POLITICS - Moon Patrol, part 3

I've mentioned my skeptiscism about the Bush plan here and here.

I was mistaken about the $11B shift in NASA's budget. It will be over a five year time, not one single year. (Duh.) So it is a shift of $11B out of $86B. Well, we already have the first casualty. There will be no more maintenance/upgrade missions to Hubble, one of NASA's most successful projects.

From the NYTimes:

Savor those cosmic postcards while you can. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration decreed an early death yesterday to one of its flagship missions and most celebrated successes, the Hubble Space Telescope.

In a midday meeting at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., two days after President Bush ordered NASA to redirect its resources toward human exploration of the Moon and Mars, the agency's administrator, Sean O'Keefe, told the managers of the space telescope that there would be no more shuttle visits to maintain it.

But another article from the NYTimes certainly reinforces some of the ideas that I mentioned previously about NASA becoming much more sympathetic to the goals of the Department of Defense.

Mr. Bush announced a commission of non-NASA experts to be led by Edward C. Aldridge Jr., a former secretary of the Air Force, that will make recommendations on how NASA should use the new mandate. The commission is to report by the end of the summer.

In the reorganization, NASA named a retired Navy rear admiral, Craig E. Steidle, as associate administrator in charge of the new Office of Exploration Systems. Among the office's tasks will be developing the crew exploration vehicle, the craft that is to carry astronauts back to the Moon by 2020, and Project Prometheus, which is developing nuclear propulsion systems for deep space probes.

"The idea," a spokesman for NASA, Michael Braukus, said, "is to have a better concentration in the technology area and to have an office specifically dedicated to exploration."

NASA should share its resources with any government agency that needs assistance. However, I think that these agencies should be prepared to pay for NASA's services, or should be prepared to offer something in return. It seems like the Hubble and International Space Station programs will be scrapped over the next five years. What all will NASA do in that time? Will Congress authorize the necessary funds for the Moon and Mars trips, in addition to new aerospace technology to send us there? I hope so, but I'm mighty skeptical. The first Bush didn't deliver on his pledge to take us further into space, and I would hardly suggest that Bush 2.0 is any better prepared to take us there.


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