Curiosity. End of argument. More funding, drones, launches, experiments etc. would be good too. It always pays off.
A new US government report offers a damning assessment of the strategic direction and management of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), painting the space agency as a rudderless organization whose lack of well-defined goals could threaten US leadership in space sciences. The report, titled "NASA's …
Friday 7th December 2012 07:55 GMT LarsG
Saturday 8th December 2012 19:22 GMT Fibbles
Not sure how you can blame Obama specifically since presidents and congressmen from both sides have repeatedly screwed NASA over. I suspect that as soon as the first taikonaut sets foot on the moon that congress will;
A) demand that heads roll at NASA (conveniently ignoring their own contribution to the current woeful state of the agency in comparison to its heyday),
B) quadruple NASA's budget expecting quick results, not realising that manned missions take years to plan.
Friday 7th December 2012 02:28 GMT Rattus Rattus
Pot calling the kettle black?
NASA's goals have been changed virtually minute-to-minute by the very government that is accusing them of being directionless, and not since the moon landings have they been given even a fraction of the budget necessary to accomplish these goals. If the US government wants results, they need to give NASA a shitload of cash, tell them "Go do something awesome", then BUTT THE HELL OUT. Stop moving the goals, stop taking away promised funding.
Friday 7th December 2012 03:19 GMT Steve Brooks
lack of consensus, lol
The problem with NASA is that they can't rely on support from the government for any plan they set out, so what happens is they flap around with half a dozen different versions of any plan so that if the newly elected government decides space is just a black hole that swallows money, and summarily cuts the NASA budget by 40, 50 or 60% they can still do something.
If NASA set out a huge plan, was promised funding and invested all thier rescources in that plan, say permanent moon habitat, then the government cut funding halfway through everyone would accuse NASA of wasting public funds on pie in the sky, visionary, unachievable plans instead of spreading the money around on small enterprises.
So agree with other posters. Of course the upshot is, these sorts of enterprises shouldn't be in government hands, a democracy is the last thing you want when investing billions on long term enterprises, it just takes a couple of twits to get voted in and everything collapses, but I can't really see anyone or organisation rich enough to take over at the moment, except maybe Apple or MS, but who wants to fly in A) an iShip? All looks and glamour but you have to hold it right to launch or B) a Winrocket, goes fine till it gets a virus then you are stranded on mars waiting for a service pack to be delivered.
Saturday 8th December 2012 19:59 GMT Fibbles
Re: lack of consensus, lol
"Moonbase Alpha, are you receiving me? This is Balmer calling. I understand that your oxygen supply is running low and we here at Microsoft share your concern. Unfortunately the fix for the critical vulnerability in Windows for Scrubbers™ will not be available until Patch Tuesday.
You are a valued customer to us here at Microsoft and we thank you for choosing the industry leading scrubber operating system*.
*Independent Report Into Critical Life Support Operating Systems, B.Salmer & G.Bates, 1999 (www.independentanalysts.ms.com/linux_sucks_lol/report.docx)"
Friday 7th December 2012 04:05 GMT Anonymous Coward
Forget sending people to the surface of Mars
At least in the short and medium term. It is not cost effective. You can achieve the same results by putting people in orbit around Mars, and sending telepresence robots to the surface. You can leave the robots there for use by future missions, and there is no need to overcome the Martian gravity well to get people back home. With multiple robots, you can use one (directly controlled by a human) to fix another one that may break down. Exploration could be much faster, since there is no time delay in communication.
Friday 7th December 2012 04:29 GMT AndrewG
What US Space Program?
After 40 years of push offs and political grandstanding is it any wonder.
And the report is basically more of the same
What they need is a clear goal that needs to be accomplished within the existing presidential term so you can't have successive presidents pushing grandiose rhetoric, content in the knowledge that they won't have to find money for it in their budget.
Also NASA needs to stop being a feeding trough for the Aerospace industry and actually require functional hardware or improvements instead of launching million dollar studies into dubious concepts.
For longer term, they should be defining the steps needed to develop a working space infrastructure (like how do you feed someone for 5 years, better interplanetary engines, pressure suit development because the ISS era ones barely capable) and make attaining one of those the 4 year goal
NASA shouldn't be working on orbital launchers unless its to fund development of something in the heavy lift range because private enterprise seems to be growing into that field
Mars Research is OK, but it should be looking at improvements to automation and development of better experiments (which can also be done on the moon)
Friday 7th December 2012 10:53 GMT John Smith 19
Re: What US Space Program?
"Also NASA needs to stop being a feeding trough for the Aerospace industry and actually require functional hardware or improvements instead of launching million dollar studies into dubious concepts."
This may come as a shock to you but that's exactly how their supporters in Con-gress see them.
If it comes to a toss up of sacrifice some jobs on a programme (but save the programme) so something will ultimately be achieved by the programme or keep all the jobs now (and cancel the programme before it achieves anything guess which they will choose?
Fiscal cliff 24 days away.
Friday 7th December 2012 12:11 GMT Anonymous Coward
Friday 7th December 2012 12:34 GMT tfb
Re: wonder why?
Well, Kennedy's speech about going to the moon was 25 May 1961, and they were on the moon on 21 July 1969, so that's 8 years and a couple of months. So, really, two terms to put someone on the moon. The decision that Apollo 8 should orbit the moon was made in a day, 4 months before the flight. Once upon a time NASA could do astonishing things quickly: could it now, even with the money?
Friday 7th December 2012 15:21 GMT Robert Carnegie
Re: wonder why?
That is just what I was going to say - NASA's goals -and- project budgets are set by the government, and every -two- years there is a new government.
If I was running NASA, I'd try to keep things going along slowly that any government could jump on and get behind and push along, without it costing too much to keep the unfavoured cinderella projects ticking over for the -next- government to like. Such as, to go to the Moon, or to Mars.
Or the main purpose of the organisation - to occupy space with my space war machines without getting caught breaking too badly the treaties in which we promised not to do that sort of thing. Which is what everyone else is also doing.
Saturday 8th December 2012 21:09 GMT John Brown (no body)
Re: wonder why?
"to occupy space with my space war machines without getting caught breaking too badly the treaties in which we promised not to do that sort of thing. Which is what everyone else is also doing."
Well of course. We have a to have the surprise space armada ready for the attack by SPACE NAZIS FROM THE MOON!!!11!!!11
Friday 7th December 2012 17:45 GMT Gannon (J.) Dick
"A new US government report offers a damning assessment of the strategic direction and management of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), painting the space agency as a rudderless organization whose lack of well-defined goals could threaten US leadership in space sciences."
In the interest of fairness:
Judge for yourself if the assessment is accurate and complete.
Friday 7th December 2012 20:40 GMT Tikimon
Can't buy votes with space missions!
It's very simple. Space missions don't buy votes. Entitlement programs do. Social program budgets go UP, space budgets go DOWN.
Once we beat the Rooskies to the Moon in 1969, public interest and budgets shrank immediately. The Apollo program wasn't even completed. The interest and patronage of the military has kept NASA funded somewhat since then, but the science missions have never had any political support.
Lack of focus? Not surprising. No money, no support, no public interest in proposed projects... how can anyone make ambitious plans in that state?