Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Panel: NASA needs at least $3 billion more a year

Eun Kyung Kim reports from Washington:

NASA should rely more on commercial space companies to help it reduce costs and access low Earth orbit, a presidential review panel told the White House today in a report that spelled out how behind schedule and severely underfunded the agency's space program is.

"The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory," the panel wrote in the opening line of an executive summary of a report it plans to submit later this month.

Read the report by clicking here and join our town hall forum on the issue by clicking here.

NASA needs at least an extra $3 billion a year to sustain a "meaningful human exploration" program, including its current plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020.

The panel also said the agency's current spaceflight program could lead to a gap in human spaceflight would last "at least seven years long" once the space shuttles are retired at the end of next year, or possibly in 2011.

The panel also suggested keeping the International Space Station in operation until 2020, as opposed to current plans to end work on the floating laboratory five years earlier.

"It seems unwise to de-orbit the Station after 25 years of assembly and only five years of operational life," the panel said. "Not to extend its operation would significantly impair U.S. ability to develop and lead future international spaceflight partnerships."

White House spokeswoman Gannet Tseggai said the White House plans to publicly release the full report once it's received.

"Until the options are thoroughly considered, it would be premature for anyone to draw conclusions from the committee's work," she said. "The president will consult with senior advisors, including the NASA administrator, before making his final decisions."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, said President Barack Obama "clearly has a number of choices" spelled out in the summary.

"But one thing is clear - unless the president is willing to invest an extra $3 billion-a-year, America will surrender the global leadership in science and technology it derives from space exploration," he said in a statement. "He needs to act boldly, like President Kennedy did before him."

The panel, formally known as the U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, was chaired by Norm Augustine. The retired Lockheed Martin chief executive is scheduled to testify about the panel's work next Tuesday before the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee.


Brevard said...

Written here is Brevard’s future. More unemployment? more lower property values, and more layoffs? It is all up to Obama now… Only one stroke of his pen and everything will be "changed".

Anonymous said...

De-orbiting the space station in 2015 is crazy. Also, if the astronauts can't stay in deep space for more than 200 days (due to radiation) then the exploration program will have to be re-planned. Whether Ares I is the correct way to put people in orbit is definitely not clear.

BigDixiedog said...

Ya...no kidding..de-orbiting the space station in 2015 is crazy. That is like paying a 30 year loan on a house and then setting the house on fire. Maybe they should strap a couple of engines on the space station and use it to go the moon? They could orbit the moon and send down a small craft to land on it. Hey,I am not a rocket scientist and it is only an idea.

Anonymous said...

So I click on the link "Read the report by clicking here" and I go...to this story again?

Anonymous said...

After all the billions spent bulding the ISS anything short of running it "till the wheels fall off" would be insane.

Anonymous said...

GOP in this county fight the President on every front and every thing he tries to do, didn't even want him to talk to the school children.
More unemployment, lower property values. more layoffs, so what, tell me tell me why he should put more money in NASA just so the GOP can look good.
No money for Healthcare no money for NASA,let the GOP run this county in the ground like they did for the last few years.
Down with NASA at this time, vote in different people next time and perhaps thing can turn around.

Anonymous said...

Till the wheels fall off....

Its a 3 billion plus per year rat hole...why continue digging a deeper hole. Fry it save the money to invest in real space exploration and go somewhere.

Anonymous said...

"Whether Ares I is the correct way to put people in orbit is definitely not clear."

Actually, that's the only thing that is clear. Ares I is not the right vehicle for the job. Commercial launchers for LEO is the right vehicle. Not-Shuttle-C or DIRECT is the right vehicle for beyond LEO.

Anonymous said...

Since FT "screwed the pooch" with the Preliminary Report link
here it is...


BTW...hey FT...I need a job...possibly as a QC tech on your stories? :)

Rocketman said...

Here is the report:


Gaetano Marano said...

as already predicted a week ago in my latest article -- http://www.ghostnasa.com/posts2/052strangestory.html -- the Augustine Commission Report has give only options (EIGHT) but NO CLEAR ANSWERS
so, there are ZERO CHANCES for the (much less expert about Space) politics to decide the right things for NASA and the future of human space exploration
the "core" of the Report substantially is that "with more money NASA can do more" while "with less money NASA can do less"
it seems not to read a Report written by TEN "space experts" but only something that is so OBVIOUS to be Lapalissade -- http://ow.ly/oA6K
paraphrasing the (287-212 B.C.) Archimedes of Syracuse's statement "Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth." -- http://ow.ly/oA6W -- the Augustine Commission (after THREE MONTHS of "hard" work...) is only able to say "Give enough money to NASA, and NASA will move beyond Earth."

Anonymous said...

1) Let's take anyone who says we need to keep flying shuttles to not be dependent on the Russians and give them a lesson in Econ 101. Duh. The Russians want to charge $50M to launch a US astronaut to the ISS. Because we are indignant at that, we'd rather spend $1B+++ to launch three astronauts to the ISS (btw, one would be a "freebie" to the Euros, so we'd only get two). Duh. Seems to me we'd save 90% by allowing the Russians to do it "better, faster, cheaper and safer." Excuse me for being so dumb, but why pay $1000 to have my oil changed when I can get it done for $30? God, I must be dumb.

2) The new Japanese freighter launches in a few days. We find out then if they can do it (deliver cargo) better, faster, cheaper and safer than an overpriced manned vehicle. Duh. Why pay billions to launch cargo with a risky manned mission when we can pay pennies to do it cheaper and safer via unmanned. Duh. Obviously I am really dumb because I can't cipher the problem. ("Well, gol durn.")

Duh. Duh. Duh. OK, I just drank three gallons of NASA kool-aid. Let's keep launching shuttles! Who cares what they cost! It ain't but a gnat pimple on the budget! We can't be dependent on them thar commies! Let's make Sally Ride the chief mahuff! Well, dad burned! We can just keep launching shuttled until they get a new system even if that (likely, to be honest) takes 15 years!

America used to be a world leader. Now we are the leader in stupidity. Put me in charge and we will reduce the six remaining shuttle flights to five and allow that eliminated flight (spare parts) to be done better, faster, cheaper and safer by the Russians and Japanese.

If this were your own personal money, not one sane person out of 6 billion on Earth would keep flying the shuttle after the 4 flights to complete the ISS and the 1 flight for the telescope. It is dumber than dumb.

Signed, Microwave

Anonymous said...

That is less money that Obama gave ACORN ($4.2) in the TARP fund...do the math, what is going to give civilization better results ?

Anonymous said...

The report DOES say/push two things...offload LEO to "Contractors"...for which at least two of its members have possible conflicting interests...but do it with gov't "guarantees"...$$$...which seems the norm these days in America. Do THAT and then maybe you can pick up a year is the theme.

I don't buy that at all.

I know I'm no rocket scientist but something tells me that if NASA was given an extra $10 Billion a year that "gap" would
close awfully fast.

The second thing it notes is NASA being handcuffed in its finance allocation processes and the inflexibilty to terminate programs quickly if they aren't working out. THAT needs to change. READ Section 5.0 again folks.

And this is NOT about the Russians, who you can NEVER trust in ANY business dealings anyway. You think they'll honor that "Contracted cost" once the shuttles are retired? When they know they have the U.S. by short hairs that deal will go right out the window. They already tried that went the last shuttle went down.

I anxiously await the Japanse HTV launch on 9/11. I hope it makes it and works as its a TEST flight. If it does and they can deliver it consistantly we may be in a better position. Also it would allow the Shuttle to be extended but used judiciously.

Anyone notice how the Chinese have been REALLY quiet the last 18 months? Odds are they'll be on the moon before we get back there.

So "O" has a choice...increase the funding and save ALOT of jobs or not...plain and simple...the '10 elections start real soon and the way things have been going for the Dems lately its a toss up.

Personally I think he'll go "Flex" and give them as little as possible, probably the $3 Billion, just to get this out of the way and off the radar. If he's smart he'll give them more...and it will go thru Congress...lots of Dem AND Repug contractors and jobs on the line...AND use it as a political issue playing up the PRIOR "goal rhetoric" AND the underfunding.

Then again this guy may just be stupid enough to pull the plug completely and if that happens people on the Space Coast will be giving their homes away for $20 just like when Nixon killed Apollo.

So 9/15 is the day they offically get the report I think...doubt we'll hear anything after that for a while.

Anonymous said...

Irrespective of what the Augustine panel recommends, sad truth is the civilian US space programme is not a priority for Congress. Most politicians honestly don't care about returning astronauts to the Moon, let alone sending them on to Mars. It's the military/industrial complex which is lavished with tax dollars. I do not doubt Orion will be fly, but if it ever carries humans to the Moon it won't happen for decades. Besides, Obama wants to introduce a universal health system - and rightly so . Currently a quarter of the US population has no cover because they cannot afford it. If you were among them, would you rather have the bucks poured into Ares? Or access to medical treatment? Then there is Afghanistan... Either politicans support the century-long nation-building efforts there. Or they support the century-long effort it would take to colonise other worlds. I certainly hope the International Space Station continues till 2020 otherwise human spaceflight in the Western hemisphere will grind to a complete halt. At least ISS gives us a breathing space (literally) until commonsense prevails. And if it means NASA astronauts hitching a ride with Russia or commercial firms, so be it

Anonymous said...

Well I'm sure that he can find $3 Billion in "wasted" funds in a $650 Billion PER YEAR DOD budget.