Friday, November 04, 2005

NASA Short $6 Billion

The goal of putting man back on the moon is facing a budget shortfall of $6 billion over the next 5-years as NASA scrambles to get the dwindling shuttle fleet flying, finish the International Space Station, and develop the spacecraft that will ultimately make the lunar voyage. (Houston Chronicle: House panel says NASA $6 billion short of moon shot).

The real problem is not one of financing, it is one of misguided priorities. The shuttle program is on life support, but there is no valid reason to resuscitate it. The program is scheduled for retirement already and it simply does not make financial sense to continue pumping hard fought budget dollars into a program without a future. Pull the plug on it now and allocate the shuttle program funds towards the moon mission.

The International Space Station is a more challenging dilemma. The concept of a space station is a sound one, however the ISS in low-earth orbit doesn't truly fit the bill. The original space station designs were constantly scaled back due to budget cuts and what we have left is a mere shadow of the original goal. The benefits of the ISS as it exists today are questionable. Given a challenging budget and an aggressive lunar colony goal before us, I would question the viability of maintaining the ISS.

NASA needs to readdress its priorities. It also needs to set a narrow focus that does not spread funding in so many diverse directions. If the goal is to establish a lunar colony - and I believe that goal is a national security requirement as I've posted previously - then that should be the focus of NASA's priorities and NASA's budget. It makes no sense to keep spreading the budget so thin, putting all projects at risk.

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1 comment :

Andrew said...

Kannafoot,

I think your analysis of NASA's priorities is right on the money, so to speak.

However, I hate the thought that the government is cutting anything from potentially valid research at the same time that it's spending $3 billon on analog-to-digitial TV converter boxes.