Friday, 23 October 2009

The tragedy of NASA


And so the long awaited Augustine Commission report has been released, offering its vision for NASA's future.

And what did it recommend?

Eight piss-weak alternatives to keep NASA on a shoestring - two maintaining the current funding and six with a paltry $3 billion p.a. top-up.

To achieve what?

Bugger all really. Skip the moon. Forget landing on Mars in the next thirty years. Go visit an asteroid! Do a Mars flyby! Or go check out Phobos or Deimos and do some 'exciting science' there.

By when?

Oh, going back to the moon should be a goer by 2030...

Jazus H. Fucking Rice Crispies!

In the 1960s NASA got the moon and back in less than ten years from a standing start, and now a bunch of learned bean counters say it can't be done again in under twenty!

NASA has achieved some of the greatest events in all of human history. Getting off the Earth CAN be achieved. And getting off the third rock from the sun is both inevitable and a total human necessity.

The U.S. has the financial muscle to do this. The money exists.

The elephant in the room is - of course - the U.S. military. The U.S. Department of Defense gets more money each year than NASA has been granted in its full history of 50 years - over $500 billion. Every year.

To do what?

Stuff all! Piss off middle eastern countries and rattle the sacred sabers. A colossal fucking waste of money and resources with few tangible gains.

Just 5% of the Defence budget moved to NASA would put a permanent human presence on both the moon and Mars in just a few years, doing real science and expanding human boundaries in amazing ways. Our first steps to the stars.

Or, the preferred option of gun luvin' American paranoids, keep the status quo and keep on spending trillions of dollars, beating the crap out of carefully nurtured enemies.

Carl Sagan was right. A great civilization itching to snuff itself out of existence when on the verge breaking free.

Sigh.

2 comments:

  1. i have just one question, something that has been tickling my cranium for a while: what exactly is the damage to the ozone layer when a giant rocket burns through it?

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  2. Hi Elsha,

    Visiting from Ficly again. Welcome. I will be back one day. I stopped writing as it was starting to have negative effects on me. I think it seemed a little too 'competitive' at times. Even in recreational writing people employ underhand tactics to be on the top of the heap it would seem. I couldn't keep up with that, so stopped. I did enjoy the writing for a time, so I might just throw the odd piece in from time to time rather than get carried away...

    As to your NASA question (which seems to be a bit of a pot shot at spaceflight in general :-) ) there certainly is some concern about the effect of rockets on the ozone layer, but compared to everything else mankind does to the planet that effect is currently pretty small. Here is a semi technical paper that lays out the pros and cons reasonably fairly:

    http://www.aero.org/publications/crosslink/summer2000/01.html

    There is a lot of egg breaking required in the omlette of space exploration but I really do believe it is something we must do...

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