President Obama will end NASA’s return mission to the moon and turn to private companies to launch astronauts into space when he unveils his budget request to Congress next week, an administration official said Thursday.
The shift would “put NASA on a more sustainable and ambitious path to the future,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“My biggest fear is that this amounts to a slow death of our nation’s human space flight program,” Representative Bill Posey, Republican of Florida, said in a statement.
Mr. Obama’s request, which will be announced on Monday, would add $6 billion over five years to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s budget compared with projections last year. With the increase, NASA would receive $100 billion over the 2011 through 2015 fiscal years.
Mr. Obama’s proposal would further dismantle what remains of the human spaceflight initiative started by the Bush administration in 2004. Last year, $3.5 billion in spending was cut from President George W. Bush’s NASA budget projection for 2011 through 2013, money that would have been used to develop the lander that was to return astronauts to the moon by 2020.
The proposed budget increase would also be much less than the $3-billion-a-year increase that a blue-ribbon committee appointed by the Obama administration said was needed for NASA to successfully pursue a human spaceflight program beyond low-Earth orbit.
Previous Posts on the subject:
And an article I wrote about the future...
Want a Job in Space Development? Learn Mandarin in just three months with our new interactive technology!That was published in December 2008. I didn't predict the Global Financial Crisis, but figured out that they'd find a way to allocate the money to more pressing needs anyway.
It was some 550 years ago that the first great age of exploration ended, when the Chinese Ming Dynasty stopped all intercontinental trans-oceanic expeditions - expeditions that had explored much of the Pacific, and reached all the way to Africa. A nation that had built up seafaring technology far ahead of anything the world would see for hundreds of years abandoned it because it had "better things to do with the money".
The USA had a commanding technological lead in crewed space vehicles in 1975. But, by 2015, it had no capability at all. By announcing the cancellation of the "Space Exploration Initiative", the Obama administration merely recognised that, while the technology was there, the whole space program had become merely a way to ration Pork from the Pork-Barrel, with project after project being cancelled half-complete, as the money was re-allocated to different Congressional Districts in turn. The money that was saved added almost one per cent to the funding of the new Educational Initiatives and every bit helped.
This did not mean a great deal to the average American, although it was a blow to national pride. But, by then, U.S.-based private corporations were starting to institute commercial space flights for the ultra-rich at first, sub-orbital hops and, ten years later, launches to hotels in Low Earth Orbit and trans-polar flights from New York to Tokyo for those to whom time was money and an hour worth a half million. Additional traffic was generated by the increasing number of Chinese orbital construction facilities starting in 2025. These were built with components ferried up by un-crewed Heavy Lift rockets - which still had a distressing tendency to explode now and then -but the crews were taken up in comfort and safety, mainly by American commercial spacecraft.
It was only with the first commercial fusion plants coming on-line in 2050 that the importance of the 15-year-old Chinese Lunar Colony became obvious. He3 was needed by the new technology as fuel and the only large-scale commercially practicable source was refined lunar soil. All that was needed to deliver the refined product was a simple-to-construct solar-powered magnetic catapult to launch the one-ton canisters back to Earth. The Moon became the new Saudi Arabia.
The Era of Space Exploration was over; the Era of Space Development had begun.
“In German - or English - I know how to Count Down…
And I’m learning Chinese,” said Wehrner von Braun…
Maybe though there's cause for hope. With private enterprise being given the chance to see what it can do in getting us to LEO - as it is in Russia at the moment, remember - we could have a good baseline for a re-start.
But not in 2020.
From the BBC :
A major hurdle to producing fusion energy using lasers has been swept aside, results in a new report show.We might beat my 2050 prediction there though by a few years.
The controlled fusion of atoms - creating conditions like those in our Sun - has long been touted as a possible revolutionary energy source.
However, there have been doubts about the use of powerful lasers for fusion energy because the "plasma" they create could interrupt the fusion.
An article in Science showed the plasma is far less of a problem than expected.
The report is based on the first experiments from the National Ignition Facility (Nif) in the US that used all 192 of its laser beams.
Along the way, the experiments smashed the record for the highest energy from a laser - by a factor of 20.
Construction of the National Ignition Facility began at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1997, and was formally completed in May 2009.