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Robert Longley

No Money, No Mars, No Moon, Spaceflight Panel Finds

By September 11, 2009

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Boldly going to Mars in the future or even back to the moon by 2020 will cost a lot more money than NASA has right now, according to the blue-ribbon panel assigned by President Obama to review the future of the U.S. human space flight program.

A work-in-progress since mid-June, the summary report of the Human Space Flight Review Committee concludes that further human exploration of space “beyond low-Earth orbit” will not be possible given NASA’s current funding.

“The U.S. human spaceflight program appears to be on an unsustainable trajectory,” states the report. “It is perpetuating the perilous practice of pursuing goals that do not match allocated resources.”

Any “meaningful” human exploration, including a possible return to the Moon, will require future funding about $3 billion per year above the fiscal year 2010 NASA budget of $18.7 billion, according to the Committee’s report.

The increased funding would allow NASA to follow one of the two paths of future exploration identified by the Committee as the “Moon First, then Mars” or the “Flexible” path:

The Moon First, the Mars Path: A small colonies of humans living on the moon would work to gain the experience and develop the skills necessary for a future trip to Mars. “Over many missions, a small colony of habitats would be assembled, and explorers would begin to live there for many months, conducting scientific studies and prospecting for resources that could be used as fuel,” states the report.

The Flexible Path: Humans would visit locations progressively farther from Earth, including lunar orbit, asteroids and ultimately, orbiting Mars. One mission option on the Flexible Path calls for humans to rendezvous with a moon of Mars, a location from which they would control robotic explorers on the surface of Mars.

The additional $3 billion per year would also allow NASA to keep the International Space Station in operation until 2020, rather than allowing it to crash into the Pacific Ocean in 2016 as currently planned.

Of the overall undertaking of exploring space, the Committee concluded, “It really is rocket science. Space operations become all the more difficult when means do not match aspirations. Such is the case today.”

Also See:
Obama Orders NASA Review of Human Space Exploration
NASA Says Cannot Afford to Track Asteroids

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Comments

September 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm
(1) Sims says:

Would it really be wise to allocate billions of dollars to a program to just play around in space. I mean come on, who is really going to move to the moon. It’s all just bragging rights. This country wants to brag to that country that their technology is better and we are ahead of you. I know technology is important and moving forward in the 21st century, but at a time such as this should we really be spending large sums (and billions of dollars is a large sum) of money on a play ground. What has really been accomplished by man landing on the moon other than having the ability to say we can get there. Are we using any resources from the moon? And who would ever consider staying in Space. Where your oxygen would have a price on it. You actually have to pay to breathe. God meant for us to dwell on the earth where oxygen is a natural resource generated by another on of God’s creations (trees). Can a tree grow on the moon? Absolutely not. There is no oxygen or water to support life.

If I were a rich man then I could afford to buy my children a million dollar playground. But a poor man or even the average man will not and cannot spend that type of money on recreation. The US is in no position to splurge on recreation. Let’s take care of home first. Besides, until we learn to care for the Earth, then all we would do is find some way to deplete the moon or any other heavenly body we occupy.

April 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm
(2) MSgt Steven Westerfield USMC (Ret) says:

Honest Govt (oxymoron I know). But, hundreds of millions owed in back taxes by govt employees. Trillions sent overseas with no accountability (warlords/sheiks/tribal leaders). Trillions sent to foreign countries as “aid” while Americans starve, are homeless, have no healthcare. NASA is asking for future funding about $3 billion per year above the fiscal year 2010 NASA budget of $18.7 billion. Really? I think the rocks on the moon can wait a year or two while we take care of Americans here on earth. Just my lower class opinion, of course, I worry about a monthly $150 electric bill while Politicians worry if they have enough pocket change for their weekly $200 haircut. Government needs an “enema”. “Politicians, like diapers, need changing frequently and for the same reason”

July 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm
(3) Bigmuck says:

Of course press forward.
Money will be spent on something
At least we will be pushing forward
Space the final frontier

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