AlanS
Post Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:29 pm
 Subject: What are your thoughts about funding NASA?

Hello everyone! It has been a few years since I last posted in this forum.

I just started a graduate program in the field of satellite navigation and I wanted to get a general perception of the public's views of NASA. As an evolving scientist who is slowly starting to understand the technical details of the space industry, I was curious as to the views that outsiders might have. I am not looking to start a political conversation, but merely trying to gauge the public's view of space technologies.

Questions to consider: Do you feel that you have/will personally benefit(ed) from NASA? Are you aware of any benefits that come from funding student scientists? What are your thoughts on funding future exploration? Privatization of parts (or all) of the program?

Feel free to speak your mind; I won't bite if you disagree with my funding source (albeit I might be slightly disappointed) Tongue

I hope all is well,
AlanS
BrianM
Post Posted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 7:50 pm
 Subject: My opinion? Space "exploration" is a huge waste of money.

What has been gained? And what's been gained in the last 20~30 Years? It just seems like a lot of money is pushed that direction (granted, we're talking pennies to dollars compared to military spending) without a whole lot of return on investment. But at the heart of it this is a serious question, I really don't know if there HAVE been some gains that couldn't have been made without traveling outside the planets gravity.

As for your direct questions, I know I have had benefit from very Old NASA tech (everyone has), but I doubt anything within the last few decades. Absolutely not aware of any benefits from funding yahoos like yourself. Future exploration funding ought to be 100% private. Give me a reason to put money into the program and maybe I will, REQUIRE me to do so and I'll hate you forever.

I'm more interested in what's going on at the bottom of the ocean than what's happening out past Pluto.
FrugalNinja250
Post Posted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 1:14 pm
 Subject: Here is my opinion

Scientifically: Pure research doesn't always pay off, but when it does, it does it in spades. Funding NASA for pure research has paid off quite well over the decades, both in direct results and in indirect results (developing the technology itself increases payback).

Militarily: Whomever owns the high ground owns it all. Currently we have no means to put a human in space, instead we pay the Russians, and Putin since he gets a cut of every transaction running through his corrupt government. Last I checked it was twelve million dollars a butt delivered. Behind them are the Chinese, and we all know how interested they are in sharing resources.

Our future: Building out a real space infrastructure, manned or otherwise is humankind's only real way to ensure our future. We are consuming resources, particularly energy resources, at a rate that even the most backwards-thinking among us can admit is completely unsustainable. Outside of Earth's gravity well are virtually unlimited resources in both materials and energy, there for the taking. All we have to do is to decide to go get it.

Our end: The tiny asteroid that blew up over Chelyabinsk last February was barely over 50' in size and exploded almost fifteen miles up, yet it injured thousands of people and did millions of dollars worth of damage. We're tremendously lucky it was a rocky body, rather than a metallic. If it had been the latter it likely would have made it to the ground and done far, far more damage. The effects on weather would have been felt around the northern hemisphere for months, if not years. And that's not even, by far, the biggest one out there. Our planet has been hit by larger bodies in the past, impacts that have collapsed the world ecology to the point of causing extinction of millions of species.

And we have zero means of doing anything about it because we, in our national and species shortsightedness, have decided it's better to ignore our future.

NASA's budget is currently less than half of one percent of the national budget, a level that somewhat sustains it at some minimal level but doesn't allow it to do a whole lot. It's akin to feeding a child the bare minimum of calories to keep it alive, though stunted and underdeveloped. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA It has been as high as 4.41%, back when we realized the Soviet Union claimed the high-ground with Sputnick. Now, we're ignoring the competition and looking the other way as nations smarter than us realize that space is where the future lays.

What do I think? I think that the budget should be 1.5% at a minimum, with the emphasis on developing permanent space infrastructure, both manned and otherwise. Long-term planning should be done, not this BS year to year grasping at straws.

For certain, if the human species is to survive, one of our planetary nations will have to become spaceworthy in a real way, and if it's not us it will be the Chinese, perhaps the Russians (though not as likely because Putin and the oligarchy there seems more interested in personal wealth development than anything long-term) or maybe even the EU.

TL:DR If we don't fund NASA, we will be buying our space access from others who don't like us all that much and won't need us for much else if they can develop meaningful space resources.
AlanS
Post Posted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:18 pm
 Subject: I will definitely get to a worthwhile response once more folks trickle in

But I would not want to spoil the fun of reading others' unbiased opinions until then Tongue
AlanS
Post Posted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:12 pm
 Subject: This is the interesting problem of our times

Brian,

In short, Space is the most hostile environment in the universe. The engineering, technology, and science required to produce working vehicles (nevertheless the associated science instrumentation!) is absolutely extraordinary and continues to affect us more than the previous day. And of course, that just encompasses the offshoots of space technology. Our world relies more than most people realize on space-based communication (way more than just phones, GPS, and surveillance).

Whether or not you realize it, Space technology plays a more important role in this modern age. No, I am not talking about Velcro or Memory Foam - but rather your cell phone, plane ticket, computer, television, and more. All of these were made possible by technology which continues to grow more advanced - and that you have likely never heard of. High stability nanosecond-accurate clocks? Crucial to almost everything you do.

How are we supposed to further advance humanity when our current technology is not even associated with the scientists who developed it? To clarify, Steve Jobs was not a NASA scientist or employee, however much of the technology that he profited from came directly from our 100 billion dollars/year space industry.

On a side note, did you see that NASA just tested out an optical communications system that transmitted about 650 mbps a distance of roughly 250,000 miles? If that technology becomes mainstream, I worry that a large portion of folks (like yourself) will hobble the very source of science which that developed it - all due to a misunderstanding. I would say that the big difference between now and the times of the "Old" NASA tech that you reference is nothing to do with the science or mission of NASA, but rather the misconceptions developed since the golden ages of space exploration.

And just so you know, this yahoo is hoping to win a fellowship for research that has the potential to save NASA millions of dollars per year - and lay the foundations for better science and technology. None of the above is an abstract desire to fund my beloved field; the facts are the facts. For every dollar that NASA gets (which is only 3/4 the cost of the recent government shut down per year), between 10 and 20 go back into the economy.

At any rate, your conceptions are not really the focus of this post. They are mainly just a symptom of the pervasive misconceptions that exist in this ironically high-tech culture.

Alan
Industrialfish
Post Posted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:05 am
 Subject: I have no worthwhile response.; But wanted to say welcome back!

Ian
Post Posted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 5:41 pm
 Subject: Personally, I love space missions, exploration, and NASA

I wouldn't be adverse to defunding lots of other programs that we spend obscene amounts of money on (starting with politicians taxpayer paid salaries, then moving on to the Defense Department, the various Intelligence Agencies and then over to other sections of the government that seem to cause more harm than good) so that NASA can have more funds to work with.

I have long thought that this planet isn't big enough for all of us, so the sooner we get the bulk of the people running around loose the hell off of my planet, the happier I will be.

Ian.
florida-rider
Post Posted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 4:32 pm
 Subject: Space program

I am all for the space program, both NASA and private entities that want to pursue it. The space program in general has greatly influenced the world in which we live today. Without the space program some of the things we use everyday would not exist today or at least not in the form that it does exist. Take television for instance. Before telecommunication satellites, a reporter would not be able to broadcast live images from the other side of the world. Another example would be GPS navigation. Do I think we need to try to mine asteroids or plan for colonies on Mars, no. But the space program does need to continue. Now as far as funding goes, cut the pork from other things to fund NASA. There is plenty of pork to cut.

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