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Former Astronauts Call Obama NASA Plans "Catastrophic" 555

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-spot-a-special-interest dept.
krou writes "Talking to the BBC at a private function held at the Royal Society in London, former astronauts Jim Lovell and Eugene Cernan both spoke out about Obama's decision to postpone further moon missions. Lovell claimed that 'it will have catastrophic consequences in our ability to explore space and the spin-offs we get from space technology,' while Cernan noted he was 'disappointed' to have been the last person to land on the moon. Said Cernan: 'I think America has a responsibility to maintain its leadership in technology and its moral leadership ... to seek knowledge. Curiosity's the essence of human existence.' Neil Armstrong, who was also at the event, avoided commenting on the subject."
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Former Astronauts Call Obama NASA Plans "Catastrophic"

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  • by revboden (1736848) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @06:51PM (#31467448)
    How about we explore the forests and oceans first. There's lots of scientific knowledge to be gained right here on earth.
  • by gumbi west (610122) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @07:04PM (#31467580) Journal
    You do realize this argument is really stupid. The basic argument goes that doing something difficult and useless is really helpful because you solve all these engineering problems along the way that are helpful for other areas. If true, then doing something useful and difficult would be much more helpful. Why not develop super efficient engines for various modes of transportation? Why not build great high speed rail that could connect cities at super sonic speeds? Doesn't sound possible? Not really, but neither did putting a man on the moon. Difference is, this one would be something when we were done.
  • by Erinnys Tisiphone (1627695) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @07:23PM (#31467738)
    Granted, there are a *lot* of wastes in government I would like to see go away before government-funded manned spaceflight, but the US deficit is growing *dangerously* large. If the partisan divide is too great to eliminate anything else, something has to go, at least temporarily, before our social services go completely by the wayside, or much, much worse. I'm not saying that this is anywhere near the best choice. But these days, our country is divided that nothing else can be agreed on. Our politicians are at one another's throats instead of making compromises we need to survive as a nation. In addition, heroism aside, I think that the unmanned and orbital space programs like Hubble, rovers, and the ISS are much more critical for scientific discovery than manned missions. While less of a symbol, they produce immense amounts of useful scientific data. The Bush administration's Mars plans would likely have occurred at the expense of these programs. So there is no good answer. If civilian agencies take up the slack and begin performing the exploration, then there may be some hope.
  • Re:Priorities. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Beelzebud (1361137) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @07:58PM (#31468022)
    Okay braintrust, here is the fact. Bush kept the Iraq and Afghanistan wars off of his budget the entire time he was in office. A HUGE chunk of that total is Bush's wars that Obama put on the budget for the first time since we invaded. No more emergency war supplemental bills. They're on the budget now.

    And thanks for clearing up why you're so uninformed. Glenn Beck is a self-proclaimed "rodeo clown", and the fact that you don't think you look like a fool for parroting his absolute bullshit puts a smile on my face. Tell me, how did that interview with Massa go? The one that had the potential to "change the course of this nation"? LOL
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @08:59PM (#31468474)

    It got modded troll, but it's 100% true.

    No, it's one 100% troll. For one thing, the war in Iraq has nothing to do with NASA's budget. For another, picking on wars is like shooting fish in a barrel - you could just as easily argue that getting involved in WW2 was unnecessary for the US.

    It has wasted a trillion dollars, and we have nothing to show for it but a bunch of fresh graves.

    First off, that's the (estimated) combined cost for both wars, so you're wrong right off the bat. Second, the figures provided by the various "counter" sites are, for some reason, never sourced. If you can provide the raw data to support that claim, I'd very much appreciate it - nobody else seems to know how to find it. Third, there are plenty of things that you can "show for it" - the problem is that you apparently don't think they've been worth the cost.

    We wasted enough money in Iraq to pay for universal health care, AND a trip to the moon.

    Canadian healthcare - for a population one tenth the size of yours - costs $120+ billion per year. At a cost of roughly 700 billion over 7 years, the Iraq war wouldn't even be enough to fund OUR healthcare, let alone yours. You're living in a dream world. Wake up.

  • Re:What "empire" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdotNO@SPAMwarriors-shade.net> on Saturday March 13, 2010 @08:59PM (#31468476)
    Everything I have experienced as a Iraq combat vet disagrees with this. All the threats we face are threats of our own creation coming home to roost, often decades later and because of our lack of foresight. For example, our backing of the creation of Israel as an American front to help maintain the middle east with nuclear weapons, which then turns more Arabs against us. Then there are things like our "support" of democracy by doing things like overthrowing Iran's democratically elected leader and installing the Shah. The propping up of the country that hosts the most radicals (Saudi Arabia) by forcing them to only sell oil in dollars. (Did you know at least 13 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi's and had only cursory experience in Afghanistan and nothing to do with Iraq?) No, we may not be the classic empire that divides in conquers by military force like Rome used to. No, we only do that as a last resort, we use economic means to control things. I am currently reading a very interesting book. (The secret history of the American empire, by John Perkins) One of the first things he does is create 6 criteria for being an "Empire". Guess what? We meet all of them! What I find is that it is such a hard thing to swallow that our "American Ideals" have so been corrupted by politicians and corporations as excuses for travesty time and time again. The only thing that will make a difference is when people like you ( I used to be blind as well) wake the fuck up, stop listening to faux news and start doing you're own academic level research. Then spread the word. Even in my own family I run into resistance. Cognitive Dissonance is a powerful thing.
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @09:46PM (#31468796)

    So you're saying Canada can afford 120 billion a year for health care, and the U.S. can't? It doesn't seem to be bankrupting them.

    In 2008 alone you spent $386 billion on healthcare, so apparently you can afford twice as much as Canada.

    Why is it that I seem to know more about your country than you do?

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @09:50PM (#31468816)

    In 2001 you got hit by a multinational group of thugs and invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

    We got attacked by Saudis based in Afghanistan, so we invaded Iraq.

    We could have simplified logistics and saved a bunch of money by invading a much closer country like Jamaica. It would have made the same amount of sense under your logical analysis.

  • Re:Priorities. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @10:16PM (#31468998)

    That is on average, and there are a lot of reasons why average life span is less that just health care. Drug related violence for one, auto accidents for another which both kill a lot more people per-capata in the US than, say, Western Europe.

    For example, life expectancy is higher at birth in the U.K., by 1.7 years for males and .9 years for females, but life expectancy at older ages is greater in the U.S. than in the U.K. For men, life expectancy is greater at birth and up until age 60 in the U.K., but then the pattern reverses and men can expect to live longer in the U.S. at ages 65, 70, 75, 80 and 85. By age 75, male life expectancy is greater than in the U.K. by at least six months. Likewise, U.K. women have higher life expectancy at birth and up until age 55; at ages 60 and above, American women have greater life expectancy than their U.K. counterparts, and by age 75 women live longer in the U.S. than in the U.K. by 8-9 months.

    I don't have an explanation for this, but these numbers would seem to suggest that there are other factors at work than just access to health care. Most people can expect to receive the great bulk of their medical care at the end of their life. Since once you reach the age of 60 in the US you can expect to live longer than you counterparts in the UK it seems to me that there are other factors at play. Here is a crap load of data if interested: http://www.irdes.fr/EcoSante/DownLoad/OECDHealthData_FrequentlyRequestedData.xls [irdes.fr]

    Regardless I vote for sending the guys (and/or gals) to the moon.

  • Re:Step 1 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr. Spork (142693) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @10:20PM (#31469016)
    I actually agree! But I hope you realize that this is a project that would have to take at least 50 years. Also, it's too much to ask to build self-replicating robots. But the materials for the Martian biosphere have to be mined and processed by robots on Mars, and this will be the greatest technological hurdle. (Those robots, or at least their "sensitive parts" could be made on Earth and shipped.) But you know, designing and building such robots would be a useful thing for us on Earth as well, so I honestly think we should start working on it.
  • Re:Priorities. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2010 @10:52PM (#31469198)

    Money is merely a unit of accounting for the allocation of resources (and has some other positives like facilitating transactions, etc).

    Where do you think resources come from? The sky? No - resources are created through (in most basic terms) the application of capital - machines, buildings, land - with human labor. "Money" - while derided as being some evil thing - is derided. But the simple fact is that it is representative of our resources - and to say that money shouldn't be a consideration in providing health care is bullshit.

    Ultimately money (resources) should be used in the way that maximizes utility. If you have half of your population not working and living on society subsidized health care and it creates such a burden on the working population (80 hours a week, no vacations - ever) that the working population has little functional utility - then that is frankly quite stupid.

    Saying that money shouldn't matter in the decision to try to keep someone alive or let them pass is a nonsensical and stupid argument. We may not like to place a price on a human life - but I can assure you that there is one. This is determined in courts in wrongful death suits all the time. It is wholly irrational to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars - possibly the compensated output of an entire person's life - to try to keep someone alive for an additional six months. That is a misappropriation of resources and to allow it would be irresponsible as it is directly harming society by not maximizing utility amongst the people in an efficient manner.

  • Re:Priorities. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2010 @10:59PM (#31469248)

    We do nothing to defend America. Silicon Valley was handed to India and China without a shot being fired. Over half the engineering and science faculty positions and graduate degree programs have been handed to foreign born applicants by the U.S. government visa programs, disallowing tens of thousands of American students from access to advanced education and teaching positions in the sciences. Now you're going to claim that the foreign born applicants are "better." No, they are not, and it doesn't matter anyway, because the claim I'm refuting is that the U.S. is being "defended." It is not.

  • by BigFootApe (264256) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @11:30PM (#31469442)

    Ares I was a piece of pork which should have long since been canceled. I'm glad it's gone. Everyone knows there are currently two US boosters (three soon enough) in the same weight and performance category and part of Obama's plan is to use those to go into LEO. This makes sense.

    What no one has discussed, either in the pro Constellation crowd or those against, is what the propulsion package will be for Flexible Path. I'd like to see some of the ideas behind DIRECT refined so we end up with a moderately economical, scalable launch architecture for really heavy payloads. COTS is not likely to develop this on their own, they're happy at 25 tons to LEO and under. It's where their profit is. Note, I'm choosing to be optimistic on Flexible path being funded and implemented.

    It looks like Orion Lite from Bigelow/Boeing/Lockheed is the front runner for crew transport. I'm not sure how much commonality is possible between it and a future Orion Heavy used for lunar or martian missions. Hopefully building one makes it easier to build the other.

  • Re:Priorities. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2010 @01:52AM (#31470130)

    If it wasn't for money seeking ambition you wouldn't have a computer, clothes, light, food, water, a roof over your head, roads to drive down, clean air to breathe, a cell phone to bullshit with your friends on, or any of the other conveniences of modern civilization. But yeah, other than that there is no correlation between money seeking ambition and benefit to society.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 14, 2010 @02:19AM (#31470236)

    In all the talk about space exploration, I've not heard any of the so-called experts speak to the need for a concrete return on the multi-billion (trillion?) $$ investment required. As in mining the planets, moons, comets and asteroids of the solar system for the incredibly abundant mineral and chemical resources that most assuredly are out there. By now, the US as well as other nations should have a long-term intelligent plan developed that would bring this reality about.

    This, and not the pissing away of vast amounts of blood and treasure to conduct catastrophically destructive limited-resource wars here on Earth, should be the goal. Ultimately, all such activity could of course become commercialized.

  • Re:What "empire" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by guyminuslife (1349809) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @05:13AM (#31470822)

    I'm going to argue that the United States is not an empire. The more appropriate word is "hegemony."

    Honestly, though, I think most people recognize that the country's global influence has peaked. If the US is an empire, it's not Rome, it's Byzantium.

  • by Dolphinzilla (199489) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @08:41AM (#31471520) Journal

    When I was 6 years old my parents moved to Titusville, Florida right across the Indian River Lagoon from the VAB. I grew up watching Saturn V's, Atlas, Delta, Titan, and Shuttle space vehicles thunder skyward. I went to school with the sons and daughters of real "Rocket Scientists". I'd say the number one reason I got into the engineering field was the excitement and allure of these kind of epic and difficult endeavors. What inspires people to go into engineering today ? I only worked on Spacecraft and launch systems for 10 years before I got into other things, but would I have been inspired at all by a presidential challenge to build a better battery, or an energy efficient home ? I somehow doubt it. So I would argue that not only does going to the moon spin-of useful technology it inspires the youth of today and tomorrow to achieve great things in engineering !

  • Re:Priorities. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by icebraining (1313345) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @09:07AM (#31471636) Homepage

    food, water

    Bollocks. Even tribes of indigenous people who don't even have the concept of money have that.

    clean air to breathe

    Wait, what? If only, money seeking ambition has reduced the clean air, not produce it!

    As for the rest, yes, but it wasn't only money seeking ambitious people who gave me that. I don't recall Mr.Alan Turing being a money seeking ambitious. In fact, he was in fact tortured 'till suicide.
    Besides him, there are some other mathematicians/computer scientists that I don't recall getting rich with their activity. Was John von Neumann (a professor at Princeton until he died) rich? Was George Boole?

    Remember that I didn't said there wasn't people with money seeking ambitions that contributed. I said there was no correlation.

  • by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Sunday March 14, 2010 @12:06PM (#31472528)

    Like many politicians before him, Barack Hussein Obama broke a campaign promise. He outright lied in order to get the votes independent voters.

    How did he break a promise to fund Constellation? From a previous Slashdot story [slashdot.org]

    "In a recent article on The Space Review, Greg Zsidisin reveals that Barack Obama plans to delay Project Constellation for at least five years, using the redirected funds to nationalize early-education for children under five years old to prepare them for the rigors of kindergarten and beyond, if he is elected president. It is feared that if this happens the Vision for Space Exploration will flounder and that may be the end of human spaceflight altogether."

    Seems like he's just following through on what he said almost 2 years ago.

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