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Former astronaut Sally Ride says NASA's budget of $18B a year is insufficient to pursue the goals of both returning to the moon and keeping the space station going. (NASA FILE)
WASHINGTON - NASA's Constellation program, conceived four years ago to return Americans to the moon by 2020, can't afford to do that -- and the agency's budget won't allow humans to explore beyond the international space station for two decades, a presidential panel has concluded.
NASA's annual budget of about $18 billion will pay to keep astronauts flying -- albeit aboard Russian rockets -- to the space station through 2020, the panel said Wednesday. But that would leave no money for the moon, Mars or exploring other parts of the solar system for at least two decades.
"We haven't found a scenario that includes exploration that's viable," said former astronaut Sally Ride, one of 10 committee members who have until Aug. 31 to present President Barack Obama with future options for NASA.
Panel chairman Norm Augustine, the retired CEO of Lockheed Martin, said NASA is the victim of budget cuts and technical problems with its Constellation program of new rockets and capsules that are supposed to return humans to the moon.
"The money available has declined considerably since the program began," he said. "On the other hand, the Constellation program has proven to be more difficult than it was thought to be."
Augustine added, "It will be difficult with the current budget to do anything that's terribly inspiring in the human spaceflight area. On the other hand, there are things you can do to prepare. ... It just won't come as soon."
The panel said it would take at least $3 billion more per year for NASA to have a "reasonable chance" of getting to the moon or elsewhere in the solar system before 2030. And though committee members seemed to support more money, it's not clear where, in a time of trillion-dollar-plus federal deficits, the cash would come from.
Obama Must Choose Between Cars And Rockets.
Detroit's automotive industry is like a bad horror film, they are truly the walking dead. As a country do we continue to throw billions of dollars at the mummified corporate zombies.
Should we spend our time, resources, and attention bandwidth on automotive industry life support, or would the country be better off focusing on those industries such as space technologies that represent the future of this country and all of mankind.
It is ironic that while the mission of NASA is inspiring and noble, unfortunately NASA, like the Detroit automakers, is plagued by some basic and fundamental organization issues. NASA has had many successes, but is rightly criticized for being slow, wasteful and unimaginative.
Meanwhile, the space programs in other countries such as China, have caught up, and in some ways, surpassed our programs. The problems facing the U.S. space program are not budget or technology but a woeful lack of leadership and pervasive political and bureaucratic dysfunction.
Originally posted by ExPostFacto
reply to post by ChemBreather
lol Isn't funny that you post serious stuff and nobody comments. Yet the guy with half the intelligence makes a post that is titled "OMFG LOL HOLY SH%& U R GONNA DYE!!!!" Gets like 100 flags and 300 comments.
I've made it a point lately to give flags to well articulated posts, rather than posts that everyone seems compelled to comment on.
S&F...the information is interesting to me thank you for sharing.
Moon or space station? Budget means NASA must pick, panel says
Originally posted by yeti101
personally im not a fan of manned spaceflight. Cant see the point when we can do the same things with robot probes at a fraction of the cost.
cost/science return ratio from manned spaceflight is so bad its not worth doing it. Science missions are getting canned left , right & center so nasa can follow its infantile obsession with sending humans into space.
4 missions which would advance our understanding of the laws of physics have been canned. TPF & TPF-C planet finding missions have been shelved indefinitley becuase of constellation. The list goes on I say dump the moon program and instead further our understanding of the universe and our place in it.
[edit on 14-8-2009 by yeti101]