle can be better optimised for low ambient pressure. There's a huge compromise made in the nozzle design between sea-level and high-altitude.

RE: something else we could do
By guacamojo on 9/9/2009 1:33:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I admit I oversimplified the picture. There are other advantages to air launch, including increased nozzle efficiency, reduced aero drag, flexibility in launch location, reduction of weather-related delays, reduction in launch facility costs (such as blastproof outbuildings, pads, etc.), and reduced insurance costs.

However, my point still remains that the advantages of air launch do not amount to 1-2 orders of magnitude reduced launch costs. If they did, it would be a much easier decision and more companies would do it. OSC certainly didn't realize that kind of cost advantage. ($25k per kg to LEO isn't cheap!)

By way of contrast, SpaceX is a very cost-focused company, whose goal is to reduce launch costs by 10x. Their approach is pretty conventional: ground-based launchers, (relatively) simple hardware, and reduced logistics. To date, they've achieved about $8k per kg to LEO. Not 10x by a long shot, but still commendable.

watching a good show
By croc on 9/9/2009 9:09:15 PM , Rating: 3
I saw this thread title, and immediately ran, (not walked) to grab me a fresh VB and some 'roo jerk.

You yank-wankers are so entertaining. You all seem to think that somehow, the US is still relevant with all of your strutting and posturing. Keep it coming!

RE: watching a good show
By bigbrent88 on 9/9/2009 11:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
Didn't know they had trolls in Australia. Last thing to come out of Australia, crocodile dundee. Well maybe I can count a Monaro turned GTO.

RE: watching a good show
By croc on 9/10/2009 12:48:30 AM , Rating: 2
Mate, watching a good show is NOT trolling. And this has been almost as good as Fox news or Rush Limbaugh.

Sorry about your version of the Monaro, though... Not our fault that your beloved GM didn't get the good supension, xmission, diff, aero kit, etc. Guess they decided to 'cheap out'. I rented one last time I was over, and it drove like a squashed cane toad.

At least we've got GM
By nafhan on 9/9/2009 9:25:38 AM , Rating: 2
We might not be able to afford the space shuttle, but at least we've got GM! We could have had the space shuttle for 10 more years or financed Orion, but hey science spending is much less important than hand outs to failing businesses...

RE: At least we've got GM
By an0dize on 9/9/2009 9:43:43 AM , Rating: 2
Best part is that GM will undoubtedly fail again within a decade. Even the "auto industry task force" is giving GM's gov't appointed CEO a 60% chance of fixing the co.

no way
By Yaos on 9/9/2009 12:54:17 PM , Rating: 2
Folks, we can't waste money on frivolous things like this. *invades a country*

RE: no way
By ssjwes1980 on 9/9/2009 5:09:26 PM , Rating: 2
all thats been spent on the bailouts makes war seem cheap...

Easy solution..
By Xed on 9/9/2009 8:44:19 AM , Rating: 1
Time to fine Microsoft

RE: Easy solution..
By FITCamaro on 9/9/2009 8:53:57 AM , Rating: 1
This isn't the EU.

RE: Easy solution..
By ssjwes1980 on 9/9/2009 5:05:59 PM , Rating: 1
give it time...

Billions are peanuts
By BernardP on 9/9/2009 10:06:31 AM , Rating: 2
3 Billions $ is almost background noise. The Bush and Obama administration have been spending like there is no tomorrow. Current US deficit is projected at above 1.5 Trillion $

Obviously, if NASA is not getting the money it wants/needs, it's only for ideological or political reasons. Regardless of NASA budget levels, there will always be more money required to meet needs here on Earth. It was so in the Sixties, and it it is still so now.

By CosmoJoe on 9/9/2009 10:10:40 AM , Rating: 2
NASA needs 3 bil more a year? What is that compared to the amount of money we have shoveled into GM alone? Or AIG?
It is really sad what has happened to our priorities. We are too busy bailing out unions and financial institutions to care about science.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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