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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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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.

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