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Past heroes assail Obama's future plans...

... for NASA:

The first man to walk on the moon blasted President Barack Obama's decision to cancel NASA's back-to-the-moon program on Tuesday, saying that the move is "devastating" to America's space effort.

Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong's open letter was also signed by Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon; and Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell, who is marking the 40th anniversary of his famous lunar non-landing this week.


Canceling Constellation could lead to thousands of layoffs at some of America's biggest aerospace contractors, including Lockheed Martin, the Boeing Co. and ATK. Such job losses are among the factors behind congressional opposition to the cancellation. Armstrong and his fellow astronauts emphasize the bigger implications, however, and say in their letter that the decision would put the nation on a "long downhill slide to mediocrity."


In their letter, the astronauts say that the availability of such craft "cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope."

Armstrong and his colleagues complained that the cancellation would amount to wasting the roughly $10 billion that has been allocated to Constellation over the past five years. "Equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to re-create the equivalent of what we will have discarded," they wrote.

"For the United States, the leading spacefaring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second- or even third-rate stature," they said in the letter.

"America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space," the astronauts said. "If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal."

America has decided that leadership in anything is no longer a goal. 

At least that portion of America that elected the cabal of leftists that lead this country today.

Crossposted at Brutally Honest.


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Comments (14)

We tossed $800 billion into... (Below threshold)

We tossed $800 billion into the 'stimulus' bucket with no real effect on jobs and the economy.

What would have happened if we'd boosted the budget of NASA by $10 billion a year for the next 10 years - solid funding, not subject to administrative whims on cancellation - just a caveat that at the end of that time the following 4 things HAD to be in place, or NASA would be permanently dismantled...

1. A man-rated booster capable of carrying 100,000 lbs of cargo to low earth orbit. (Preferably done in the first three years...)

2. An autonomus cargo booster capable of carrying 200,000 lbs to orbit, developed over the same time frame.

3. A second space station in place, capable of housing 50 people full-time. (To be in place at the end of the first 6 years...)

4. A lunar colony with at least 10 people in residence full-time. (To be in place at the end of 10 years.)

How many jobs would be created? How many new companies would arise to provide NASA the pieces and parts to hit their goals? How much of an impetus would this give to kids to go into science and engineering tracks in school? How many dreams would it spark, how many dreamers given the chance to become doers?

What technical innovations would we see from the advances needed to pursue this course?

What do we get instead? Money that's essentially disappeared, without much in the way of job creation. Funny how so much cash can just 'vanish' out of the public eye, isn't it?

When you set goals, when you set targets, when you actually have something to strive for in a limited time frame - things get done. Unfortunately, NASA over the years has seen their funding waver every political cycle as someone looks at what NASA gets and thinks how much better they could spend the money allocated for space research on buying votes.

As a result - the administrative culture at NASA has gone into 'No Risk' mode - don't give any excuse to cut funding further. Go slowly, study everything to death, be exceedingly cautious because 'failure is not an option'. Do not leap boldly - because stumbling will get the budget cut.

No risk = no progress. Right now, NASA's avoiding risk like anything - and I can't say I blame them much.

OK, I don't get it. Obama f... (Below threshold)
Jeff Medcalf:

OK, I don't get it. Obama finally does something right (emphasizing free enterprise over a moribund government bureaucracy that has long since lost the ability to perform), probably by accident or through inattention, and suddenly Republicans are all about defending the bureaucrats? I really don't get it.

"One small step for Barry, ... (Below threshold)

"One small step for Barry, one giant screw up for mankind"

One big problem I've got wi... (Below threshold)

One big problem I've got with NASA as I said, Jeff - there's a madness within NASA management. They're not really concerned about what the President says, what his goals are, what he's trying to promote - they know that the next election and next administration the winds are going to change again and their highest priority is to just ride the waves of change until retirement. Sure, it'd be NICE to advance the causes of space exploration, but that's secondary to just keeping NASA as a functioning entity.

Advancement isn't the point, risk-taking has a chance of failure, and failure is not, to coin a phrase, an option any more.

I don't really see things changing, either. Obama's got two more years, maybe - I don't think he's got a chance for re-election. Whoever the next President is will have their own goals which might or might not be the same as Obama's.

And Congress - well, unless there's a significanct advantage to the Senator or Representative, I don't think there's a chance in hell they'll do much of anything different in the short run, and with the way things are going the long run's probably going to see a whole lot of folks replaced. Either way, it's not something they're going to worry about.

How to save NASA? Carrot and stick time - Set lofty goals, with the sweet carrot of funding for accomplishment, and the big stick of dissolution for failure. Take out the reasons for them to be conservative, and maybe we'll see some progress.

It's interesting that two o... (Below threshold)

It's interesting that two other astronauts, Buzz Aldrin and Sally Ride have lined up on the side of the president's new plan.

I notice that neither side is saying we should shut down the space program, they just differ on what the projects should be.

There's a number of ways it... (Below threshold)

There's a number of ways it could all go - but the last three decades I've seen a lot of promises and programs and proposals for lifters - and of them all only the Shuttle was ever implemented in a half-assed, desultory fashion. The ISS ended up way over schedule and budget, in part because of constant design revisions to meet congressional budget desires - which necessitated safety reviews, which caused delays, which allowed Congress to meddle with things again. I got to the point where I was looking at it all and going "Enough with the reviews, build the damn thing already!" But it was all part and parcel of the 'Safety at All Costs, No Errors Allowed' mentality.

Safety's got a place, and it's an important one - but NASA downplayed the risks on the shuttle to a point where it was a hell of a shock when Challenger exploded. And they downplayed the risks again and again while firing people up on what was essentially a controlled explosion - hoping nothing would go wrong.

Right or wrong, it's what they did and what we've got.

But it's a hell of a way to run a railroad, that's all I've got to say...

OK, I don't get it. Obam... (Below threshold)

OK, I don't get it. Obama finally does something right (emphasizing free enterprise over a moribund government bureaucracy that has long since lost the ability to perform), probably by accident or through inattention, and suddenly Republicans are all about defending the bureaucrats? I really don't get it.

It's simple. The plan looks great on paper, and if executed properly would be a great improvement over the Constellation plan. Constellation was technologically flawed, massively over budget, and years behind schedule (and slipping even further). The Ares I involved significant and totally unnecessary risks.


* Federal bureaucratic regulations may prevent commercial space contractors from ever getting off the ground.

* Obama could kill the program by nibbling it to death -- not supporting or underfunding key elements.

* Much of what Obama has proposed won't happen for another five years, if ever. He could change his mind at any time ... and if he *doesn't* change his mind, it may be the first promise he's ever kept.

* Obama's recent (and enormously overpriced) revival of Orion as an ISS escape capsule is intended as a jobs program for a politically strategic state, Florida. I'll bet it will be cancelled when it's politically convenient (i.e., after the 2010 or 2012 elections).

I don't get it either. I th... (Below threshold)

I don't get it either. I thought you guys were against government using your money? Would you be willing to pay higher taxes to support the space program?

No, we're against the gover... (Below threshold)

No, we're against the government using our money for unconstitutional purposes. And we're against the government using our money in a way that has a negative impact on our freedom, prosperity, and national security. But yeah, other than that it's JUST THE SAME - just ask any left-wing troll.

Fred, you're like someone criticizing Thomas Jeferson in 1804 for funding the Lewis and Clark expedition: "But you were *against* the Alien and Sedition Acts! I thought you didn't want an activist government!"

RSF - I don't beli... (Below threshold)


I don't believe you're going to find many folks who are against wasteful government spending being against ALL spending - just the spending that's not going to have any good result or reason. For example, the HeadStart program's been around for about 45 years, and it sounds good on paper to give kids at 4 a 'head start' in learning... but the Department of Health and Human Services finds that by the start of first grade, there's no discernable difference between kids that were in Head Start, and kids that weren't. Took 'em $150 billion to find that out.

There's certain services that federal government can and should provide - like national defense. State governments should have autonomy on internal matters, local governments autonomy on local matters like fire departments and police - and for the most part do.

But we're really getting to a time where we're needing the most 'bang for the buck', so to speak, and it's hard to argue that spending $800+ billion in exchange for pretty much no job creation is a wise use of the money.

Cash4Clunkers is another wonderful program - $20k in administrative costs for every $4k 'rebate' - seems something's a bit off there, doesn't it it, to spend $24,000 and only pay out $4k?

And we're going to HAVE to stop spending so much - the IRS will collect about $2 trillion this year. We're going to spend about $3.6 to $4 trillion. We've got trillion dollar deficits forecast for the next decade. Something's got to give.

Spending money on the space program WILL create jobs, both in the aerospace industry and associated fields. For every buck spent, - and it'd be drops in the bucket on the federal budget. NASA's budget for 2011 is a whopping $19 billion across ALL their programs - space science, solar science, launch operations, the works - which isn't even pocket change compared to the $3.6 tril that'll be going out.

Besides - check for yourself just how much of your tax money is going to what. The NASA calculator's set on the Constellation program's $3.6 billion cost - if you make $50k/year your share of the bill is $5.65.

Your bill for your share of the $862 billion stimulus package, at the same $50k/year income, is $1,405.90 - and I think you'd see a lot more return for your money if the same amount per capita were tossed at NASA.

This is the god damned long... (Below threshold)

This is the god damned longest 4 years I could ever imagine.

Democrats. What won't they... (Below threshold)

Democrats. What won't they do to prove they're not elitists?

"Would you be willing to... (Below threshold)

"Would you be willing to pay higher taxes to support the space program?"

I have little to no choice in how much Im taxed, the idiots that pass the tax laws are greedy and nearly to a point of beyond reach.

However, if were going to be taxed (stimulused) to the tune of 800 billion to create -464,000 jobs this month alone, what the hells a lousy 20 billion to actually accomplish something?

NASA's budget for 201... (Below threshold)
John S:

NASA's budget for 2011 is a whopping $19 billion across ALL their programs.

That's roughly half the dollars that the administration prints out of thin air in a single day to hand over to Obama's masters at Goldman Sachs and the other TBTF banks.






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