Planetary Science

…and sequestration. Which is looking more and more likely.

Obviously, if I were running the agency, and didn’t care what Congress thought, I’d just cancel SLS and Orion. Webb should go, too, but the sequestration goal can be met with those two alone. I’d cancel Webb if I could redirect the money elsewhere. But Charlie and Lori aren’t going to have that option as long as Dick Shelby and Barbara Mikulski are calling the shots. So we’ll continue to waste billions on unneeded rockets and capsules, and an overpriced telescope, while planetary science goes fallow.

28 thoughts on “Planetary Science

  1. ken anthony

    What the article says to me is you have an agency without focus. Spreading the cuts among so numerous programs results in no savings at all since it makes every program more expensive. Bureaucracy at its finest.

    Were I in charge, every program would have to justify its existence from top to bottom. Default mode would be elimination.

    1. Gregg

      Yes.

      Yes.

      No. Why do you want to spend us into penury and misery? Women and minorities and children and illegals would be hurt the most.

      1. Jim

        It’s as if the country decided to either come to a bipartisan agreement, or stab itself in the eye. The only possible good that could come from such a promise/threat it is an agreement, and that isn’t happening. It’s hardly rational to then go ahead and stab ourselves, just to prove that we weren’t kidding, and to give ourselves more credibility (with ourselves!) when we next try to fool ourselves into doing something we don’t want to do.

    2. wodun

      Which is worse sequestration cuts that amount to something like $100b a year over ten years or interest payments on debt that are over $400b a year?

      Can’t wait for Obama to start taking credit for sequestration cuts like Clinton on a balanced budget.

        1. wodun

          Correct, because spending, deficits, and debt will continue to grow despite sequestration cuts and Obama’s tax increases. Didn’t Obama say all of our funding problems would be solved by letting the Bush tax cuts expire?

          I don’t think cuts should disproportionately fall on defense as Obama proposed but our defense spending is too high.

  2. Arizona CJ

    I’d hate to see Webb cut *IF* it’s almost complete (and thus mostly paid for). I don’t know its actual status. I’d have preferred that it be canceled early on though – calling it overpriced is kinda like calling the Grand Canyon a ditch – one hell of an understatement. :)

    The one I’d oppose most of all; canceling Cassini. It’s already there, so canceling it saves so little.

    I’d love to see SLS and Orion scrapped. Total wastes, and the most expensive items on the menu. I despise the trash in congress who supports them; they are pork, nothing but pork. There are members of both parties who support SLS and Orion, but I find Republican support even more exasperating, due to the manifest hypocrisy it entails.

    1. Arizona CJ

      Replying to my own post; I can’t seem to find what percentage of Webb’s cost has already been spent.

      The cost is truly astronomical; 8.2 billion, and it’s sucking all the air out of the rest of the astrophysics program.

      If it’s more than 85% of the way to completion, costwise, it might be worth doing IMHO (the spent money is gone, so might as well get something for it). If it’s 95% complete, costwise, it’s definitely worth doing IMHO.

      Too bad it wasn’t strangled at birth, and the same goes for Orion and SLS. The money already wasted on these three programs could have done wonders.

      1. Michael Kent

        It’s still at least five years from launch, so there are substantial funds yet to be spent.

    2. Robin Goodfellow

      JWST is forbidden from going over a total budget at this point, and it is fairly substantially complete. I’d be surprised if it didn’t make it on budget now. It’s a hell of a cost but ultimately I think it’ll be worth it.

      1. Edward Wright

        Do you know what happens if a dog misbehaves, and you give him a treat and tell him not to do it again?

        Why would you expect JWST managers to behave any differently?

    1. ken anthony

      That’s why I wear the helmet, Trent. You know what would make me a good NASA emperor? I would not be looking for my own self interest. It would be a lean focused organization.

      Job one: Put a LOX depot in LEO and establish a target amount for a target price. Expand the amount every time it’s met as a budget item.

      Job two: Offer to buy tickets from any ship that would put half a dozen astronauts in lunar orbit. We’ll provide LOX in LEO.

      Job three: Offer to buy tickets from any lunar lander that would put six crew on the moon with equipment to build a foundry.

      Job four: Build stuff on the moon. Start with a telescope. Provide a safe haven for commercial entities wanting to learn how to do industry on the moon.

      Instead of launching things from earth, manufacture them on the moon. The goal being to make it cheaper there by opening it up to commercial competition.

      Put an GPS/internet satellite constellation around mars and give everybody access to it. Publish the password, “PennyGetYourOwnWiFi”

      Everything else… does it advance commercial interests without bias? No. It get’s cut.

      1. ken anthony

        Oh and that telescope wouldn’t be the most advanced high tech instrument every made. It would be the first of many mass produced on the moon. Anybody on the web could use them.

    2. ken anthony

      In order to play the budget game, one huge program would have all the money allocated but never spent. Every year the real programs that cost magnitudes less would actually get the money.

      NASA should not be doing any science. Instead they should make it so cheap that any university could piggyback on some commercial activities to do science. Advance commerce and everything else will ride the coat tails.

  3. PeterH

    I’m thinking that the economic destruction from out of control government spending is doing far more to hurt Planetary Science than sequestration would.

    1. Jim

      Before we had a germ theory of disease many common communicable diseases were blamed on miasma, or bad air. It was a convenient theory, it fit with observations (there was lots of disease, and lots of bad air), and justified all sorts of pre-existing prejudices and practices.

      Blaming every economic malady on imagined “out of control” government spending is just as ignorant and irrational as blaming cholera on bad air.

      1. PeterH

        You apparently don’t consider a $Trillion+ annual federal deficit out of control spending. And you apparently don’t consider the massive taking (read Theft) enabled by that transfer or creation of money to be damaging to the economy.

        Absent Big Government we get occasional economic dips, even panics. But they don’t last 4 years ongoing.

  4. RS

    Hansen, the minority business outreach office, the education outreach group and the SLS will be the LAST things de-funded at NASA.

    Government responds to cuts by trying to do maximum damage and holding things hostage. They cut police and fire on the streets before they fire deputy assistant directors. I would not put it past this administration to turn off the lights on the Mars Rover in a highly publicized show.

  5. Martijn Meijering (@mmeijeri)

    I’d cancel Webb if I could redirect the money elsewhere.

    Is Webb really that bad on a sunk cost basis? Unlike the others it is actually useful, though overpriced. It also wouldn’t continue to kill off other initiatives once it’s finally done.

  6. Thomas Matula

    It is sad to see science programs trashed over a problem invented just to score political points.

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