The problem, the committee says, is one of funding. WTF, that's not new; it's always been a money problem. But the annual budget for welfare and social security, in recent years, amounts to the government spending $3,000,000 per minute. NASA's budget? $32,000 per minute, and it has remained around that level for more than twenty years. I'm not kidding; in the 1980s NASA got around $14 billion per year. This year it got around $18 billion.
The exploration of space--even in the half-assed way NASA manages--does not even register in Congress. NASA gets funding more out of habit than anything else, and if it were eliminated entirely its budget would fund all of two days' worth of government operations. (45 hours, to be exact.)
It's an old, old reflex for me to be be angered by Democrats cutting NASA's budget. The federal budget of this country is big enough to fund NASA properly; take just a tiny slice out of the really huge line items and give those slices to NASA: it would represent no net change in the operations of the big line items and a huge net change in what NASA could do.
Considering that the federal budget contains about $1,800 billion in welfare and social security, would that aggregate really miss--say--$12 billion? (Making the aggregate $1,778? I mean, really?)
The report tells us that "NASA doesn't have the money" and the arguments against increasing funding for NASA always contain, "Well, the federal government just doesn't have enough money to fund this stuff."
Our deficit for 2009 is freaking $1,850 billion. Don't try to tell me that you don't like to spend money the federal government doesn't have. If you gave a whisker off a rat's ass for balancing the federal budget we wouldn't be running the presses as if we were making Christmas wrapping paper.
The good part of this nonsense is the suggestion that NASA rely on commercial launches; there is only one problem with that: there are no heavy-lift commercial boosters in the United States. Ariane is good up to a point; and the Russians are willing to sell heavy-lift launches--but these are not commercial enterprises.
NASA being expected to buy launches elsewhere will mean the development of that capability.
I guess that'll have to do.
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Meanwhile the Air Force has been working on a reusable space plane which apparently is an unmanned platform.
The article is mostly speculation and there isn't much useful information there, but it's an interesting glimpse.
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Remember that fossil which "conclusively proved the non-existence of God"? Well, it turns out that the thing isn't related to humans at all.
If I could think of a pithy, scathing, and devastating way to do it, I think I'd go post a bunch of snark on /b/ about "Where is your evolution now?"
Recall from the Fungus post I linked to above:
Because (they say) this is the first demonstrated "missing link" fossil, actually showing evolution taking place--and some are skeptical of this, as several other fossils have been touted as being "missing links" immediately following their discovery, and which were subsequently found not to be so--evolution is now proven. And therefore creation is disproven, which means God doesn't exist. QED.I added emphasis--just here, I mean.