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Old 07-09-2011, 01:19 PM   #1
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Default NASA's budget, in perspective

Here's a link to S. 3729, which is the senate bill authorizing NASA's annual budget:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-1...111s3729rs.pdf

The grand total for the year 2011 is found on page 10, line 15. It is $19 billion. That covers everything from launching rockets down to paying the groundskeeper to mow the lawn.



Here is an article at PRI's "The World" where, at the bottom, you will find a link to play an interview with retired Brigadier General Steve Anderson, who was General David Petraeus’s chief logistician in Iraq:

http://www.theworld.org/2010/07/mili...-to-the-front/

In it, he describes how the Department of Defense spends approximately $20 billion annually in order to air-condition tents in Iraq and Afghanistan (and argues that if you're going to air-condition a leaky canvas bag in the desert, you should probably insulate it with something.) Most of this money is spent acquiring and transporting fuel to run the generators, a task which has cumulatively resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 US servicemembers, mostly due to the fact that tankers carrying 40,000 gallons of fuel are extremely tempting targets.


So, we spend slightly more money (and kill a heck of a lot more people) each year to air-condition the desert than NASA's entire budget.


Now, I'm not arguing against making life as comfy as practical for all of the nice folks who we send over to sit in a hot sandy place and get hated all day. It just kind of put things into perspective for me.


I happened across another interesting fact. The ESA has estimated the total lifetime cost of the ISS project at appx. €100 billion ($142 billion) for the entire station, shared across all participating nations, over 30 years. That winds up being about $4.73 billion per year. (Remember- once it's built, keeping it running is relatively cheap.)


This:



Costs 4x as much as this:


Last edited by Joe Perez; 07-09-2011 at 02:10 PM. Reason: schpelling
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Old 07-09-2011, 01:29 PM   #2
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So, $20 billion to further knowledge, or the same (and more) to get a large percentage of the world more pissed off at us with no apparent benefit.

Gee, that's a no-brainer. We'll cancel the shuttle to save a few billion!



Joe, that was such a good post that I've reposted it on the political forum I moderate.
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Old 07-09-2011, 01:47 PM   #3
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As a soldier in Afghanistan where its 115 degrees nearly everyday, I'd much rather have my a/c in my tent than NASA if it came down to one or the other.

On the other hand,my time in the Army has taught me one thing more than anything else, the Army is the most financially inefficient organization on the face of the earth, hands down.
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Old 07-09-2011, 02:02 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kplafin View Post
as a soldier in afghanistan where its 115 degrees nearly everyday, i'd much rather have my a/c in my tent than nasa if it came down to one or the other.

On the other hand,my time in the army has taught me one thing more than anything else, the u.s. Government is the most financially inefficient organization on the face of the earth, hands down.
ftfy
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Old 07-09-2011, 02:48 PM   #5
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I like to think that we keep pumping billions into defense is because of all the government contracts, companies and lobbists who keep pressure on the government to keep that stuff going. It's stuff that is supposed to be temporary in war, but we have turned into what we want to be permanant...when it should be temporary. Not that I agree with pumping billions of dollars into a dead-end plan (the Middle East), but it would put a ton of people out of a job if/when we drop the outrageous spending on defense...but as I said before, many of those people should have had the mindset that a lot of such jobs were only temporary.

So many useful developments and inspirations come from the space program, this makes me sad.
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:20 PM   #6
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I think theres an intelligent solution to the cooling of the tents problem, like solar panels to provide energy (if that would work) or subterranean housing when possible.
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:54 PM   #7
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The price of solar panels have to be amortized over their useful life of 30+ years, and the panels should be used for all of that, in order to actually see a monetary break even of costs. If you can find a cheap way to mass produce silicon, you will be known in history as the "father of solar energy". Otherwise, the costs don't justify the product unless you're government and you're trying to "go green" or "spend money to create jobs" which are both completely bullshit arguments.

The intelligent solution to "cooling tents" is to pay for it with host nation money, or else tell the air force to go **** their "standard of living" and deal with not having 67* tents in the middle of the desert.
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Old 07-09-2011, 04:04 PM   #8
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You want to argue about the cooling of our tents over here.... how about focusing on something even worse. For example. The camp I'm on (as well as most others in Afghanistan) is being leased from the Afghan Gov, yes that's right, we're paying them to let us use the land. On top of that,since it's "leased" that's the reason we can't build and permanent structures to reduce costs (i.e insulation to reduce A/C costs.)

As long as Shenequa is getting her 4th free abortion and food stamps while contributing jack **** to the world, I'll feel just fine about using tax dollars to have a 75* tent to sleep in after a 16 hour day in 115* heat.
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Old 07-10-2011, 12:55 AM   #9
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I was afraid this would happen, and I genuinely didn't want this to devolve into an argument about air-conditioning. I know that we have several forum members who are deployed overseas, and this isn't meant as an attack on y'all. (I will say, for the record, that for the first two years I was in college at UF, we still had several dorms with no air conditioning. Granted, I never had to trudge around in 30 lbs of IBA and God knows what else, but when it's 100 degrees and raining, it's still pretty ******* miserable.)

I work in a lab with about a dozen other smart people, mostly electrical engineers. On Friday, there were some discussions to the tune of "good riddance," inasmuch as manned space exploration doesn't seem to have the same zing about it as during the 1960s, when there were more obvious strategic and political consequences, and a lot of fairly useful new tech was coming out of the program.

Of course, I see the side of the equation where the space program still makes science cool to a lot of people, and still serves as an incubator for a hell of a lot of good engineering talent. We (the US) no longer hold the same monopoly we once did on pure research that we once did, either at the commercial or academic levels. But retaining the title of world leader in aerospace technology still meant something, even in this century where austerity and international consensus are the buzzwords of the day. (This is where I expect Jason will tell me that I am wrong, and that if the Chinese can do it cheaper, we should just shut down the program entirely.)


My point was merely to illustrate, for those who would say that "NASA's budget could be put to such better use doing x, y and z", just how trivial a sum of money is truly at play in the grand scheme of things. $19 billion is less than the size of the budget shortfall in California alone that's been making so much news this year, and we haven't even tried to put a cat into orbit.






Oh, and KPLAFIN, I truly had no idea that Afghanistan was charging us rent. That is, without question, just about the most absurd thing I have ever heard. I am literally unable to come up with an intelligent response.

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Old 07-10-2011, 01:28 AM   #10
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It's sad that technology and educational programs are always at the chopping block.

Don't the politicians know we need the death ray to take over the world?
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:34 AM   #11
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Oh, and KPLAFIN, I truly had no idea that Afghanistan was charging us rent. That is, without question, just about the most absurd thing I have ever heard. I am literally unable to come up with an intelligent response.
At least the Germans bought their land from Afghanistan so they can build hard standing permanent structures (i.e. insulated buildings and real toilets/showers.) If it was up to me we would've just moved in, taken the land and said deal with it, but since we have to be all politically correct these days...

I understand that you didn't want it to become on argument of whether or not we needed A/C. I think any intelligent human being will agree that after 16 hour days in 115* heat with 40-50lbs of gear (or even just the fact that we have to wear long sleeve jackets and hats all day when we're not in gear in the same heat) that we deserve to have a cool place to sleep. However, there are far bigger wastes of money over here than the A/C we use. Things that the Army pays absurd amounts of money for (ie $45.00 screws I could pick up at lowes for 0.10-.15 a piece) are much better things to complain about.
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Old 07-10-2011, 11:08 AM   #12
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when all the private companies compete to come up with better innovations for less cost, youll stop crying.
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Old 07-10-2011, 01:22 PM   #13
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Of course, I see the side of the equation where the space program still makes science cool to a lot of people, and still serves as an incubator for a hell of a lot of good engineering talent.
That is what you see. What you don't see, is that the NASA programs compete with private industry for said engineers. While it's good for the engineers and raises their salaries, it raises the cost of engineering talent for private industry, who live or die by fulfilling consumer demand. And, you don't see the innovations that these same engineers would have come up with had they been working directly on problems that private industry faced, such as improving fuel efficiency for Boeing, or aerodynamics for Corvettes.
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Old 07-10-2011, 01:45 PM   #14
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That would be true if there was 100% employment for engineers, and there were jobs unfilled because of lack of engineers.
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Old 07-10-2011, 02:47 PM   #15
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Jason, if I were to say that the earth was round, you would argue that this is only because of restrictive government policies designed to subsidize large corporations whose interests depend on a continued round-earth policy, and that if the free market were allowed to operate unconstrained, the earth would naturally seek out a new topological equilibrium and assume a more efficient flat shape.

I'm pretty sure that the demand (within the US) for mechanical and electrical engineers was greater (relative to supply) during the 1960s, and while it's true that the fuel economy of the Boeing 707 and the '65 Chevy Caprice may have suffered by a few thousandths of a percent as a result, I feel that having access to geostationary comm satellites, cordless drills, integrated-circuit computers, solid-state lasers and velcro was a worthwhile tradeoff.


Why knows? Maybe Burt Rutan and his cadre of geniuses will pick up the reins. At the moment, they seem far more interested in hurling rich tourists onto sub-orbital thrill rides. Good for the shareholders of Northrop Grumman, Inc (full owner of Scaled Composites, LLC), not so much of use to the rest of us.



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Old 07-10-2011, 03:16 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by KPLAFIN View Post
At least the Germans bought their land from Afghanistan so they can build hard standing permanent structures (i.e. insulated buildings and real toilets/showers.) If it was up to me we would've just moved in, taken the land and said deal with it, but since we have to be all politically correct these days...
Alexander the Great would never have stood for this.

I wonder if, in all seriousness, the image of the US and its military would be increased within the Arab community if we just printed up a bunch of signs that said "Hey, not only did we come in here and drive out the ******** who were blowing your **** up and terrorizing you, and then hand the whole place over to Hamid Karzai (who might be a bit of a dick but, at last check, at least wasn't killing your daughters and raping your livestock in the middle of the night), but now we are actually paying you ******* rent in exchange for the privilege of standing out here in the hot-*** sun all day getting shot at. Show a little ******* gratitude."


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Old 07-10-2011, 03:38 PM   #17
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In for Kotomileto tear this text apart
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:35 PM   #18
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:02 PM   #19
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Some cool stuff, that is. It's hopeful to see that they have already achieved LEO with the Falcon 1.


It's kind of funny, actually.

This:



Gives me the mental image of this:

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Old 07-10-2011, 06:28 PM   #20
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I'm struggling to comprehend 20billion dollars worth of fuel just to run A/C generators.

Just doesn't sound right to me. 20 million I might be able to agree with but 20billion? Really?!?
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