OK, my rant about the Russian announcement they won’t send US astronauts to the ISS in a few years.

This is a blessing in disguise. Mr. Rogozin should do us a favor and shut off access to ISS right now. ISS and the Space Shuttle sucked the life out of NASA’s scientific space exploration budget. $50 billion to keep people in low earth orbit, where most of the science and physiology is already known, or can be found with satellites, or was learned by the Russians decades ago. Instead we have bullshit like growing tomatoes in space, music videos from space, experiments designed by cute school kids, diplomatic stroking of allies who don’t have their own space program. This for $50 billion.

Look at NASA’s $17 billion annual budget in detail and weep. They have all but stopped future planetary probes, shutting down a pipeline of infrastructure and human expertise that will be lost if these guys leave JPL. All because the money is eaten up by an unfocused manned space program with no vision or commitment. We don’t even have manned spaceflight capability now, thanks to total bungling and poor long-term planning. And yet the manned program still consumes a big slice of NASA’s budget. And we have billions sucked up maintaining giant techno-burocratic empires left over from the Apollo era (Marshall Space Flight Center, Goddard, etc.). Billions sucked up by administrative overhead.

Look at how much people enjoy the Mars rover, the images, the science learned. We should be doing more of that, landing on Europa, rovers on Titan, seismometers on Venus. Instead, we will lose that capability if we cut back on the activity of places like the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The people who know how to build those complex spacecraft systems will leave and nobody will take their places.

Advertisements