“If astronauts are ever to venture again beyond low-Earth orbit…”

US President Barack Obama has set out the details of his new policy for Nasa. You can watch his speech here, introduced by a less-tearful-than-before Charlie Bolden, or read the Whitehouse script. There are also more details in the accompanying Fact Sheet [pdf file]. It’s been welcomed by the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and criticised by three prominent former Apollo commanders. But not Buzz Aldrin… The BBC’s Spaceman, Jonathan Amos, sums up.

The previous administration’s ideas to go back to the Moon are history; the shuttle fleet will be retired at the end of this year; and the private sector will be asked to loft astronauts to a life-extended space station. What we did get that was new was some specifics – some targets, a timeline. There was a commitment to start work on a big new rocket no later than 2015, to send astronauts on missions beyond low-Earth orbit in a little over 10 years from now (including to asteroids), and to try to circle Mars by the mid-2030s.

Meanwhile, in the first of two videos to mark the Hubble Space Telescope’s 20th anniversary, Hubblecast 35 provides a short history of the origins of the orbiting telescope – including the delays caused by US budgetary concerns. Video credit: ESA/Hubble

  • Michaelhenry

    6 billion to take idiots from nasa to mars during the worlds worst credit crunch, im sure americas underprivileged will give 3 cheers when they got the news.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “6 billion to take idiots from nasa to mars during the worlds worst credit crunch, im sure americas underprivileged will give 3 cheers when they got the news.”


    And cross-ref your comment with the other soul’s comment on that other thread about touring the world and seeing the impoverished. Been there and done that myself and it isn’t a pretty sight. Seems that when some were in church their preacher didn’t speak to that part about how when I was hungry you fed Me not…

  • Pete Baker

    Well, ‘idiots’ is correct.

    It’s just directed at the wrong targets.

    As usual.

    Let us know how the sand tastes.

  • Pete Baker
  • slappymcgroundout

    Sorry, Pete, but in a world where 3 million little ones will die of preventable disease this year, just as they died last year, the year before that, and so on, there is no wrong target. The asshat is crying over end of his beloved program. Should instead shed some tears for the little ones I’ve watched die from either preventable disease or a chronic severe malnutrition now outright starvation that’s a little too far along to stop. Would be nice to do the space thing, but the current circumstance doesn’t afford us that luxury, at least not if we say that we care about our fellow humans living in a dire want of base necessity. And both the polticos and the rocket scientists should understand that point. Callously indifferent, or self-absorbed, is the only reason why they don’t. That much is certain.

  • Pete Baker

    At the risk of breaching Slugger’s ‘ball not man’ rule…


  • Peter Fyfe

    Space exploration is important in pushing new boundaries in science. It is not only a mark of human progress but a catlyst for it.

  • slappymcgroundout

    Almost forgot:


    Note that my state, Hawaii, has one of the lowest rates of child hunger. So we don’t eat sand. We have a word for how we see ourselves, ohana, one big family. And we find the fact that 19% of children in America live in poverty to be absolutely appalling and immoral in the extreme. Again, let the asshat at NASA cry over that.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “6.At the risk of breaching Slugger’s ‘ball not man’ rule…


    It isn’t Slugger’s rules, but the logical fallacy of argumentum ad hominem. So thanks for conceding the debate, or as Cicero once said, when you have no defense, attack the plaintiff.

  • Pete Baker

    “So we don’t eat sand.”

    But you, personally, have your head in it.

    Detail where the “3 million little ones” have died.

    And detail the budgets of the countries where those “little ones” have died.

    Or do you think the US budget should address such problems?

    Maybe a World Government could allocate the required funds?

  • Peter Fyfe

    I should say that point was addressed to those that believe science funding should be cut in a time of recession,my comment wasn’t very clear. The advances in scientific knowledge and the technological advances that go with it is surely an arguement for investing in such a program at this time. It is a sad day when people would try to limit the scope of knowledge that we currently have, if anything science is woefully funded.

  • Michaelhenry

    maybe there is no votes for the underprivileged in america, the same has every where else, but if 6 billion is enough to save a million people, 100 people or just 1 person then this is what the peoples money should go towards.

  • Peter Fyfe


    It is estimated that NASA spending brings a ROI of 33% on its spending. Thats without detailing the many scientific breakthroughs that have resulted from NASA research. What better way to eradicate poverty than creating wealth. You may have an arguement with domestic policies in the US where funds may be allocated more efficiently or even the defence budget which accounted for 23% of Federal spending in the US. This compared to the 0.5% recieved by NASA. NASA is not causing child poverty, you sound like some young earth nutter .

  • Michaelhenry

    what better way to eradicate poverty than creating wealth, yup lets make the rich richer and forget about those in poverty, then there is no proplem.

  • Peter Fyfe

    ‘what better way to eradicate poverty than creating wealth’

    I cant believe you are being sarcastic making that statement. Do you have any grasp of economics? Do you not believe in the creation of jobs? 20% spent on social security and 0.5% on NASA, catch your self on.

  • slappymcgroundout

    And professing to be wise, they became fools. Who cares about boundaries in science unless the expansion of the boundary aids our humanity? You can’t feed the starving and the malnourished with notions of dark matter. Nor does knowing that there might be caves out there on some rock in space serve to prevent preventable disease.

    And we aren’t speaking to cutting all science, just useless science that concerns itself with caves on rocks in outer space. I’m all for other manifestations of science.

    Lastly, the two of you are just a tad bit too desperate when it comes to the matter of inspiration. From a piece from National Review online:

    Take Adam Keiper, whose thoughtful piece, “A New Vision for NASA,” is a space-debate must-read (see also his NRO piece). Keiper dismisses many of the justifications for space travel. Space mining is unlikely to be cost-effective. The economics of space tourism are questionable. Years of science on the space shuttle and space station have yielded little of practical use. Since human extinction isn’t looming, we don’t need to invest in a second home. The real reason to send men into space, says Keiper, is sheer inspiration.

    So, millions die yearly because you have no inspiration and so need to find your inspiration in space. Pathetic in the extreme.

    Almost forgot, but courtesy of The Telegraph:

    Forget giant leaps for mankind, Nasa is a machine for spending money. That fact has been driven home by the ignominious failure of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a $278 million package which blasted off from Vandenberg air force base on Tuesday and promptly crashed into the Pacific. The satellite, we were told, would advance the study of global warming. But Nasa isn’t interested in global warming; it simply realises that wearing green is a way to get government money.
    Obscenely expensive manned missions mean that practical, earth-based science suffers, as does the genuinely valuable satellite research so essential to the way we live today. It is no wonder that the most articulate opposition to the Apollo missions came from Nobel scientists who objected to the way their budgets were bled in order to fund an ego trip to the moon.
    The time has come to pull the plug on meaningless gestures in space. An expensive mission to the moon (especially at a time of global recession) seems like lunacy when terrestrial frontiers such as disease, starvation and drought cry out for cash. Furthermore, expensive space missions add credence to fundamentalist allegations about American spiritual vacuity.
    But the final word goes to Eisenhower, who once vetoed Apollo. He reminded Americans that “every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed”.

    You tell ’em Ike.

  • Peter Fyfe

    I forgot it is those rockets that leave everybody starving

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Thats without detailing the many scientific breakthroughs that have resulted from NASA research.”

    Please, enlighten us. There aren’t much, if any, “breakthoughs” that I know of. So, again, enlighten us. The truth is that private industry, and not NASA, came up with just about every valuable spin-off and such would have been discovered, found, and/or invented without any space program whatsoever. From The New Atlantis:

    One flawed justification for sending humans into space is the promise of scientific or technological “spin-offs.” In my experience, there are three kinds of liars—ordinary liars, damned liars, and spin-off claimers. Of course, when you spend billions of dollars on a human spaceflight program, you’re going to get some spin-offs. And a great many of the spin-offs supposedly developed by NASA were actually developed quite independently by private industry, which used NASA as good advertising. NASA loved it, because they could tout these achievements in front of Congress and look like they were doing something useful.

  • Reader

    slappymcgroundnut: Sorry, Pete, but in a world where 3 million little ones will die of preventable disease this year…
    We start with alchemy, and we end up with the pharmaceutical industry. We start with a monk pottering about in a garden, and we end up with GM crops. A man notices that cowgirls don’t die of smallpox, and we end up with vaccinations.
    It’s beyond your power to see where we are going – but it is certainly possible to slam the brakes on.
    There is *massive* frivolous spend in the western world – jet flights to holiday destinations leap to mind. A bit of government spend that motivates able people to take up science as a career is well worth it, in comparison.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Space exploration….is a vanity project. It isnt Science.
    Addressing the planets real problems rather than spending billions on worthless projects might be a better use of scientists.
    Of course the poor dont have any money.
    So they dont count.