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President Obama Calls For New 'Space Race' Funding 291

New submitter dmfinn writes "While his union address covered a wide range of topics, President Obama made sure not to skip over the U.S.'s space program. The talking point was nearly identical to the one he gave in 2009, in which he called for space R&D spending to be increased past the levels seen during the the original cold war space race. Now, 4 years after that speech, it appears things have gone the opposite way. Since 2009 NASA has seen some serious cuts. Not only has the space-shuttle program been deactivated, but the agency was forced to endure harsh funding cuts during the presidents latter term. Despite an ominous history, it now seems that Obama is back on the space objective, pushing congress to increase non-defensive R&D spending to 3% of the U.S. GDP. It's important to keep in mind that not all of this money goes directly to space related programs, though under the proposed budget the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Laboratories will have their budgets doubled. There will also be an increase in tax credits towards companies and organizations working on these R&D projects. Should the U.S. go back to its 'Let's put a man on the moon' ideology, or is the federal government fighting an uphill battle against newly emerging private space expeditions? Either way, the question remains whether or not Obama will act on any of the propositions."
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President Obama Calls For New 'Space Race' Funding

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  • by JDAustin ( 468180 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:12PM (#42915851)

    In the 50's and 60's, discretionary spending accounted for 70% of the federal budget. Now, mandated spending accounts for 70%+ of the fed budget.

    • We don't even need a bigger budget. Just make realistic long term goals and don't change them every 2 years will be enough.

    • In the 50's and 60's, discretionary spending accounted for 70% of the federal budget. Now, mandated spending accounts for 70%+ of the fed budget.

      Yes, mandated spending accounts for 70%+ of the budget... and discretionary spending accounts for the other 70%.

  • The United States is headed for another trillion dollar deficit []. (Even the rosy CBO numbers project an $800 billion deficit.) And beyond that the debt bomb of unfunded entitlements and pension liabilities only threatens to make things worse.

    "If you add up the total debt — state, local, the works — every man, woman, and child in this country owes 200 grand (which is rather more than the average Greek does). Every American family owes about three-quarters of a million bucks." []

    Where is the brokest nation in the history of the world going to borrow the money for more space flight? When hyperinflation kicks in, we won't be able to afford it or much of anything else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Seumas ( 6865 )

      You think that's bad? Try adjusting those numbers to account for the actual percentage of people who actually pay taxes (and how much). If you make an IT-ish salary, my guess is you owe more like $400k-$600k. Averaging it out equally across every person makes it sound almost downright reasonable.

      Also, it's all kind of meaningless. Most of our debt is owed to OURSELVES.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      You're confusing mean and median. Look at it compared to GDP. Yeah, we're still broke, but 5% of the population could pay it off easily and leave the rest of us alone. They get most benefit from government anyway.

    • by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:52PM (#42916383)

      If you add up the total debt — state, local, the works — every man, woman, and child in this country owes 200 grand (which is rather more than the average Greek does).

      This is both false, and, even if you reform it to deal with the outright false part, misleading. Its false because governments aren't conventional partnerships, so the government debt isn't individual debt of the current residents. Just as you can't add up the liabilities of a corporation and attribute them as personal liabilities of the stockholders, you can't do the same thing if you swap "government" for "corporation" and "resident" for "stockholder". That aside, measuring per capita external debt is pretty meaningless. Sure, the external debt per capita is higher in the US than in Greece. So is the rate of wealth production available to pay off the debt (e.g., the GDP). Greece's external debt per GDP, the more important measure, is much higher than that in the US.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SydShamino ( 547793 )

      You really need to differentiate between government spending and government investment. The government should be able to keep investing in areas that will enable the new and continued markets of the future, creating the basis for continued employment. The government needs to provide some level of spending helping people who are stumbling get back on their feet, too, but right now we do way too little of the first compared to the second. The solution isn't to slash the first further.

  • Not gonna happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:22PM (#42915967) Homepage

    I'd like to see Moon Base Gingrich as much as the next geek, but it's simply not going to happen with this Congress and this President. The reason is that the Republicans in Congress have decided as pretty much a matter of policy that they will vote against anything the President proposes.

  • by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:26PM (#42916017)
    I am hella certain this will actually change something and is not just something he said so he could keep being "the cool president." He most def won't take actions in the future that are directly counter to this goal. Also, we should have cold fusion in about a month.
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 )

    The only sensible way to approach this, other than decrying obscene levels of politicial incompetence, is to imagine that obaminator wants to invest in space R&D to re-prime the science and consumer tech boom windfalls of the previous space race, that gave rise to the information era.

    However, those windfalls were the result of brand new technologies, and old technologies being miniaturized to fit in the limited space and energy budgets of spacecraft. Those problems have now been satisfactorily solved, a

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Austerity is working great for Europe. They are growing at a slower rate than the US which used a half-assed attempt to spur growth, but don't worry, those austerity plans will pay off any day now.

      You do government austerity when the economy is good not when it's bad. Keynes was right. The problem is, we don't actually follow Keynes. We spend in bad and spend in good when he said we should spend in bad and save in good. You want us to cut in bad times which would surely help demand! If no one has money they

      • Do you think Obama makes people and business want to spend and invest their money? Are you kidding? Do you not understand that there is a very large contingent of people out there who feel attacked by Obama and his policies? He is direct and unashamed about his redistributionist plans.

        To many, he is the most anti-business president this country has seen in a long time. Note I said "anti". Not pro, not neutral but outright hostile.
        Don't take my word for it, go ask the business owners (ie: your "
    • So you are saying that we are basically done with inventing and discovering new technologies and should just stop?

      And every economist in the world will tell you that austerity is the absolute worst way to get yourself out of a recession.

      • No, I am saying a "space race" is not an appropriate investment infrastructure.

        Something like biotech, or nuclear energy research are more likely to produce significant gains than another space race.

        At no place did I say we shouldn't be spending on research and development. I said we need to cut back on our spending, (austerity), and not spend money foolishly.

        I am curious to know how you got such hyperbole from what I wrote....

    • by thoth ( 7907 )

      As such, the president's suggestion that space funding should be expanded, while the nation teeters on the brink of bankruptcy and loss of confidence with foriegn investors, is woefully irresponsible

      No, what was woefully irresponsible was 2 bogus wars and tax cuts, e.g. Bush 43.

      Infrastructure spending, creating the demand for STEM careers and so on - that's investing in the future. If there isn't money for it, raise it through taxes on fraud artists like Wall Street, close loopholes so corporations actually pax taxes or can't outsource their incomes overseas for low rates, etc.

      • I believe you will find, should you care to look, that now president obama voted YES to all three of those issues you have addressed, while he was still a congressman.

        Last I checked, the president still cannot declare a war without congressional approval. You cannot handwave away bad fiscal and foriegn policy decisions as being the sole responsibility of a single politician. Our system does not work that way (yet).

        • now president obama voted YES to all three of those issues you have addressed, while he was still a congressman.

          Obama was still a state legislator when the war votes were made. The first Bush tax cuts also predated his term in the Senate, although I wouldn't be shocked if he did vote for some of the later ones.

  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:35PM (#42916151)

    Obama's at least talking in the right direction. []

  • So, Obama wants to get NASA's budget higher than it was at the height of the space race? Presuming we're talking in inflation-adjusted dollars here (and not percentage of federal budget, because that would be nuts), that's an increase to about 2.1x the current budget.

    It seems to me that doubling NASA's budget is not terribly likely. America's chances of comprehensive space travel seem like they have little chance except through the dramatically lower cost of commercial spaceflight.

  • Should the U.S. go back to its 'Let's put a man on the moon' ideology?

    No they shouldn't. People seem to easily forget that the Apollo missions, at least up until Apollo 11, were exactly that - ideology. The ideology that the American way was better than the Soviet way, replete with the American Hero striding out where no man has gone before - albeit that last part was probably largely accidental, as the idea of sending a black man, or (God forbid) a woman probably never occurred to anyone and the caree

  • At some point China will probably do a moon landing. It won't benefit them any more than it did the US, but it will be so embarrassing. Especially if they send the remains of the US flag back.

    • Why will it be so embarrassing??

      If/when it happens, we congratulate them. It will be another accomplishment not only for the Chinese people, but the humanity as a whole. After all, we've already done it, and revered the same way all around the world.

      Not everything needs to be a race or competition. The cold war is over a couple of decades ago.

    • by rtaylor ( 70602 )

      When the Chinese land on the moon, they're not going to be leaving. Expect them to plant a flag, pull down the other flags, and start mining. Not to worry, you will be allowed to buy the resulting products.

  • by Nrrqshrr ( 1879148 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @05:46PM (#42916297)
    He managed to time it with the whole asteroid and russian meteor thing... maybe THIS will gather some public attention.
  • I am sceptical (Score:2, Interesting)

    by e3m4n ( 947977 )

    after reviewing report after report of the BILLIONS of rounds of ammunition purchased in the last year (more than the entire amount of ammunition spent in 6yrs of conflict in Iraq) for agencies like the NOAA and Social Security Administration, I would not be in the least surprised to hear that this proposed spending increase was yet another way to buy and arm more federal branches of the government while doing nothing to the status quot of the functionality of the departments themselves. Increasing spendin

    • by tiqui ( 1024021 )

      become the enforcer of Obamacare. In just 12 months, all Americans will be required to buy health insurance that meets Obama's specs. The IRS estimates that these policies will cost $20,000.00 per year per Adult (and $10,000.00 per year per child). If you do not buy this insurance for yourself, your spouse and your kids, you will be penalized by the IRS.... unless you are an illegal alien (they are specifically exempt from the penalty (it's right in the plain text of the law)). Oh, they do get the same care

      • As for the many millions (billions now? could be I suppose) of rounds Obama has been having all the non-military agencies buy... I have heard no explanation.

        If you're requiring all your Federal Agents to carry firearms (don't know if they are or not), then they're all required to qualify on their weapons. Which currently requires shooting anywhere from hundreds to thousands of rounds per year per agent.

        Don't know if this is the explanation, but it's not an unreasonable explanation, especially if rules ha

  • by GPS Pilot ( 3683 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @06:00PM (#42916453)

    16 months ago, Robert Zubrin wrote an essay [] exposing Obama's real intentions regarding NASA.

  • by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @06:09PM (#42916567) Journal

    but then it changed.

    How about we stop the stupid war in the middle east, spend that money on some good old space programs? How about we stop bullying other nations and instead work with them with a common goal, like space travel/colonies?

  • I personally want more research and development specially in the area of space research! But how to pay for it? we are already borrowing as much as taxes bring in to the Federal Government. That unsustainable.
  • Won't Ever Happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by organgtool ( 966989 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @06:22PM (#42916761)
    I've been saying this for a while. The last space race we had allowed 440,000 engineers to make advances in almost every sector of industry. From materials that could withstand the cold of space and the heat of re-entry to the computer and hardware that controlled the spacecraft, that decade was one of the most productive periods of technical advancement in human history. And we don't stand a chance of doing it again, not because there's a shortage of big technological problems, but because of the fact that there is a large segment of the population that believes that the government should not be involved in such technological advancements - the private sector should do it alone. And here we stand, at the sunset of the American empire, and many Americans are too ideological to see the value in having the government work in cooperation with the private sector to make another technological push that will propel us further out into the lead. We've already reduced government's role in technology quite a bit and yet we seem to be losing ground to the Chinese who are using a combination of the public and private sector to push forward. I know many people are rightly concerned about our national debt, but you have to spend money to make money. We just have to be a LOT better at taking the money we make and actually paying off our debt for once.
    • I think this "ideology" has something to do with the very realistic observation that the government isn't trustworthy, that they think the historical position of "we should not be murdering babies in the name of 'fulfilling one's potential'" is perhaps a rational one while those now in power are mandating even to those who are lawful and backed by the law and history on this position to pool resources into the hands of people who facilitate and pay for such child-murder (and bioethicists at major academic a
  • by tiqui ( 1024021 ) on Friday February 15, 2013 @06:50PM (#42917111)

    Obama was the one who created the "sequestration" plan (Liberal-favorite and Watergate hero journalists Bob Woodward reported this) and Obama signed it into law. Now he is demanding the GOP violate their principles as the price for avoiding sequestration... so the only way Obama will NOT chop NASA's funds is if the GOP caves-in on their principles and this might not happen; too many house Republicans have already outraged their base supporters by raising the limits on Obama's credit card over and over again (allowing him to drive-up nearly $7,000,000,000.000.00 in new debts). Obama is also the guy who tried to kill NASA's manned spaceflight capabilities; first he killed the bi-partisan Constellation program, then he shut-down shuttle operations (and ripped-up the infrastructure and tore the guts out of the orbiters (they all now have fake engines, gutted OMS pods and gutted FRCS modules) so they could never fly again). Sure, he has funded commercial cargo to ISS (this is the Bush "COTS" program, not an Obama program). Sure, he claims to be pushing "commercial" manned spaceflight (by tossing a little cash at 3 different companies), but [a] none of these companies has any firm commitment from the government (possibly why none has firm scheduled for manned flights) [b] they're not being given enough for a real program and [c] These programs are being run so slowly that none will carry anybody into orbit while Obama is in office. Congress (bi-partisan effort) forced Obama to plan to build the new SLS rocket and to keep working on the Orion capsule, but he has had his people slow-walk these programs in the apparent hope that dragging them out will frustrate congress and cause congress to cancel them (to such an extreme that the senate had to threaten legal action to get him to stop foot-dragging); there are no planned manned American space flights currently in any official NASA plan other than 1 possible flight around the moon (no landing) many yeas from now, possibly. maybe.

    • "Obama ... shut-down shuttle operations" -- that's a lie or damn near to it. Obama allowed shuttle operations to be shut down as per the plan for that established by the Bush administration in 2004. By the time Obama took office the shuttle program was winding down. Obama did cancel most of the bloated, overpriced and under funded Constellation program but that was because it was obvious that Constellation wasn't doing anything besides funnelling $$ billions to Morton-Thiokal, Boeing and Lockheed-Martin

  • Bush did this. Now Obama is doing it. The simple fact is that there wasn't money for it in Bush's administration, and there isn't money for it now.
  • And then give those drones to the police to make sure we aren't committing any crimes.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger