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NASA's Greatest Challenges In 2014

samzenpus posted 1 year,3 days | from the hard-road dept.

NASA 97

coondoggie writes "In its annual look at what challenges NASA faces in the coming year, the agency's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) this year outlined nine key areas it says will cause the most angina. Leading the way in pain is money. NASA's current money story starts off bad and just gets worse. From the article: '"Along with the rest of the Federal Government, NASA began FY 2013 under a 6-month continuing resolution that funded the Agency at FY 2012 levels. This was followed by a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year that reduced the Agency's enacted funding level of $17. 5 billion by $626.5 million, or approximately 4% due to sequestration. These financial pressures look to repeat themselves in FY 2014, with no annual budget in place at the beginning of the fiscal year and potential sequestration impacts that could reduce NASA's budget request of $17.7 billion by $1.5 billion to $16.2 billion. As the National Research Council noted in its 2012 report examining NASA's strategic direction and management, NASA's budget is 'mismatched to the current portfolio of missions, facilities, and staff,'" the OIG report stated.'"

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NASA could get a crap load more funding (5, Funny)

Shemmie (909181) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732303)

All they need to do is drop an 'A'.

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732417)

They'd get even more funding for dropping all the gays who work for them.

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732591)

All they need to do is drop an 'A'.

Been there, done that. [youtube.com] Thus no expectation of privacy outdoors, I'm fine with that. It's the tapping of communications indoors and between indoor places that I have a problem with -- Since Omnivore, Carnivore, ECHELON, and PRISM's Room 641A existed before the NSA failed to prevent 9/11. [wikipedia.org] So, the decades of NSA unconstitutional wiretap spying is demonstrably expensive and useless, while the other NRO spying advances space research, directly helps the military, and doesn't invade your home. [nro.gov] I'll take NASA Johnson Style. [youtube.com]

Hubble's mirror design changed to match the existing mirrors already deployed in spy satellites -- Aiming an army of Hubbles at earth? That's some awesome spying capability; No terrorists or enemies could make a significant move against us without us finding out immediately already thanks to space spying programs. And, when we launch more impressive satellites the old spy-sats can be donated to NASA and pointed into space, or sent to other planets. [space.com]

Why not just hold a vote? I'm sure the citizens would be in favor of giving NASA all the funding allocated to the NSA and DHS since you're 4 times more likely to get hit by lightning than face terrorist attack... Every year: Heart Disease and Accidents kill four hundred times more people than a 9/11 scale attack, but we're not having a War on Cheeseburgers, or War on Automobiles. "Terrorist Threat", yeah, apparently NSA hasn't heard: They've convinced us to wear tinfoil hats despite the far more dangerous threat of lightning.

We need proportional protection. Cut the anti-terrorism budget for NSA, DHS, etc. to 1/6th the funding we have for anti-flu, since the flu kills six times more people than a 9/11 scale attack, every year. [cdc.gov] Give the funds to NASA, or the NRO if you're really scared of your own shadow. Problem solved.

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (1)

bob_super (3391281) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732691)

We can give most of the NSA money to NASA, because the Snowden leaks have made every company and responsible person aware of the need to secure their data better.
So any goals of the counter-terrorism side of the NSA have been 95% achieved already.

They can keep some cash for foreign spying, that's their job. But stop wasting money listening to Angela, she's clear enough about everything she wants, any time she talks in public.

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733331)

You must have a massive document library of cut n paste "Hate the Gov" files because no matter the subject, you have a Wall O text complete with eleventy billion links just waiting to school all us noobs posted in 2.4 seconds flat. Please STFU. Go post that shit on Infowars or K5.

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45734267)

Given that Cold Fjord has admitted to doing that, but from the opposite perspective, what's the matter? Oh, is that you cold?

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733933)

The 9/11 attacks were aimed at people who can realistically influence American foreign policy. Those people are probably more likely to be killed in a terror attack than be struck by lightning. The War on Terror exists to protect them. You are frightened, inconvenienced, groped and spied on to protect them.

NSA could turn your proposal on its head (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734277)

We need proportional protection. Cut the anti-terrorism budget for NSA, DHS, etc. to 1/6th the funding we have for anti-flu, since the flu kills six times more people than a 9/11 scale attack, every year. Give the funds to NASA, or the NRO if you're really scared of your own shadow. Problem solved.

Dear VortexCortex,

I have read many of your comments and I must thank you for the many informative and insightful leads that you have provided.

Now, back to the very thing that I've quoted.

If I were the NSA, I could turn your proposal on its head - that is, I, as the all-knowing spook with all kinds of network throughout the world, could easily import terrorism into the United States of America and create A HELL OF A LOT OF PROBLEMS for the Americans.

And I, as the NSA, could also provide the jihadists some fancy gadgets (mini nukes or dirty bombs, for examples) to aid them to accomplish their "allah u akbar" campaigns by flattening some 2nd-line cities in the U.S. of A.

And when that happened, the Americans will die in the MILLIONS, and everyone, including those who oppose the NSA, will demand to PUT ALL AVAILABLE RESOURCE BEHIND NSA to "fight terrorism".

Want proportional funding? NSA could, in theory, turn that game into their advantage, in a split second.

Treason, you say ?

Treason ? Isn't what NSA been doing right now anti-constitutional ?

NSA dogs DARE to LIE UNDER OATH IN THE CONGRESS. What else is there that they dare not do?

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,2 days | (#45738045)

Hubble's mirror design changed to match the existing mirrors already deployed in spy satellites -- Aiming an army of Hubbles at earth? That's some awesome spying capability; No terrorists or enemies could make a significant move against us without us finding out immediately already thanks to space spying programs. And, when we launch more impressive satellites the old spy-sats can be donated to NASA and pointed into space, or sent to other planets. [space.com]

I think you have that backwards. The NSA gets the most advanced toys first, why do you thing they changed Hubble's design? Because the spy telescopes were more powerful.

That isn't what I logged in to say, though -- even though TFA was published yesterday, they must need some lead time because the Senate just voted for a budget, no more sequesters for two more years. My guess is the article was written and edited weeks ago.

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (1)

antdude (79039) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732799)

NAS? [grin]

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (1)

Shemmie (909181) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733837)

Damn you! ;)

Re:NASA could get a crap load more funding (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732853)

All they need to do is drop an 'A'.

Definitely. It's the Administration that's causing all the holdups.

So I hear the FBI... (1)

ZipprHead (106133) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732353)

... has some extra bit coins....

da da ... bing

Re:So I hear the FBI... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732645)

... has some extra bit coins....

da da ... bing

If you had any idea how the FBI really works, you'd realize all those bitcoins are going to be spent on things nobody in the FBI has asked for or needs, but on things administrators "think" they'll need, based upon requests from years ago which have been sitting at the bottom of an In basket, somewhere under "Get new bra for JEH."

Make bitcoins (3, Interesting)

unixisc (2429386) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733301)

Actually, NASA could dedicate all their computers for bitcoin mining, until it gets just even, and start spending again. Since it's internally generated money, they wouldn't have to budget for it. They could sell it to bitcoin purchasers outside for real $$$, and use that in the space program

Woo! Sequester! (1)

guises (2423402) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732357)

I realize that I'm not adding much to the conversation by saying this, but: Woohoo! Sequester! Yeah! Praise be to our elected representatives, dedicated to stopping anything that might resemble compromise. There's no government like no government.

Re:Woo! Sequester! (1)

bob_super (3391281) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732701)

It was designed and advertised as "stupid unbearable cuts" to force both parties to negotiate. Until they decided that only the air traffic controllers needed to be exempt so they could get home on time after failing to negotiate.
Smaller government, regardless of how. That's the official platform of some candidates.

Keeping the ISS operating. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732397)

They're down to one ammonia cooler and if it dies, they'll have to abandon ship. That sucker would make one hell of a fireball coming down.

Re:Keeping the ISS operating. (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732823)

The government *WANTS* to splash it. Why do you think they killed the shuttle program before there was a viable replacement? Why do you think the Jupiter-Direct plan was never given a fair shake?

Re:Keeping the ISS operating. (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732867)

Why do you think they killed the shuttle program before there was a viable replacement?

Two reasons: 1) because there never would be a viable replacement, especially while the Shuttle still flew, and 2) because the Shuttle and the rest of the manned space program had huge risks associated with it - bigger than the 2% chance of loss of crew (lose another Shuttle, the VAB, or the ISS and where is your manned space program?) which could be significantly reduced by not being dependent on the Shuttle.

Why do you think the Jupiter-Direct plan was never given a fair shake?

The plan had the serious defect of not throwing enough money at the usual contractors, particularly, ATK (Alliant Techsytems).

Re:Keeping the ISS operating. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,2 days | (#45738149)

The government *WANTS* to splash it.

Which government? Jesus, Dave, that was really stupid. You do know that the I in ISS stands for "international", don't you?

Re:Keeping the ISS operating. (1)

camperdave (969942) | 1 year,2 days | (#45739443)

The government *WANTS* to splash it.

Which government? Jesus, Dave, that was really stupid. You do know that the I in ISS stands for "international", don't you?

Actually, a number of the participating governments do, but I would have thought it obvious in a story about NASA, and in a thread mentioning space shuttle replacements, that it was specifically the US government being discussed. After all, what other governments ran a space shuttle program? What other governments were the Jupiter/Direct team talking to about their rocket?

Re:Keeping the ISS operating. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,2 days | (#45742773)

The point is that no single government could splash it. The statement was silly, Monty Python silly. As in "I'D LIKE TO SEE..."

Re:Keeping the ISS operating. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#45750897)

Actually, the Russians have the equipment necessary to splash it.

Re:Keeping the ISS operating. (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,20 hours | (#45755353)

If Russia or the US pulls out, the ISS will be splashed. It can't be run without their cooperation. So there are two governments capable of doing that.

How about... (1)

amightywind (691887) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732401)

How about launching people again? Everyone's doing it.

Nein (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733045)

Ich bin ein Fan von Planetenwissenschaftsmissionen. Roboter-Raumschiff sind viel kostengunstiger in Bezug auf ihre wissenschaftliche Leistung als bemannte Missionen. Lassen Sie die bemannte Missionen auf den privaten Sektor und lassen Behorden Finanzierung der Grundlagenforschung uber Robotik.

Re:Nein (1)

fisted (2295862) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734545)

Ich bin ein Fan von Raumfahrtmissionen. Roboter-Raumschiffe sind viel kostengünstiger im Bezug auf ihre wissenschaftliche Leistung als bemannte Missionen.

Not too bad, thanks for trying. I can't parse the 3rd sentence, though.

Maybe they could go beg the FBI for some bitcoins (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732421)

Heard they got about $100 million to spare

Re:Maybe they could go beg the FBI for some bitcoi (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732481)

well that might be just 70 million after a few off-the-books projects and such.... not everything the three-letters do is written into the official, congress-approved, budget... and who's to say the announced number of coins is what they actually acquired...

Say it with me (2)

BringsApples (3418089) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732457)

Not
Another
Sequestration!
Awww!!!

Why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732459)

Just use the defence/military/war budget. Its not really being used for anything useful. Or NSA/CIA/etc must have some spare cash around - what about Mitt Romney?

NASA tax top 1% get a 1% extra tax...

It is because they're useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732495)

NASA does not collect blackmail material to ruin lives and threaten dissenters
NASA does not spy on its loved ones and illegally stalk them electronically with nary a consequence
NASA does not create multi-billion porkbarrels it can hand off to the board of directors friends for a big 'totally legit' cut of the theft while leaving taxpayers to foot the bill and telling them communist healthcare did it.

NASA advances science and engineering to help us understand our universe better and use these discoveries to further improve our technology and our lives.

And no one running a country likes anything that involves people learning to read.

Privatise it (0, Flamebait)

agm (467017) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732533)

They should 100% privatise it. Then the people who want to support it financially can, leaving those who do not want to to, well, not. That's the only fair and honest approach.

Re:Privatise it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732575)

Yeah, that worked great for the nuclear industry.

Re:Privatise it (1)

Tablizer (95088) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732577)

Until somebody finds gold asteroids, it's not profitable. Maybe Uranus has gold.

Re:Privatise it (0)

agm (467017) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732805)

If it's not profitable then they shouldn't be forcing hard working people to pay for it. Make payments to it voluntary.

Re:Privatise it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732895)

Yeah. Sure.

All science research should be made profit driven because the free market is so very great at funding expensive research.

No, it's not. The free market is crap at funding expensive scientific research and when it does manage to do so it locks the results up in patents and copyrights and trademarks - insuring that products are expensive and only a few benefit.

How short-sighted can you get?

I don't understand people like you. It's sociopath behavior.

Re:Privatise it (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733049)

All science research should be made profit driven because the free market is so very great at funding expensive research.

The free market and private enterprise as a whole may not be great at funding expensive research, but it is great at doing useful and cost-effective research. If you really want the most expensive research possible, I'm ready to make it happen. Ten trillion dollars will get you started on the most expensive research ever conceived, but you'll need to put another ten in to get papers.

Re:Privatise it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733507)

Wrong. The free market is only good at doing research that immediately or near-immediately enhances someone’s income. This has nothing to do with expenses because the vast majority of excellent research is done on shoestring budgets, with bloodthirsty competition for the ever shrinking pool of funding. Just look at how well most people get paid in the sciences, much less the humanities. Commercial funding for research goes only to solving engineering problems that clearly lead to potential profits. Commercial funding doesn’t get spent on basic research because it’s unprofitable.

Back in the “good old days” the only people who could afford to do research were the idle rich. Aristocrats who were intelligent and had a lot of time on their hands as well as large inheritances that fed steady streams of discretionary income. Because only the idle rich could afford to do research, our knowledge progressed quite slowly through the many centuries. It wasn’t until governments took active roles in funding research – because it led to better weapons and other rapid military advances – did the world start to see *professional* researchers. “He works for a living” used to be an insult! But now “he’s a scientist, he gets paid to do research” is honest praise. And who pays the researchers? Governments, via research funding grants.

Now, you can argue about what kind of research is “useful”, but that’s a bottomless pit. Who are you to judge what is useful and what is not? The only people qualified to judge whether a particular research project is useful are exactly those people who review research grants and review research publications: fellow researchers. The market can’t know these things because the market has almost no understanding at all of what goes into research. In fact, hardly anyone at all understand the work, so we draft specifically those people who *do* understand to review proposals, and they do so mostly FOR FREE. It’s called “academic service”, along with sitting on dissertation committees, advising students, reviewing publications, etc.

Oh, you might say, it’s not true that we can’t tell what is useful. Clearly this particular project I find where some guy is studying the rhythmic patterns in Shakespeare’s sonnets, or this other project where some chick is improving the efficiency of a solar panel by 0.00001%, these projects are not useful. But again, who are you to judge? How do you know that the findings on Shakespearean rhythm won’t unlock an unprecedented solution to computer processing of spoken human languages? Or that the tiny gain in efficiency in the solar panels won’t translate to a massive change in our understanding of semiconductor physics? You can’t know that, because nobody can know that in advance. We can only know after the fact whether the answer to some particular question changes the way that our world works.

If research can profoundly change the world, why aren’t people willing to fund it in the free market? Simple: it’s the biggest gamble of all. If you want a guaranteed return on your money, you don’t bet it on some random research that might never go anywhere. If you want to piss money down a hole with no guarantee at all of making any sort of income from the investment, then you can either burn it or invest in research. Most research doesn’t change the world, and it’s never going to be profitable no matter what happens. The idle rich are mostly no longer willing to fritter away their money on basic research, so the only reliable source of income we have is from a government.

If you really want all intellectual progress to grind to a screeching halt, feel free to kill public research funding. It’ll be just like going back to the 18th century, when there were only a few people on Earth who could afford to think about things besides making a living and providing for one’s children. Even during the Industrial Revolution there wasn’t free market funding for research. For engineering, yes, betting on the Next Big Thing. But who wanted to spend money on someone studying Maxwell’s Equations? Or on comparing Indo-European languages? Those don’t pay off at all, unless you just want to get your name on a university endowment. Who wanted to blow cash on phlogistons or the aether when you could fund some dude’s new flavour of steam engine and double your money a year later? Yet without those phlogistons and aether we wouldn’t have atomic physics and semiconductors.

Re:Privatise it (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,2 days | (#45742775)

Wrong. The free market is only good at doing research that immediately or near-immediately enhances someoneâ(TM)s income.

You are already wrong. Flawed premise leads to flawed conclusions.

Who are you to judge what is useful and what is not?

I'm pretty good at that actually. The market is pretty much dead now, but I am the top scorer on the Foresight Exchange [ideosphere.com] which was a prediction betting market that ran since 1996. I would certainly test my acumen against any scientist spouting the "you can't judge research" myth. It'd be easy money.

But who wanted to spend money on someone studying Maxwellâ(TM)s Equations? Or on comparing Indo-European languages? Those donâ(TM)t pay off at all, unless you just want to get your name on a university endowment.

Maxwell's equations had a large near future payoff, kicking off such things as radio and electronic analog computers. And comparing Indo-European languages? No more reason exists for public funding than private. But someone would find it interesting and fund it just like they do studies of history. Even the researchers themselves could do that.

Who wanted to blow cash on phlogistons or the aether when you could fund some dudeâ(TM)s new flavour of steam engine and double your money a year later? Yet without those phlogistons and aether we wouldnâ(TM)t have atomic physics and semiconductors.

Because they wanted to be on the next big thing.

I see the same empty-headed reasoning used. You haven't even considered if the examples you use actually support your argument.

Re:Privatise it (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734679)

Sorry dude, but you have no way of knowing if a research will be useful or not, does not work that way.

Re:Privatise it (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,2 days | (#45742691)

Sorry dude, but you have no way of knowing if a research will be useful or not, does not work that way.

Works that way for anyone who actually does research.

Re:Privatise it (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733237)

The free market is crap at funding expensive scientific research and when it does manage to do so it locks the results up in patents and copyrights and trademarks

I can't tell if you're being ironic or you truly don't realize that patents, copyright, and trademarks are government monopolies anathema to a free market.

Re:Privatise it (5, Insightful)

Fnordulicious (85996) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733577)

Firefighting isn’t profitable. Police services aren’t profitable. Parks and playgrounds aren’t profitable. Plowing the streets and sidewalks isn’t profitable. Public art isn’t profitable. Keeping the air and water clean aren’t profitable. Teaching children isn’t profitable. Maintaining our highways isn’t profitable.

Yet we spend our money on these things. Why? Would you volunteer to pay for fighting fires in a neighborhood on the other side of your town? Or how about to pay for a highway that connects two cities you’ve never been to? Or to educate someone else’s children?

People are selfish, obviously including you. We don’t want to pay for things that don’t obviously benefit us. But we still want to live in a world where we have things like clean water, educated children, and people to put out our burning homes. Paying for scientific research is the same thing. We have governnments that tax us so that they can provide exactly those services that nobody is willing to voluntarily pay for.

If you want to live without them, why not try moving to Sudan or tribal Pakistan? Try living without the modern society you’re accustomed to if you really don’t want to pay for it. Give it all up. When you have, maybe then you can come back and tell us about how everything should be paid for on a strictly voluntary basis.

Re:Privatise it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733959)

> Firefighting isn’t profitable. Police services aren’t profitable....

And the roads. Sanitation. The Aqueduct ...

Re:Privatise it (1)

agm (467017) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734043)

Firefighting isn’t profitable. Police services aren’t profitable. Parks and playgrounds aren’t profitable.

People who want those things would pay for them whether they are profitable or not. Just like NASA.

Plowing the streets and sidewalks isn’t profitable. Public art isn’t profitable. Keeping the air and water clean aren’t profitable. Teaching children isn’t profitable. Maintaining our highways isn’t profitable.

Yet we spend our money on these things. Why?

Because people value those services. It's not rocket science (excuse the pun).

Would you volunteer to pay for fighting fires in a neighborhood on the other side of your town? Or how about to pay for a highway that connects two cities you’ve never been to? Or to educate someone else’s children?

No, but I would willingly pay for those things that direct benefit me. I would also assist in areas where people don't have the menas to provide such things.

People are selfish, obviously including you.

It's not selfish to expect people to pay for what they use and not for what they don't use. "Selfish" is expecting (and forcing) people to pay fo things they don't want. The least selfish option is the one based on voluntary and compassionate action. Compulsion is selfish.

We don’t want to pay for things that don’t obviously benefit us. But we still want to live in a world where we have things like clean water, educated children, and people to put out our burning homes. Paying for scientific research is the same thing. We have governnments that tax us so that they can provide exactly those services that nobody is willing to voluntarily pay for.

If no one is willing to pay for them then no third party should be able to force us to pay for them. That's ethically corrupt.

If you want to live without them, why not try moving to Sudan or tribal Pakistan? Try living without the modern society you’re accustomed to if you really don’t want to pay for it. Give it all up. When you have, maybe then you can come back and tell us about how everything should be paid for on a strictly voluntary basis.

Ah, the old "if you don't like it you can leave" argument. That's not an intellectually honest tactic when discussing the protection of liberty and individual freedoms.

I still maintain that if individuals believe strongly enough in what NASA does, then they will willingly pay money to them. I would. What I do not support is the state forcing people (using extortionate means) to pay for such things.

Re:Privatise it (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | 1 year,2 days | (#45737609)

You would pay for direct benefit, but do not want to pay when it indirectly benefits you. That is so much more ethically corrupt than compulsion.
I believe this thread is about privatising. There are two viable companies doing exactly that, and more trying.
I would question whether they would have tried by now if not for the race to the moon. That initial spend was vital to the current environment. But no one directly benefitted from any of that spending.
According to what you wrote, you would prefer that no space program got off the ground.
Or, you assert that enough monied altruists would have donated to accomplish the same feat. Either is preposterous.
But then you say you would give voluntarily. Do you see direct benefit?
Ah, it boils down to the libertarian view. Even if you see the value, you do not want to force other people to act in their own self interest.
Next time, just say "libertarian" and save us the time. Your argument is based on dogma, not logic, and you will gain no converts by arguing based on logic. Stick to dogma.

Re:Privatise it (1)

agm (467017) | 1 year,2 days | (#45740469)

You would pay for direct benefit, but do not want to pay when it indirectly benefits you.

I've not said that at all. What I have said is that I will pay fo things that I use, and also for things that I find valuable. "Valuable" doesn't mean I directly benefit from it. This is why I donate to food banks in my area and spend many hours a week with youth organisations. I do this voluntarily because it is the right thing to do.

According to what you wrote, you would prefer that no space program got off the ground.

I've not written that at all. I don't think it is ethically justified to force people to pay for things like a space program.

Or, you assert that enough monied altruists would have donated to accomplish the same feat. Either is preposterous.
But then you say you would give voluntarily. Do you see direct benefit?

Direct benefit? No, I don't see that. But then again I don't need to see a direct benefit in things I choose to give my time and money too. I'm not sure where you get this idea that people should only pay for things that directly benefit them. I sure haven't made that claim.

Ah, it boils down to the libertarian view. Even if you see the value, you do not want to force other people to act in their own self interest.
Next time, just say "libertarian" and save us the time. Your argument is based on dogma, not logic, and you will gain no converts by arguing based on logic. Stick to dogma.

It's not dogma, it principle. The principle is that it's wrong to initiate force against someone else, and that the state should exist to protect people from such harm.

Re:Privatise it (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,20 hours | (#45755313)

You would pay for direct benefit, but do not want to pay when it indirectly benefits you.

I see yet another idiot speaking of nebulous benefits while ignoring costs. I understand quite well what benefits are, direct or otherwise. I also understand what costs are.

Re:Privatise it (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | 1 year,2 days | (#45737899)

You are being too simplistic.

We, the people, formed a government not for purposes of oppressing the liberties of our fellows, but because we can't possibly run our society without it. True, it can be corrupted, but until someone comes up with a better method, we'll just have to police it. Police it, not destroy it. We delegate decision making to elected representatives so that we don't have to spend all our own time in campaigns and votes. They in turn rely on staff, and fund research to find answers they need in order to make sensible policy. For instance, is the War on Drugs the best way to handle drug problems? Is Climate Change real and a problem, and how effective will various solutions be? Should we seed the oceans with iron? Scrub CO2 from the air? Build lots of windmills? Build dikes around coastal cities? Throw our efforts into discovering better battery technology so we can switch to electric cars? There are lives riding on the answers to these questions. NASA is one of the biggest researchers in this area.

The research has to be as unbiased as possible, and where can that be obtained? Not through corporate efforts, with shading and queering of data and results, spewing propaganda, and outright lying to suit their own selfish interests seen as not merely a little naughty, but actually expected and practically a mandate as part of their duty to shareholders! Combine that foolishness with their demonstrated lack of enlightenment and vision, their inability to perceive that even their own families would be better off if they stopped lying, and things start to look shaky. That's the most stupidly, treacherously byzantine part of our society, and you place your faith in them?!

And then a guy like you wants to break what little of government still works right, because you see no direct benefit to you by, for instance, having police on the beat on streets you don't personally use. The locals should pay for that! Well, we have a system like that in Texas. Schools are funded by property taxes. Consequently, rich neighborhoods have good schools, and poor neighborhoods have bad schools. This is some serious class discrimination, and it goes on almost unremarked. It's horribly inefficient to say the least. Inefficiency offset by increased brutality is why the Confederacy's cause was hopeless. Whipping the "lazy" slaves harder was never going to bring the South up to parity with the North. Their entire economic system, based as it was on slavery, was completely outclassed by the Union.

Re:Privatise it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45734931)

There are private version of all of those things. How does this get marked insightful while somebody suggesting that Nasa not get funded by force is flamebait? Government programs aren't supposed to be dogma.

Re:Privatise it (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | 1 year,3 days | (#45736059)

While I agree with you overall, I just want to comment on some specific points.

Paying for a fire department is actually an insurance. The profitability of insurance is debatable, but it makes sense enough so that people pay it, often voluntarily.
Education is most certainly profitable, since a lot of people are willing to save money or take loans in order to finance their education or that of their children (in Europe things are a bit different, but let's not make this too complicated). Education is an investment, made while hoping that it will enable you to get a better paying job in the future, thus making a profit in the long run.
Highways are profitable because they ease commerce. The profitability of selling goods, as well as getting people to work and getting raw materials to the factories is more than obvious.
Parks, playgrounds, clean streets and clean air and water are profitable because they add to a community's well-being, which in turn saves on the health-care bills (public health-care is also, like education, a touchy subject, but as I said, let's keep this simple).

My point is not that you are wrong or anything, it's just that we can look at almost anything from the profitability perspective, and it will still make sense. Science IMHO is very much like education, and should be funded. Science is very much profitable! Not only because it is the extrapolation of education, but for the very simple reason that it improves our everyday lives from new medicine to tech gadgets (which get sold and bought, making profit in the process!). And, more to the topic, exploration? Now, that's a profitable area, if I ever saw one! The problem with the GP's perspective is that he/she cannot see these things this way, which we can only change with a better education (which is why I think that education is a topic of national significance).

Re:Privatise it (2)

jd (1658) | 1 year,2 days | (#45737809)

There was a time in England when you paid fire fighters insurance. They marked the houses that had paid. Houses that didn't pay - well, picture two Mafia heavies sauntering up the driveway, making comments about how combustible things are and what a pity it would be if an accident were to.... happen. (Terry Pratchett made a reference to this in his books because it is such a sick, evil and yet utterly predictable outcome.)

The service became one of the first truly national services because organized crime syndicates, even firefighting ones, are not approved of.

Re:Privatise it (1)

SonicSpike (242293) | about a year ago | (#45785583)

Firefighting can be profitable. There are many security services that are profitable. There are many private land use areas (think parks) that are profitable. Plowing the streets is profitable (I have a friend who makes good money doing it), teaching is profitable, toll roads are profitable.

Not sure what world you're living in.

Re:Privatise it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732631)

But don't forget to subsidize the cost of shooting the Tea Party into space so they can take their conclave off-planet where it belongs.

Re:Privatise it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732833)

It would be more productive to shoot the left wing of the body politic into space as they have NEVER contributed anything to science. If they had their way all funding would wasted on social spending. Name one social program that has propelled the human race forward in terms of science or education.

Re:Privatise it (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733613)

Ooh, ooh, can I try? What do you think of free, compulsory public education? You know, elementary schools, high schools, all that.

Too broad? Well, here's a specific program: The GI Bill.

How about the US government's funding of student grants and loans? The feds seem to eat a pretty big chunk of money on that, but there are an awful lot of people who get educations from all that money that disappears down the budget hole.

Hmm, maybe the Works Progress Administration? It taught a lot of people valuable skills that went on to become their careers after the Great Depression. I'm not too sure about the details though. Better ask a historian, you know one of those guys in a university who gets paid by public money to study our past. You might not agree with his opinions though, because after all he (or she!) is some random member of the left wing of the body politic that wastes our money on social spending.

It's actually surprisingly easy to come up with examples for you. Maybe if you thought about it a little bit you might be able to come up with some yourself! Put all that education to use that you were given for free with government money wasted on social spending.

Re:Privatise it (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,20 hours | (#45755373)

How about the US government's funding of student grants and loans?

That's the primary driver of making the cost of higher education outpace inflation for decades. When I think of government helping, I don't think "let's make this vital service vastly more expensive."

At least set hard problems (2)

jd (1658) | 1 year,2 days | (#45737713)

By moving mills away from slicing the arms off children to being run by trained adults interested in mill work, those children got to have this thing called education. Instead of being a burden to others, they became valued members of society, including scientists and engineers.

The left was arguably a major factor in the Enlightenment, without which no science could be done except in secret from the conservatives.

A large proportion of schools and universities in Britain were founded, funded and run by the left. No left, no Faraday, no Rutherford, no Turing, no Crick or Watson - name something you can't live without and I can show those components that would not exist without left-wing establishments, left-wing idealists and left-wing philosophies.

Can you name anything, anything at all, developed because of right-wing ideology?

Re:At least set hard problems (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,20 hours | (#45755391)

Can you name anything, anything at all, developed because of right-wing ideology?

Modern civilization.

Re:Privatise it (1)

lancelet (898272) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732817)

I hear calls for privatisation of organisations like NASA all the time, and I definitely understand (even support) the motivation for it. However, you need to understand the way these things work first, to understand the down-side of privatisation.

It's all about RISK. Many of the good programs that organisations like NASA are running are risky, in a financial sense. The idea of public funding in these cases (not the only reason for public funding, btw) is to spread the risk. When people claim that private industry can achieve the same things as NASA, they will often be wrong by default. This is because private industry will not accept the high risk of failure and conjectural returns of many blue-sky ideas, so they won't even consider investing in them. Industry is good at slow incremental progress (like iPhone 4 to iPhone 4s), but not so good at revolutionary progress. While many advances can be made incrementally, albeit more slowly, there are plenty of examples of non-incremental advances (like... the advent of microbiology, which wouldn't have followed in any incremental way from miasma theory without the input from optics).

So, you might ask: what are the benefits? I'm going to assume that you don't see scientific knowledge as an end in itself, and I assume that the one-off consumer products that we hear about don't excite you, so I'll restrict myself to a very specific, generic industrial method: Finite Element Analysis. FEA is something that was developed in universities alongside the earliest computers. Early FEA codes were specialised, sometimes buggy, and treated with scepticism by industry. Within NASA, these early codes began to be applied to certain problems, but NASA groups recognised the need for a more centralised, methodological approach. So, they threw some hard-earned-taxpayer-money at the problem (yes, YOUR money!) and NASTRAN was born: the first "industrial-strength", validated, quality FEA code set. Fast forward, and these days, FEA is considered both essential and central to a huge range of Engineering work: the design of everything from bridges to cars involves FEA in a key role. However, the vast majority of people who understand the history of FEA will acknowledge that we'd be far behind our current position without NASTRAN and the early NASA support. This is what public funding gets you: an acceptance of early risk and willingness to take on "blue sky" projects that may become central to industry within only a few decades. You just won't get that from private enterprise, even a "Kickstarter-driven" kind of private enterprise.

Re:Privatise it (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733137)

Here's the obvious two rebuttals. First, there's no point to taking risks without a return. Your claims about finite elements analysis are bizarre. It was already being developed and it doesn't take decades of work to turn FEA into viable algorithms and working code when a single person could do it in a few years.

Second, what risks really are being taken? It's easy to talk about taking risks when you get easy money from someone else and have little accountability for what you do with that money.

You just won't get that from private enterprise, even a "Kickstarter-driven" kind of private enterprise.

Ever try?

In science... (1)

jd (1658) | 1 year,2 days | (#45737555)

The really interesting science, that is, there is no guarantee of a return accountants would recognize as such. (Scientists consider no result a result.)

In space science, this is worsened by rockets failing, the harsh conditions of space wrecking probes, the hazards of space junk, the very long-term nature of the work, the fact that all costs are up-front and the commercial rewards beyond satellite relays are never tangibly linked to space research by the public, creating the illusion that space has done nothing.

Re:In science... (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,2 days | (#45742799)

The really interesting science, that is, there is no guarantee of a return accountants would recognize as such.

Do you really believe that most of humanity are accountants?

In space science, this is worsened by rockets failing, the harsh conditions of space wrecking probes, the hazards of space junk, the very long-term nature of the work, the fact that all costs are up-front and the commercial rewards beyond satellite relays are never tangibly linked to space research by the public, creating the illusion that space has done nothing.

It's like you're trying to lose this argument. What makes the poor progress in "space science" an illusion? Want to know the fastest way to do space science with near future technology? Sample return. That's because the scientific infrastructure on Earth is vastly better than the scientific infrastructure anywhere else that we can get to in the near future.

Re:In science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#45746263)

Do you really believe that most of humanity are accountants?

They certainly aren't. At the same time, most of humanity are not scientists. Or any sort of professional who's competent (just competent, not even expert) in any non-trivial field.

What makes the poor progress in "space science" an illusion?

See above. Most of humanity are not scientists. They lack the knowledge, skills, or competence to judge whether scientific progress is poor or not. The Dunningâ"Kruger effect is also at work, where people underestimate the skills and accomplishments of others while overestimating their own. The result is an illusion on how much science has gone or done.

Re:In science... (1)

khallow (566160) | 1 year,1 day | (#45752201)

Once again, I ask, what makes the lack of progress in "space science" an "illusion"? I wouldn't as you do, use the opinions of uninformed people (who I might add often don't actually have an opinion on the subject).

Instead, I'd look at the actual work or lack thereof of space activities that might fall under the vague category of "space science". There are several things that stand out: 1) a profoundly low expectation for anything labeled "space science", 2) a similar degree of ignorance or perhaps negligent indifference for basic economics and fiscal matters (for example, economies of scale, what one can do with a billion dollars, and the "learning curve" model for expectations of improving a process that you do repeatedly), 3) an ugly anti-scientific attitude (such as blaming ignorant people for the failures of modern efforts to advance scientific knowledge beyond Earth), and 4) a epic tolerance for opportunity cost such as the failure to use the greatest concentration of scientists that the human race probably will ever have.

Re:Privatise it (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733677)

They should 100% privatise it. Then the people who want to support it financially can, leaving those who do not want to to, well, not. That's the only fair and honest approach.

Yeah lets privatise it and everything else. Because private entities are so much more likely to be competent, never worry about making a profit, and are never mismanaged...just like the banks a few years back....oh wait.

How about we privatise the police force, fire brigade and ambulance too? And deregulate while we're at it. "I'm sorry sir we can't attend to your emergency as you don't live in one of the lucrative areas we cover".

Foolish greed and self-centered behaviour are at the heart of the current social, economic and scientific decline.

Re:Privatise it (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734693)

Very well said, sir.

Re:Privatise it (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734665)

Yeah, right.... Just imagine a world where the police are private, and where they only serve the places that are profitable. Now, imagine that this private police services are expensive (after all, profit is now above the service itself), and you can not afford her services. Nightmare scenario for those who have income, but can not pay.

Re:Privatise it (1)

agm (467017) | 1 year,2 days | (#45740497)

Yeah, right.... Just imagine a world where the police are private, and where they only serve the places that are profitable. Now, imagine that this private police services are expensive (after all, profit is now above the service itself), and you can not afford her services. Nightmare scenario for those who have income, but can not pay.

You're assuming that people would only pay for services that directly benefit them. That wouldn't be the case. It's in everyone's interests to see people protected from harm.

Re:Privatise it (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | 1 year,2 days | (#45744173)

You're assuming that people would only pay for services that directly benefit them

And it is not what everyone does nowadays? How many around you are screaming they do not want pay taxes to "sustain vagabonds" (aka, people who by most who try are not getting employment)?

Re:Privatise it (1)

agm (467017) | about a year ago | (#45762377)

You're assuming that people would only pay for services that directly benefit them

And it is not what everyone does nowadays? How many around you are screaming they do not want pay taxes to "sustain vagabonds" (aka, people who by most who try are not getting employment)?

Compulsory wealth redistribution is not a "service". I regularly pay for things (voluntarily) that do not directly benefit me. Foodbanks, local charities etc. That is how it should be done - not via state enforced extortion.

Re:Privatise it (2)

mcgrew (92797) | 1 year,2 days | (#45742501)

Do you realize what site you're on, dufus? If you do, know that you're trolling and PLEASE STOP before every fucking comment you make is modded to oblivion. Now listen up, jocktroll, we're nerds. We LOVE space exploration and if you don't, you don't belong here.

Pay attention to all the folks who responded to you who are at least 25 points higher than you on the IQ graph, you may learn something if you're at least almost normally intelligent.

If NASA were privately funded, we might still not have walked on the moon, we would not have Hubble and the other space telescopes, we would not have robots on mars, we would not now have a craft exiting the solar system, we would not have a HELL of a lot of science we do.

If governments hadn't gone to space, you would not have a Space-X or Virgin Galactic today.

So why don't you just crawl back to your 4chan bridge, troll, and leave us nerds alone.

Drop SLS rocket development. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732557)

NASA should drop SLS rocket development since it is unneeded and SPaceX could develop a similar rocket for cheaper.

I hate change! (1)

chebucto (992517) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732599)

Am I the only one seeing this?

When I clicked on the story link, I got redirected to

http://beta.slashdot.org/story/195783 [slashdot.org]

which looks like

http://imgur.com/uVnwWHl [imgur.com]

I do not want to browse 'Latest Tech Jobs' whilst browsing slashdot.

If you need more money to run the site, ask for donations. You'll probably get them.

PS - I can't post anonymously! That totally goes against my cowardly nature! I protest in the strongest terms!

Re:I hate change! (1)

chebucto (992517) | 1 year,3 days | (#45732607)

I forgot to say:

- The old (Malda-era) layout is fine
- One area that does need improvement is the mobile version of the site; something like El Reg's layout would be greatly appreciated.

Re:I hate change! (1)

csumpi (2258986) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733077)

I'm pretty sure you've also noticed the extreme proportion of slashvertisements and click baits since timothy and the new owners took over. It's all about making hard cash now, news for nerds is the past. You are the product now, just like on facebook.

Better disable ad blocking and start clicking those ads before it gets much worse.

NASA Objectives (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732665)

With the priorities I've seen in the news for NASA over the last few years, I think that is their biggest problem.
Muslim outreach [realclearpolitics.com]
Climate Change study.

We also have the head of the EPA's Climate change division being sentenced today for outrageous lies, along will all the other lies other AGW activists have done. Why should I be forced to fund what appears to be a hoax and religious outreach? If that is NASA's mission now, just close the damn thing.

Now if you want to go back to what they USED to do, that would be a different story.

Re:NASA Objectives (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732721)

Don't worry, Bubba. You don't make enough from your welfare checks to fund NASA anyway.

Re:NASA Objectives (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732821)

aww your wittle left wing nut job bias is showing. You must be confused. Please take this moment to use your Obama phone and call for extra brain cells. Only the left wing government life suckers would be interested in being on welfare. But we all understand that is the dream of the worshipers of the Obumer administration. After all make sure that you get to work on time, millions of Democrats and Obuma supporters are depending on you.

Re:NASA Objectives (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732959)

Sure, Bubba. You gonna finally finish your GED so you can get your fry cook job back?

What is there current mandate from dear leader (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732741)

Funding comes down to their mandate. Land on the moon in a grand space race for national pride = lots o cash.

Dear Leader proclaims that your new mission is out reach to Islamic nations = 0 cash

damn Ted Cruz (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45732917)

Ted Cruz's predecessor, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, threatened legal action against the NASA Administrator Bolden, if he did not release the design of the SLS. She stood behind Bolden during the announcement of the SLS. Watching the video, one can easily imagine she had a hidden gun aimed at Bolden. As for Ted Cruz.... he tried to cut NASA's budget in July of 2013 to $15.9 billion. The Senate Democrats overpowered him. Hutchinson never give Griffin all the money he said he needed to begin with, so there is not much room to make cuts. Ted Cruz has been to Iowa several times, and released his birth certificate. He doesn't talk much about NASA, unlike Hutchinson and Nelson...

Disband NASA and create new institutions (1)

HellCatF6 (1824178) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733175)

NASA is filled with bureaucrats and lifers. I know a lot of them personally. I think they're all great, and give our world more bang for my buck than any other agency (sorry NSA).

Look at what Musk is doing by riding herd over his people - he fires them when they can't perform - and guess what? SpaceX performs.

Time to create a government agency (or two) whose sole purpose is to get a colony going on the moon. Maybe another agency for unmanned exploration. And that's it. The aeronautical functions can be let loose to the private sector.

Maybe we should call it, Starfleet?

Re:Disband NASA and create new institutions (1)

couchslug (175151) | 1 year,3 days | (#45733441)

Outsource NASA to Musk or someone like him.

That's not a stretch. If Lockheed and General Dynamics can build aircraft, why not sub out spacecraft too?

Re:Disband NASA and create new institutions (1)

anarkhos (209172) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734035)

You had me with "Disband NASA" but lost me with "create a government agency (or two)"

Maybe we could call this new agency NASA

Re:Disband NASA and create new institutions (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734717)

The problem of NASA is political. Go to space means taking risks, politicians are averse to risks and tend to think only of themselves. Projects will not work right when they are approved only if benefit financially this or that politician.

meh (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733323)

np China took the lead anyway.

No money, no science (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45733523)

NASA has no money, the NSF has no money, how the hell are we going to fund astronomers now?

Same as it has always been (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | 1 year,3 days | (#45734651)

NASA's biggest challenge is putting -people- in space. The reasons for the difficulty of the challenge have changed from technical to fiscal and political, but it still remains the biggest challenge.

NASA sole mission needs no more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45735259)

Since NASA's sole mission is better relations with the Muslim world clearly their current budget is enough, if not too much.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/07/white-house-nasa-defend-comments-about-nasa-outreach-to-muslim-world-criticized-by-conservatives/

NASA's budget is already a joke. (2)

Str1der (524776) | 1 year,3 days | (#45735347)

Great, China and the rest of the world are catching up and will soon surpass us in space technology and capability and what do we do? Reduce NASA's relatively tiny 0.5% of the Federal budget even more.

Thanks a lot, asshole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,3 days | (#45735461)

Chief NASA administrator and nigger told Al Jazeera in an interview that when he became the NASA administrator, that the nigger, President Obama charged him with three things, and I quote:

  "One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering — science, math and engineering."

You, yes you, who voted for the nigger Obama. It is YOU who are personally responsible for the niggerification of American.

Thanks a lot, asshole.

Obvious Challenge: (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,2 days | (#45737261)

You mean "Funding" ?

Not so bad (1)

jd (1658) | 1 year,2 days | (#45737425)

Just cut back on projects. Starting with those involving spending money in districts whose politicians work to cripple NASA. Remember, we're coming up to yet another election year and there's no news like bad news to shape the outcomes.

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