Monday, October 12, 2009

Is White House considering space funding boost

There are some hints out there that President Obama and his science advisers are leaning toward boosting funding for NASA and its human space-flight efforts.

The chorus of voices in support of a funding boost is growing louder.

  • Local elected leaders are pressing for it, and they're pushing a letter-writing campaign to get people to let the White House know how important space is to the country.

  • Influential members of Congress from space states like Texas and Florida last week called for the president to redirect several billion dollars in stimulus money to NASA.

  • A panel of space veterans studying NASA's future has determined that without another $3 billion a year, the space agency really can't afford a viable long-term human space exploration program.

  • Certainly, the top leadership of NASA -- past and present -- have been speaking up for more than a year now saying that the NASA budget does not provide enough funding to do its assigned jobs.

    Now, the president himself and some of the people likely to have his ear when decision-time comes later this year are beginning to talk more and more about a need to boost the nation's "investment" in science research and technological development.

    Case in point: Check out what the president said just a few days ago, when a bunch of space and science bigwigs assembled for a medal ceremony at the White House.

    It was followed by a stargazing event on the White House lawn during which the president peered through telescopes along with a small army of school kids.

    "At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we can't afford to invest in science, that it's a luxury at a moment defined by necessities. I could not disagree more," the president said.

    He went on to say that the nation would be boosting its investment in science, research and development in the coming years and went out of his way to praise the nation's goals in space exploration.

    Earlier in the week, his top science aide, John Holdren, was lobbying hard with members of Congress to restore smaller amounts of funding cut from NASA's budget.

    It's impossible to know whether the talk could lead to NASA getting enough money to help bridge the gap in human space flight or speed development of a replacement for the space shuttles.

    Certainly, there's been more talk in Washington of significantly hiking space spending in the past week or so than there has been in a very long time.

    Editor's note: Several Washington news outlets covered the astronomy event the other night and their stories are worth checking out:
  • Washington Post
  • FOX News
  • CBS News
  • 39 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    This is Obama's chance to show how much he is concerned for jobs. If the space shuttle stops alot of people lose their jobs

    Anonymous said...

    Hopefully not. NASA is the paragon of socialism!

    Anonymous said...

    we remember what you said in Titusville when you were begging for our votes (you did not get mine) about a "robust space program" Mr Obama, do you???

    Anonymous said...

    alot of inventions innovations and technologies have spawned from NASA. Socialism and most social prorams are a black money hole

    Anonymous said...

    Obama will do whatever buys him the most votes, particularly in Florida as a swing state. Boosting the shuttle instead of Ares is probably it, even though it makes no sense from any other perspective. NASA is not supposed to be a jobs program.

    Anonymous said...

    I sure as heck hope more money comes NASA's way - people don't realize just how much technology comes from every dollar invested in the space program. From several types of surgery we now enjoy, to the GPS we have all become so dependent on, the precise weather forcasts that satellite has given us to the laptop computers most people are reading this on - even if NASA did not design it - a requirement of a manned or unmanned space flight brought its existance about. The current budget is 17.3 billion a year - people may not realize this, but we wasted 1 billion this past year on "cash for clunkers" and I can promise no new technology came of that.

    Anonymous said...

    Why should he support the space program??? No one out there likes Obama, won't vote for him, so why should he be so concerned?

    Anonymous said...

    NASA waste lots money on lavish parties and public relations. Maybe they should cut back on some of the Unnecessary spending that goes on. At least demonstrate that they are willing to work with the President on this. It is funny how the same people that slam health care don't mind shelling out billions to NASA.

    Anonymous said...

    Waste of money and not fair to force the rest of us to pay for this crao

    Anonymous said...

    Why should Obama support the space program when so many out there don't like him and wouldn't vote for him anyway?! Shut it down, Mr. President! Let these Obama haters experience what its like to struggle and still think getting Government handouts is being "lazy"

    Anonymous said...

    he should resign right now

    Anonymous said...

    First we need to see where Posey and our new French Senator line up on health care. No health reform no NASA. Very simple.

    Anonymous said...

    Space will be the future and investing into space technology and space infrastructure are strategical important investments. That boosts the technological level of production, of products and increases the capabilities is space. Space is not a game you play just for scientific discoveries but for economic advantages. It may take 50 years or more if the first He3 gets refined on the moon but details like this may determine who can heat and light his homes powered by fusion energy and who have to sit in the cold dark. It's therefore not a spending into complacency but an investment into the future. Happily this have a lot of spin-offs making it worthwhile even today. Apollo was it worth even it was to early for the moon to build there a base. In time of Constellation the technology is advanced enough to return on the moon to establish there a sustainable base. Waiting 10 years means to lose 10 years and it's very hard to catch up 10 years. The raising days of satellites did start with Sputnik like a game for amateur radio operators. Today satellites means weather forecasting, earth observation, communication, resource exploration and scientific discoveries. Apollo was technological for the moom same like Sputink for terrestrial satellites. Thinking Constellation as something like "Apollo-steroids" is like thinking today satellites are just "Sputniks-on-steroids". Time for the moon is now.

    Anonymous said...

    Join the campaign. Write your letter to the President and ask him to appropriately fund human space exploration. http://www.SaveSpace.US

    Anonymous said...

    "Time for the moon is now."

    This would have sounded so cool in 1968.

    Anonymous said...

    If it benefits Obama ,he will fund it .If not he won't

    Anonymous said...

    we need better Tang

    Anonymous said...

    This is a real effort to be done by our Democrat Senator Nelson who is on both the Space and Finance Committees.

    Anonymous said...

    >>a lot of inventions innovations and technologies have spawned from NASA.

    True, but unfortunately not from human spaceflight. During the years from its founding in 1917 until the beginning of the moon race, every NACA/NASA project was intended to be of practical value. NACA developed the aerodynamics and structures that let the American civil aerospace industry lead the world. Even many of the first communications and weather satelites were developed by NASA (as proposed by JFK).

    But today "spinoffs" are supposed to be things the country gets "free" because they were needed for human spaceflight but can be used for other purposes. This kind of coincidence just doesn't happen. Claims that NASA invented pacemakers and the Internet are apocryphal. If NASA wants more taxpayer money, it must once again produce practical benefits for America, not as an accidental byproduct, but as its primary objective.

    Anonymous said...

    10:31 AM Anonymous said: "Why should he support the space program??? No one out there likes Obama, won't vote for him, so why should he be so concerned?"

    I always laugh when I read comments like this. The Republicans accuse KSC of being full of Democratic labor unions, while the Democrats accuse KSC of being full of Republicans. Just shows you that both political parties are full of stupid sheep.

    10:52AM Anonymous said: "Waste of money and not fair to force the rest of us to pay for this crao"
    I'd argue that 90% (if not more) of what the government spends is stuff that I don't need, but am forced to pay for. Seriously, I'd do just fine on my own. However, I realize it is the government's job to help society advance as a whole, and do the things that private industry cannot yet do to facilitate that progress. So, while I could live just fine on my own without the government, I accept that paying for services that I may not directly benefit from in my American Idol-watching, Big Mac-Eating, Give-it-To-Me-Now life are necessary for the betterment of society and human civilization.

    1:38 PM Anonymous said... ""Time for the moon is now."This would have sounded so cool in 1968."
    And it is this attitude that is going to cause the US to lose its edge in technology. American Idol is cool. Significant engineering achievement and exploration is not cool.

    2:51 PM: Anonymous Anonymous said: "we need better Tang"
    This is a common misconception. NASA did not invent Tang. NASA also did not "spend millions to develop the space pen while the Russians used a pencil."

    Anonymous said...

    The space program isn't simply about funding jobs. Although a lot of my friends and co-workers recently lost their jobs (in large part) because decisions are not being made about the space program. The space program is enormously important to us as Americans and, actually, as world citizens. Experiments and studies done in space - that would've taken an inordinate amount of time on earth - have benefited us all. Those who aren't aware of the technology we use every day that we have received as direct benefits of the space program, haven't done their research.

    Anonymous said...

    Just as the GOP must distance themselves from Rush to be taken seriously, NASA must distance themselves from forum psycho talkers who claim to work for the space agency.

    Anonymous said...

    Waste of money jobs program

    Anonymous said...

    But that money into research without the space waste

    Anonymous said...

    How about they stop wasting money on stupid made up jobs, my friend who is "so scared to lose his job" is the secretary of a secretary to a manager; not a director or VP a manager. And do you know what he does all day, gets coffee and roams the internet, not to mention how much time off he gets paid for. I think its something like 6 weeks a year, and double what my pay is. How about you get rid of all the people who dont do anything there, i used to travel there for work and there would be people roaming the halls like they had no where to go or nothing to do. Its ridiculous how much money we waste on them you know they each make at least $40K a year. I dont feel bad anymore for them, go look for a new job, you may actually have to do some work but quit complaining that you may loose your job,for the ones who work hard and bust their butts i feel bad for if they loose their jobs but everyone else...theres always McDonald's, they work hard too!

    Anonymous said...

    The future of humans in space lies with private industry now. The days of spending billions of taxpayers dollars to overpaid union employees has come to an end. It is not Obama's fault, it is simple economics. What is funny is that the union workers from the Cape feel entitled to their outrageous wages. If they made a wage comparable to the rest of those in Brevard county NASA would have billions to spend on research and development. I used to work out there, if that were a private company it would have gone belly up 30 years ago.

    Anonymous said...

    No NASA didn't invent the Space Pen, the Fisher company did using their own money because unlike the simple solution the Soviets used, we Americans can always do it better and it doesn't get erased when you need to cover up mistakes like the sneaky communists had a habit of doing.

    The only waste from manned space exploration in the waste that comes from not doing it!!!

    Anonymous said...

    Wow! anonymous has been busy. I agree with what has been said for the most part. Space is not a luxury item in the budget of a powerful country which means to remain so. The only ones benefiting from not continuing the Space program would be those countries which are 'in a hurry' to catch up when we step down! There is only so much that can be accomplished on Earth without being in Space...we know that...our enemies know that. Not everyone is educated enough in the field of Space and its capabilities and the power those capabilities create...it is not a luxury...it is a self preservation industry.
    If Obama does not support the Space program, he will go down in history as the person who turned the leave on the chapter where our country was successful despite its difficulties remained No. 1. The next chapter would be about the loss of power of the US and the celebration of the new leader/country that moved on to No. 1.
    Not Obama's choice, it is our choice!

    Anonymous said...

    I am 32 years old. A Professional Engineer. I don't live in Florida now, but, I hope to again some day to work at KSC.

    Why you ask? I read these comments, and all I can think is about our history and our future. I have 3 beautiful children all under the age of 4. Just a few weeks ago, they found the body of a human ancestor that was ~4 Million Years old. So, here we are, 4 Million years later. Yes, we have progressed. But, shold global warming be real, and we find it out 30 years from now, should our natural resources run out, and we find out 30 years from now, we would have really wished we gave it a try 30 years ago in 2009. It is not about the now. It is about our children, our legacy, and what we want to leave for them. Do we want them to look back and say we were weak, we didn't care about the possibilities, we didn't prepare the world for them properly. I don't look at my children and hope that. I hope that we just do it. Just do it. So what if we all pay a bit more a year. How much is it worth to "possibly" improve your children's and grandchildren's world? You don't know until you try. Another 4 Million years from now, what will people say about our generation? Or, will they no longer be human life because we didn't try to do enough to change our world? No one will not except those ahead of us.

    GO FOR IT! GO TO THE MOON, GO TO MARS, EXPLORE AND FIND WHAT WE DON"T KNOW YET...MAYBE WE WILL FIND THE SOLUTION TO OUR POWER NEEDS, OR CURE CANCER...you just don't know until you do it...

    Anonymous said...

    If NASA IG performed an audit on each and every department from the smallest shop or office to the 4th Floor of HQ the $ would no longer be a problem. The best way to tackle this would be to have a private inspection team to monitor all shifts and send them out on a search and destroy mission to find where the fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement is. It is a guarantee the team will find astonishing results that 80-90 Percent of the people monitored do not put in an honest work day and to go with that commit acts of corruption from years of good ole boy take care of me, I'll take care of you. There is no pride and what little there is, is because that person just started working there and has not been corrupted. The unions are a big part of the problem. Get rid of them!!! Look at the strikes a little over a year ago. Without the unions we got 4 launches off without any problems. 1st shift from 7-3:30 is 8.5 hours. An honest person would think per OSHA a 15 minute break at say 9:15 to 9:30, take a 30 minute lunch from 11:30-12:00 and another 15 minute break from 1:45-2:00. Yeah Right. An Honest Person eats breakfast before going to work. Most out at KSC get to work, shoot the bull over a few cigarettes or sit at their desk and read the paper or jump on line, hit one of the many cafeterias to have breakfast, and yes the day continues with very little work and work that is done is done with no urgency or ownership. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see it everywhere out there. Many of you reading this post actually work at KSC. The economy the way it is right now and hard working people out on the streets collecting unemployment, and you are safe, and not only are you safe, but you are making top pay. Leave the gates of KSC and hit Titusville or Merritt Island and see what kind of pay you will find for people doing the same job. The workforce at KSC could easily be cut by 60%! Think about it? Why do we need a 17,000 employee workforce to send 5-6 astronauts to the ISS or Hubble? Even at 10,000 people a day working 8 hours at $25.00 an hour is $2,000,000.00 a DAY and that number is very low, because most make well above $25/HR. This equates to $10 Million a week and $520 Million a Year just in pay roll not to include materials, tools, equipment, etc. It is a very diverse workforce at KSC we have private contractors and Federal Employees. Does it matter to compare? The private contractor is still getting paid by the Tax Payers Money to perform a task and the NASA Federal Employees should be setting the example for all to follow. I invite the media to drive the NASA Speedway SR 405 6:20-6:50 AM or in the afternoon after 3:30 PM. Every rule from speed limit, to crossing rumble strips, talking on cell phones, is broken and the same applies on center. The center director has sent out several bulletins of enforcement for driving on and off KSC. People are ignorant and continue to disobey. WHY? Why is it so hard to follow rules? Some people need a wake up call and others will never get it. Maybe there is a reason CCAFS no longer wanted to be part of the joint base and broke away. Let's explore, but explore and be accountable for how we do it. Tomorrows paper could read "John F Kennedy Space Center closes and Florida Wildlife and Parks division is hiring."

    Anonymous said...

    Money for NASA is an INVESTMENT in the future. Industries that have benefitted from NASA research include transportation (including highways, airplanes and automobiles), medicine, communications, energy, recycling, environment, materials science, textiles, computers, manufacturing, and on and on. Suffice it to say that every person in this country benefits from technologies that emerged from the human spaceflight program, nearly every minute of our lives! It is my desire that the nation have a worthwhile human exploration program—and all the terrestrial benefits that come with it. This is worth paying for.

    Anonymous said...

    Replying to 5:38AM Anonymous [PART ONE],

    I can't speak for the blue collar guys, but I have worked in both the white collar professional environment of government and the white collar professional environment of private industry (i.e., the office, cubicle farms, etc.). So my replies to your post should only be taken in that context: white collar, not blue collar.

    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM)"It is a guarantee the team will find astonishing results that 80-90 Percent of the people monitored do not put in an honest work day"

    *Define an honest workday. It's pretty subjective. If an honest workday involves not chatting around the water cooler, or hanging out in somebody's cubicle for a few minutes is not an honest day, then I'd say 80-90 percent of the private white collar industry doesn't put in an honest day either. Interesting article about worker productivity: http://www.salary.com/aboutus/layoutscripts/abtl_default.asp?tab=abt&cat=cat012&ser=ser041&part=Par485. Seems your "real world" is no different in that regard. Beyond that, there are some companies that encourage such "breaks" as a way of stimulating creativity. Creativity is certainly needed in the technical and even business environment. Just look at how some of the Silicone Valley guys operate.


    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM)"... years of good ole boy take care of me, I'll take care of you."

    *This is a fact of life in the white collar professional world, whether government or private. Why do you think there are so many professional networking organizations? What do you think Linkedin.com is all about? Those who realize that networking and good 'ole boy networks are, indeed, the "real world", are the ones who are able to advance and succeed. Those who choose to ignore them won't reap the benefits.


    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM)"The unions are a big part of the problem. Get rid of them!!!"

    *There are actually fewer unions at KSC than most people think. This is especially true for white collar professionals.


    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM) "An honest person would think per OSHA a 15 minute break at say 9:15 to 9:30, take a 30 minute lunch from 11:30-12:00 and another 15 minute break from 1:45-2:00."

    *Most professional white collar workers at KSC are salaried exempt. It is very common to put in 60 hours or more per week and not receive any overtime compensation. It is very common to work right through lunch, munching on a sandwich while reviewing that document, building a spreadsheet, working on a CAD model, or going over the latest computational fluid dynamics modeling results.


    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM) "An Honest Person eats breakfast before going to work. Most out at KSC get to work, shoot the bull over a few cigarettes or sit at their desk and read the paper or jump on line, hit one of the many cafeterias to have breakfast"

    *While working in private industry today, my team and I will often go to the restaurant across the street, and get a nice hot breakfast while discussing industry news, objectives for the week, or something related to whatever project we are working on.

    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM) "very little work and work that is done is done with no urgency or ownership."

    *Not true at all. When you are writing software, writing a document, or developing a part in CAD, you are producing a product. If that product consistently sucks, you lose the respect of your peers and that good 'ol boy network erodes. Also, competition is high in the white collar professional world. The really motivated ones put a lot into their products to get ahead of the other guy. Also, a lot of the professionals out at the space center are there, not because they live in Brevard County, but because a passion for space brought them there.

    Anonymous said...

    Replying to 5:38AM Anonymous [PART TWO],


    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM)"...and you are safe, and not only are you safe..."

    *Ummm.... maybe you haven't heard of things like the Augustine Commission or Shuttle Retirement...????? Safe? Are you kidding?!


    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM)"but you are making top pay."

    *Not really. Private industry pays higher than government for many professional skills. You'll likely make more doing video game design than writing flight dynamics software.


    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM) "Leave the gates of KSC and hit Titusville or Merritt Island and see what kind of pay you will find for people doing the same job."

    *Titusville and MI don't have much to offer for professionals anyway. If you leave KSC, you don't stick around in Brevard County, you look elsewhere. Often, you find other geographic locations pay more.

    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM) "The workforce at KSC could easily be cut by 60%!"

    *Uh huh...? And you've based this on what objective analysis? Do you have a background in aerospace program management? Lean six sigma? HR? Do you know what goes into processing a manned reusable spacecraft that flies a unique mission each time it goes up? Please, explain your analysis, and show the data. Heck, you might even convince the AIAA to publish an industry peer-reviewed paper on the subject since you seem to have this brilliant plan to reduce headcount by 60%.


    (Anonymous @ 5:38AM) "I invite the media to drive the NASA Speedway SR 405 6:20-6:50 AM or in the afternoon after 3:30 PM. Every rule from speed limit, to crossing rumble strips, talking on cell phones, is broken and the same applies on center."

    I invite the media to do the same on I-95 as Brevardians and non-Brevardians are driving to their non-KSC workplace. They will see similar results. I also invite them to clock people on 405 on the weekends. Undoubtedly, they will find that Joe Non-KSC Brevardian drives just as fast even though he's not headed for the KsC gate.

    Anonymous said...

    I bet Obama is gonna wait till NASA launches Ares to make a decision. If I was him I would. Figure if Ares launches with no issues and makes it to orbit, why not fund it? If it breaks up in flight, as it has thousands of times in computer models, then no cash. I mean honestly, NASA got its start building rockets which are way, way, way less complicated than the Space Shuttle. If NASA can't build a decent rocket in the 21st Century, then maybe it's time to kill the beast and everyone along with it. Turn space exploration over to private industry or others like Russia, China, Europe.

    Anonymous said...

    WASTE...WASTE...WASTE...THAT WHAT MOST OF THE PROGRAMS NASA IS ALL ABOUT. 79 MILLION TO BOMB THE MOON....WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP! FOR ALL THE OBAMA HATERS...WHO WORK AT NASA...I HOPE HE SHUTS YOU ALL DOWN. YOU DON'T DESERVE A HIGH PAYING JOB. FOR THE ONES WHO SUPPORT HIM, YOU SHOULD KEEP YOUR JOB BUT....A LOT OF THOSE PROJECTS ARE JUST PLAIN STUPID....AND ASK NASA HOW MUCH THEY WASTE EVERY TIME THE SHUTTLE IS SUP[POSED TO GO UP AND DOES NOT....WASTE..........

    Anonymous said...

    Do not increase funding!!!
    Remember the new motto" do more with less"

    Graham said...

    There's no need to SHOUT !.

    Walt Disney World said...

    Well if the Fundings really boost NASA's objective....its okay. But where's the gurantee ?

    Graham said...

    This is a test rocket folks not the final Ares 1,the X symbol is always added to the name of test vehicles.It's not going into orbit either it's flight will take it to 150,000 ft,and fly in an curve. Then the booster will drop away and fall back into the atlantic to be recovered.

    Then the upper stage will be recovered after that,it's simply to collect flight data to be used in the final design phase of Ares 1 proper. Nasa knows this is the best way to proove design.