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According to Zubrin, Obama about to terminate all NASA science

According to Robert Zubrin, the Obama administration is planning to terminate all funding to NASA’s planetary program, while cutting back significantly on its astronomy program.

Word has leaked out that in its new budget, the Obama administration intends to terminate NASA’s planetary exploration program. The Mars Science Lab Curiosity, being readied on the pad, will be launched, as will the nearly completed small MAVEN orbiter scheduled for 2013, but that will be it. No further missions to anywhere are planned. After 2013, America’s amazing career of planetary exploration, which ran from the Mariner probes in the 1960s through the great Pioneer, Viking, Voyager, Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Odyssey, Spirit, Opportunity, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Galileo and Cassini missions, will simply end.

Furthermore, the plan from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also leaves the space astronomy program adrift and headed for destruction. The now-orbiting Kepler Telescope will be turned off in midmission, stopping it before it can complete its goal of finding other Earths. Even worse, the magnificent Webb Telescope, the agency’s flagship, which promises fundamental breakthroughs in our understanding of the laws of the universe, is not sufficiently funded to allow successful completion. This guarantees further costly delays, with the ensuing budgetary overruns leading inevitably to eventual cancellation.

I suspect these cuts have been leaked now, months before the budget is publicly released, in order to whip up support for funding these programs. I also find it distressing that these programs, which cost practically nothing, are targets, while others that cost many many more billions (in NASA and elsewhere) remain fully funded.

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On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • Chris Kirkendall

    So let me get this straight: We’ve all but eliminated MANNED spaceflight (Shuttles retired, Constellation cancelled), now the Obama Admin is cancelling all unmanned planetary probes, as well as space telescopes & advanced astronomy. So what exacty is NASA’s mission now? While I agree that Constellation was too costly & needed to be replaced, there seems to be no real plan going forward . Seriously, what’s really left of our space program if all the major programs are gone? This is alarming…

  • Kelly Starks

    >..So what exacty is NASA’s mission now?..

    Obama wants it focused on proving gobal warming adn maintaining the ISS for the internationals.

    A big point to remember, Congress refused Obama’s budet proposals for NASA last year (and the year before I beleave?) with great bipartisan agreement. So it may be irrelevant what Obama wants to do with NASA anymore.

  • Robert Zubrin for President!!!!

  • Tom Billings

    Sorry, people, but I want to hear this from someone beyond Bob Zubrin. We all know his enthusiasms. I am opposed to almost all of the Obama administration’s domestic programs, but when his lack of interest in Space allowed Space advocates who had supported him to craft a sane Space Policy, it was *not* Obama who undercut them by opposition. Unfortunately, it was that same lack of interest on his part that let Senator Shelby impose his desires in place of rational policy, because that lack of interest meant he was not impelled to spend, in forcing a competent Space Policy through, even 1 percent of the political capital he spent on passing the disaster that is ObamaCare.

    The closure of the Space Shuttle program under the Bush administration should not be something Obama is blamed for. He extended it, but did not immediately spend huge amounts to rescue it from the Bush administration’s closure of the ET manufacturing. In fact he *did* add the 2 flights that were at all possible, given the ET supply. Let’s keep the history straight.

    As to the Space Science program, the Webb Telescope is an accountant’s nightmare. It is yet another huge program eating the budget for all smaller programs in Space Science.

    NASA has failed to develop new technology for the last 30 years. It has failed because of the emphasis on large launchers like the Shuttle. The Shuttle ate the lunch of every other program that might have truly enabled the abilities it was supposed to potentiate. Then the ISS did the same. This follows the pattern of Apollo, which also ate the lunch of every program that could have made for cheaper Lunar stays, and space exploitation.

    Until we get technologies for cheaper access to Space, and cheaper *use* of Space, then NASA will continue to fail in getting the rest of the Republic access to the Solar System.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    You make some good points, Tom. But if the rumor (??) is true about shutting down planetary exploration & space telescopes, as well as earlier cancellations, it just looks to me like this Admin has absolutely NO interest in funding space. It’s one thing to cancel something with plans for another (hopefully more cost-efficient) program in its place, but so far, we’re not hearing of any replacements. I could be wrong, but aren’t many of these programs well along (i.e., most of the money’s already been spent) so would cancelling them now really save that much? And as far as our bloated national budget & huge deficits, these programs are a drop in the bucket – cancelling ALL of NASA would barely even make a dent. No doubt, NASA has become bloated & a huge bureaucracy, but if all the major programs are just cancelled outright, what’s even left for them to do? As Kelly said, the suspicion is Obama wants to use NASA for his own purposes, “proving” global warming or some other social engineering role. NASA should be all about cutting-edge science at its core. It may be OK to utilize a portion of its capabilities to support other things like monitoring climate, but that was never its intended purpose…

    Not to change the topic, but it’s my feeling we’ll never get to Mars unless it’s an international cooperative effort – probably just too darn expensive for any one nation to undertake on their own…

  • Kelly Starks

    > Not to change the topic, but it’s my feeling we’ll never get to Mars unless it’s an international cooperative
    > effort – probably just too darn expensive for any one nation to undertake on their own…

    From my experience on the space station program the opposite is true. Costs balloon so rapidly on a international program, and delays magnify so fast as any participant can slow it all down for any convenence. We’ll do it individually – or we won’t go.

    Course were not equipped to even start anything like that anymore.

  • Chris Kirkendall

    Thanks for that bit of inside info, Kelly – wouldn’t have known that. I grew up in the space age, had just graduated HS when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon & thought at that time that by the year 2000, we’d have surely gone to at least Mars, if not other planets as well. Maybe it just won’t happen at all – a real disappointment if true…

  • Kelly Starks

    Hell when the astrounauts landed on the moon in ’79 they all thought we’ld be sending folks to Mars in the ’80’s. The space centers weer all built for much bigger post Apollo missions, and the nuclear rocket engines for mars were all flight certified by ’69.

    When I started in the Shuttle program in ’81 I was sure we were all opening up space for large scale development, and big deep space manned mission of a scale the capsules n boosters of the 60’s never could have attempted.

    I never would have beleaved that in 2011 were not only not beyond what the first shuttles could do, werenot up to the limits of 20 years before the shutles overcame, and pleading for rides on the laughably bad Soyuz that the Soviets were embarased about compared with out ’60’s P.O.S ships.

    This is disgusting!!!

  • Chris Kirkendall

    Right – I feel the same way! The current version of the Soyuz rocket is a derivative of the one that launched Gagarin, in fact even the earlier version that launched Sputnik. I do give credit to the Russians though, for at least having designed & built such a venerable piece of hardware, albeit rather primitive by today’s standards! But it really IS digusting that we cannot at this point even launch our crews into space – we have to hitch rides on old Soviet hardware…

  • I really do not understand why people today are so worried about global warming, when in the 1970s we were all worried about global cooling. I think Obama is somewhat selfish in wanting to shut down the fundings to NASA to aid in “global warming.” This is ridiculous! Plus, why would we worry about all this “global warming” and “global cooling” if it won’t matter when Jesus comes back. But that’s slightly off topic. However, I do agree with you, Chris and Kelly, on the fact that NASA should be further along in it’s studies and space exploration then it is. I know we have smart people working in NASA, and to not have any new technology within the past thirty years is just preposterous.

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