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View Poll Results: Where Should NASA Focus its Resources?
Pure Science (Robotic Probes, Missions to the Outer Planets, Telescopes) 3 37.50%
Exploitation of Space Resources (Asteroid Mining, Zero-Gravity Research and Manufacturing Stations) 2 25.00%
Something Else (Describe) 1 12.50%
I don't Care. 2 25.00%
Voters: 8. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-10-2012, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
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Recently, the current administration has been attempting to shift NASA's limited resources toward the construction of Near-Earth infrastructure. This has been done by cutting science budgets and increasing COTS funding. Congress has pushed back by restoring science mission funding and slashing requisitions for launch vehicle funding.

The two competing goals seem to be:

1. Development:
+Restore US manned launch capability as soon as possible using commercially-developed launchers.
+Maintain the ISS
+Prepare manned missions to near earth asteroids, lagrange points, etc. with a future focus on developing these nearby and "easy"-to-reach resources.

This approach seems to go hand-in-hand (or to have spawned) a domestic space industry focused on profiting from space resources. Launch vehicle and satellite companies (Boeing, LM, SpaceX, Orbital, Sierra Nevada, etc) profit from exploiting the communications and surveying capabilities of earth orbit. Prospective mining companies are now considering profitting from returning rare minearals from asteroids.

2. Research:
+ Build and maintain in-space observatories for cosmic scientific research.
+ Build and send flagship missions to distant targets (Mars, Saturn system, Jupiter system).
+ Prepare for a one-off manned science mission to Mars.

This approach follows the traditional role of NASA in providing us with a fundamental understanding of our universe.

---

In my opinion, the Development approach is more desirable. If we have to allocate resources, I agree with spending more to develop space infrastructure. I see the direct beneficiaries of the development of asteroid mining and near-earth research and manufacturing stations as being all of mankind. On the other hand, while John Q. Public benefits from the beautiful pictures and the interesting information that there may be, indeed, other Earth-like planets in existance light-years away, I see the primary beneficiaries of such unapplied research being academics. The public, and the nation, IMO, benefit only indirectly from the second approach.

What do you think?
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:41 PM
 
Location: Southern California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
...
What do you think?
Split the funding equally.

[both have merit]
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Old 08-10-2012, 11:28 PM
 
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This should have every country involved for the sole purpose of getting us off one planet as to avoid an ending to our species. Cause if we are struck down by an outside force or within then everything we've done (great or not) will be gone. We should focus on this as one and be on another planet trying to terraform it within 25 years. I would gladly be the first group to go and try with no return as a possibility. Mars would be a good first step. And hopefully a new propulsion system comes out to make trips farther out a possibility, but doubtful.


Space elevator would be awesome. It could cut down the price per pound by a lot. Right now I've heard it costs 10k per pound by shuttle. But a space elevator would cost 200 per pound.
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Old 08-14-2012, 04:44 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
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There is some question as to whether NASA should even exist, since it is not a power granted to the federal government by the US Constitution. However, since NASA does exist it should confine itself to pure research. At no time should the federal government become involved in space development. That is the realm of the private sector. If the private sector deems space development to be profitable then let them pursue that objective, with government regulation and oversight.
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Old 08-15-2012, 09:54 AM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glitch View Post
There is some question as to whether NASA should even exist, since it is not a power granted to the federal government by the US Constitution. However, since NASA does exist it should confine itself to pure research. At no time should the federal government become involved in space development. That is the realm of the private sector. If the private sector deems space development to be profitable then let them pursue that objective, with government regulation and oversight.
So why is building and maintaining space infrastructure different from building and maintaining other types of infrastructure, such as railways, interstate highways, or air traffic control? Should the government sell off existing space infrastructure (launch facilities, ground tracking stations, TDRSS and other launch, guidance, and data relay satellites) to private companies? If that is the case, then do you think that air traffic control and other infrastructure construction and maintenence should be done by private companies as well?

I think that the "no government" or "all government" approaches are both flawed oversimplifications. We currently have a balance of state, federal, and commercial interest in other infrastructure, and I think the same should be true for space resources.

Since it currently IS true, the original question remains; what should be NASA's primary focus; improve space infrastructure or pursue science missions?

A fair analogy/simplification would be the discovery of America. Should we keep looking for the best trade route to India (Mars/Jovian Probes or deep space telescopes), or should we start building infrastructure in the new world (Near-earth locations; LEO, GEO, moon, NEO Asteroids, L-points)? More Columbuses or more Pilgrims?
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Old 08-15-2012, 03:45 PM
 
Location: Wasilla, Alaska
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
So why is building and maintaining space infrastructure different from building and maintaining other types of infrastructure, such as railways, interstate highways, or air traffic control?
It is not any different, and therein is part of the problem. Congress can certainly make a case that creating and maintaining space infrastructure is a matter of National Security, as Eisenhower did to justify the Interstate System, which is part of their constitutional responsibility. They, however, cannot use it for another purpose other than National Security, like we have with the Interstate System. To justify it for one purpose and levy taxes for that reason, yet use it for another purpose is not constitutional.

Satellite communications, GPS satellites, and various spy and weather satellites can all be justified under the US Constitution under the mantle of National Security. The entire "Space Race" with the USSR was also justifiable for the same reason. However, since the fall of the USSR the mission of NASA has changed. It is no longer performing primarily National Security missions, in addition, each of the military branches have their own satellite programs, further diminishing NASA's role in providing for the National Security.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Should the government sell off existing space infrastructure (launch facilities, ground tracking stations, TDRSS and other launch, guidance, and data relay satellites) to private companies?
Yes. The federal government should either sell, or lease to universities or other public and private institutions, the bulk of the space infrastructure. Keeping only what is necessary to fulfill their congressional mandated mission in providing for the National Security. Such as searching for and cataloging near-earth asteroids, and providing for mitigation when necessary, for example.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
If that is the case, then do you think that air traffic control and other infrastructure construction and maintenence should be done by private companies as well?
That depends. Obviously military air and space traffic should be conducted by military controllers. State/city airports by state/city governments, and private sector air and space traffic by private sector controllers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
I think that the "no government" or "all government" approaches are both flawed oversimplifications. We currently have a balance of state, federal, and commercial interest in other infrastructure, and I think the same should be true for space resources.
I am not proposing an "all or nothing" solution. As I have said, there is justification on constitutional grounds for NASA for the purpose of National Defense. However, National Defense cannot be construed to be research missions or manned-missions to Mars. Even a lunar base is pushing the definition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sponger42 View Post
Since it currently IS true, the original question remains; what should be NASA's primary focus; improve space infrastructure or pursue science missions?

A fair analogy/simplification would be the discovery of America. Should we keep looking for the best trade route to India (Mars/Jovian Probes or deep space telescopes), or should we start building infrastructure in the new world (Near-earth locations; LEO, GEO, moon, NEO Asteroids, L-points)? More Columbuses or more Pilgrims?
NASA's mission is determined by Congress, which in turn is suppose to be limited to only those powers granted to them by the US Constitution. Since one of Congress' constitutional responsibilities includes providing for the National Defense, that could include a wide variety of different tasks, but only if those tasks pertain to defending the nation. Hubble, Kepler, as well as the up coming James Webb Telescope in 2018, should be paid for by those who will use it - universities and other public and private institutions. It should not be paid for by the federal government.
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Old 08-16-2012, 01:42 PM
 
Location: Bike to Surf!
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Ok, I see where you are coming from, Glitch. Thank you for explaining your position. I think, though, that you should argue for the simple dissolution of NASA, and assignment of relevant dual-purpose resources to USAFSC, since the Air Force is already in charge of the national defense aspects of space and you do not seem to consider it the government's business to be involved in space exploration and development (or terrestrial infrastructure) beyond considerations of defense.

As the constitution provides congress the power to promote the general welfare, I believe that NASA, like many other federal institutions, falls under the purview of the Necessary and Proper Clause, so I have to disagree with your position, but now I better understand your opinion.

I think yours would count as a vote for "other".
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Old 08-16-2012, 02:12 PM
 
Location: Texas
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.


A relative was one of NASA's original Apollo era scientists at the Lunar Receiving Lab in Houston
[He retired recently with over 40 years with NASA.]

Many, many years ago I asked him why the US never went back to the moon.

He said "it is political", that NASA was mainly interested in "lower space."


.
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Old 08-16-2012, 05:22 PM
 
Location: Texas
1,770 posts, read 2,048,015 times
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.

I also asked him about NASA's approved/funded space-based solar energy program
that was mysteriously canceled with no explanation right before 9-11.

He said initially such a program would be quite expensive, but that the $$$$ spent
on the war in Iraq would be a start.


.
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Old 08-16-2012, 06:41 PM
 
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Since the Constitution is decidedly a part of this thread I would ask how the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan fall under the Constitutional rights given to Congress and the President who sent our troops there.
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