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A Bold New Vision To Go ... Nowhere!

Six years ago, the lowly Bush administration announced a short-sighted, uninspiring view for human space "exploration" that got titled "to the moon, mars and beyond" in NASA marketing speak later on.
But the tables have turned - the US has an inspired, bold visionary as their new president, who already earned a Nobel Prize for his great achievements in bringing around world peace once and for all. While he backed the old, short-sighted plan for some time last year, he and his administration now goes for the next step and did set up a new, bold vision that will surely inspire thousands of people and give new hope: Humanity will go nowhere!

I think that's finally a clear word and a good way, we all know that we have no business in exploring new worlds or achieve extreme things, we should stick to ourselves and boldly envision to change nothing. Even if some yesterday-minded people like Astronaut Ron Garan still believe the moon is valuable, or that the only chance for long-time survival of the human race is to make sure we can live outside of Earth, as Stephen Hawking likes to put it, those doubters will soon be gone and everyone will cheer for the strong and life-worthy future our all-beloved world leader has dared to set our directions to.

The task set up for public administration is not to boldly go where no private enterprise would, or to lead the world in science and exploration, but to trash already-started promising programs like Constellation and let others do the jobs Kennedy and Bush have wrongly envisioned for NASA. China and India surely agree as well, as they finally have a chance to overtake the US in space exploration and rip away the dreams of those lowly capitalists that still see a Captain Kirk in the future of this world - well, the interplanetary ships might come, but under a strong communist Chinese leadership, possibly backed by Russia.

Obama did come into office with a strong promise of "Change", and we surely are seeing what he was meaning all along. We don't need to go to just "to the moon, mars and beyond" - now we finally have a bold new vision to go... nowhere!

And we, as space enthusiasts and future-orientated humans, fully support NASA in fulfilling this mission.

Yes, we can.

Entry written by KaiRo and posted on February 3rd, 2010 17:29 | Tags: Moon, NASA, Space, Vision | 15 comments | TrackBack


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Lame.. while as an engineer, I feel the same way as you do.. I also understand the responsibility Obama has a president to help fix the problems of the world we currently live in and the need to re-route those billions to those problems.

Given the extreme failures of NASA, I think it does make sense to give a few years for commercialization of the field to push innovation before investing billions more here.

Your thoughts seem short sighted and completely irrelevant to Mozilla related things.
2010-02-03 18:23


Some thoughts
lame, how big do you think NASA's budget is? How does this compare to the things you'd rather spend the money on (and what are those things)?

Robert, while I understand how you feel, I'm not sure why anyone who's not paying taxes in the US should have a say in how the US government spends money... or put another way, where is the Austrian or German space program?
2010-02-03 18:51

Kent James

But we're broke
The unfortunate fact is that the US government is broke. In 2009, for the first time, entitlements took all of the government's income, so we can't currently afford ANY discretionary programs (including military, space, state department, etc.) So unfortunately lots of well-intentioned and valuable efforts are going to have to be cut or eliminated. I'm not saying the US should or is going to eliminate everything, but the situation is really quite critical.
2010-02-03 19:01

Jim B

from usa

This is a rather simpleminded analysis of the situation.

Sure, sending man to mars might might headlines, might be exciting TV, but we don't have an unlimited budget to do everything that might be possible. Given the choice between spending $50B (or whatever) developing a manned mission to Mars, we can spend less money and do much more science on a number of smaller, less attention-grabbing missions. That became the official policy of NASA during the 90s, perhaps even the late 80s.

Let's make a (perhaps bad) software analogy. Mozilla has $50M or whatever in revenue each year. They could do something bold and dramatic, like drop what they're doing, putting all their money and resources into developing a clean-sheet competitor to linux -- think of the drama and the attention such an announcement would get! -- or, they could keep making incremental advances on the state of browser technology. While the second choice is boring in comparison, the cumulative effect of those smaller steps yields greater dividends.

The very day Bush announced the manned mission to Mars, I thought the whole thing was a joke. Do you recognize how many valuable programs with a lot of sunk costs were scuttled because of this PR stunt? The Mars rovers have discovered much more than any manned mission would, at a tiny fraction of the cost.
2010-02-03 19:03



Austria is a tiny country with an even more tiny budget, what we do is pay our share for the common programs in ESA, the European Space Agency - which, by the way, has not dropped development of any space exploration programs, AFAIK, and which is working on possibly creating its own human transportation system as well - and ESA was ready to help on the - always planned as such - international efforts to get moon and mars missions forward.

What I'm talking about isn't money though, it's vision, it's inspiring people, including students, to work with science and to gather hope from the prospect of great milestones to be achieved.
It's all about marketing and messaging, and until this week, I thought that was something that president was able to manage. Stupid me to think that.

And why do I care, even if I'm Austrian? First, because I believe that USA is - possibly together with Austria - the greatest country in the world. Second, because I care about mankind, and the US and NASA have been leading mankind to new worlds and new exploration for decades. To make it short, I believe in NASA. Actually, a getting job there would probably even make me throw away all the work I'm doing with Mozilla. Not that I tried, so don't fear to lose me - yet.
2010-02-03 19:24


Don't post stuff like this to Planet Mozilla
This is completely unrelated to anything I'd want to read on Planet Mozilla. It doesn't have anything to do with Mozilla. Please post stuff like this on a separate blog.
2010-02-03 21:10

Peter Lairo

from Germany

See what happens when you criticize the messiah?!
See what happens when you criticize the Messiah?! You get accused of not understanding the limitations we are living under (as if we never had budget problems or world crises before). If Bush had cut the space budget by even one dollar, the responses would be completely different. Reality doesn't matter. Partisanship does.

Cognitive Egocentrism: http://www.theaugeanstables.com/reflections-from-second-draft/cognitive-egocentrism/
2010-02-03 21:21

Jim B

Peter Lairo -- you are the one injecting partisan politics in to it (calling Obama "the Messiah," and your link). KaiRo posted his opinion in a widely viewed public forum with solicitation for comments on the bottom. I fell for the bait and replied. That's why I'm here; what about you? Somehow you read my dissenting opinion and knew, just KNEW, what I would have done had Bush cut NASA's budget $1 (in fact, some years the budget did shrink, but I don't recall getting hysterical about it), and that my thinking is driven by a burning, reflexive desire to oppose all things Bush. Bully for you.

Sorry if you thought I was talking down to KaiRo for explaining that people must make trade-offs, but his post didn't seem to make any attempt to acknowledge that perhaps Obama had a reason for changing course. Yes, some plans which are in process will be canceled, and money which has been spent will be wasted. I brought up Bush to point out to Peter Lairo that Bush's decision had these exact same consequences for a bunch of other NASA programs that were underway back then.

Although I'm an engineer, that piece of my Y chromosome that is supposed to make me love science fiction appears to be damaged, because the romance of manned space exploration does nothing for me. As a tax-payer, I'd rather that money be spent on effective programs, not romantic ones.
2010-02-04 00:29

Joshua Cranmer

Yes, but...
Well, there are a few factors to keep in mind:

1. The US government is essentially broke. While NASA's budget of ~$20B is rather small compared to the ~$1267B deficit, it is still money that we can't afford. There is nowhere near enough money to service both low-Earth orbit missions (think space station) and ambitious moon shots, let alone the specter of a Mars mission.

2. As I mentioned above, NASA essentially has to choose what it wants to do. There is the arguably more useful low-Earth orbit missions versus the prospect of a far-off jump to the moon and to Mars (not that going to the moon is a good stepping stone to Mars, IMHO). Just to disclaim: I am not a big fan of the International Space Station (essentially, just a large waste of money, if you ask me).
2010-02-04 00:47

Jeff Walden

from Mountain View, CA USA

NASA isn't the only way to get to space
In fact, it's one of the more inefficient ways out there.

Saturn V: yes, it got us to the moon, but it did so in an incredibly wasteful manner, throwing away nearly the entire rocket for every trip. For its purpose, just getting there, and getting there before the Soviets, it worked. America won the space race, the USSR lost and became history, the Cold War ended and the Iron Curtain was lifted, so arguably it was worth the cost for those particular circumstances. But as far as cost-effective repeatability goes, outside of the scenario of a Cold War, it's horrible.

Space shuttle: yes, it mostly works for getting things into space. That doesn't change that its original goal of cheap, reliable access to space went unmet. Rather than being designed to do one thing well, it's the result of a huge number of compromises, so instead of doing one thing well, it does everything with mediocrity. One estimate suggests the cost of the program, through early 2008, at $170 billion for a bit more than 100 flights -- over a billion a flight. That's not how humanity will ever truly be at home in space.

Other attempts since: X-30, canceled due to a more than tripling of expected costs. X-33, $1.2 billion down the drain before cancellation. X-34, nothing beyond a demo unit. Cost and time overruns every time, not to mention NASA always being a convenient political beanbag -- recall the current program only came into existence a handful of years ago.

Ultimately, as far as manned spaceflight goes, NASA does a great job at getting something done at huge expense when the need is critical. It does a poor job at cost-effective, routine manned spaceflight. It does a poor job at encouraging outside spaceflight development by private companies and such. Do you really think we can get into space en masse under NASA's guidance and initiative? One top-down organization held hostage by Congress and by congressmen looking for pork-barrel spending will not be successful at commoditizing spaceflight. Commercial spaceflight, of the kind being pioneered by the X Prize and the companies looking to fulfill demand that well outstrips what half a dozen flights a year can accommodate, is what what will take us into space again for good. I think the incompetent attempts by NASA play a part in reducing incentives for it to happen. Eliminating those will clear the field for truly motivated entities do do the work to make it happen -- I can't wait.
2010-02-04 07:35

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