Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bake Sale, Anyone?


Human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit is not viable under the FY 2010 NASA budget guideline. So what does the future hold for the Shuttle, the ISS and Constellation? Having continual conversations about NASA’s budget is like exploring the cure for low blood pressure.

Congress, NASA and every Dom, Rick & Barry across the internet are debating the practical strategies, especially now that news media is printing headlines like: President Faces a "Kennedy Decision" on Space: Obama’s Choice for Future Spaceflight Could be as Momentous as JFK’s. Thank you, NBC.

Areas of the HSFPC report are vaguely-worded, leaving room for interpretation. One portion (and I love the wording in this) says: "Crucially, human space flight objectives should broadly align with key national objectives."

As if 307 million Americans could even get together and decide what toppings to get on a pizza, much less key national objectives.

I found an interesting cost visualization, and after staring at this incredulously for about half-an-hour, I’d just love for anyone to tell me that 'supporting space exploration' indicates out-of-whack priorities.

Space Exploration Costs
Your tax dollars at work.

Click the graphic or go to InformationIsBeautiful to see the full chart. It’s become well known that 'an extra $3billion' must somehow be found to continue manned missions when the committee concluded that "the ultimate goal of exploration is to chart a path for human expansion into the solar system. This is an ambitious goal, but one worthy of U.S. leadership..."

None of us know what criteria Congress will use to select NASA's future path, or how the White House may advise them on the options. Specifics for plan-reshaping seems to be in an annoying holding pattern. I’m realizing that the delay may be substantial, because it’s likely to become a divisive point of national contention. However, when I see "comparisons" like the one above, no one can convince me that the investment isn’t absolutely worth it.


Greg said...

Its amazing how short sighted bureaucrats are eh? We get so much derivative benefit from the space program, way beyond the money needed. Materials and other science, inspiring generations of kids AND adults. Setting us up for our eventual manned future in space well beyond orbit. Its a no brainer to spend the cash. How much did they spend on cash for clunkers and other silliness?

brian said...

That diagram is amazing! I liked it so much I tweeted about it.

It reminds me of a chart we saw at ISU that compared the relative expenditures of space programs around the world. About half of the pie went to military space spending. NASA had by far the largest chunk of the remaining half. After that, the next largest space agency was actually NOAA, followed by CNES. Then, the usual suspects of ESA, China, Japan, Canada, etc. fell into line.

Sach said...

Thats what people have trouble deciding on - that little door the next to the 'Russian bribes thing', and the same size as 'a big tobacco settlement'! Wow!

Just do it already!!

If people are too worried about it not being safe enough to fly to Mars Direct - I volunteer, and accept all/ any responsibility for anything 'bad' that might happen (to me)!

I'm sure there are plenty of current astronauts dying to volunteer too, if they'd just DECIDE on the goal! Politics....