back to article Mars, Europe losers in Obama's 2013 NASA budget

President Obama has revealed his proposed 2013 budget, and buried inside the $3.8-trillion wish list – along with tax credits for students, tax increases for the wealthy, cuts to the military, and other Republican bait – is $17.7bn for NASA that brings good news to some and bad news to others. First, the good news for sky- …


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  1. CanuckDriver

    The real losers....

    ... are the people of the United States of America and Canada.

    Obama and the Obameriods need to be tossed in November!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tossing Obama

      That image is NOT helping my breakfast go down any easier.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Careful, you may get what you wish for.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Republicans will only divert tax dollars to the rich that fund putting them in office. Exploring space, let alone the interests of the country, are not part of their agenda.

    3. TimeMaster T

      Right ...

      Like any of the US Republican candidates would do any better.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Refusal to co-fund ESA needs to be seen in the context of a *huge* cash commitment to ITER, another important international project, even at the cost of defunding certain other domestic fusion programs. You win some, you lose some.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where'd the space elevator go?

    When do we want it?

    We want it NOW!

  4. Isabello

    Extinction beckons

    I wonder how many single rock dwelling species in the universe went extinct because they spent more on the military than they did on colonizing local space? We'll certainly never know at this rate.

    1. Blofeld's Cat

      The obligatory xkcd:

      "The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision."

      1. dwieske

        correct: it's a fact, that is barely never mentioned: no extensive spaceflight/space mining by the time resources run out (which seems to be happening over the next 20-100 years) = going back to a mideival society....

        that way things are going we will be living like cavemen again in 200 years or so...if we're still around by then

        1. Bill Neal

          Good point, but...

          We will not run out of energy or metal & mineral resources since these are highly reusable & abundant. FOOD is what we are about to run out of, and I doubt there is much of THAT out there.

          1. TimeMaster T


            No water, no food. Water that is safe to drink and irrigate fields with is becoming rare. And to all those who would point at the ice caps and say there is all the water we need, how do you get the water to where its needed? Pipelines? Who pays for them? Desalinization plants? They cost a bundle to build and operate, and you still need those pipelines to deliver the output to those in need.

            The biggest and bloodiest wars of the 21st Century are going to be over water, with those that are ONLY over religion being a very close second.

      2. C 2

        Another way to put that ...

        "If the dinosaurs had a space program, they would still be here." -

        This is my email sig, share and enjoy.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Mars unaffordable...

    ..but apparently three new supercarriers and their airgroups (total cost $50Bn ($14Bn research, $9Bn per carrier + airgroups)) aren't. GoBama!


  6. dotdavid

    ""We do many things by breaking windows," he said; "spending US tax dollars is not one of them. Every dollar spent on fixing the windows we break is spent right here on Earth. This budget in-sources jobs, creates capabilities here at home – and strengthens our workforce."

    I don't disagree that we probably should be spending more on space technology, not less (after all, the sooner we develop the technology and capability to get into space cheaply the better scope for our future survival as a species) but I dislike it when politicians come up with stupid justifications like "it creates jobs" to try and make the inevitable spending more palatable. There is an opportunity cost for every tax dollar spent, after all.

    1. TheOtherHobbbes


      have a very limited emotional range.

      'This will be good/bad for jobs' is pretty much it when it comes to justifications for policy.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Note this is one of *three* budgets that will be kicked around.

    Because both the Senate and Congress will issue there own.

    Then the horse trading begins.

    AFAIK the US system dates from the 1776 and works well *provided* all the players are like minded people with similar goals and a consensus view of how to achieve them.

    Today it's a brilliant system for all the piggies to get their snouts in the trough with anyone who can block a course of action (unless they can be "persuaded") having power.

    And then of course we have the Militant style party-within-a-party tactics of the tea-party. Obviously without someone as well tailored as Derek Hatton.

    Usual caveats. NASA budget << than US spends on home delivered pizza or aircon for US forces abroad and that $830m on commercial launch would be a *big* improvement on what they ended up with last time. It *might* even be enough to get *all* the entrants past Critical Design Review and into construction. Last time it got chopped to (IIRC) about $500m or less while bumping up the amount for the SLS (although not to a level outside observers think will give it anything like a reasonable flight rate).

    Once again let the games begin

  8. Derk

    Get off this world first

    I think it would be a good idea to get off this rock first. A manned moon base, with mining and manufacturing capability. Once established, and self sufficient, then the moon is the best place to launch missions to other planets, and further. Considering that most of the wars, and justification for huge militaries is due to "resources" then the sooner we get metals and other compounds off world the better.

    How inspirational would it be to have a global effort, all countries involved in setting up a "Human" outpost where all countries benefited equally. But no, the "corporation" will be involved, and we all know how that turns out. In Space, No one cares how you vote.

    1. Chris Hance


      And "mother Earth" will be demanding tribute, right? Consider the moon's low escape velocity, and what Earth's gravity will do to any object lobbed in our direction.

      "I got your taxes right here!" Cue many double-decker buses worth of moon rock going bloody fast.

      1. Ian Stephenson

        Ever read any Heinlein?

        The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" if I recall correctly...

        ...they dropped a rock on Denver as part of the Lunar independence "negotiations".

  9. Tim #3

    This rather leaves the door open for China (or even India) to do a sample-return Mars mission & grab the global limelight

  10. Roger Kynaston

    hows about

    ESA teams up with India then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Probably need to be a Russian rocket. ExoMars was going to use a pair of Atlas Vs. A couple of Protons might be able to do the same job.

      But yes, let's throw ExoMars open to the Russians, Chinese, Indians, Japanese and anyone else who wants to explore Mars.

  11. Malmesbury

    For those who don't know the politics - JWST is un-cancellable, lots of work in the state whose senator is a key senior Democrat.

    Commercial crew is being cut back because the backers of Orion/SLS are worried that if 2 or more crewed vehicles are ready before the first (unmaned) flight of Orion, it will be killed. So the pressure is on to down select to a single vendor and delay it until Orion is in service.

    Anyone making stupid comments about "the colonials" government should consider BAe, Westlands etc - billions for crap. We do it to - and end up with less. For more.

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "cuts to the military"

    Those are not the cuts you are looking for.

    Those "cuts" are reductions in the projected increase. It's still increasing.

    For the military, UP means DOWN. And everyone is looking forward to the "Litte Big War" against Iran with itemized bills.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Spend more money on....

    Robotic exploration and the technology to cheaply get large volumes of material into earth orbit!!

    THEN worry about manned exploration. Give the International Space Station to the Russians as thanks for Stalingrad, vodka, Russian literature and nested dolls. :)

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    BAe = Billions Above estimate

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up



      But to expand a little.

      A neat and elegant summation of a companies entire ethos encapsulated in one simple line.

      BAe are a government con-tractor. Their last major business that actually involved selling stuff to *real* companies was Airbus and they sold that off *years* ago.

      Now they will sort out any govt with everything from arms (up to nuclear submarines but I'm not sure how good those hand welds are likely to be) to Identity Cards (although they were smart enough to get out of the UK scheme) to spying on a countries internet users wholesale (they bought Dettica, the company that makes the boxes for this about the time they got out of the NIR shambles. They've always had a strong ability to dump losing projects and find the cash cows. While the Interception Modernization Programme is no longer heard from that's not to say it's successors have gone away).

      Of course what they will stiff GCHQ for will be an Official Secret.

      And the final price?

      I reckon the AC has got that nailed.

  15. JeffyPooh


    Newt G. proposed to put a permanent colony on the Moon by "2020". Other than spelling "2030" incorrectly, it's a great idea.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Water rare?

    Lots here (eastern Canada). It falls from the sky like rain, and we spend lots of money trying to get it into the sea without causing too much damage along the way. Y'all can have some if ya want. 'cepting that the government has banned all bulk water exports.

    Our household "uses" no water at all. We get it out of a deep well, inconvenience it for a couple days, and then return it to nature after on-site treatment.

    A water shortage is typically a sign that some infrastructure funding is required. Nothing more.

    Obviously don't allow pollution. Common sense.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Further note.

    Presidents Budget Request <> Authorization (Senate & congress) <> Appropriation (Senate & congress)

    So sneaky politicians can vote yes on an authorization bill (looking good to their voters) while voting no on the appropriation bill to avoid actual *spending* (making them look "fiscally responsible")*.

    Note also.

    Congress & Senate can just decide to fund stuff *without* this process.

    The "Earmark" system allows specific amounts within *any* bill to be ring fenced for *any* purpose. 1 Senator bank rolled $63m to an aircraft mfg over a roughly 20 yr period despite *repeated* evaluations by various branches of the military saying it was both dangerous and ineffective.

    It might be an interesting idea to extrapolate from what is known of them what the founding fathers would have made to how the system they devised has evolved.

    *Not that I know any US politician who would behave in such a dishonorable fashion.


    Who is "sky-watcher"?

    I think I'd like to meet him.

  19. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Curious. All my posts getting 1 vote down.

    Well I'm no expert on US budget games but I recently had to take a crash course in the subject. If someone did not like my description please tell me what I got wrong. AFAIK its quite accurate.


    No. Surely not.

    Someone hasn't got in a strop about my description of the (imported) Grey squirrel, have they?

    That would be *too* childish.

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