General discussion and observations about life in these United States. Topics include politics, economics, and general commentary.
Published on February 10, 2009 By jdkeepsmiling In Current Events



This is a great picture. I almost don't even have to explain it. It looks as if it could come from the Onion, everyone's favorite satirical newspaper. But of course it is a real picture, of an Astronaut named Rex Walheim modeling NASA's next generation space suit for the new President during the inaugural parade. I believe that if you look close at the picture you will see that President Obama has a sly smirk on his face, which means: "I cannot believe they put a guy marching in a spacesuit in the parade just to get a photo op." Of course that is exactly what they did.

So here is my question, is NASA still relevant? Does NASA still produce enough new scientific information to warrant the governments expense? Don't get me wrong, I love space and other planets and all the jazz. I WANT to live on a moonbase, so I do think that it is essential that we continue to explore space. My question is whether NASA is still a relevant organization for doing so.

There are people in the private sector that are pushing the envelope when it comes to manned space flight. You have Virgin Galactic, and you know when Richard Branson and his billions get behind something, it gets dome. About the only thing NASA has gotten right recently were the Mars Rovers, which admittedly were an amazing success. The designer of those things gets an American Life Gold Star. So is this something that we should had off to the private sector? Maybe we should just use NASA to maintain our military hardware in space. Any thoughts?


Comments
on Feb 10, 2009

Frankly, if BO had said we're gonna give a trillion bucks to NASA to go to Mars, it would have done more for the economy than the crap in the stimulus bill.

So, Yes, NASA remains relevant.  Diminished, but relevant.  BO doesn't want to go laying off a bunch more from any government agency.  Would look kinda bad when you're trying to 'save' jobs.  That's the new 'changed' mantra - save or create 4 million jobs.

on Feb 11, 2009

The only thing going to the moon in a hurry is the national debt.

on Feb 11, 2009

I'm of the opinion that all of these space exploration probes and the search for planets that may have been habitable at one point is silly.

I mean, we keep looking for just water on Mars.  If we haven't found it yet, chances are there isn't enough there to support complex life, maybe a few bacteria at best, yet NASA keeps sending missions there to try and find water in rocks.

We've got the ISS, the Hubble Space Telescope, and a few space shuttles with ~60 Mhz processors.  NASA should quit while it's ahead, before more people realize what a waste of money it is.

on Feb 11, 2009

Funny how everything on ths board turns into a dump on Obama lately. I was just using a picture to ilustrate a point about NASA being relelvant and somehow it turns into a ripfest on Obama. Pretty typical for the JU community. Hopefully we can stear the conversation back towards whether the private sector can do this better at this point in time.

on Feb 11, 2009

Sorry 'bout that, jd.  However, you put NASA's relevance in the context of Obama in your first paragraph.

Not sure there is any organization extant which could outperform NASA if you're talking about returning to the moon.  The private efforts are impressive enough (X-Prize Cup, etc.) but dwarfed by the resources NASA can bring to bear, even in reduced form.

on Feb 11, 2009

For me, it is not so much the resources but the institutional knowledge. The stockpile of human talent they must have there is amazing. The bariers those people hhave borken are almost too inumerable to count. My question is whether they are the best people to break through new barriers...

on Feb 11, 2009

I think the answer has to be, 'Yes.'  For the reason you cite - the institutional knowledge base.

on Feb 11, 2009

Hey it's the only government agency that I use the term "rocket scientists" with respect. But IMO, they are missing a huge opportunity. We have the ISS, but what is it doing for the man on the street? Maybe nothing, maybe a lot. You'd never know because you never hear what is going on. NASA needs to fire/hire some PR agents to justify their work better. I like space and think it's worthwhile to explore, but it is a luxury and times are hard.

on Feb 11, 2009

As I look at that 'next generation' suit, though, I'm puzzled by the apparent fixed integration of the helmet with the backpack - seems like that would be an impediment.  But then, WTFDIK - ain't like I've been a 'naut.

on Feb 12, 2009

I personally just loved the starched flag so it looks like it is streched out on the moon. Good point about the PR Nitro, the only thing I know that came from the space program is Tang, and that was 20 years ago.

on Feb 12, 2009

only thing I know that came from the space program is Tang, and that was 20 years ago

You definitely need to study up, jd.  The things we take for granted that entered our lives thanks to NASA-related  R&D are legion.  Not sure of your age, jd, but it's sad to think the only NASA contribution that has stuck in the public consciousness is Tang.

on Feb 12, 2009

the only thing I know that came from the space program is Tang, and that was 20 years ago

Modern Marvels (History Channel) had a show on space tech that is now commonly used by the public. In one of their facts spots (just before commercials) they said Tang was not developed for space, it was just a marketing tool as the space program was new and it got kids interested. I always thought like you did, before I saw this. There are many things developed and in use, but the space program gets little if any credit.

on Feb 12, 2009

Nitro is correct - NASA used Tang, but it wasn't developed specifically for the manned space program, yet that's stuck.

on Jun 05, 2009

Bill Moyer's had a special, years ago, that was only aired at 2am... it was a show about politics that was too hot for tv.  He talked about NASA, and how the use of liquid fuel in the space shuttle was predicted to burn off something 5% of the ozone layer.  He also said that even Russia had switched to solid fuels.  They know this fact well at NASA.  I believe, if they were not intent on putting so many spy-allites in the sky, that this fact alone would stop the shuttle from flying.

on Jun 05, 2009

I believe, if they were not intent on putting so many spy-allites in the sky, that this fact alone would stop the shuttle from flying.

It's the Air Force that puts most military satellites into orbit. They use the Delta V rocket, a solid fuel launch vehicle. Check your facts or state that it is your opinion. BTW if you use GPS you are benefiting from US military satellites.

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