...and speaking of shortsighted governments

The new budget for NASA has significantly cut commercial space...and our chance to spend American dollars on American space industries and get our-ownselves into space.

No, I'm not frustrated. Why do you ask?
According to reports, Congress is still funding $5 billion to its new heavy launch space program, with the goal of Mars, but has cut the commercial flight program to get us to the ISS to $406 million, less than half of what was asked.  That's going to put a serious crimp in the progress of companies like SpaceX and Orbital, who are well into developing craft to get us to the ISS and beyond.  In fact, one report says this will push these programs back years.  Isn't that the equivalent of denying a man with injured legs crutches he needs to walk because you want to buy him expensive running shoes?
You don't want these!

Trust me: These are going to do you good later.
While I personally feel they will eventually need to get away from depending on government funding, the simple fact of the matter is, the ISS is the only game in town...unless we want to market to the Chinese, and I think they're feeling pretty happy about doing it themselves.  (Their re-entry capsule landed safely Nov 17 after a successful docking.)
The re-entry capsule of Shenzhou-. Congrats to the Chinese.  祝贺

But looking beyond that, let's consider what it will cost the US to keep sending astronauts to the ISS on the Soyuz:  just $47 million a seat.   Remember SpaceX believes they can do it for $20 million.  Even if they have cost overruns, they'll be cheaper.  But not if we don't get there.

So, the question is, will NASA delay programs in hopes of getting better budgets later, cut out some of the competition and concentrate on the companies that are closest to success, or do a "peanut-butter spread" cut and make all the programs suffer.  Or maybe Congress will make a bill to give special funding later.  I've not found anything yet, so stay tuned.

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Walt said...

NASA may decide to rest on their oars, shut down just about everything while leaving just a caretaker force, and spiral into irrelevancy while waiting for times to get good again. Or, they may attempt to continue a few large projects, such as the Webb telescope, that may suck the air out of anything else. On the gripping hand, they may try keeping everything at a low simmer and pray for a miracle. But that's just a WAG on my part.

Sad...they did good planetary science.

Karina Fabian said...

They still do good planetary science. In fact, they have another Mars rover going up Nov 25...if all goes well. We'll be talking more on Friday about some of the reasons why we're having such a problem with manned space funding.

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