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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.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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