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Space Log: What we can, can't afford

George Leopold
11/19/2010 04:57 PM EST

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centeright
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
centeright   11/30/2010 1:42:41 AM
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Mr. Leopold clearly lays out his political leanings in this peace by focusing exclusively on military spending and dismissing the value of a program that reached its height in the turmoil of the 60's and was crippled by the "strategic vision" of Nixon (You are kidding, right?). Let's neglect his comments on the destabilizing nature of ABM's except to offer up the description that MAD is like two parties trapped in a room full of gasoline each making more and more matches. Leopold then valiantly offers to defund manned exploration -- and development which is the part we keep neglecting -- of space, yet he completely ignores the true source of our budgetary problems that also got their start in the 60's, namely medicare and medicaid as well as social security which started 2 decades earlier. Manned exploration of space is a pittance compared to these voracious behemoths. So here's my pain: raise the retirement age to 70 for anyone under the age of 60 tomorrow and index it to life expectancy going forward. As to manned spaceflight, well, continue to fund the program but stop using it as a congressional jobs giveaway with facilities spread across the country to ensure a sufficient number of congressmen and senators have a vested interest to fund it. Perhaps turn the funding into well defined X-prizes with significant milestones and truly incentivize the private sector to solve the system and logistical problems. Finally, understand that space is not just about making pretty pictures for postcards and magazine covers or to provide data so some grad student can write their thesis or get their government grant. Space is about holding the strategic high ground and restoring a frontier and all the benefits that come from that to a nation that has grown complacent, indecisive, risk-averse, and simply timid.

Carlos1966
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
Carlos1966   11/29/2010 2:52:41 PM
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The comment appears to me to be transparently one sided. Here are some contrary opinions: The nuclear weapons we possess are extremely important in keeping us safe in an increasingly dangerous world. Developing and testing (for real - not in simulations) newer, more advanced ones is essential to preserve our nuclear capabilities. Passing this knowledge on to a new generation before the old one is entirely gone is most easily done by designing newer/better weapons. Manned space flight is crucial to our maintaining leadership in space. We should revive the old and new Orion projects. There is obviously plenty of money in the Democrat budget for destroying useful older vehicles and subsidizing the purchase of newer ones (foreign and domestic). How about giving NASA the money it needs for both manned and unmanned programs? How about establishing a permanent lunar base using the water at the poles that we've recently discovered? How about using the moon as a jumping off point to the rest of the solar system with space ships powered by nuclear external combustion engines?

Silicon_Smith
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
Silicon_Smith   11/26/2010 5:40:12 PM
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On that note, is it neccessary to have human presence to gain and hold a territory? I think Manned missions are show-off.

Bob Virkus
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
Bob Virkus   11/26/2010 4:30:32 PM
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C averages being acceptable doesn't surprise me; sad as it is. Students are bored out of their skulls at school where they don't do anything. The have a steady diet of pablum which they regurgitate on their standardized tests. Today's high school curriculum doesn't seem to offer or promote engineering as an option. Maybe science/technical/engineering programs can actually give students something to do, to build things, to experience the joy of discovery and to offer a career.

Bob Virkus
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
Bob Virkus   11/22/2010 10:48:17 PM
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For the next few years it might be difficult to get funding for even robotic missions. In the meantime, it might be use to spend invest in science/technical/engineering education so that, when we do have the nerve to explore again, there will still be the bright minds to build the stuff. The loss of institutional knowledge in space technology is significant and is only getting worse.

Robotics Developer
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
Robotics Developer   11/22/2010 9:54:24 PM
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At the risk of starting down a hole I might suggest that instead of cutting NASA's budget we consider serious cuts in: foreign aid, federal education, grants, subsidies, etc. It seems to me that we could save billions by reducing or eliminating everything not directly supported by the US Constitution. While that may also include cutting NASA (not being listed in the US Constitution) I would say that the NASA program supports national defense and should be supported. Likewise, government support for some technology development outside of space might fall under the general heading of "good for the country" and might be a reasonable use of federal dollars. In order to preserve and protect the country federal funding for alternate energy, more efficient engine technologies, food/medicine development all might be appropriate. What is not is false economies driven by federal subsidies or mandates. I would strongly encourage those who are called to be the leaders to consider losing the wasteful programs and expenditures and keep the programs that produce like: NASA, energy, etc. At the federal level and below, we should require prudent use of those funds; robotic/remote exploration of space is a great example of more bang for the buck.

george.leopold
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
george.leopold   11/22/2010 4:01:31 PM
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Agree, Duane. The manned flights are about national prestige, which is why China is gearing up its manned program as a way to flex its muscles on the international stage. The real science and discovery are being done by our magnificent machines that are exploring the solar system. My sense is that many of NASA's suppliers understand that they need to provide components that will allow for even greater machine autonomy and reliability. There are a range of new probes in the pipeline that will continue to push the boundaries of space exploration.

Duane Benson
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
Duane Benson   11/20/2010 12:00:24 AM
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Over the last few years, I've head a lot of comments, written and verbal, about the decline of the US space program. "We went to the moon in 1969 and have been stuck in low Earth orbit since." I've heard that if we don't go back to the moon and on to Mars, we'll be ceding our technical leadership to China or someone else with "more vision" that we have. Yes, manned space exploration is special, and when appropriate, should be on our space agenda. But, why should we feel compelled follow in what is basically a publicity stunt when we actually did the same thing forty years ago? We can't lose the manned race to the moon because we were there FORTY YEARS AGO. And if you think that we have wasted those forty years doing nothing of value or stuck in LEO, consider that we not only have robots on Mars, but we have robots orbiting Mars that have taken pictures of our robots on the surface as well as of one of our robots in descent for landing. Yes, we have taken pictures of our Mars explorers taken by our Mars explorers. Who else can even come close to that? If that's not enough, we have explored Saturn and Jupiter. We have Hubble which changed astronomy forever. We have probes so far out that they are leaving the Solar System. We have one on the way to Pluto. We have landed on an asteroid. By postponing our maned exploration for a while, as you suggest George, we are not ceding any bit of our space leadership. We're simply plowing on into the future by doing things far more advanced and far more valuable than just repeating something that was world-leading forty years ago.

lcovey
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re: Space Log: What we can, can't afford
lcovey   11/19/2010 8:40:19 PM
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I totally agree about both, especially NASA. Having the Ames Laboratory just down the road I have a chance to often meet with entrepreneurs working on space-related startup tech and I know the biggest concern is that whenever NASA cuts come, it's the robotics and satellites that take the biggest hits. they need to turn that paradigm around. We need human involvement in the issues of this planet right now.

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