Frank's note: One of the casualties of the tight budget squeeze at NASA was the closing in 2007 of the agencys Institute for Advanced Concepts, the closest thing for a think tank that the aging bureaucracy has had in its 50 year history. Chartered to think about truly revolutionary, way-out space exploration devices and technologies, Mike Griffin needed to poach the groups paltry $4 million annual budget to help absorb Return-to-Flight cost of the Space Shuttle and funding for Constellation-although $4 million wouldnt cover much in the grand scheme of the Shuttle or Constellation budgets. To my knowledge (readers correct me if Im wrong) no where else within NASA do people get paid to just think very long range ideas. My question: does such a group belong in NASA and should it or something like it be revived? And if you think so, what should its highest priority be? Propulsion? Artificial gravity systems? Space Elevator? Revamping its image? (no, thats too far out) Or when faced with such constrained budgets, should this far-future research be deferred until better times?
Killing NIAC, earlier post
Keith's 2007 note: "Word has it that NASA intends to cancel funding for NIAC the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts. This is just plain stupid. Let me repeat this for clarity's sake, Mike, (whoever made it) this is A STUPID DECISION. Advanced spacesuits that will open the surface of the moon - and then Mars- to meaningful and productive human exploration, tethers and other innovative and upmass-saving technologies, and other in-space techologies."
Frank's update: As of early Friday June 12th the bring-back NIAC posters are in the overwhelming majority, although some want it overhauled or restructured to include inside-NASA ideas, not just from external sources. Id still like to know if you all think its original $4 mil per annum budget was adequate