Sucking Hind Tit

Al Fansome has some numbers to show where the Obama administration puts space in terms of federal R&D priority (scroll down to the eleventh comment):

I reviewed the stimulus package for the science & tech agencies. I have listed them by order of amount received in the stimulus bill.

DOE receives $43.9 Billion (for energy related projects.)

NIH receives $4.6 Billion.

National Telecommunications & Information Administration receives $3.8 Billion.

NSF receives $2.5 Billion.

NOAA receives $1 Billion.

NASA receives $600 million.

NIST receives $500 million.

Now you may think “well at least NASA got more than somebody.”

But wait, the President’s budget request for NIST for FY2009 was $678 million.

The NIST stimulus package of $500M is 74% of its FY2009 budget request.


– Al

PS — This is completely depressing.

I’m certainly not surprised. I keep telling people that civil space isn’t important. This is just more proof of that.

[Update early evening]

“” has a useful follow-up thought:

I’d also point out that given the mess that Constellation, and NASA’s human space flight plans in general, are in, it may be some number of months until the new White House figures out where it wants to place its bets in space exploration and technology, anyway. Until they figure out a (hopefully good) path forward, I’d rather see them keep their powder dry. Sure beats blowing $4 billion trying vainly to bring the Ares I/Orion schedule one lousy year to the left as Griffin has suggested, or $15 billion (probably more) tying the Shuttle albatross around NASA’s neck for another five years.

We have to be realistic — a leap to COTS D or Orion on an EELV to shorten the gap, or a restructuring of the lunar architecture to something more sustainable, or some other innovative shift in direction for the human space flight program was not in the cards for this bill or timeframe. The new President has yet to be sworn in, Griffin just left office today, and his successor has yet to be named. I wouldn’t begin furrowing brows and wringing hands until the new Administration has at least submitted its 2010 budget to Congress in the April/June timeframe. At that time, if there’s no shift towards or study of alternatives (i.e., Ares I/Orion forever), or if space exploration, technology and/or science is getting whacked budgetarily, then there will be reason to worry.

I agree, it’s far too early to know what this administration wants to do with space policy (and there’s a lot more to that than simply choosing a replacement for Mike Griffin).

4 thoughts on “Sucking Hind Tit”

  1. Question for you Rand – assuming that McCain were elected (or you can offer an alternative if you voted 3rd party) and assuming we would still be in roughly the same situation (an assumption I hope isn’t to extreme) do you think you would’ve seen something different in terms of a stimulas package with regards to space and space development?

  2. There’s no particular reason to think so. McCain was almost as nutty on the environment as Obama and the Dems are, so there would probably still be a lot of “green” stimulus spending proposed.

    Space and space development simply aren’t a priority. Now if it had been a President Gingrich…

  3. The bottom line is that civilian space efforts are simply going to have to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. It may take longer and many of the pioneers will end up with arrows in their backs, but the final result will be a much more healthy and robust industry built on real industrial/consumer needs rather than one more industry attached to the government teats.

    This isn’t to say the government can’t or shouldn’t help in terms of creating policies might encourage civilian space efforts, but looking at the amount of money thrown at NASA versus other programs is simply the wrong way to look the situation.

  4. I mentioned on a personal blog post that this really comes down to one thing. If congress as a body sees any strategic value to actual civil space flight, we will see a commercial alternative. It is clear by now that there are almost assured cost and lead time advantages to this approach.

    If, on the other hand, they see NASA as just cushy jobs for constituents, then we will see Constellation continue to be funded. It may or may not ever fly a mission, but that won’t matter because the mission is secondary to funding the overhead.

    Greason’s Santa Claus comment hits the point exactly, but he wasn’t cynical enough. The fact is, every time NASA flies a manned mission it puts several senators and congresspeople in jeopardy of losing election. They know that the rest of the nation only pays attention to NASA when things go wrong. Only bad things can happen when NASA actually flies humans, politically speaking. The ideal is to have a system that is in experimental development forever, so we get nice viewgraphs, and the occasional corndog event for the press. Any failures can be spun as the natural result of cutting-edge development. People get to keep their cushy jobs at NASA and in Washington, and nobody gets hurt. Except the poor aerospace engineer who actually cares about space more than a public pension.

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