Clinton Winning The Space Race

by: Chris Bowers

Mon Feb 18, 2008 at 12:45

It may seem petty on the surface, but this actually matters to me:

Clinton was more enthusiastic than Obama about human space travel and domestic oil production when the Democratic presidential candidates conducted separate telephone conferences with the Houston Chronicle editorial board.

Yglesias identifies these two differences as both advantages for Obama. I disagree, as I see this as a split: advantage Obama on the oil issue, but advantage Clinton on the space exploration issue. And yes, which candidate is more bullish on space exploration does in fact make a difference in determining my vote. Further, this is not the first time when Obama has appeared less than bullish on NASA, as I discussed three months ago.

Space exploration is not an issue with clear partisan divisions. Some conservatives view it as a wasteful government expenditure that is better handled through private enterprise, while some progressives view it through a utilitarian lens in that it does not provide much direct benefit to humanity. The problem I have with this is two-fold. First, space exploration does in fact provide a lot of direct benefit to humanity that cannot be accomplished by private enterprise:

But apart from reliable weather forecasts, perfect navigation, cheap worldwide phone services, search and rescue, environmental imaging, forest fire monitoring, arms reduction verification, sixty-channel television, discovering the origin of the Earth and Moon, and vastly increasing our knowledge of the solar system and the rest of the Universe, what has space travel ever done for us?

These are not the more obvious kitchen-table benefits, but they are still very real and make a positive impact on a wide variety of people. Throw in 18,000 high tech jobs, significant national brain gain, the possible prevention of global extinction events, and the possibility of answering massive questions like whether or not we are alone in the universe, and yeah, the space program is truly worthless. Surely, I can think of better ways to spend one eighth of one-percent of our national economy than all of that. Oh wait--I can't.

Second, the space program is about as good an example of stretching and expanding our capabilities as a nation and as a species that one can name. Deciding to not test the limits of our engineering and intellectual potential, and to not explore our surroundings because we have more important things to do, strikes me as a profoundly dangerous path to follow. That is the path of stagnation, and even regression, as a people. Further, it is a terribly utilitarian approach to life, concluding that only bread matters, and that roses are worthless. Personally, I don't want to live that way, and I don't think many other people want to live that way, either. Everyone, no matter their financial situation, has aspects of their life that expand beyond mere bread and into roses: art, religion, family, travel, and scholarship are only a few examples of this. To think that we shouldn't have government funded roses in our lives is to posit a far more dreary nation than the one in which I want to live.

It makes me very proud that America leads the way in space exploration. There are so few positive areas where I feel like we are leading the way for humanity these days, that I am glad we still pushing the envelope in this area. If we make cuts, or even abandon, the space program, we do real damage to one of the very best things about our nation. While our arts and our religion do not need government funding to flourish, and can even be damaged by government funding, a project as massive as the space program simply cannot be viable at its current levels without significant government support. As such, when candidates are vying to run the government, their views on the space program definitely make a difference to me. While I hope that whoever becomes the next President will be bullish on space exploration, that Clinton appears more bullish than Obama is a real point in her column as far as I am concerned.

Chris Bowers :: Clinton Winning The Space Race

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Excellent progressive pushback (0.00 / 0)
Republicans have been trying since Reagan to close the window of possibilities with their massive budget deficits.  

Pushing the envelope (0.00 / 0)
> It makes me very proud that America leads the way
> in space exploration. There are so few positive areas
> where I feel like we are leading the way for humanity
>  these days, that I am glad we still pushing the envelope
>  in this area.

As a child of the late 1960s it saddens me greatly to say this, but I think if you take a clear look at the record from 1985 - 2005 you will find that it was the Russians (Soviets) who were pushing the envelope in terms of manned space exploration, both in figuring out how infrastructure could be made to work in orbit and doing real bulk hands-on research.


We were passed by the Soviets / Russians (0.00 / 0)
But these days, when one looks at the entire scope of a space program, we are well ahead. From telescopes to exploring the solar system to developing new manned spaced vehicles, I think we have the clear edge. Of course, it didn't help the Russians that their economy collapsed.

We were not always ahead, but we are ahead now. And that's good.  

[ Parent ]
Ever worked with any Russian scientists? (0.00 / 0)
I have. Nearly every one of them was brilliant, a definite cut above an average American or European scientist.  

[ Parent ]
He's talking (0.00 / 0)
Achievements, though.

[ Parent ]
Strong in Math (0.00 / 0)
I studied with a Russian at the university. Bit tempormental (not a generalization) but he had been in an impressive math program. They are very tallented, the same as the Chinese.

[ Parent ]
The thing (0.00 / 0)
that is most obvious is the very strong grounding in theory.
One of the scientists I'm referring to made a sort of joke to the effect that, without a lot of infrastructure to support experiments, there was plenty of time to become very good at theoretical aspects of research. In the US, the labs are so well supported that we could do many experiments without spending too much time designing them, simply because if something doesn't work, you can easily try something else. These people were very good at mulling things over before committing any resources. Both approaches have their advantages, often it's easy to settle a dispute by doing a few quick experiments.

[ Parent ]
huh? (0.00 / 0)
that strikes me as pretty lame stereotyping.  

[ Parent ]
As I was saying (0.00 / 0)
having worked with Russian, American, European (primarily German, English and French) scientists, the Russians are quite impressive. This is not stereotyping, though it is a relatively small sample size (compared to the total), yet it is what I have observed. What have you observed. Anything?

[ Parent ]
It's The Economy Stupid (0.00 / 0)
Of course, it didn't help the Russians that their economy collapsed.

Well we may not be too far behind if mainstream America can't get off the couch and get involved in the political process.

[ Parent ]
Too many couch potatos (0.00 / 0)
is exactly right. Apparently the Russian implementation of socialism didn't work very well. My friends (Russian scientists) have told me that communism was a disaster, and they tend to think of American leftists (like me) as spoiled and naive. They seem to like pretty hard core capitalism, though it isn't something we've discussed much. Too busy with research.

[ Parent ]
Space as an expression of optimism (0.00 / 0)
It is kind of disappointing Obama isn't more into space exploration, as it always has been an expression of optimism in the future (unless you think we need somewhere to put all the "surplus" peope).

I think in view of Obama's apparently greater interest in and appreciation of global climate collapse as an issue that he sees this as something that will have to wait until we are sure humanity does have a future here on Earth.  In that I can't blame him, but it is a measure of how les promising the world seems today than 48 years ago, when Kennedy set out the goal of putting a man on the moon and getting him back within 10 years.  

I do hope we can make room for space exploration, though.

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[ Parent ]
We can learn a lot from the Russians (0.00 / 0)
when it comes to science and science education, as well. There's no real need to view them as competitors so much, either. At least not anymore. You should check out Akademgorodok.

[ Parent ]
space travel vs *human* space travel (4.00 / 3)

I support space exploration and funding for lots of science in space but human space travel is vastly more expensive than non-manned travel, not to mention dangerous, and I don't think the case has been made that it is worth it. Bush's push to put humans on Mars w/o increasing overall funding to NASA has decimated funding for all other NASA efforts. At this point, I'd call that a point for Obama over Clinton.  

It is not in any way clear (0.00 / 0)
That Obama is pushing non-manned space exploration harder than Clinton. If anything, the opposite seems to be the case.

I hear what you are saying, and I know that this article mainly discussed manned exploration, but this is not the only time these differences have come up. From what I can tell, Obama's posture toward the entire space program has either been arguing it should be scaled back, or that it should remain stagnant.  

[ Parent ]
You must have sources beyond what was linked here (4.00 / 1)
Tracing back the links, the original Houston Chronicle article says this with regard to space:
"I intend to pursue an ambitious agenda in both space exploration and earth sciences," Clinton said. "I want to support the next generation of spacecraft for a robust human spaceflight program."

Obama agreed that NASA, which employs thousands of Houston-area voters who work at or with the Johnson Space Center, should be a tool for inspiring the nation.

But, he said, the next president needs to have "a practical sense of what investments deliver the most scientific and technological spinoffs - and not just assume that human space exploration, actually sending bodies into space, is always the best investment."

Need more evidence.

Your overall point about the role of government is a good one.

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[ Parent ]
Re: You must have sources beyond what was linked here (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for tracking it back, demondeac. Although the information in those paragraphs is admitedly very superficial, it does capture the essence of the issue.  

[ Parent ]
At What Cost? (0.00 / 0)
Chris, I think it's unfair to say that investment in space exploration has produced X, Y, and Z and that they provide an obvious counterargument to people who criticize the space program.

Today, I read Ryan Avent's blog The Bellows and he has a post about the interstate highway system under Eisenhower and he makes a great point:

"The Economist has some nice stories up on infrastructure development in China. First, a piece asking whether China is seeking to emulate the great Eisenhower interstate highway plan. Unfortunately, the story commits the error of arguing that highway development was great for productivity and economic growth. If you assume the alternative was doing nothing about infrastructure, then sure. If you assume the alternative was spending $425 billion in 2006 dollars-and yes that's exactly what the interstate system cost-on rail, subways and streetcars, ports and ships, and so on, well, it's not at all clear that highways qua highways are so fantastic for the economy. And even had such alternative investments not generated quite the immediate boost that highways did, they would have saved us billions down the road."


Money not spent on NASA doesn't just disappear.  It can be spent on other things.  Now, obviously, there are a lot of programs, from abstinence only education to the War in Iraq to drilling in ANWR to adding Dubya's face to Mount Rushmore, that I don't want to see money flowing into.  What's the opportunity cost of space exploration?  What programs could we alternatively spend money on?

[ Parent ]
Re: space travel vs *human* space travel (0.00 / 0)
Also all the benefits yielded from space travel that were mentioned are one could have been achieved just as easily by an unmanned space program.  I'm in favor of funding robotic missions to explore our solar system, funding improvements to our satellite infrastructure, funding better scientific instruments in space (e.g. Hubble).  I'm also in favor of funding R&D for cheaper and safer ways to get into space (although the private sector seems to making a lot the progress in that area currently) and improved propulsion systems.  But it's unclear that programs like the international space station or work on a mission to Mars will the have the same yield of benefits to humanity that the space program of the past has had.

[ Parent ]
I couldn't agree more (0.00 / 0)
A push for more manned space travel doesn't necessarily play well with the scientific audience.  For the last decade (at least), the NASA budget has been a more-or-less zero sum game or worse, with shifts of funding to manned space flight balanced by cuts in basic space and aeronautic science.

Despite billions of dollars shoveled to the Space Shuttle & ISS, there's only a moderate scientific return to show for it.   Mind you, I'm not dismissive of the research carried out on the ISS & shuttle trips, but they sure cost a lot -- and that translates into a huge opportunity cost.  IMO, noises about grand manned space initiatives have very little to do with advancing science, and much about creating a full employment act for the aerospace industry.

Meanwhile, basic space-based atmospheric research, aerospace research, and planetary and astronomical research missions have gone begging.  It's not a bad time to rethink priorities.  Manned space dollars are needed, primarily to rebuild an antiquated launch system (the shuttle), but my antennae start twitching when I hear grand plans for manned space travel.  I can almost hear the whisper of the budgetary axe for research.

[ Parent ]
I support the space program (4.00 / 1)
but it's pretty much small potatoes for me as a voter, and has been tainted somewhat in the political arena when Bush latched onto Mars a few years back in some kind of misguided attempt to "reach for the stars!"/ project optimism while he stuck us in the Iraq quagmire.

In other words, the cynic in me sees HRC's campaign going for the same rhetorical equation as Bush (space program=reach for the stars!="hope"), and it turns me off.

True. (0.00 / 0)

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[ Parent ]
Are you kidding? (4.00 / 2)
It makes me very proud that America leads the way in space exploration. There are so few positive areas where I feel like we are leading the way for humanity these days...

Are you kidding?

We are leading the way in turning space into the new battleground. Almost all the 'space' money is going into military uses - with an army of lobbyists working Capitol hill.

Hillary understands this. Obama understands this.

Score: Obama

Huh (0.00 / 0)
This issue fails miserably on the "bigger fish to fry" scale.

Don't get me wrong, I think space exploration is vital, but as a campaign issue it doesn't even register.

NASA and the space program (4.00 / 1)
is just a big barrel of pork.

Apparently there is a lot of (0.00 / 0)
waste, fraud, and abuse. Like in the pharmaceutical industry, the military industrial complex...etc.  

[ Parent ]
I see what you mean (0.00 / 0)
I forgot about the whole "Let's weaponize space" deal. That'll become one of the largest assloads of pork we've ever seen. Give it time and more Republican presidents.

[ Parent ]
Not so sure (0.00 / 0)

This post partly reflects my ideological predilections (it's written by a former Marxist who is now of a left libertarian bent) but I think it does make a good point that NASA and the Apollo programme which is perceived as being its heyday was a primarily military and generally one-track programme which probably helped to retard development in other areas of space exploration.

I don't care a bit about manned space flight unless we're at the stage when we can plausibly make self-sufficient orbital habitats or colony ships, but I would like to see funding in this area.

The trouble is that whereas elsewhere government investment is about removing the profit motive and making something that's good for all of society, in the arena of space it's normally about military advantage. Government funding of private efforts which can show themselves to be profitable in the long term (when they can pay the money back) would appear to be a better bet, as it means that research can proceed on more fronts than would otherwise be possible.

So advantage neither until it's clear they reject the notion of space as a battlefield.

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To be fair (0.00 / 0)
We're never going to develop the technology to create large space structures unless we are willing to invest in the design and construction of smaller, less impressive structures.

It's kind of like the paradox Arthur C. Clark described. Imagine sending a spaceship to the nearest star. It would take a long, long time to get there. Before the spaceship is nearly there, it is overtaken by another, faster spaceship. And this spaceship is overtaken by another and so on. So why don't we simply wait until we have the technology to develop the fastest ship? Because the technology for the subsequent generations of space vessels comes from the lessons and experience learned developing the initial ones. If we never send that first ship, we won't send any at all.

It's the same way with the space program now. If we hope to have more advanced technology in these areas in the future, we have to invest in them now.

While it is true that the space program in the Cold War Era was more closely related to military development than now, the Apollo missions did not function in any military capacity (unless you count propaganda, perhaps), and contributed vastly to our scientific knowledge base. Without Apollo, we would not have samples from the Lunar surface, which have been invaluable in determining the history and origin of the Earth-Moon System. Mirrors left on the Lunar surface are still being utilized to measure the recession rate of the Moon, and many samples from Apollo remain completely unstudied, preserved for future investigation.  

[ Parent ]
Obama doesn't want to increase funding for manned exploration (0.00 / 0)
And it's hard to fault him on that.  

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If I meet him again, I'll bug him about it, though (4.00 / 1)
$32B a year on a drug policy we KNOW doesn't work (interdiction+new prisons) and only $16B on space exploration we know does work?  It's frustrating as shit, but I can still understand why it happens (and we need to work harder to change it!).

[ Parent ]
Drug policy DOES work (0.00 / 0)
It lines the pockets of all those involved in the maintenance and construction of prisons and it reduces confidence in the ability of government to protect and serve its citizens, helping politicians running on "government doesn't work" win more elections. It's a win-win except for those silly plebeians who call themselves the "general public".

[ Parent ]
This is true, in that sense (0.00 / 0)
it does work. It is a totally dishonest policy, though.

[ Parent ]
No, its not (0.00 / 0)
manned spaceflight is IMHO, one of the biggest ways to deal with the problems we are facing.  Manned spaceflight can help create clean energy, and new jobs.  

But only if we invest in it.  If we don't, we are screwed

[ Parent ]
I agree that space exploration is important (4.00 / 1)
But I sort of doubt that the reported difference in statements represents any real difference in conviction about this issue: given that she was talking to a Houston paper, Clinton's relatively pro-space and pro-oil stances are probably best explained by a greater propensity to pander.

I am a huge proponent of manned space travel (0.00 / 0)
But it has sadly been considered too risky ever since the Columbia disaster.  I want to see us go to Mars in my lifetime, and in fact I believe we should have made a serious effort to be there during the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

The problem is it's politically unviable.  There are too many other problems that are far more pressing.  Who can deny that we should be giving kids a better education first (so they don't confuse metric and English units and send us into the side of a planet) or providing better healthcare for all of our citizens.

I think we've got to consider priorities here.  Space should be one of them (and I'll be the first to argue against ending manned exploration), but when considered in the grand scheme of things, I can also see why it doesn't get as much money as I'd prefer.

Part of the problem is how (0.00 / 0)
its been run.  A large part of the manned program has been turned into pork.  

Manned flight under Nasa needs reform.  Nas MUST embrace newspace, and off-planet resources, and settlement.

Without those 3 tenents, we will go nowhere.

[ Parent ]
global extinction events (0.00 / 0)
Phew!  I'm not the only one losing sleep over Impact Events?

Climate change, nuclear catastrophe, large asteroids hitting Earth.  These kinds of things are a lot more important than specific policy disagreements.

So when you're exit interviewed... (0.00 / 0)
And they ask you "What was the most important issue to you?" you're going to answer... Space?

I actually agree with you that we should have a well-funded space program, and that we're entitled to "roses" as well as "bread", but at some point, isn't it more important to make sure everyone has their "bread", or at least equal opportunity to get such "bread"?

The fact is, there are things that are simply more important than the "Space" question right now.  I would really hope that Obama wouldn't just scrap the space program entirely, but it seems unlikely that any president would.

No no no (0.00 / 0)
He said it was important to him. That doesn't mean it's the NUMERO UNO issue. Read the article again if that doesn't make sense.

[ Parent ]
Yes, I understood that... (0.00 / 0)
I was just taking the example to the extreme, since it counted as a "point" for Clinton.

In a sense, it could still mean that... Say he has a list of pros and cons for each of the candidates to help him make up his mind, and then when everything is balanced out, "+1 for Space" ends up in Hillary's column being the point that tips the scale.  So, in a sense, if he voted for Clinton and then were exit polled on it, Space would essentially be the deciding factor, no? =)

[ Parent ]
Again no... (0.00 / 0)
But really, it's not at all necessary to think space is the number one issue for Chris from what he said or by your logic, where through an online tally in his mind he decides to vote Clinton because she's the "lesser of two evils" or "greater of two goods" or whatever. That doesn't mean space was the one issue that put her over the top.

What if he agreed with Clinton on healthcare and cared more about that, but still thought space was important? He might give 10 points for healthcare and 1 point for space. And then, how will we know which issue was the DECIDING issue?

Other than that,

:) no worries

[ Parent ]
Another look at space exploration / social change/ war profitering (0.00 / 0)
I too have a great burning desire to know more of what is out there. Because we are not alone. At this point in time, I think smart leadership would begin to put money into the space program and begin to entise the military industrial complex and other nations away from war and into space exploration. To the profiters it is just money they want, then they would be entised to follow.

As a sociatal risk I would rather be rivoted to the TV, radio or the web over the concern that we have Mars explorers at risk rather than having propaganda provided in the mainstream media hiding the human travesty of death in war.

Space exploration has always brought people and countries together. War will always divide.

Pro-Space Liberals (0.00 / 0)
You go, Chris!

This certainly won't get me to switch to Clinton or anything, but I agree on the importance of space travel, both manned and the more scientifically useful unmanned.

China, Japan and the EU will push us on this front, and the private sector is beginning to really get involved, so I'm not too worried.

arts funding (0.00 / 0)
egad!  in the middle of a wonderful post, you throw out this stray bomb:  " While our arts and our religion do not need government funding to flourish, and can even be damaged by government funding..."

I'd love to see you defend the wholesale abandonment of our arts funding, especially after this argument in favor of space travel.  So long NPR, PBS, NEA grants, and when artists ask how they're supposed to manage the risk of ambitious projects with low commercial potential, say, "Let them eat roses."  

This reminds me of some of Obama's rhetoric that you strongly criticized before Edwards dropped out-- throwing in a right-wing talking point (and thereby legitimizing it) as if to allay an insecurity that you're some kind of nutty liberal, while you make a perfectly reasonable progressive argument.

Along those lines Chris (0.00 / 0)
is we are seeing the rise of a new industry, in the form of NewSpace - companies like Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Scaled Composites, XCOR, and Armadillo Aerospace, are opening the way for everyone to have direct access to space.  And with that, we'll see some incredible things.

What Obama's Space Policy Could Be... (0.00 / 0)

This is a particularly timely issue you raise, Chris, as human spaceflight is a major employer in both Texas and Ohio (with NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland).

Another recent related development has been a US plan announced last week to test a space anti-satellite weapon within this month, which portends a new arms race (in space) against China.  This is causing great concern in some of the civilian space community, and Obama, unlike Clinton I believe, is on the record as opposing space weapons.

Obama could now restate that he supports civilian human spaceflight (and the jobs therein) in partnership with other nations as a path to maintaining peace in space, and reinforce that he opposes the path of competing with other nations to assert military power in space.

In addition, he could call for NASA and its workforce to be a critical part of the growing science and engineering workforce that we willl need to mitigate climate change, and to inspire a new generation of technical education and innovation.

Andrew Hoppin 

We can afford space in such a wealthy country (0.00 / 0)
But I agree that most flights and experiments can achieve the same end cheaper and with less risk.

I don't see the problem with Obama's position because he doesn't come close to suggesting we stop space exploration.

Maybe I'm missing something but how is getting more bang for your buck a bad thing?

Because your not (0.00 / 0)
thats the point.  There is some discussion about whether you do get better science from a person, or a robot, but, for the moment, I'll leave it to the side, and say we don't.  But manned spaceflights main purpose isn't about science - thats the real point - people think the only reason we go into space is because of science, but there is a lot more to space than just whether or not there is water on mars, or the latest pictures from Hubble.  Space is full of resources, that we can use to help society.  Expanding the economic sphere that we can pull from and develop, to include all of the solar system, requires a manned presence.  Manned spaceflights purpose is about space development, and space settlement.

Condemning manned spaceflight because it doesn't produce as good science as unmanned spaceflight is like condemning a school lunch program because it doesn't provide college tuition - its not suppose to.

[ Parent ]
Wait, it's the *Houston Chronicle* they're talking to? (0.00 / 0)
Without actually reading what the candidates said specifically, the cynic in me noticed "Domestic oil production" + "manned space flight" + "Houston Chronicle" = PANDERBEAR!  

Ignoring all questions of motive, authenticity, honesty etc for a moment, it's clear that one candidate told the Chronicle what it wanted to hear on both counts, and one did not.  I do not have the standing to say that either candidate was being genuine or disingenuous, and I don't know their past records, and etc, but it does happen to be true that one candidate gave that Ed board the "right" answers, and one didn't.

And in case anyone is missing the background here, Houston is home to the American oil industry and to NASA, and the Ed board is extremely well aware of that.

Manned vs Robotic Space Travel (0.00 / 0)
Space scientist, myself included, are almost universally against manned space travel. The technology just isn't there for humans to go to Mars at less than 100 times the cost of robotic craft and the human loss of life is unacceptable to most. We can actually do much more for much less cost with unmanned spacecraft and also promote robotics which will be the technology of this century as everyone knows. The actual NASA budged for space science has decreased every years since 1969. The space shuttle was originally sold to congress to product $200/lb payloads. In fact, it never produced payloads less than $2,000/lb and is now considerably more. The space station is a >100 billion scientific joke. Most people don't realize that Russian unmanned spacecraft brought back about 10-20 lbs of moon rocks at a small fraction of the cost of Apollo. The results of Viking and Mariner were spectacular at very small cost. NASA promotes manned flight because of their ties to the armed forces and because they feel it is a better sell. It has nothing to do with science.

Your right, manned spaceflight isn't about science (0.00 / 0)
but science isn't/shouldn't be the only reason we do things in space.  Manned spaceflight is about space development, and space settlement.  To condemn it because it isn't producing a lot of science is like condemning a school lunch program because its not providing college tuition - thats not its purpose.

We can go to space much cheaper, and safer, than Nasa currently practices - its just a question of whether we choose to, or not.  Whether we choose to invest in NewSpace, or not.

[ Parent ]
Stick with the Stick - Vote HRC (or McCain) (4.00 / 1)
If we stick with the current plans for replacing the Shuttle with Ares 1 & Ares V NASA will need MORE money than Bush has currently proposed for NASA. If we desire to return to the Moon, NASA will need more money than Bush is currently proposing for NASA.

Are Clinton and/or McCain proposing to increase NASA's budget from ~$17.5 billion to say $20 billion per year? If not then to reduce NASA budget, cancel Ares 1 & Ares V, and purchase less expensive alternatives for reaching ISS is what makes sense. Such as a smaller cheaper Atlas V crew taxi or a Falcon 9 crew taxi via Elon Musk and SpaceX.

Me? I favor NASA getting a full ONE PERCENT of the federal budget compared with about six-tenths of a percent as proposed by Bush. But, to set the budget a few billion too short to actually return to the Moon is the worst option of all.

Set NASA's budget at $24 billion or so and get back to the Moon and on to Mars.

But, if that is not feasible and President Obama cancels ESAS (Ares 1 & Ares V) that would open the door for Congress to purchase much cheaper alternatives for ISS access.

Ares 1 is also known as "The Stick" or "The Shaft" as Jon Goff calls it. Using Ares 1 to ferry crew/cargo to ISS would be like buying a Cadillac Escalade to commute between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Only buy that Escalade if we are willing to pay the extra money needed to go to the Moon.

Thus, here is a campaign slogan:

Stick with the Stick -- vote Clinton! (or McCain)


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