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Ares 1-X launch; October 28, 2009  (Source: NASA)
Obama's 2011 budget proposal is expected to face stiff opposition

America's space program is at a crossroads. This year, the Space Shuttle fleet is expected to be retired after nearly 30 years of ferrying astronauts and equipment into space. In addition, there have been calls to have its immediate successor -- the Ares I launch vehicle which would be topped with an Orion crew capsule -- shelved altogether.

A 155-page report issued in November 2009 by the Augustine Panel made a number of recommendations on which direction to steer NASA in the future. The recommendations included 1) hitching rides into space using spacecraft from other nations or private contractors, 2) keeping the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs alive, albeit in more limited roles, and 3) shifting the focus from returning to the moon and instead aiming for Mars.

The Augustine Panel also made it clear that the estimated $145 billion cost to return to the moon by 2020 would not be possible given NASA's $18.7 billion yearly allowance for all operations.

According to a new report by Space News, it appears that the Ares 1 launch vehicle and the Orion crew capsule may be put on the chopping block. President Obama is not expected to give NASA the $1 billion increase in its yearly budget that had been hoped for to help further develop the Ares program.

President Obama's 2011 budget for NASA aligns closely with the recommendations of the Augustine Panel. The budget calls for the the use of commercial spacecraft and rockets to carry astronauts into space instead of relying on the behind schedule, cost-overrun Ares program. Another Augustine Panel carryover is the decision to bypass the moon and instead gun for near-Earth asteroids and onward to Mars.

The Wall Street Journal says that the efforts to initialize the private sector -- including startup firms -- for carrying astronauts into space will be a "multi-year, multi-billion-dollar initiative". Private firms are expected to receive roughly $200 million during the first phase of the program. The total amount doled out within the first five years could balloon to more than $3.5 billion according to sources familiar with the details of the budget. The funds for the private ventures would be pulled from NASA's yearly $18.7 billion budget.

Industry stalwarts like Boeing and Lockheed Martin are expected to benefit from this new initiative, but smaller firms like Space Exploration Technologies would also be vying for NASA dollars.

Not surprisingly, there is opposition to the there mere mention of NASA outsourcing crew vehicles to the private sector. Charles Precourt, a senior exec at Alliant Tech Systems remarked that such proposals are "really radical" and that they are "extremely high risk". In addition, Precourt said that whatever option is selected for the future direction of NASA must be accompanied by a subsequent increase in its budget.



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RE: Here's what I make of it
By AstroGuardian on 1/25/2010 3:56:36 AM , Rating: 1
Just compare space vs military industry. Which one is more successful? The first one has budget of only 18B and the second one has more that 550B. And yet, the space industry has done much MUCH!!! more than the military.
I recommend US to mind our own business and focus on technology and well being for all of the humanity. Not sticking it's nose in every war hole in the world


RE: Here's what I make of it
By theapparition on 1/25/2010 11:07:29 AM , Rating: 4
Considering that virtually every single astronaut has been trained in the military tends to contradict your assesment.

Also depends on what your criterea of "more" is. The military never sent a man to the moon, but NASA didn't stop 100's of nuclear warheads being parked 100 miles from the tip of Florida.

They serve complimentary roles, not competitive, so stop trying to stir the pot.


RE: Here's what I make of it
By PrinceGaz on 1/25/10, Rating: -1
RE: Here's what I make of it
By ClownPuncher on 1/25/2010 12:27:51 PM , Rating: 2
Military advancements for civilian life often come in the medical field, many innovations have come from the military for treating wounds and other illnesses.


RE: Here's what I make of it
By Spookster on 1/25/2010 12:58:32 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
By PrinceGaz on 1/25/2010 11:29:30 AM , Rating: 1

I'm pretty sure that NASA and space-research has contributed a lot more to most ordinary people than military-research has


I mean this in the nicest of ways but that's about the most ignorant statement I've seen in awhile. You should maybe research the facts before making such in uninformed statement. Aside from the obvious transfers of weapons and armor related equipment being developed by the military that is now in use by your local police forces and such there are numerous things you have an use now that was made possible by the military.

Do you like using the Internet? You can thank the military for that.

Do you like using GPS equipment? You can thank the military for that.

Those are just 2 right off the top of my head. You can thank the military for alot of technology and conveniences you have today. There are just too many things to list.


RE: Here's what I make of it
By WW102 on 1/25/10, Rating: 0
RE: Here's what I make of it
By Spookster on 1/26/2010 2:03:55 AM , Rating: 1
No and No. As much as Al would like to take credit for what Darpa did he most definitely did not invent the Internet.


RE: Here's what I make of it
By WW102 on 1/26/2010 9:38:19 AM , Rating: 2
It was a joke dumbass.


RE: Here's what I make of it
By Spookster on 1/31/2010 2:15:06 AM , Rating: 2
Your lack of intelligence shows when you have to resort to name calling.


RE: Here's what I make of it
By maven81 on 1/25/2010 1:38:58 PM , Rating: 1
"virtually every single astronaut has been trained in the military"

That's true for a lot of shuttle pilots, but otherwise is a big exaggeration.

"The military never sent a man to the moon, but NASA didn't stop 100's of nuclear warheads being parked 100 miles from the tip of Florida."

Say what? It was a diplomatic solution that ended that crisis. We're damn lucky that the generals on both sides were ignored by the politicians as their advice was rather hawkish to say the least.

Frankly though this whole comparison is not entirely fair. It would be better to ask whether the civilian space program has accomplished more then the military's space program. In other words how much did we benefit from the multi billion dollar spy satellites, communications satellites, early warning satellites etc. Since a lot of that work is classified we may never know the answer to that. All we do know is that the military's program is just as "good" at going over budget and behind schedule.


RE: Here's what I make of it
By Solandri on 1/25/2010 1:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The military never sent a man to the moon,

Just before the Soviets put Sputnik into orbit, the USAF (in conjunction with NASA and the Navy) was working on getting into space with lifting bodies:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_X-15

While we're getting into speculation here, it's been argued that Sputnik and the space race actually did more harm than good. Rockets are an incredibly inefficient way to put stuff into orbit. NASA resorted to it as the quick and dirty (and expensive) way to get stuff into orbit. It's been speculated that had the space race never occurred and the USAF/NASA continued their research along lifting bodies, we would already have sub-orbital hypersonic transports between NY and Tokyo by now.

From a practical standpoint, that would be a lot more useful than planting some flags on the moon and bringing back a few hundred pounds of rocks.


RE: Here's what I make of it
By maven81 on 1/25/2010 3:06:19 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't think this one through at all.

The X-15 is not a lifting body, it's a rocket with wings. It also flew after Sputnik. The airforce did have their own human spaceflight program but did not get very far. And NASA has done a wealth of research on lifting bodies.
You might actually say it was airforce interference in the shuttle project that negatively effected it, as there was a time when the the hope was it was supposed to launch every military payload, no doubt adding all sorts of design requirements that were necessary to the military but not to anyone else.
Ironically it's the airforce itself that's taking the best ideas out of that program and resurrecting the old lifting body research, and pushing their unmanned shuttle, the X-37.

"it's been argued that Sputnik and the space race actually did more harm than good."

It's also been argued successfully I think, that without Sputnik we would not have the internet. (It was Sputnik that caused the creation of DARPA, which was basically given a lot of money to work on any project that would push US technology forward. This work even extends to computer graphics in fact).

"NASA resorted to it as the quick and dirty (and expensive) way to get stuff into orbit."

You mean the only way to get to orbit with existing technology.

"It's been speculated that had the space race never occurred and the USAF/NASA continued their research along lifting bodies"

If the space race never occurred, there would be no NASA!!!!


RE: Here's what I make of it
By CHAOQIANG on 1/25/10, Rating: -1
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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