Search results for: NASA +budget

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NASA Tells Congress A Lack Of Funding Could Lead To Future Asteroid Apocalypse

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Asteroid

Everywhere you look, there are similarities to be found. For instance, who’d have thought that the problem holding NASA back from identifying and tracking large near-Earth objects (NEOs) in space is the same problem keeping me from opening my line of Beer and Bacon eateries? It all comes down to Congress not footing the bill, really, but at least I don’t have Congress on my back about it.

It’s been a little over a month since the double-billed meteor strike in Russia and the fly-by of the DA14 asteroid, so Congress gathered officials from NASA, the White House, and the Air Force and asked what’s being done to squash future NEO threats. After some agreement that last month’s episodes were purely coincidental, the seriousness of such an imposing disaster guided the rest of the conversation, which could seemingly be summarized as: No money, no progress.

In 2005, Congress gave NASA the explicit directive of NEO classification, with a goal of identifying 90 percent of these Armageddon-bringers, rocks larger than 459 feet across (140 m). But NASA’s chief, Charles Bolden, had few encouraging words for the space rock-headed governing body.

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Americans Overly Optimistic About NASA Putting Humans On Mars

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Mars

There’s a thin line between optimism and flat-out lunacy. Optimism is when you look at a glass half-filled with water and you see it as half-full. Lunacy is when you think that selling the water will make you King of the Galaxy. As we all know, a poll is the quickest way to judge a group of people on their mental and emotional facilities, and while average Americans might not be crazy themselves, their optimism when it comes to NASA certainly is.

An independent market research team at Phillips & Company conducted a survey sponsored by Explore Mars, Inc. and The Boeing Corporation called “Mars Generation”. The survey polled a random sampling of 1,101 people via email, and the results were overwhelmingly clear that people don’t understand how relatively little money NASA has to work with in order to produce the amazing projects and experiments that they’re known for. Considering the whole point of the survey was to measure how much people supported human and robots exploring Mars, I suppose even misinformed positivity is a good sign.

So let’s talk about these results. In the opinion of 71 percent of Americans, Mars will definitely see human contact in the next two decades. Sixty-seven percent agreed the U.S. sending both humans and robots to Mars is a good idea, after they were told there are two working rovers on Mars already.

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NASA May Soon Announce More Manned Missions To The Moon

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NASA had a big win with the Mars Curiosity rover, putting space exploration back in the minds of the general public in a way it hadn’t been in a long time. And while Curiosity continues to send back amazing images and data from the Red Planet, the American space agency may have something even bigger up their sleeve. Experts on NASA are claiming that the organization will soon be announcing further manned missions to the moon.

As reported by Space.com, these missions would be part of a multi-stage plan to further advance the exploration of our solar system. Space policy expert John Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University, told Space.com that these plans have been in the works for a while, and may have already been approved by the Obama administration, but NASA was holding off until after the election to make the official announcement, since they weren’t sure which presidential candidate they’d be working with for the next four years. Logsdon explains: “NASA has been evolving its thinking, and its latest charts have inserted a new element of cislunar/lunar gateway/Earth-moon L2 sort of stuff into the plan.”

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NASA Announces Its Next Mars Probe

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The Mars Science Laboratory has only been on Mars now for two weeks, but even as it tested out its robotic arm for the first time and zapped its first Martian rock, NASA has decided to announce its next big mission to the surface of Mars. Just don’t expect sky cranes or high quality promotion videos for this one. The NASA InSight mission won’t be a rover, it’ll be a stationary robotic probe that will be tasked with telling us more about the red planet’s interior.

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NASA As You Know It Could Cease To Exist

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Over the years, NASA has had a pretty tough go of it for a government agency. With changing budgets, presidents, and public interest, it has been extremely hard to get anything substantial done in an organization that primarily deals in expensive, long-range projects, especially when you have a legacy of accomplishment that keeps you under constant scrutiny. Now two lawmakers are proposing to scrap the whole kit and caboodle and fundamentally change how NASA operates. Its time for Extreme Makeover: NASA edition.

According to the Houston Chronicle, congressmen John Culberson of Houston and Frank Wolf of Virginia are authoring a bill that would take the politics out of NASA. The new bill would create a new management scheme that would make NASA administrator a 10-year appointment and give it a structure not unlike the FBI. The plan also takes the budget out of the hands of the White House, giving NASA more power to use funds at its own discretion. It’s the hope of Culberson and Wolf that this new structure would allow the agency to flourish without having to change its plans every time a new president got elected, and also give NASA the ability to stretch their budget over long-term contracts, which would drive down costs. Astronaut Mike Coats fully supports the idea:

 We could be so much more efficient, and accomplish so much more with the budget we have. If we could plan out what we’re going to have in four or five years, it would be amazing what we could do with our team.

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Promoting Curiosity, NASA’s Big Gamble

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It seems like you can’t go two minutes on the internet these days without hearing about the impending landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. NASA has outdone themselves with a public relations and media machine that has covered this unmanned science mission in more ways and with more frequency than any other robotic mission before it. So with videogames, Star Trek actor-narrated videos, and public interaction with the project every step of the way through its manufacture and launch, you have to ask the question, what happens if the rover crashes?

You’ve heard about the “seven minutes of terror,” you’ve seen the animations, you know just how complicated the landing of the Curiosity rover will be. You also may or may not know that when it comes to landing spacecraft on Mars, Earth has about a 40% success rate at not adding new craters to the red planet’s surface. Sure, we’ve gotten better at designing super-complicated craft and refining our mission strategies over the years, but there is still a large margin for error to consider. You’d think that with the odds so stacked against success, NASA wouldn’t be tooting its horn so much, but then again it may not have much of a choice.