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Author Topic: US Space Policy  (Read 2768 times)
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Ironrod
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« on: May 24, 2008, 02:47:06 AM »

Clinton and McCain both have strong pro-NASA positions. US space policy is one of three core issues for me. Bush committed NASA to the Moon/Mars Initiative, and with the shuttles retiring two years from now, there is no going back if we are to have a manned program at all. The last time I looked into it, Obama intended to suspend NASA's manned space budget pending a top-level strategy review, and divert the money to education in the meantime. This would have left the US without manned space access for the foreseeable future: what a bad idea. I sent a scathing email to his campaign explaining all of this. They didn't answer. So I reluctantly decided to oppose Obama, the enemy of human progress.

Tonight I discovered this:

Quote
Develop the Next-Generation of Space Vehicles: The retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2010 will leave the United States without manned spaceflight capability until the introduction of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) carried by the Ares I Launch Vehicle. As president, Obama will support the development of this vital new platform to ensure that the United States' reliance on foreign space capabilities is limited to the minimum possible time period. The CEV will be the backbone of future missions, and is being designed with technology that is already proven and available.

Clearly, my email turned him around. I am now OK with him becoming president. You may proceed with your petty concerns.
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Sarkus
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2008, 05:40:47 AM »

Clearly he has been corrupted by aerospace lobbyists and stuff.

 Roll Eyes
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2008, 06:38:34 AM »

Yup.  Big Space has finally got its hooks into him.
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2008, 11:14:52 PM »

Srsly. Spend the money combating things important instead of finding the tolerances of screws coated in jello or how bugs respond to zero G.  Of course the more money we spend on space stuff rather than things that could cure disease or the like, the quicker we'll need a reason to leave earth in the first place... so I guess it's all a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts icon_wink
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Ironrod
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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2008, 12:15:53 AM »

Quote from: Biyobi on May 24, 2008, 06:38:34 AM

Yup.  Big Space has finally got its hooks into him.

NASA very wisely established R&D facilities in every state in the Union, and their $14B annual budget is spread around accordingly. It enjoys very wide support. Pork for everyone!

I understood Obama's original desire to take a macro look at the manned space program. Moon/Mars is not necessarily the One True Path that must guide us for the next 25 years. But we're about to become dependent on Russia for manned space access for at least two years, and possibly longer if Ares/Orion hit development snags. Obama's earlier position would have not only closed off orbital access indefinitely, it would have dispersed NASA's talent to the point that we might not have ever been able to recover. That was an astonishingly short-sighted idea. I am very glad that, for whatever reason, he understands that we are committed to developing this vehicle to keep a basic, vital capability alive. We do not have the luxury of starting over.

Quote from: ATB on May 24, 2008, 11:14:52 PM

Srsly. Spend the money combating things important

What "important thing" would NASA's $14B annual budget solve that outweighs surrendering manned space capability to the Russians and Chinese?
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2008, 05:04:37 AM »

clearly he's a Martian plant.  we'll get to Mars, accidentally kill a Martian and give them the excuse to invade us out of fear of WMD's.
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« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2008, 05:04:13 PM »

Quote from: Ironrod on May 25, 2008, 12:15:53 AM

Quote from: ATB on May 24, 2008, 11:14:52 PM

Srsly. Spend the money combating things important

What "important thing" would NASA's $14B annual budget solve that outweighs surrendering manned space capability to the Russians and Chinese?

Think of the children!

On a more serious note, how about if NASA stops charging companies less than it actually costs to launch their statellites into space. If we weren't subsidizing these companies they would have to pay market rates and private companies would be able to compete against NASA. This would open up space operations into the private market.
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IkeVandergraaf
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« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2008, 06:51:26 PM »

I don't know why space exploration shouldn't be privatized.  We've got enough problems on earth we could spend our money on.
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« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2008, 07:03:06 PM »

Quote from: Ironrod on May 24, 2008, 02:47:06 AM

Clearly, my email turned him around.
You and me both, there, metalboner.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2008, 08:41:44 PM »

Quote from: The Meal on May 27, 2008, 07:03:06 PM

Quote from: Ironrod on May 24, 2008, 02:47:06 AM

Clearly, my email turned him around.
You and me both, there, metalboner.
I am relieved that I no longer have to oppose him (although I don't entirely trust his conversion). As long as the candidates are all on board with Ares/Orion, I don't care about all the boring minor issues like Iraq and health care and the children.

Quote from: Moliere on May 27, 2008, 05:04:13 PM

how about if NASA stops charging companies less than it actually costs to launch their statellites into space. If we weren't subsidizing these companies they would have to pay market rates and private companies would be able to compete against NASA. This would open up space operations into the private market.

While a robust domestic launch capability is undeniably a matter of national security, I'd be fine with private companies taking over that function...but I don't think they can compete without government subsidies. Not as long as the Europeans and Russians are offering subsidized launch services.

Quote from: IkeVandergraaf on May 27, 2008, 06:51:26 PM

I don't know why space exploration shouldn't be privatized.  We've got enough problems on earth we could spend our money on.

Routine stuff like launching commercial satellites could (maybe should) be privatized. Exploration is always far more expensive, it's risky, and it's never directly profitable. Thank Eisenhower we have a civilian agency chartered to do it, or only the military would ever develop new techniques and infrastructure. And they don't share so good.
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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2008, 03:41:52 AM »

Quote from: Ironrod on May 25, 2008, 12:15:53 AM

What "important thing" would NASA's $14B annual budget solve that outweighs surrendering manned space capability to the Russians and Chinese?

It doesn't bother you in the least that NASA's budget is 3x what the Federal Government sponsors in cancer research?  Or that 14 billion is 3 billion more than all of the cancer funding (private and public) conducted in the US?
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« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2008, 03:48:38 AM »

Quote from: Eightball on May 28, 2008, 03:41:52 AM

Quote from: Ironrod on May 25, 2008, 12:15:53 AM

What "important thing" would NASA's $14B annual budget solve that outweighs surrendering manned space capability to the Russians and Chinese?

It doesn't bother you in the least that NASA's budget is 3x what the Federal Government sponsors in cancer research?  Or that 14 billion is 3 billion more than all of the cancer funding (private and public) conducted in the US?

It doesn't bother me. Underfunding of cancer research wouldn't get any better with further funding slashes to NASA and low cancer funds isn't linked to NASA funding at all.
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« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2008, 03:54:37 AM »

Quote from: Eightball on May 28, 2008, 03:41:52 AM

Quote from: Ironrod on May 25, 2008, 12:15:53 AM

What "important thing" would NASA's $14B annual budget solve that outweighs surrendering manned space capability to the Russians and Chinese?

It doesn't bother you in the least that NASA's budget is 3x what the Federal Government sponsors in cancer research?  Or that 14 billion is 3 billion more than all of the cancer funding (private and public) conducted in the US?

Stop trying to make it sound like NASA is the most obvious source of budget cutting in the federal government.  You could raise many times $14b by eliminating much less needed programs.

This reminds me of opponents to publically funded sports arenas arguing that "it is taking away from schools" when the school tax proposals are constantly being voted down by the same voters.


« Last Edit: May 28, 2008, 03:56:37 AM by Sarkus » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2008, 04:23:03 AM »

Quote from: CSL on May 28, 2008, 03:48:38 AM

Quote from: Eightball on May 28, 2008, 03:41:52 AM

Quote from: Ironrod on May 25, 2008, 12:15:53 AM

What "important thing" would NASA's $14B annual budget solve that outweighs surrendering manned space capability to the Russians and Chinese?

It doesn't bother you in the least that NASA's budget is 3x what the Federal Government sponsors in cancer research?  Or that 14 billion is 3 billion more than all of the cancer funding (private and public) conducted in the US?

It doesn't bother me. Underfunding of cancer research wouldn't get any better with further funding slashes to NASA and low cancer funds isn't linked to NASA funding at all.

Government financing is supplemented by private fundraising and drug company research. There isn't much incentive for private investment in space exploration. And would a big infusion of extra money lead to cures any sooner? We've been waging war on cancer since the Nixon administration. Cancer still shows no sign of surrender.

Quote from: Sarkus on May 28, 2008, 03:54:37 AM


Stop trying to make it sound like NASA is the most obvious source of budget cutting in the federal government.  You could raise many times $14b by eliminating much less needed programs.


OK, it's a cheap shot, but I can't resist...for the cost of invading Iraq we could have colonized the moon, established outposts on Mars, sent expeditions to the moons of the outer solar system, and carpet-bombed the solar system with robotic rovers and landers. Oh: and the casualties for doing all of that could've probably been tallied on your fingers. Which would you rather have for your $trillions?

Either you're excited about space exploration, or you aren't. No argument can make you feel the wonder of seeing an alien environment for the first time. Please don't begrudge us who think that that exploring the galaxy is about the most noble thing that government can aspire to.
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« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2008, 01:00:32 PM »

It's sort of like playing an advanced Terra map in Civ 4.  You want to be the first one to reach the new land, and you want to have sufficient techs to take out the barbarians who are surely already built up there. 
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« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2008, 06:11:49 PM »

Quote from: Sarkus on May 28, 2008, 03:54:37 AM

Quote from: Eightball on May 28, 2008, 03:41:52 AM

Quote from: Ironrod on May 25, 2008, 12:15:53 AM

What "important thing" would NASA's $14B annual budget solve that outweighs surrendering manned space capability to the Russians and Chinese?

It doesn't bother you in the least that NASA's budget is 3x what the Federal Government sponsors in cancer research?  Or that 14 billion is 3 billion more than all of the cancer funding (private and public) conducted in the US?

Stop trying to make it sound like NASA is the most obvious source of budget cutting in the federal government.  You could raise many times $14b by eliminating much less needed programs.

That's not what I said, at all.  He asked for an "important thing" that NASA's budget could solve.  Cancer, to me, is an "important thing."

I don't advocate cutting NASA's budget in the least.  But when you realize how poorly cancer research is funding, in comparison to other budgets (and not to mention the FDA's 2 billion a year budget), and what a low priority it is to our government, it's downright shocking to me.

Quote from: Ironrod
And would a big infusion of extra money lead to cures any sooner? We've been waging war on cancer since the Nixon administration. Cancer still shows no sign of surrender.

That you've said this shows how little you understand how much health care has progressed.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2008, 08:03:27 PM »

Quote from: Eightball on May 28, 2008, 06:11:49 PM

That you've said this shows how little you understand how much health care has progressed.

That's possible. I'm interested primarily in the physical sciences, and very little in medicine. But I'm not alone in the opinion that cancer treatment has not progressed terribly far since 1971.

Here's an estimate of how much money we are spending and have spent:

Quote
We begin with the NCI budget. Set by Congress, this year's outlay (that's 2004) for fighting cancer is $4.74 billion. Critics have complained that is a mere 3.3% over last year's budget, but Uncle Sam gives prodigiously in other ways too--a fact few seem to realize. The NIH, technically the NCI's parent, will provide an additional $909 million this year for cancer research through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and other little-noticed grant mechanisms. The Department of Veterans Affairs will likely spend just over the $457 million it spent in 2003 for research and prevention programs. The CDC will chip in around $314 million for outreach and education. Even the Pentagon pays for cancer research--offering $249 million this year for nearly 500 peer-reviewed grants to study breast, prostate, and ovarian cancer.

Now throw state treasuries into the mix--governors signed 89 cancer-related appropriations from 1997 to 2003--plus the fundraising muscle of cancer charities, cancer centers, and research hospitals, which together will raise some $2 billion this year from generous donors, based on recent tax forms. And finally, that huge spender Big Pharma. The Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development estimates that drug companies will devote about $7.4 billion, or roughly a quarter of their annual R&D spending, to products for cancer and metabolic and endocrine diseases.

When you add it all up, Americans have spent, through taxes, donations, and private R&D, close to $200 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, since 1971.

Here's an overview of what that's achieved:

Quote
--Even adjusting for age, the percentage of Americans dying from cancer is about the same as it was in 1971 (when Nixon declared the war on cancer) or even back in 1950! Meanwhile, age-adjusted deaths from heart disease have been slashed by 59 percent and from stroke by 69 percent during that same half-century.

--The much-vaunted improvement in survival from cancer is largely a myth. "Survival gains for the more common forms of cancer are measured in additional months of life," says Leaf, "not years."

--Most of the improvement in longevity of cancer patients can be attributed to life style changes (the promotion of which has not been a conspicuous priority for the National Cancer Institute) and especially to early detection.

--The few dramatic breakthroughs (such as in Hodgkin's disease) mainly occurred in the early days of the war on cancer. There has been little substantial progress in recent decades despite nearly ubiquitous claims to the contrary.

--According to one biostatistician at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, long-term survival from common cancers such as prostate, breast, colorectal and lung "has barely budged since the 1970s."


http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2004/03/22/365076/index.htm
http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/news/story.asp?newsId=140

I'm sure that we've learned a lot about cancer in the past 35 years. I hope that we are verging on some serious results, with this knowledge base and the new genetic and nanotech tools at our disposal.

Setting up a moon base or exploring Mars is suited to large-scale government projects with big budgets. The result is easily defined and the challenges are manageable, because there are no major mysteries to overcome. Cancer research does not work like that. If we had shut down NASA after Project Apollo and spend all of that money on cancer research, would we have half as much cancer now, or be twice as close to a cure? I am unconvinced. I don't think it's the kind of problem that yields easily to big wads of money.
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« Reply #17 on: May 31, 2008, 02:55:26 AM »

Quote from: Ironrod on May 29, 2008, 08:03:27 PM

When you add it all up, Americans have spent, through taxes, donations, and private R&D, close to $200 billion, in inflation-adjusted dollars, since 1971.

That sounds astounding until you realize that accounting for his time frame (article written in 2004), it's about 6 billion per year...

That's nearly 200 million in all funding for cancer, both private and all public sources.

By contrast, according to wiki the US Government has funded NASA with 496 billion over the same time period.  And, I can be snarky and say that the most notable results during that time were the two terrible shuttle disasters (conveniently ignoring the Hubble, of course).  I just look at what all that money has accomplished, and really...has humankind really benefited from the half-trillion we've spent on NASA during that time ? 

As opposed to discovering and understanding, and discovering the test for say HIV (which was a non-cancer NCI discovery; I can even use a non-cancer example that directly resulted from cancer research).  That's something that's benefited the entire world.  I'm not sure our NASA spending has had anywhere near the same tangible benefit for humankind.



By the way, that article you had linked was an interesting read.  It's got an obvious and blatant bias, and therefore has some serious problems.  For example:

Quote
To see which drugs truly have promise, however, we need to do one thing more: test them on people in less advanced stages of disease

This shows a fundamental lack of understanding why FDA tests these drugs on people with advanced stage disease.  The main problem with chemotherapy is that it's cytotoxic; both to the tumor cells AND to normal cells.  The way these Phase 1 tests are run, is that they're run on sick patients (who volunteer for this duty, knowing it won't help them but it WILL help people in the future - which is heartbreakingly brave of them), and they use the phase 1 tests to determine correct dosages.  Most of the time, the dosage is too high...and the chemotherapeutic agent is basically poison.  At this point, it's not therapeutic; it's not meant to be.  They test the therapeutic effect on the healthier people in the phase 2/3 tests.

By opening testing to healthier people, you'll expose these people to the inherent danger of variable dose chemotherapy, and all you'll do is end up killing healthier people for no reason.  It makes no sense.

He's also going on about testing biomarkers; things have changed since he wrote the article in 2004, and biomarkers are one of the big things in cancer treatment today.  The reason they weren't so prevalent 4 years ago, is we didn't understand them well enough.  We understand them a lot better now.

Quote
I'm sure that we've learned a lot about cancer in the past 35 years. I hope that we are verging on some serious results, with this knowledge base and the new genetic and nanotech tools at our disposal.

Just off the top of my head:

We understand the molecular basis for cancer now.  30 some odd-years ago, we had no idea how cancer works.  We now do, on the cellular level (including biomarkers).  That's an amazing accomplishment.
We've now understood that cancers can be caused by viruses, and have developed vaccines against those viruses (most recently, Gardisil and HPV for cervical cancer).
We've developed far more impressive chemotherapy regimens, surgical outcomes, during this time.  Like Taxol, and any other number of chemo agents.
And NCI/cancer research extends far beyond just cancer.  For example, HIV was discovered by Bob Gallo at the NCI (well...half of the story is Gallo discovered it, the other half is he stole it from the Pasteur institute).  An NCI researcher was also the one who determined the first HIV seropositivity test.

Looking at the NCI's website, here's what happened in the 70's, the 1980's, 90's, and in this decade.  That's the highlights, and most of those are really huge deals (involving multiple Nobel prizes in medicine, for example).

Quote
Setting up a moon base or exploring Mars is suited to large-scale government projects with big budgets. The result is easily defined and the challenges are manageable, because there are no major mysteries to overcome. Cancer research does not work like that. If we had shut down NASA after Project Apollo and spend all of that money on cancer research, would we have half as much cancer now, or be twice as close to a cure? I am unconvinced. I don't think it's the kind of problem that yields easily to big wads of money.

I'm completely stunned you'd say this.  More labs with more people, who have more resources, will naturally lead to more results.  The good scientists, in a way are strangely creative; and by giving more funding to employ more scientists, they will come up with a lot more answers.

Plus, remember that basically half of all cancer funding is federal; i.e., a large-scale government project with a big budget.  It's just not a big enough budget, when you consider the scope of the problem, and that nearly 500,000 americans die from cancer every year.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2008, 03:14:26 AM by Eightball » Logged
Ironrod
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« Reply #18 on: June 01, 2008, 12:51:05 AM »

Quote from: Eightball on May 31, 2008, 02:55:26 AM

I'm completely stunned you'd say this.  More labs with more people, who have more resources, will naturally lead to more results.  The good scientists, in a way are strangely creative; and by giving more funding to employ more scientists, they will come up with a lot more answers.

Plus, remember that basically half of all cancer funding is federal; i.e., a large-scale government project with a big budget.  It's just not a big enough budget, when you consider the scope of the problem, and that nearly 500,000 americans die from cancer every year.

A President commits us to landing on the moon inside 10 years, and we get there. Congress says we should build a space station, and it happens. A President says weíre going to beat cancer, and 35 years later 500,000 Americans still die of cancer every year. ďMore resultsĒ isnít the same as better results. Which endeavor was more fruitful depends on how you measure outcomes, and the values that you place on them.

Look: I am no more pro-cancer than you are anti-space. Neither of us should have to defend the worthiness of our respective interests. Itís a shame that they are in competition at all. 

Quote from: Eightball on May 31, 2008, 02:55:26 AM

I just look at what all that money has accomplished, and really...has humankind really benefited from the half-trillion we've spent on NASA during that time ?

Youíre the one who introduced spinoffs. Rather than retread well-trod territory, Iíll link to a whole lot of mundane benefits attributable to NASA R&D. This doesnít even touch the low-hanging fruit like weather satellites, environmental monitoring, comsats, robotics, electronics miniaturization, etc. How do you quantify the benefits of accurate weather forecasting and disaster preparedness? Our society depends in many ways upon remote sensing and instant communications.

Manned spaceflight is harder to justify because its primary purpose is to advance the capability for more manned spaceflight. The ISS is especially hard to defend (although you probably know more about its medical research value than I do). When you cut to the chase, space exploration is about GOING places, in the flesh. We developed the knowledge, infrastructure, and technology to travel our solar system. The value of moving into a new and limitless environment is not quantifiable. Some readers will say that itís valueless, and others will say itís invaluable. 

Iím not going to spend time trying to change the mind of somebody who thinks that space travel is a complete waste of money. The first public speech I ever had to give in high school was in defense of manned spaceflight. I donít care to trot out the same arguments 35 years later. If you want to go there, here's an essay by an MIT student that almost exactly restates the case I made in high school, when the US was preparing to transition from Apollo-era hardware to shuttle technology.

If anybody else is interested, Iíd like to talk about American space policy in general, and the moon/Mars initiative specifically, since Sen. Obamaís quiet reversal was what motivated the thread.

To pay for moon/Mars, Bush called for $1 billion in new funds spread over five years, and $11 billion re-allocated from winding down the space shuttle and ISS. (Some of this money also comes out of robotic exploration, but thatís a different rant). NASAís net increase to go back to the moon amounts to $200 million a year. This is a cautious program with a long time horizon and modest funding, not an Apollo-style sprint. If youíd like, Iíll google you up a few $200 million boondoggles that will give us all a laugh.

Leaving earth orbit again will require advances in solar power generation and energy storage, space medicine, robotics, and various materials sciences. Did you like the Hubble Space Telescope? Imagine a moon-based telescope, shielded from both solar and earth radiation, regularly serviced and upgraded by astronaut astronomers living at a nearby base. All of those exoplanets whose existence we have recently deduced will reveal their nature, and we could soon find earthlike worlds around other suns.

Is moon/Mars the only way to go, or even the best way? I don't know. But weíre committed. We are retiring the space shuttles in two years. Obama originally wanted to freeze the moon/Mars initiative for top-level review, and divert most of NASAís budget to education in the meantime. We would have been without spacecraft of our own indefinitely, and the NASA personnel who know how to build and operate them would have scattered. We never would have re-started manned spaceflight.

That would have been a Bad Thing, if only for the obvious reason that rival nations have no intention of ending space travel. He changed his mind. Thatís a Good Thing, if only because he's acknowledging that Congress would never have gone along with dismantling NASA. I'm still not sure I trust him, though.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2008, 12:56:47 AM by Ironrod » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: June 01, 2008, 01:47:59 AM »

Quote from: Eightball on May 28, 2008, 03:41:52 AM

Quote from: Ironrod on May 25, 2008, 12:15:53 AM

What "important thing" would NASA's $14B annual budget solve that outweighs surrendering manned space capability to the Russians and Chinese?

It doesn't bother you in the least that NASA's budget is 3x what the Federal Government sponsors in cancer research?  Or that 14 billion is 3 billion more than all of the cancer funding (private and public) conducted in the US?

Well it's all peanuts compared to what yall spend on Sadam every year-and he isn't even around any more!!  God with all that money we could have a colony on the moon or maybe even Mars by now.
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« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2008, 12:34:03 AM »

Quote from: Ironrod on June 01, 2008, 12:51:05 AM

A President commits us to landing on the moon inside 10 years, and we get there. Congress says we should build a space station, and it happens. A President says weíre going to beat cancer, and 35 years later 500,000 Americans still die of cancer every year. ďMore resultsĒ isnít the same as better results. Which endeavor was more fruitful depends on how you measure outcomes, and the values that you place on them.

Well, there's one difference.  One's proven to be a hell of a lot more difficult...

Quote

Look: I am no more pro-cancer than you are anti-space. Neither of us should have to defend the worthiness of our respective interests. Itís a shame that they are in competition at all. 

Totally agree it's sad they're in competition.  But let me caveat this (as I'll repeat below), I'm not anti-space at all.  I'm very much pro-spending that leads to scientific advances and most certainly, I know spending on NASA does this.

And any idiot knows that space really is our future.

Quote
Manned spaceflight is harder to justify because its primary purpose is to advance the capability for more manned spaceflight. The ISS is especially hard to defend (although you probably know more about its medical research value than I do). When you cut to the chase, space exploration is about GOING places, in the flesh. We developed the knowledge, infrastructure, and technology to travel our solar system. The value of moving into a new and limitless environment is not quantifiable. Some readers will say that itís valueless, and others will say itís invaluable. 

Iím not going to spend time trying to change the mind of somebody who thinks that space travel is a complete waste of money.

You're completely mistaken if you think I don't find NASA funding extremely valuable, and completely worthwhile.  I think space travel is an incredibly worthy endeavor.

I also happen to think that curing cancer (or basic research addressing cancer & related projects) is also worthy.  But it's clearly apparent from where the funding goes, that in comparison to many projects...Congress disagrees with me.  Probably because there are less tangible benefits for them as federal spending is concentrated in Maryland...not in Florida or Texas or the other more powerful states.


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To pay for moon/Mars, Bush called for $1 billion in new funds spread over five years, and $11 billion re-allocated from winding down the space shuttle and ISS. (Some of this money also comes out of robotic exploration, but thatís a different rant). NASAís net increase to go back to the moon amounts to $200 million a year. This is a cautious program with a long time horizon and modest funding, not an Apollo-style sprint. If youíd like, Iíll google you up a few $200 million boondoggles that will give us all a laugh.

That's totally peanuts.  But doesn't it make you wonder...if it's only 1 billion over 5 years to pay for the moon/Mars, where the other 80 billion NASA will get over that timeframe goes to?

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We would have been without spacecraft of our own indefinitely, and the NASA personnel who know how to build and operate them would have scattered. We never would have re-started manned spaceflight.

That's a little overstating the case.  It's the exact same "Oh Nos, the end of space exploration!" crap I heard when Challenger went up in flames.

There's just too much money at stake for the good consituents of the representatives in Congress to shy away from space exploration.

Really, my own personal thing isn't even cancer research.  It's FDA.  The agency that's supposed to ensure the drugs and devices we use in health care, and the food that we eat, is safe (and effective for drugs/devices).  But it's a critically underfunded agency, receiving 2.1 billion this year.

That's criminal imho.  It shows, to me, how little Congress actually cares about the health of Americans.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2008, 03:45:39 AM »

Quote from: Eightball on June 02, 2008, 12:34:03 AM

Quote from: Ironrod on June 01, 2008, 12:51:05 AM

A President commits us to landing on the moon inside 10 years, and we get there. Congress says we should build a space station, and it happens. A President says weíre going to beat cancer, and 35 years later 500,000 Americans still die of cancer every year. ďMore resultsĒ isnít the same as better results. Which endeavor was more fruitful depends on how you measure outcomes, and the values that you place on them.

Well, there's one difference.  One's proven to be a hell of a lot more difficult...


That's the point I've been trying to make. Because medical research is not as directed as building machines to achieve a known purpose, doubling the funding will not necessarily double the results. There is a certain knowledge base that has to be reached, and considerable flailing about to get there. Can adding money accelerate that progress in a linear way, as it can with engineering problems? Maybe, but results to date would argue otherwise.

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You're completely mistaken if you think I don't find NASA funding extremely valuable, and completely worthwhile.  I think space travel is an incredibly worthy endeavor.

Sorry, that was a generic "you."

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if it's only 1 billion over 5 years to pay for the moon/Mars, where the other 80 billion NASA will get over that timeframe goes to?

That's $1B in new funding. Most of the rest of NASA's budget gradually moves over to moon/Mars as the space shuttle and our participation in ISS wind down. A few billion go toward robotic exploration, supporting existing missions, analyzing backed up telemetry, earth sensing, aeronautics, etc. The conflict between our new manned space initiative and NASA's less glamorous, but more scientifically productive, endeavors is more realistic than comparing space to medical research.

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There's just too much money at stake for the good consituents of the representatives in Congress to shy away from space exploration.

NASA enjoys wide Congressional support because it has facilities in all 50 states. Obama's earlier position was probably just grandstanding for the teachers unions. But I was not exaggerating the effects of that position. It would have ended manned spaceflight on American vehicles for a long time, if not permanently, and so I had to oppose his candidacy. I'm relieved that I don't have to anymore...at least on that basis.  icon_lol

Quote from: Eightball on June 02, 2008, 12:34:03 AM

Really, my own personal thing isn't even cancer research.  It's FDA.  The agency that's supposed to ensure the drugs and devices we use in health care, and the food that we eat, is safe (and effective for drugs/devices).  But it's a critically underfunded agency, receiving 2.1 billion this year.

That's criminal imho.  It shows, to me, how little Congress actually cares about the health of Americans.

That would be a different thread.  icon_smile
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Eightball
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« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2008, 01:14:20 PM »

Quote from: Ironrod on June 03, 2008, 03:45:39 AM

Quote from: Eightball on June 02, 2008, 12:34:03 AM

Quote from: Ironrod on June 01, 2008, 12:51:05 AM

A President commits us to landing on the moon inside 10 years, and we get there. Congress says we should build a space station, and it happens. A President says weíre going to beat cancer, and 35 years later 500,000 Americans still die of cancer every year. ďMore resultsĒ isnít the same as better results. Which endeavor was more fruitful depends on how you measure outcomes, and the values that you place on them.

Well, there's one difference.  One's proven to be a hell of a lot more difficult...


That's the point I've been trying to make. Because medical research is not as directed as building machines to achieve a known purpose, doubling the funding will not necessarily double the results. There is a certain knowledge base that has to be reached, and considerable flailing about to get there. Can adding money accelerate that progress in a linear way, as it can with engineering problems? Maybe, but results to date would argue otherwise.

Likely won't double it, as it's impossible to quantify.  Certainly will increase the knowledge base, however.

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Quote from: Eightball on June 02, 2008, 12:34:03 AM

Really, my own personal thing isn't even cancer research.  It's FDA.  The agency that's supposed to ensure the drugs and devices we use in health care, and the food that we eat, is safe (and effective for drugs/devices).  But it's a critically underfunded agency, receiving 2.1 billion this year.

That's criminal imho.  It shows, to me, how little Congress actually cares about the health of Americans.

That would be a different thread.  icon_smile

Yeah, it would.  And to think, an emasculated FDA actually makes my job easier.
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