Friday, 17 June 2011

The (Lack of) US Manned Space Program

From SpaceNews: Memo Marks Official End of Constellation:
A senior NASA official has signed the formal death warrant for the Constellation deep space exploration program even as work proceeds on one of Constellation’s legacy development efforts and agency officials continue to ponder the fate of another.

“I have signed the letter to close out the Constellation Program,” Douglas Cooke, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, wrote in a June 10 memo.
I've written about the wastage and fiscal mismanagement before, but maybe this graphic shows the situation best:

From another previous post :
NASA has spent more than $9 billion on development of the Constellation project and the Ares rockets over the last six years. President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget would end funding for the Constellation Systems program, initiated by NASA in 2005 to return astronauts to the Moon by 2020 and later to Mars. The administration says the program is behind schedule and cannot achieve its goals without budget increases. Constellation would need an additional $3 billion annually beyond fiscal 2010.

Now Constellation needed mending with a new one. But now it's clear that to Obama, it's all about "US Pride" and "Showing the Flag". Prestige. Basically, one huge publicity stunt. Not about colonisation. Not about using our disabled twin planet as a testing ground for how to live off-Earth.
Why are all concrete plans for further crewed space exploration now cancelled?
Obama sought to explain why he aborted President George W. Bush's return-to-the moon plan in favor of a complicated system of public-and-private flights that would go elsewhere in space, with details still to be worked out.

"We've been there before," Obama said of the nation's moon landings decades ago.
As reported over a year ago.

Constellation needed killing. It was a product of the pork-barrelling "business as usual" that bedevils Congress's financing of space exploration. Split the work so the pork is spread evenly - thus waking everything vastly inefficient. Listen to what the engineers say regarding how much money they will need - then give them half of that. Then spread the payments out over many years, to increase the costs yet more.. and finally kill the project, as it never stood a chance of working anyway without more funding.

Constellation also needed replacing with something more concrete than Unicorns and Rainbows. In one way, it has been, just not a US program - the next man to step foot on the moon will be speaking Mandarin.


Anonymous said...

You are missing the point. Governments are about corruption, not getting things done. The media is nothing more than the operant conditioning marketing arm of the Governmnet to manipulate the people.

Why not work on real needs like limiteding the world population?

Chris Phoenix said...

The US has a manned space program. It's called SpaceX. We just have to fund it... direct to it a fraction of the government pork that's being spent on other US corporations... and we will have a manned space capability again.

BTW, the founder intends to send people to Mars. In the long run, this isn't just a LEO taxi.

wreckage said...

Anonymous; human populations limit themselves, as the 21st century will clearly demonstrate and as has been reasonably routinely observed in the 20th century. China's population will be shrinking in a few years time, so will India's. The population of the USA is merely stable; only immigration is contributing to growth. The majority of Europe is shrinking, as is pretty much the entirety of the former territories of the USSR.

Add to this the fact that sex-selective abortions (possibly the least charming innovation of the 20th or any other century) have resulted in far fewer women being born, so the future population will be less capable of reversing this decline.

"The Population Bomb" has been proven wrong on all of its original predictions, and in the 25 ensuing years each updated edition with updated predictions has also proven to be wrong.

Chris Phoenix... no! No, that's the worst thing you could do! A complex of politics and corporate bureaucracy works fine for companies that just want to extract rents, but it's poison to innovation and productivity!