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President Obama controls NASA's destiny, as the U.S. space agency needs at least $3B more per year

A 10-member government panel released a new 157-report that indicates NASA should consider ditching its new rocket, saying its findings can be considered options, not recommendations.

After construction of the International Space Station is completed in 2010, the three space shuttles that make up NASA's fleet will be retired.  The shuttle fleet retirement opens up a several year gap that will force the U.S. space agency to rely on the Russian space program to transport supplies and astronauts to the ISS.

"It's human spaceflight activities are nonetheless at a tipping point, primarily due to a mismatch of goals and resources," according to the Human Spaceflight Program Worthy of a Great Nation report.  "Either additional funds need to be made available or a far more modest program involving little or no exploration needs to be adopted."

The U.S. space agency has put high hopes on its Ares I rockets and Orion spacecraft, but the project severely lacks funds, which has led some to speculate the next-generation launch capsule is a mistake.  The timing of the report's release has proven to be interesting -- Ares is expected to make its first test flight later this month.

Essentially, the future of NASA is now squarely in President Barack Obama's hands, with the president's staff calling on space experts to share their thoughts and ideas.  Congress and the president will now meet to discuss the possibility of boosting NASA's $18.7 billion annual budget to $21.7 billion.



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NASA is inefficient
By HotFoot on 10/23/2009 9:06:55 AM , Rating: -1
NASA asking for more money? I support R&D and generally think it's a good investment, but it seems to me the bang for the buck with NASA is really really poor. An extra $3B/year into that bureaucracy is probably going to go into expanding the bureaucracy rather than be put to effective use for human spaceflight.

If NASA is going to Russia for a ride to the ISS, well, maybe it's time to put that out as a service contract and see what private companies in the U.S. would offer.




RE: NASA is inefficient
By Moohbear on 10/23/2009 9:29:29 AM , Rating: 3
NASA already has contracts out for flights to the ISS, look up SpaceX. But, aside from the Russian space agency, what company (or government agency) is routinely and safely sending people into space?


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 10/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: NASA is inefficient
By Moohbear on 10/23/2009 10:55:49 AM , Rating: 3
Of course, the USAF is using the secret alien technology they recovered form all those downed UFOs.

It's true, Mulder says so!

</sarcasm>


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 10/23/2009 11:04:57 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,569143,00.html...

actual kind of funny, they never talk about any of the military space programs on the news.... but today they did.

The secret alien technology is from Germany. You can buy it on the web if you have enough cash. :)


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Moohbear on 10/23/2009 11:20:16 AM , Rating: 2
It's yet another test platform and not even a "secret" one., like so many before (Blue Gemini, Dynasoar...). Facts are: the US military has never sent anybody in space in one of their own craft. Only on NASA's Mercury/Gemini/Apollo/STS missions.

However, I'm interested in the secret alien technology from Germany. I know a few crackpots that would literraly give everything they have to just see the TRUTH :)


RE: NASA is inefficient
By TETRONG on 10/23/2009 11:36:45 AM , Rating: 2
I see your mind is already made up, facts be damned.

Enjoy your ignorance!


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 10/23/2009 12:14:04 PM , Rating: 2
the US military has never sent anybody in space in one of their own craft.

OK, that is as far as we know... It's not like they would tell everyone. I'm not saying they did or they did not. I have a few reliable sources that claim they did but of course can give no evidence.

The public knows what they need to know.... I still think the military has some cool "toys" that are kept from the public eye. At least I hope they do, and it would explain a lot of the UFO sightings.

Now for that secret Germany technology just type www.secr... (gaggg... choke... cough... gasp... thud. - damn I always get killed before I can give that secret web address out.)


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Jaybus on 10/26/2009 8:05:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
US military has never sent anybody in space in one of their own craft


Absolute rubbish. Please look up USAF Captain Joseph Walker, the first American to become an astronaut by both USAF and Federation Aeronautique Internationale rules. This was in a USAF X-15 spaceplane. Neil Armstrong also flew X-15s but did not cross the 100 km barrier until Gemini 8. However, 8 USAF pilots earned their USAF Astronaut wings. Also see the X-20 Dyna-Soar space glider program that began in 1957. The X-37 is just a continuation of the space plane concept.

Hell, the fact that the USAF even has Astronaut wings insignia is sort of telling.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Ringold on 10/24/2009 4:02:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Facts are: the US military has never sent anybody in space in one of their own craft. Only on NASA's Mercury/Gemini/Apollo/STS missions.


Ehh.. That's a blurry line. Our early space efforts involved what amounted to military officers riding military ICBM's in to space under the mere banner of a civilian agency. The sole reason for NASA not being a military organization is simply that it made for better anti-Soviet propaganda if it were civilian.

Todays NASA involves military officers (albeit more removed from the regular military than the early test pilots were) flying craft designed and built by military contractors.

As for secret military space craft, the Fox link appears legitimate and undeniable. I'm not surprised that the government wont disclose which agency owns that satellite they mention. There's no doubt plenty of government branches that aren't known to the public and, if they have their way, never will be. Don't believe me? NRO was created in 1960. Its cover wasn't blown until 1985, and the government didn't hardly acknowledge it until 1992. Thats 32 years you'd of had the wool over your eyes if you believed everything they say.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Yawgm0th on 10/23/2009 11:36:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Of course, the USAF is using the secret alien technology they recovered form all those downed UFOs.
Don't be ridiculous. They're using technology acquired through the Stargate program.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By PhoenixKnight on 10/23/2009 2:33:24 PM , Rating: 1
I thought they acquired the technology through reverse-engineering Megatron.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By SiliconAddict on 10/24/2009 2:01:24 AM , Rating: 2
If you think a branch of our military doesn't have something that is capable of reaching orbit and isn't using some seriously advanced tech you are delusional. Seriously. The only real credible reason that such projects as Aurora don't exists is simply funding. We aren't in a cold war anymore and as such there really isn't an arms race. Then again there is always China. *shrugs*


RE: NASA is inefficient
By drycrust on 10/23/2009 11:27:03 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
But, aside from the Russian space agency, what company (or government agency) is routinely and safely sending people into space?


China and India both have sent probes to the moon, and China has managed to put a man into orbit and safely get him back, so potentially both could do this type of work. After all, if a helpdesk can be in China and India, then there isn't any reason a rocket launch can't be done there. A few historical crowd shots from Florida, a countdown using an American accent, voila! Nobody notices the launch was in another country.

I think the real problem is a lack of proper management. To have an ill-defined "several years" gap between the shuttle and "whatever" looks like serious mismanagement.

Maybe this is the time to drag the olde Saturn V out of the museum to do the job, after all it was designed on a slide rule and has a decent payload, but probably isn't "green" enough with it's Kerosene and Liquid Oxygen engine.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 10/23/2009 3:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget Iran. I think they like to claim they been in space and back.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By namechamps on 10/23/2009 9:28:20 AM , Rating: 5
NASA only "problem" is that it is non profit and interested in research and exploration.

There are numerous NASA achievements that have been given away and produce massive (billions) of dollars in value to the word community.

Just one example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winglets

Winglets. NASA research found that a vertical wing tip improves thrust and reduces fuel consumption.

Every single commercial aircraft in the world uses this advancement today. Average fuel savings is about 2%. Try to calculate what the value of 2% fuel savings on every single commercial flight in the last 40 years is worth.

We need pure research organizations. Not everything needs to be focused on profit. NASA gives back far more in innovation then they take up in tax dollars. It is a net + for the world community.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By 91TTZ on 10/23/2009 9:55:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Winglets. NASA research found that a vertical wing tip improves thrust and reduces fuel consumption.


You mean lift, right? Thrust is generated by the engines.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By HotFoot on 10/23/2009 10:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, no. Winglets will produce a small amount of thrust when they're designed right. Simply, there's wasted energy in the wingtip vortices and the winglets tap into it. They're a lifting surface, but it works out that a portion of their lift is forwards - by definition: thrust.

Wasn't it Dr. Whitcomb that pioneered winglets? I was sad to hear of his passing last week. Career wise, the man was my hero.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Chernobyl68 on 10/23/2009 12:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
I thought they reduced drag?


RE: NASA is inefficient
By stromgald30 on 10/23/2009 12:48:48 PM , Rating: 2
Technically, not correct. Winglets reduce drag, which acts against of thrust. So, you could say that it increases thrust, but it would be more appropriate to say that it increases net or effective thrust (after drag is subtracted out) of an aircraft. Wings/winglets don't generate forward motion by themselves.

Lift from an aircraft standpoint is just what counteracts gravity. Lift from an airfoil view is whatever force the wing (or winglet in this case) generates perpendicular to the flow.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/23/2009 11:13:15 AM , Rating: 3
It's almost as if you read the agency's enabling statute. Whew, you came close to an informed opinion there. Watch out or they might throw you off DT.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Moohbear on 10/23/2009 12:49:04 PM , Rating: 2
I think NASA just got too big, overstretched. One solution would be to refocus the priorities. Going to LEO and building a space station is not out of reach from relatively small private companies. Let's give them some tax breaks and contracts to take care of that. Most of the robotic exploration now relies on non-NASA launcher. Why keep it under their umbrella? Spin it off to a new agency, focused on doing it on the cheap with existing rockets, the military are an endless supply of new rocket designs. It's already what they're doing after all.
NASA should focus on manned space flight. It should be tasked with a new "Apollo program", something exciting, something that would inspire people and draw support, something everybody on the planet will remember 40 years after. Going to Mars could be that, so would be building a Moon base. Adding another module to the ISS on the other hand...


RE: NASA is inefficient
By niva on 10/23/2009 7:27:09 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... pardon me but the suggestions you gave to NASA are things already being worked on. They do want to go back to the moon, they do want to go to Mars. They don't have the money to do it and most likely it will not happen anytime soon. The sad truth is that it's starting to look more and more that humans will not be able to get off this planet and colonize others (even the Moon) in our lifetime. The research done on the ISS is simply invaluable, never mind the research, just operating that spacecraft is educational to the human race.

That being said there are a lot of issues with the new capsules. It is somewhat NASA's fault that they got to this point in their history by relying on the shuttle too long. While the shuttle is a very unique and capable vehicle it is too expensive to maintain and operate, never mind the consequences of something going wrong during ascent/entry. Redesigining the new capsules is probably the best thing in terms of that program now, unfortunately it's going to put us even farther behind the curve in terms of being able to continue to launch humans into space without relying on Russia.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Jacerie on 10/23/2009 5:08:32 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget about Velcro and Tang!!!


RE: NASA is inefficient
By SiliconAddict on 10/24/2009 2:11:08 AM , Rating: 2
More http://science.howstuffworks.com/ten-nasa-inventio...

I weep at the though of how much money NASA could make from even half of the inventions and innovations they have made over its life. I mean they where in thick with the design of the first pacemaker.

If they could have patented this stuff and used it to fund further research. Hell we might be on Mars by now.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Solandri on 10/24/2009 6:17:30 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I weep at the though of how much money NASA could make from even half of the inventions and innovations they have made over its life. I mean they where in thick with the design of the first pacemaker.

If they could have patented this stuff and used it to fund further research. Hell we might be on Mars by now.

NASA is a government agency. What they create is owned by the public. They get their money from taxes, and tax revenue is increased the most when the public is allowed to use their inventions and innovations without it being encumbered by patents and licenses.

If you have an issue with NASA not getting as much money as their inventions have increased tax revenue, then as the GP said your beef is with Congress for not giving NASA enough funding.

(Actually, much of the stuff in your link was made by private companies under contract with NASA to come up with a solution to a problem. So it was actually the private company which created it. NASA was the customer.)


RE: NASA is inefficient
By 3minence on 10/23/2009 9:31:51 AM , Rating: 2
That's one of the panels thoughts. Let private companies handle manned flight to low earth orbit (ISS) and have NASA focus on the lunar and deep space stuff.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By superPC on 10/23/2009 9:57:21 AM , Rating: 2
With the successes so far of private companies (Falcon rockets from SpaceX, Bigelow space station module, space ship 2), maybe NASA should just focus on the cutting edge science and technology, and leave the rocket launching business to private companies.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By JediJeb on 10/23/2009 11:57:10 AM , Rating: 2
Give the $3B to SpaceX and I wonder what they could do with it?


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Chernobyl68 on 10/23/2009 12:45:40 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think any of the recent provate companies have achieved what would be needed to supply the space station:

Orbital flight.

The speeds and energies needed to put something into orbit is probably at least an order of magnitude higher than what some these "Space Tourist" flights are giving. They are flying a sub-orbital trajectory, and are unable to miss the earth when they fall.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Chernobyl68 on 10/23/2009 12:46:07 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think any of the recent private companies have achieved what would be needed to supply the space station:

Orbital flight.

The speeds and energies needed to put something into orbit is probably at least an order of magnitude higher than what some these "Space Tourist" flights are giving. They are flying a sub-orbital trajectory, and are unable to miss the earth when they fall.


RE: NASA is inefficient
By Redwin on 10/23/2009 1:15:18 PM , Rating: 2
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-10053326-76.html

SpaceX's Falcon first reached orbit over a year ago and they have already signed a deal with NASA to provide resupply missions to the space station. They haven't put any people up yet, and their deal is only for material resupply to the ISS for now, but they are working on a crew capsule to put on their heavy lift rocket, so its probably only a matter of time.

You're thinking of Virgin Galactic, et al, and their "SpaceShipOne" suborbital tourist flights, and that's not what anyone else here is referring to. They have nothing to do with Nasa or the ISS.


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