Lockheed Martin unveils Orion spacecraft and test center

The program-formerly-called-Constellation moves forward: Lockheed Martin yesterday unveiled the Orion spacecraft and the test center to be used to prepare it for space.

Though this press announcement was actually intended to encourage Congress to continue funding, it also illustrated how this portion at least of Constellation had made significant progress before it was undercut by both Obama and Congress.

TSA to retest airport body scanners for radiation

Does this make you feel safer? The TSA is going to retest the radiation levels of all its airport body scanners after maintenance records on some showed levels 10 times higher than expected. Also this:

The TSA is responsible for the safety of its own X-ray devices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it does not routinely inspect airport X-ray machines because they are not considered medical devices. The TSA’s airport scanners are exempt from state radiation inspections because they belong to a federal agency.

Some interesting comments about NASA’s future from Clark Lindsey

Clark Lindsey of www.rlvnews.com/ has posted some interesting thoughts in reaction to the successful launch of the Air Force’s second reusable X-37b yesterday and how this relates to NASA’s budget battles in Congress. Key quote for me:

Charles Bolden doesn’t seem prepared to make a forceful case against the clear and obvious dumbness of the HLV/Orion program. Perhaps he in fact wants a make-work project for NASA to sustain the employee base.

As I’ve said before, the program-formerly-called-Constellation is nothing more than pork, and will never get built. Why waste any money on it now?

Science budget map

Want to know whose getting what? The journal Science has put together this nice interactive table showing the various proposed budgets for the various science agencies in the federal government.

Though the magazine is undeniably pro-spending for science, the information is useful, as it shows clearly that even if every Republican cut is approved, the amount of money for most of these agencies will not be, on average, much different than what was spent in 2008. And it seems to me that in 2008 there was plenty of money for science in the federal government. Probably too much.

House votes to move money from NASA to local law enforcement

The House votes to shift $298 million from NASA to local law enforcement.

What idiocy. I can accept the idea of cutting NASA considering the state of the deficit. However, for Congress to instead spend the money for local police work, something that is definitely not the responsibility of the federal government, is plain foolishness. The need now is to cut, cut, cut, until the budget is under control. Only then can we reasonably consider spending money on these programs.

GOP bill zeroes out programs, puts curbs on Obama initiatives

Another look at the GOP budget cuts: Republican proposal will zero out programs and puts serious limits on many Obama initiatives. Key quote:

“In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs,” said [House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)]. “If some of those jobs are lost, so be it. We’re broke.”

Not surprisingly, Democrats are squealing.

Democrats challenged the 200,000 job number and said he showed a callous attitude toward those who would be out of work. “Maybe ‘so be it’ for him, but not ‘so be it’ for people who are losing their jobs,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, said Republicans’ cuts amounted to a “meat cleaver” approach.

Science an Early Budget Winner … But Fight Has Just Begun

Await the squeals from scientists: The journal Science notes the differences between the budget proposals coming from the House Republicans (cutting funds to science) and Obama (increasing funds to science) and hopes for the best. (You can also get a good idea about the increases to science that Obama proposes by going to this ScienceInsider story and scanning down the various articles.) Key quote:

Both conservatives and liberals agree: the main pressure pushing the federal deficit is entitlements; the discretionary budget is dwarfed by mandatory Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security spending. And yet neither the House of Representatives Republican appropriators’ proposal to tackle the deficit starting in 2011 nor Obama’s new budget for next year tackles the real challenge of entitlements. Instead, both pick and choose the discretionary cuts they want to start with.

From my mind, we should accept the cuts from both sides, then go after the entitlements.

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