Author Topic: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?  (Read 3675 times)

Offline Political Hack Wannabe

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Ok, this is going to be hugely controversial as a topic, but bear with me. 

Recently, in another thread, there was a discussion about how Senators/Congressman have a whole host of reasons for supporting a program - they might be true believers, they might have a constituant interest, etc...

As I was considering a response to it, to comment how part of the problem is that we don't have good justifications for why we do space, I was reminded of how many people will comment on "well, if we saw an asteroid headed towards earth, support for and money for the space program would zoom up..."

Let's turn that around, and ask the question - what is something that could really endanger NASA, in your opinion?  Now, I am sure I'll get attacked as a NASA hater, but this to me is a major issue, because long term, we need more people caring about space. 

So, my question - what is some sort of event, or cultural shift, or .... that could result in NASA getting zeroed out, or at least very very hurt budgetarily speaking?  Please don't say something like "proof that the moon landings were faked" or something akin to that.  If you can't think of anything, or think this is a stupid topic, please don't respond. 
It's not democrats vs republicans, it's reality vs innumerate space cadet fantasy.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #1 on: 03/15/2017 08:11 PM »
That the United States Government is no longer interested in science - of any type.

I don't think this will happen though, since I think our elected members of Congress believe that spending money on science has a benefit for all U.S. citizens.

But that's not to say that there aren't those that don't believe the U.S. Government should be doing science, because there are.  And they do have a significant voice.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #2 on: 03/16/2017 12:32 AM »
Many reasons and scenarios could do it. And as you say - it would be a controversial subject that could spark many different viewpoints. I would summarize my opinion and probably mine alone as one thing thus - if the U.S. ever elected several extreme Right or Left governments in a row, that could jeopardize NASA and several similar agencies. Extremists both have different reasons to dislike such an agency.
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Offline Proponent

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #3 on: 03/16/2017 09:45 AM »
I think it would take an asteroid hit to wipe out NASA (and the US government as well).

People, all over the world, like NASA, regardless of whether it does much.  It just makes people feel good.  Add in those with parochial porkial interests, and NASA's continued existence looks very secure to me.  That's not to say it's budget won't be cut or that its spending might not become increasingly ineffective, though.

Offline incoming

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #4 on: 03/16/2017 08:27 PM »
it would take either a very, very slow unwinding, where NASA really slips and over decades suffers a string of high visibility failures, and probably some other controversies as well that slowly errode support for the agency...or some sort of quasi apocalyptic change to the U.S. federal government - perhaps some sort of war or debt crisis so bad that we totally revise our expectations of what kinds of discretionary endeavors we are capable of. Neither seems very likely. 

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #5 on: 03/16/2017 10:16 PM »
The recent gutting of NASAs Education budget could also contribute! :(
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

Offline winkhomewinkhome

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #6 on: 03/16/2017 10:36 PM »
Many reasons and scenarios could do it. And as you say - it would be a controversial subject that could spark many different viewpoints. I would summarize my opinion and probably mine alone as one thing thus - if the U.S. ever elected several extreme Right or Left governments in a row, that could jeopardize NASA and several similar agencies. Extremists both have different reasons to dislike such an agency.

This one was sort of close to what I was thinking so I'll answer, question and respond all at the same time.

I think we way over complicate why things happen or don't happen.  To that end, you can find the reason for the end in the beginning.  NASA was created in 1958; Why?  If that Why really does not exist anymore, NASA does not need to exist anymore.  It does not require extremists, left, right, or center, multiple times or not.  All it takes is a matter of self-absorbed reflection and the  thought that the government need to fund the arts, Public TV, "X", or space exploration.  Technology development, Silicon Valley and the tech world has done fine without the US Government, maybe it's time to allow "it" to happen on it's own and return the government inward to just take care of what really needs to be taken care of; NASA of my dreams and of history, it was nice knowing you.

In short - honestly, it would not take much to consign NASA to pages of a history text book.  I don't want that, but a lot of things are that way now it seems!

Respectfully offered -   
Dale R. Winke

Offline TomH

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #7 on: 03/17/2017 02:55 AM »
An event that ends civilization as we know it: asteroid impact, plague, unexpected widespread crop failures, catastrophic economic collapse, worldwide nuclear war, governmental collapse due to severe social change-e.g. collapse of democracy.

I see no value in this thread and personally prefer the thread be deleted.

Offline QuantumG

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #8 on: 03/17/2017 03:43 AM »
Agorism.
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Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #9 on: 03/17/2017 07:45 AM »
I think the threat to NASA's budget is very real. There are many people who believe a space agency is a total waste of money, witness Australia which does not have one with the result of a negligible achievement in space. NASA's budget is 0.5% of the Federal budget. It used to be 1% in the 1970's. Canada and Japan spend 0.1% of their budget on space. In time, if the apathy continues NASA might reach that level too. That would still be $3.8B a year which is a huge amount, but not if NASA wants to go to the Moon or beyond. On the other hand, NASA's budget could increase back to 1%. That would be an extra $19B a year! What you in see in 2001: A Space Odyssey could all become true. With the latest budget though, the trend is unfortunately towards 0.1% instead of 1%.
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Offline IRobot

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #10 on: 03/17/2017 11:06 AM »
Some countries in Europe have an interesting option for taxes.  You can "donate" 0.5% of your taxes either to a "cause" or to a religious group. Would be interested if US could provide an option for people to "assign" 0.5% of their taxes to a government program/agency, like NASA.

Of course it would be hard to define a budget where part of it comes from people's will, as congress would just be tempted to cut down the part coming from federal budget.
 

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #11 on: 03/17/2017 12:32 PM »
NASA will cease if it is widely perceived as irrelevant/not making any meaningful contributions/advances. If you ask many members of the public about NASA what do they think of? Apollo? Space shuttle? Hubble? Voyager? Rovers on Mars? Space station?

I suspect for many (most?) people they think of past glories, not current work. Who among the public, outside of the industry, thinks of SLS, commercial cargo or crew?

So to me NASA is currently to an unhealthy extent surviving on its history and a congress happy to maintain funding to certain districts.

I think the good news is that more public-private partnerships gives the opportunity to achieve things that have a much bigger (and positive) impact with the public and thus create new history to help sustain NASA going forward.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #12 on: 03/17/2017 01:07 PM »
What would happen if...

That would depend if NASA returns to a core NACA style organization or if (for some mad reason) the USG pursues a full "Scorched Earth" policy,  RIF to 0, sites sold off, archives disbanded etc.

Let's roughly split it up into 3 pieces. Aeronautics, human and robot exploration.

No NASA suggests no human exploration. ISS would be very difficult for the other partners to support without NASA. I think possible, but very difficult. It would certainly move in a very different direction.

No humans means no need for SLS, Orion or Commercial Crew (unless ISS partners want to pick Orion or one of the CCCP systems up).

No robots means no more US exploration of the rest of the Solar System. No James Webb telescope.

No aeronautics means US aviation companies doing their own work, maybe building their own wind tunnels again. Much more difficult to get ongoing research projects running (like wind shear detection and micro bursts) which are slow to bear fruit but benefit the whole industry.

I've been accused of wanting to see NASA disbanded but that would be to flush a huge accumulated  organizational memory down the toilet of what works, and just as importantly how to run the systems to get results. There are students today learning about space systems through the SP8000 series, which of course would also cease to exist.

An awful lot of the stuff that's "on the shelf" in space engineering as actual hardware is there because NASA (through one programme or another) put it (or its predecessor) there.

No NASA means that there will not be a pipeline of stuff that others, private and governement, US and foreign, can draw on to build systems (and generating foreign revenue). They will either have to develop their own test facilities and without that corporate memory to draw on ( such as the proceedings of the annual Space Mechanisms conferences, which make fascinating reading for mechanical engineers) they will likely relearn lessons over and over again.

There is also the fact that for about $19Bn (less than 1/2 what the DoD spends on AirCon for its overseas bases, or home pizza delivery in the US) the USG gets an institution that is generally well liked and respected across the whole world which allows it to project "soft power" and a positive view of the US, which is sorely needed in some parts of the world.
« Last Edit: 03/17/2017 01:11 PM by john smith 19 »
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Online RonM

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #13 on: 03/17/2017 01:56 PM »
So, my question - what is some sort of event, or cultural shift, or .... that could result in NASA getting zeroed out, or at least very very hurt budgetarily speaking?  Please don't say something like "proof that the moon landings were faked" or something akin to that.  If you can't think of anything, or think this is a stupid topic, please don't respond.

NASA is safe as long as the country continues to function, but there is no guarantee of that.

If the US Government continues to make political and financial mistakes the "American Empire" will meet the same fate as the British Empire and all other empires before it. The USA will still be an important nation, but no longer a superpower. We will no longer be able to afford NASA.

Both Republicans and Democrats are to blame. President Clinton working with a Republican Congress were able to create a budget with a surplus, a surplus that could have been used to pay down the national debt. The Bush administration and friends in Congress spent like a drunken sailor and the Obama administration continued increased spending. Instead of paying down the national debt to one or two trillion dollars, we now have spent up to twenty trillion dollars. This is unsustainable and if unchecked will ruin the country.

The Trump administration budget doesn't help. There are controversial spending cuts to raise the defense budget, not lower the deficit. How are we going to pay for a trillion dollar infrastructure bill?

NASA and the rest of the country will be fine if we ever elect any adults that can do basic math. The only way out of this mess is to cut the budget and raise taxes. Not too much either way, but an appropriate balance to right the ship of state.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #14 on: 03/17/2017 10:37 PM »
NASA is safe as long as the country continues to function, but there is no guarantee of that.
That's pretty harsh. You make it sound like the US is close to being a failed democracy. :(
Quote from: RonM
NASA and the rest of the country will be fine if we ever elect any adults that can do basic math.
That sound like you doubt the abilities of the present Congress to do so?

As an outsider that sounds quite hard to believe. OTOH I can certainly believe that quite a few members may be "failing to understand" the situation, for various reasons. Upton Sinclair''s quote about "No man is so ignorant as one whose livelihood depends on his ignorance" comes to mind.
Quote from: RonM
The only way out of this mess is to cut the budget and raise taxes. Not too much either way, but an appropriate balance to right the ship of state.
It's interesting you mention that Clinton was able to get things done,despite Republican control.

In theory a Republican President with a Republican majority in both houses houses has practically no impediments to taking whatever action is necessary to create a more financially stable and productive economy.

Provided of course they are convinced of the need to do so and they can get the members of the Party to agree.  :(
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #15 on: 03/18/2017 12:30 AM »
NASA is /the/ civilian aerospace research organization. That's how it started. And it plays an under-reported but vital role in national security, too.

I can see NASA being scaled back, a UK-like retreat from HSF, but not an outright cancellation of all programs. Perhaps a reorganization of the pieces under other or new agencies. That could happen.
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Online RonM

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #16 on: 03/18/2017 12:59 AM »
NASA is safe as long as the country continues to function, but there is no guarantee of that.
That's pretty harsh. You make it sound like the US is close to being a failed democracy. :(
Quote from: RonM
NASA and the rest of the country will be fine if we ever elect any adults that can do basic math.
That sound like you doubt the abilities of the present Congress to do so?

As an outsider that sounds quite hard to believe. OTOH I can certainly believe that quite a few members may be "failing to understand" the situation, for various reasons. Upton Sinclair''s quote about "No man is so ignorant as one whose livelihood depends on his ignorance" comes to mind.
Quote from: RonM
The only way out of this mess is to cut the budget and raise taxes. Not too much either way, but an appropriate balance to right the ship of state.
It's interesting you mention that Clinton was able to get things done,despite Republican control.

In theory a Republican President with a Republican majority in both houses houses has practically no impediments to taking whatever action is necessary to create a more financially stable and productive economy.

Provided of course they are convinced of the need to do so and they can get the members of the Party to agree.  :(

The US system was designed to work by compromise, but that has been a dirty word in Washington for 16 years and the current administration is on track for making it 20 to 24 years. Even members of both political parties don't get along, as can be seen by the current situation in Congress.

The USA is still a strong nation, but this won't last if the politicians in Washington don't start working together and base their decisions on fact instead of ideology.

NASA will continue to meander along as long as the Federal government doesn't crash the economy out of foolishness, overspending, or neglect.

Offline Donosauro

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #17 on: 03/18/2017 01:03 AM »
Events such as a launch vehicle explosion could be a threat to the continuance of an agency... such as what happened to the Soviet N1 might be a good example.  Being sober minded helps to focus on safety to prevent impacts to an organization.  I'm sure the N1 program was as sober minded at the time as anyone else. 

This was described as being the largest man made non nuclear explosion with about 1.5 million pounds of rocket fuel exploding.

Well, the N1 explosion would have been 750 U.S. tons. The Minor Scale blast was almost 5,000 tons of ammonium nitrate fuel oil explosive. The Texas City explosion of 1947 involved 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate.

Offline muomega0

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #18 on: 03/18/2017 11:50 AM »
what is something that could really endanger NASA, in your opinion?
Its quite simple:  all it would take is 'tweets' from 'leaders' calling for its closing rather than just 'shifting Earth Science to NOAA' or 'shutting down the EPA or ARM'  or 'ending ACA', with a majority in Congress.

It would be much more difficult if the programs were on sound footing, but there are so many reasons to change the architecture.  Sadly, folks think SLS is more important than climate change, which is going to cost future generation trillions, yet no one seems to notice, no one seems to care. 

Having multiple LVs including IPs provides redundancy and long term sustainability and launching dirt cheap propellant with common configurations allows for future enhancements to not get stuck with basically the same LVs for decades because of certification.  It lowers launch costs and shifts $ to very challenging work we do not know how to do yet or fit within the budget distribution, although risks can be taken to achieve flags n footprints.

They can simply point to the VSE and say "how well are you doing?"  The ITS approach showed the world how well SLS is meeting the goals. or compare progress to the 1958 Space Act. or ask how many of those 'Advanced Concepts' were deployed. 

Or when 'mooning' is the goal, or accelerating crew for EM-1 yet cancelling its only mission, not Moonshot thinking  :D  Imagine the infrastructure in place and launch costs 3 to 10X less for both HSF and science with significant US and IP participation--it would be a nonstarter, both today and for cancellation, ironically.

Yet, Air Force reveals plan for up to 48 launches per year from Cape Canaveral...wonder if they could support a NASA launches if the HLV $ were shifted to payloads?
« Last Edit: 03/22/2017 12:16 PM by muomega0 »

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #19 on: 03/19/2017 07:15 AM »
NASA's budget is 0.5% of the Federal budget.

OK, that number is from FY2014 (for some reason Wikipedia has not updated the numbers since then). This years budget is $3760B. That means NASA's budget of $19.1B is 0.508%, so still holding steady.

http://federal-budget.insidegov.com/l/121/2018-Estimate
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

Online RonM

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #20 on: 03/19/2017 12:41 PM »
NASA's budget is 0.5% of the Federal budget.

OK, that number is from FY2014 (for some reason Wikipedia has not updated the numbers since then). This years budget is $3760B. That means NASA's budget of $19.1B is 0.508%, so still holding steady.

http://federal-budget.insidegov.com/l/121/2018-Estimate

You're looking at the total Federal budget. Most of the budget is mandatory spending and the budget process is fighting for what's left over.

Mandatory spending is about 70% of the budget, leaving only 30% for discretionary spending (defense, education, NASA, etc.). Subtract out nearly 57% of discretionary spending for defense and that leaves only around 13% of the total budget for everything else. Of that small slice of the pie, NASA gets about 3.9%. That's a pretty high commitment, indicating Congress isn't going to get rid of NASA as long as the money keeps coming in.

Online Robotbeat

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #21 on: 03/19/2017 12:50 PM »
Mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicare, the biggest mandatory spending categories, are funded separately with separate revenue sources. Doesn't make sense to include them in this discussion.
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Online RonM

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #22 on: 03/19/2017 01:16 PM »
Mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicare, the biggest mandatory spending categories, are funded separately with separate revenue sources. Doesn't make sense to include them in this discussion.

That's why I brought it up. Saying NASA only gets 0.5% of the budget is based on the total budget, including mandatory spending. NASA's share of discretionary spending closer to 1.7%.

Offline tdperk

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #23 on: 03/19/2017 05:19 PM »
Quote
What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?

Nothing but what is so catastrophic the effort to announce the cancellation is not itself a relative misuse of resources.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: What do you think would result in NASA's cancellation?
« Reply #24 on: 03/19/2017 05:33 PM »
NASA's budget is 0.5% of the Federal budget.

OK, that number is from FY2014 (for some reason Wikipedia has not updated the numbers since then). This years budget is $3760B. That means NASA's budget of $19.1B is 0.508%, so still holding steady.

http://federal-budget.insidegov.com/l/121/2018-Estimate

You're looking at the total Federal budget. Most of the budget is mandatory spending and the budget process is fighting for what's left over.

Mandatory spending is about 70% of the budget, leaving only 30% for discretionary spending (defense, education, NASA, etc.). Subtract out nearly 57% of discretionary spending for defense and that leaves only around 13% of the total budget for everything else. Of that small slice of the pie, NASA gets about 3.9%. That's a pretty high commitment, indicating Congress isn't going to get rid of NASA as long as the money keeps coming in.
I guess the question is how is the money coming in if it is "deficit- spending"? Maybe if the 1% actually paid what they should compared to "Joe the plumber"...
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