Author Topic: New Budget Realities  (Read 14159 times)

Offline TomH

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New Budget Realities
« on: 02/28/2017 07:46 AM »
Trump today announced a $54B increase in defense spending to be offset by across the board cuts to discretionary spending at equal percentage. What would be the effects on NASA? I do not see how SLS/Orion could survive. SpaceX beating them to a Lunar circumnavigation now appears a reality. Could NASA be forced to do its manned SF through commercial providers, with the monetary savings allowing the rest of NASA's programs to continue doing what they currently do?

Edit: My quick estimate is that NASA would take around a 10% cut. Of course Congress is the one who will set the budget, but this could be one huge fight.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2017 07:50 AM by TomH »

Offline IRobot

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #1 on: 02/28/2017 08:54 AM »
Unsure if this equates to a budget cut on NASA. Seems inconsistent with previous declarations.

Offline jgoldader

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #2 on: 02/28/2017 12:34 PM »
As a famous philosopher once said, people should "sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over."  I've already seen panicked posts about the budget process on other websites.  We can do better than that here.

The process is the same as it has always been.  The President proposes a budget.  Congress passes whatever they please.  Then, the President has the option to sign off on the budget or let a shutdown happen (said shutdown being highly unlikely, imho).
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Online woods170

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #3 on: 02/28/2017 05:12 PM »
As a famous philosopher once said, people should "sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over."  I've already seen panicked posts about the budget process on other websites.  We can do better than that here.

The process is the same as it has always been.  The President proposes a budget.  Congress passes whatever they please.  Then, the President has the option to sign off on the budget or let a shutdown happen (said shutdown being highly unlikely, imho).
Exactly. Trump can propose anything he wants. Whether or not U.S. Congress goes along remains to be seen. An across-the-board cut of NASA is likely not to go down too well with certain senators from Alabama, Florida, Texas, etc. etc. etc.
« Last Edit: 02/28/2017 05:13 PM by woods170 »

Offline Danderman

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #4 on: 03/01/2017 04:51 AM »
If I had to bet, Earth Sciences will be cut out from NASA and transferred elsewhere. This could be enough to allow for some cut in the NASA budget.

Offline Jim

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #5 on: 03/01/2017 12:51 PM »
If I had to bet, Earth Sciences will be cut out from NASA and transferred elsewhere. This could be enough to allow for some cut in the NASA budget.

not going happen.  That would shutdown GSFC.

Offline jgoldader

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #6 on: 03/01/2017 02:46 PM »
If I had to bet, Earth Sciences will be cut out from NASA and transferred elsewhere. This could be enough to allow for some cut in the NASA budget.

not going happen.  That would shutdown GSFC.

Why?  What's the problem with NOAA/USGS taking over Earth climate work?  You could turn GISS into an NOAA group without shutting down GSFC.  There's a lot of things besides GISS going on there.  Then NASA could do aeronautics and space stuff.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2017 02:48 PM by jgoldader »
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Offline yg1968

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #7 on: 03/01/2017 02:53 PM »
If I had to bet, Earth Sciences will be cut out from NASA and transferred elsewhere. This could be enough to allow for some cut in the NASA budget.

not going happen.  That would shutdown GSFC.

I am expecting more towards planetary science and less towards Earth sciences.

Offline Danderman

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #8 on: 03/01/2017 02:56 PM »
If I had to bet, Earth Sciences will be cut out from NASA and transferred elsewhere. This could be enough to allow for some cut in the NASA budget.

not going happen.  That would shutdown GSFC.

You're probably right, Senator Mikulski would never let that happen.

Offline Proponent

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #9 on: 03/01/2017 03:19 PM »
She's retired.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #10 on: 03/01/2017 03:26 PM »
The only offsets the he is proposing is "pocket change" compared to the increases and the national debt...
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #11 on: 03/01/2017 03:38 PM »
As a famous philosopher once said, people should "sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over."  I've already seen panicked posts about the budget process on other websites.  We can do better than that here.

The process is the same as it has always been.  The President proposes a budget.  Congress passes whatever they please.  Then, the President has the option to sign off on the budget or let a shutdown happen (said shutdown being highly unlikely, imho).

Er, that's not how the process works--sign, or shutdown. The president can also veto the budget.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #12 on: 03/01/2017 03:43 PM »
If I had to bet, Earth Sciences will be cut out from NASA and transferred elsewhere. This could be enough to allow for some cut in the NASA budget.

not going happen.  That would shutdown GSFC.

It goes beyond that. People who say that Earth sciences should be taken from NASA and given to NOAA don't really understand how either agency works, or what they actually do. For example, contract management and oversight for NOAA satellites is done by NASA, because NASA knows how to do contract management and oversight for spacecraft, and NOAA does not. So why would you want to transfer that responsibility to an agency that does not know how to do it?

And "transferring" responsibilities and personnel means that you have to work out all the nitty gritty details. For instance, ownership of buildings, responsibility for overhead costs at facilities, employee retirement plans and seniority.

Finally, those who are panicking about what might happen to NASA's budget might end up surprised.

Offline Jim

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #13 on: 03/01/2017 03:58 PM »

Why?  What's the problem with NOAA/USGS taking over Earth climate work?  You could turn GISS into an NOAA group without shutting down GSFC.  There's a lot of things besides GISS going on there.  Then NASA could do aeronautics and space stuff.

A.  NOAA/USGS  does do Earth climate work
b.  NASA procures and builds spacecraft for NOAA
c.  The earth science that NASA does is "space stuff".

It is NASA's task. 

It is in the first objective of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958
"The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;"

And in many other places

SUBCHAPTER IV—UPPER ATMOSPHERE RESEARCH

Earth science research and research on the Sun-Earth connection through the devel- opment and operation of research satellites and other means;

The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, in consultation with the Administrator, the Ad- ministrator of the National Oceanic and Atmos- pheric Administration, and other relevant stakeholders, shall develop a process to transi- tion, when appropriate, Administration Earth science and space weather missions or sensors into operational status.

Offline clongton

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #14 on: 03/01/2017 05:42 PM »
I personally believe that Climate Science "should have been" assigned to NOAA. Earth science is part of what they do, among other things. A couple of months ago I even argued with Blackstar about this, advocating for the switch based on my belief that it should have been there in the first place. But his arguments were persuasive. I think it has been a NASA function for far too long for the switch to be made now. To attempt the switch would, in my opinion, damage both agencies for too long as they muddled thru the enormous complexities of the transfer. Perhaps one day, when both agencies have nothing better to do, we can revisit this, because I do unequivocally stand by my belief that climate science *should* be done by NOAA, not NASA. But for the time being I come down on the side of leaving it where it is - for now.
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Offline Jim

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #15 on: 03/01/2017 05:51 PM »
I personally believe that Climate Science "should have been" assigned to NOAA.

It is assigned to NOAA.  NASA is only involved space based observations and new instruments and procuring GOES and JPSS for NOAA. 

Offline clongton

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #16 on: 03/01/2017 06:05 PM »
I personally believe that Climate Science "should have been" assigned to NOAA.

It is assigned to NOAA.  NASA is only involved space based observations and new instruments and procuring GOES and JPSS for NOAA. 

Key word being "atmospheric". And perhaps we are saying similar things differently because of the extensive use of satellites that NASA monitors and manages. And no small number of them examine more than the atmosphere. There are instruments that peer into the earth's topography, examine the oceans and sea life, do resource mapping, forestry studies; the list goes on and on. It is those kinds of things that informed my position. Those are NOAA satellites. NOAA should be doing the managing, not NASA. NASA launched them for them, and that should have been the end of it. Just like when a launch provider sends a communications satellite up. Once it is delivered to orbit it becomes the responsibility of the company that contracted the launch. But NASA has been managing the birds too long to now.
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Offline RonM

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #17 on: 03/01/2017 06:26 PM »
Moving people and responsibility around between NASA, NOAA, or any other agency would be a waste of time and money. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

What's the problem being solved? The only one I can think of is certain politicians trying to kill research into climate change because it goes against their personal beliefs or interests of their favorite lobbyists. Politics as usual.

Offline Jim

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #18 on: 03/01/2017 06:50 PM »


Key word being "atmospheric". And perhaps we are saying similar things differently because of the extensive use of satellites that NASA monitors and manages. And no small number of them examine more than the atmosphere. There are instruments that peer into the earth's topography, examine the oceans and sea life, do resource mapping, forestry studies; the list goes on and on. It is those kinds of things that informed my position. Those are NOAA satellites. NOAA should be doing the managing, not NASA. NASA launched them for them, and that should have been the end of it. Just like when a launch provider sends a communications satellite up. Once it is delivered to orbit it becomes the responsibility of the company that contracted the launch. But NASA has been managing the birds too long to now.

NASA doesn't manage the operations of NOAA spacecraft

"Landsat 8 is an American Earth observation satellite launched on February 11, 2013. It is the eighth satellite in the Landsat program; the seventh to reach orbit successfully. Originally called the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), it is a collaboration between NASA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provided development, mission systems engineering, and acquisition of the launch vehicle while the USGS provided for development of the ground systems and will conduct on-going mission operations."

"Earlier today, NOAA officially took command of its Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite.
NASA, in charge of both the launch and activation of the satellite, has officially handed over satellite operations to NOAA’s DSCOVR team. Next, the team will optimize the final space weather instrument settings and the satellite will soon begin normal operation."

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Budget Realities
« Reply #19 on: 03/01/2017 07:45 PM »
What's the problem being solved?

And that's the question that should be asked every time this comes up. In fact, if you went to the Earth scientist community and asked "Is Earth science as a discipline broken?" and also asked "Would moving responsibility for Earth science from NASA to NOAA make things better?" the answer to both questions will be "No."

Look, it's pretty simple: the people who propose moving Earth sciences from NASA to NOAA almost always:

1-Don't care about Earth sciences;
2-Often are outright hostile to Earth sciences;
3-Do not understand what it is, or how it is done at either NASA or NOAA;
4-Do not understand what it would actually require to make such a move (for starters: it requires a new law, not simply an executive order or even a budget);
5-Are not trying to improve it.

Nine times out of ten, when somebody proposes reorganizing a government agency, the goal is to improve the thing that is being reorganized. For example, the Department of Homeland Security was created to improve the conduct of homeland security after the September 11 attacks. I have never seen a legitimate argument--backed by logic and data--that reorganizing Earth science (by moving it from NASA to NOAA) will improve it.

Now to be generous, there are some people who believe that NASA should be the "space exploration agency" and believe that moving Earth science to NOAA would somehow make NASA a better space exploration agency. But they never bother to explain how this will actually occur. It's sort of a belief in purity of essence--that if you take away from NASA things that you personally consider to be distractions for space exploration it will improve space exploration (as if NASA officials are unable to walk and chew gum at the same time). But the inherent bias in that view is that Earth science is unimportant and you don't actually care if it suffers. And you know what? There are plenty of people who do not agree with you and who actually value Earth science, so that's still a losing argument. It might be an answer to the question "what's the problem being solved?" but it's a weak and flawed answer that does not indicate that you're actually solving a problem with the thing that you are reorganizing.
 


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