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Senator Makes NASA Complete $350 Million Testing Tower That It Will Never Use 342

Posted by Soulskill
from the pork:-the-final-frontier dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Phillip Swarts reports in the Washington Times that NASA is completing a $350 million rocket-engine testing tower at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi that it doesn't want and will never use. 'Because the Constellation Program was canceled in 2010, the A-3's unique testing capabilities will not be needed and the stand will be mothballed upon completion (PDF),, said NASA's inspector general. The A-3 testing tower will stand 300 feet and be able to withstand 1 million pounds of thrust (PDF). The massive steel structure is designed to test how rocket engines operate at altitudes of up to 100,000 feet by creating a vacuum within the testing chamber to simulate the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Although NASA does not expect to use the tower after construction, it's compelled by legislation from Sen. Roger F. Wicker (R-MS), who says the testing tower will help maintain the research center's place at the forefront of U.S. space exploration. 'Stennis Space Center is the nation's premier rocket engine testing facility,' says Wicker. 'It is a magnet for public and private research investment because of infrastructure projects like the A-3 test stand. In 2010, I authored an amendment to require the completion of that particular project, ensuring the Stennis facility is prepared for ever-changing technologies and demands.' Others disagree, calling the project the 'Tower of Pork' and noting that the unused structure will cost taxpayers $840,000 a year to maintain. 'Current federal spending trends are not sustainable, and if NASA can make a relatively painless contribution to deficit reduction by shutting down an unwanted program, why not let it happen?' says Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union. 'It's not rocket science, at least fiscally.'"
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Senator Makes NASA Complete $350 Million Testing Tower That It Will Never Use

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  • by PKFC (580410) <pkfc@NoSPAm.hotmail.com> on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:13PM (#46131017)

    a $350 million rocket-engine testing tower at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi

    compelled by legislation from Sen. Roger F. Wicker (R-MS)

    will cost taxpayers $840,000 a year to maintain.

    Hey let's pour money into my home state plzkthx

  • by Zorpheus (857617) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:31PM (#46131111)
    The article acts as if they are wasting $350 million by completing it. But it does not say how much has been spent already. Maybe there is not that much money to save by cancelling it?
    And I can't believe that the NASA will not use it in the future, the article also gives no real reason for that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:41PM (#46131181)
    But they only shower federal dollars on business owners in Mississippi. No medicaid expansion for the poor in Mississippi. Fuck the poor!
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:45PM (#46131209)

    Difference being that Palin was a national candidate, whereas Senator Wicker likely has no ambitions beyond his current position. Robbing the nation to provide pork to your constituents back home plays much better when those constituents are the only ones with a say in whether or not you keep your job.

  • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:50PM (#46131235) Journal

    I see nothing but deflation right now.

    Either you are not looking very hard, or you are basement dweller raiding your parents fridge. Seriously if you actually track what your spending on groceries, gasoline, clothing, and healthcare; I would be STUNNED if you still claim there is deflation.

    The only deflation out there in recent years has been in heating costs (for folks using nat gas) and electricity in some areas. Housing had its big gaps down in 2008-2010, but has pretty well been inflating if slowly since that time. I don't rent but friends tell me rents have gone way up everywhere and its keeping them in their current apartments.

    There has been no deflation in the things 99%ers spend their money on other than housing. I don't care what the FED claims; because their numbers are fucking retarded, I don't buy a new TV every week, I sure as hell do buy bread and gasoline though.

  • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buswolley (591500) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:58PM (#46131289) Journal
    Oh and yeah,we have weak inflation, not full deflation. So prices are rising, but lower than the 2% target inflation rate. The problem for 99%ers isnt inflation so much as a stagnant wage.
  • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:59PM (#46131297) Homepage

    Maybe this facility is useless, maybe it's not.

    NASA thinks it's useless, and I think they are the ones most likely to know.

  • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @09:20PM (#46131387)
    ... I know it's another day, so Slashdot has to find another Republican to bash, but a lone senator can't keep a program funded.
  • Re:Pork (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @09:33PM (#46131455) Journal

    Why did the rest of the senate go along with this? And what about the house?

    They'll need his vote when a project in their state comes up...

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @09:35PM (#46131463)

    The problem is states like MS have low value added economies, poor residents and crummy education systems.

    Their residents have very limited class mobility.

    http://www.motherjones.com/fil... [motherjones.com]

  • Re:BS (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @09:38PM (#46131479)

    Chronic debtors invent euphemisms for debt. News at 11.

  • Re:Poor planning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @10:22PM (#46131597)

    I work for Lockheed-Martin (I work for a completely different program that is within budget) and I can say that we have to keep the Gov. from changing the rules to the game every few seconds. It is like playing "calvin-ball" with calvin (of calvin and hobbs). They come up with an idea, and all of the sudden another part must be added to keep another senator/representative happy (jobs in his/her state). If we could stick to ONE design for any true length of time we could be ahead of the game, but not when the rules get changed ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

    And why do you think this is? Do you not think it benefits Lockheed-Martin? Every time a requirement is changed and the contracts are re-written there is an opportunity to pack on some more lard. And do you think it is an accident or "neutral business planning decision" that the major aerospace contractors have subsidiaries and major suppliers in pretty much every state? Every time an unnecessary carbuncle is added to a project to satisfy a senator, the contractor has an opportunity to renegotiate costs, and also gains another ally who will not want to see the project die, no matter how irrelevant it becomes to the nation's needs. In some ways it's like bribery, except the cash is flowing in the opposite direction to normal...

    Sure it might be irritating to an outcome-focussed engineering type who wants to work on technically successful projects, but from management's perspective a politically unkillable project that meanders on for decades, neither finishing or being allowed to fail, can be a far lower career risk.

  • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @10:49PM (#46131693)

    no matter if it were a republican (low tax, low spend)

    Ha, you're funny. As this article demonstrates, Republicans can spend (and/or waste) just as much, if not more than, Democrats. They just don't want to spend any of it on poor people or minorities.

  • Re:TEA PARTY (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @11:17PM (#46131785) Journal
    yeah, that approach has worked great for reagan and W. Certainly helped balance our budget.
    Oh wait, .....
  • Re:Typical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @11:43PM (#46131875)

    Does anyone know why the Republicans came right to the table on the sequester this time around? Because offense spending (thinly veiled as "defense" spending) was to be rolled back to 2003 levels. That is absolutely evil if you are a member of the Republicans.

    Both parties love wasting tax dollars on useless things on a massive scale. Republicans pay lip service to small government but fail to deliver; Democrats swear and complain about big corporations and bankers but then use legislation for economic stimulation, job creation, and consumer protection to shove even more money in the hands of the groups the claim to hate. Both are "absolutely evil". Pick your poison.

  • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @12:06AM (#46131965)

    The government's ability to repay debts is mainly based on its power to tax to raise the funds. Governments that rely on printing currency to repay debts or for general spending tend to end up in the history books (Weimar Republic) or the newspapers (Zimbabwe) as economic basket cases crippled by hyperinflation.

    Apparently nobody with mod points is reading your sig.

  • Re:BS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 02, 2014 @12:28AM (#46132025)

    Protip: decreased inflation != deflation. Intro to calculus would have taught you that much. The article you linked to mentioned fears about deflation, but no actual deflation. Being afraid of something doesn't make it manifest.

    So basically your own source, were you to deem it credible, would serve to show that even the EU is still experiencing inflation.

  • Typical BS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @12:34AM (#46132035)

    I have several friends that work at General Dynamics here in Metro Detroit and the government spending has them in a quandary: they are forced by politicians to create a bill as high as possible - mandatory junkets and overtime, even when there's nothing to do. "Research" projects are the only thing that they do and they just post youtube videos, cancel the project and start something new. None of them can quit, even though the economy has recovered, because they are being paid so well as a result of the requirement to bill taxpayers so much.

    Really? And what program are they billing those hours to? I doubt that the Federal government has given them a "do whatever" contract with an endless pot of money to bill against. Sounds like BS to me. Either that or they may defrauding the government by billing inappropriately against a real contract if what you say is actually true.... which I doubt.

    You should look into the Democrat's view on the sequester, very few of them like it. It was meant to be a trap for the Republicans, but it backfired on the Democrats. Some Republicans have been unhappy, but few Democrats have been happy.

  • Re:Pork (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @01:48AM (#46132243) Journal

    this is a neo-con, so the house of neo-cons/tea* is backing it

    Do you have anything backing this assertion that doesn't solely exist in your mind? Wicker is being targeted by the Tea Party in MS to remove him from office. Seems sort of contrary to your assertion.

  • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @02:01AM (#46132269)

    Well I am fine with giving the state money from the federal coffers to help the needy out. However building a 300ft tall penis\H\H\H\H\H\H tower that nobody is going to use is not going to help the plight of the poor in any way.

    Republicans rail against government waste and against welfare... unless it is getting directed into their pockets.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @07:36AM (#46133113)

    Well I am fine with giving the state money from the federal coffers to help the needy out. However building a 300ft tall penis\H\H\H\H\H\H tower that nobody is going to use is not going to help the plight of the poor in any way.

    He's a Republican. If he gave money to the poor, who would it trickle down to?

    An ideology of hating the poor and worshipping the rich ubermenschen tends to lead to some amounts of cognitive dissonance and accompanying weird decisions when your home state counts amongst the former.

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @10:58AM (#46133899) Homepage Journal

    The article you link to doesn't say the figures are incorrect, it merely whines that liberals are inaccurately characterizing states like most of those in the North East as "Blue states", and states in the South as "Red States". The basis of his complaint is that many of the states in the Red or Blue columns seem to kinda sorta vote the opposite way in congressional elections, which might sound sensible except he's not using aggregate figures, but simply numbers of representatives elected, which means his figures don't consider the gerrymandering - intentional and natural - that means # reps rarely represents % support.

    He also complains that local party support also dismisses the complaint, arguing that, for example, New Jersey is a "red" state because it has a Republican governor. This makes little sense - local parties and local party candidates reflect the extremes within a particular state, you can't compare a Republican governor in New Jersey to one in Alabama.

    It's a bad argument and he should feel bad. Liberals are right to use Presidential candidates as the basic shorthand. It's the one case where the majorities in each state can be determined, and where the same point of view is on display and voted upon in each state.

  • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Sunday February 02, 2014 @12:45PM (#46134443)

    Why not spend the same $350 million to hire the workers directly to dig ditches and fill them in, or break rocks? (Or how about repairing crumbling bridges and other infrastructure that is actually useful, for christ's sake.) In effect, that's what you are doing. Building single-purpose infrastructure that isn't going to be used. The only difference is that you are paying wealthy contractors a 20% premium to subcontract out the work to less wealthy subcontractors, who take 15% and to subcontract out the work to the guys who actually do the work.

    The only reason you do it this way is that those wealthy contractors kick-back some of their cut into the Senator's reelection PACs. Whereas if you directly hired $350m worth of workers, they wouldn't give the Senator anything.

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