Policy: March 2012 Archives

Keith's note: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson both testified before the Senate on NASA's FY 2013 budget the other day. Simple word clouds reveal starkly different messages. Click on word cloud image to enlarge.

Wordle: NASA Testimony on FY 2013 BudgetTestimony by NASA Administrator Bolden Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

"Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, today it is my privilege to discuss the President's FY 2013 budget request for NASA. Our requested budget of $17.7 billion will enable NASA to execute the balanced program of science, space exploration, technology, and aeronautics agreed to by the President and a bipartisan majority of Congress."

Wordle: Neil Tyson on NASA BudgetTestimony by Neil deGrasse Tyson Before the Committee on Commerce Science & Transportation

"Currently, NASA's Mars science exploration budget is being decimated, we are not going back to the Moon, and plans for astronauts to visit Mars are delayed until the 2030s --on funding not yet allocated, overseen by a congress and president to be named later."

Keith's note: I had planned on listening in on the NASA Advisory Council's Education and Public Outreach Subcommittee meeting today via Webex. But I changed my mind and decided that it would be a waste of time - time better spent on doing real work (and cleaning out my garage). I am not sure that what the NAC or any of its subcommittees does or says actually matters in any significant way. NASA clearly ignores them. The NAC is actually rather passive (more so than ever in the past) and never actually says anything strategic or insightful. And they never, ever push NASA hard on the things that are clearly screwed up. Indeed, all the NACsters ever say is "nice job", "what would you do with a bigger budget?", "thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit with us", or "there's a typo on your chart". Check the calendar on the right for their other meetings over the coming days. Or not. Yawn.

Keith's update: Let me add that the new NAC Chair, Steve Squyres should be a breath of fresh air. He is an explorer's explorer and, contrary to a lot of NAC members, he does not dwell behind a desk or reflexively seek a TV camera. Instead he goes to remote and dangerous places to explore and to make sure that the Mars rovers that he helps to build will be able to do their job. Whether he can inpsire his fellow NACsters to show a little spine and advise NASA in a more pointed and strategic fashion remains to be seen. I wish him luck.

Double the Space Budget?, Paul Spudis, Air & Space

"More funding would enable more activity, but to do what? As we no longer have a reasonable, near-term strategic goal (and I do not count empty promises of human Mars missions 30 years in the future as such), more money might accelerate progress on some programs, but money alone will never establish a healthy and vigorous space program. What has held us back from creating a strong space program? I contend that it is the lack of any strategic direction, by which I mean not simply a goal, but a believable goal, one that combines clear and pressing societal value with attainable, decadal timescales, at costs at or less than their projected budget line. Under the existing operational template, most proposed space goals satisfy one or two, but not all conditions."

Cislunar Space Next

"Develop a space transportation system using existing assets to the extent possible, build new reusable vehicles to transit cislunar space, develop lunar resources with the aim of propellant production, emplace staging nodes in LEO (use existing ISS), geosynchronous orbit (GEO), Earth-Moon L-1, low lunar orbit (LLO) and on the lunar surface."



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