Mars Exploration Budget Being Chopped

Two years ago President Obama said his ultimate goal was to land astronauts on Mars. But how likely is that to happen if the stepping stones are being cancelled?

Scientists say NASA is about to propose major cuts in its exploration of other planets, especially Mars. And NASA’s former science chief is calling it irrational….

Two scientists who were briefed on the 2013 NASA budget that will be released next week said the space agency is eliminating two proposed joint missions with Europeans to explore Mars in 2016 and 2018.

NASA’s budget is being squeezed, in part, by the expense of finishing the James Webb Space Telescope, the more powerful successor to the Hubble Telescope which is now expected to cost around $8 billion instead of the originally estimated $3.5 billion.

[Thanks to Taral Wayne for the story.]

3 thoughts on “Mars Exploration Budget Being Chopped

  1. If $300,000,000 really is Canada’s bar tab for six weeks — as one one comment posted to the CBC website suggested — here’s a thought that I uploaded…

    Why doesn’t Canada adopt a NASA project? We do have space program, and good for us. But for a country of our size and general prosperity, it’s not very ambitious. We trained a few astronauts to hitchhike into space with somone else, designed a tik-tok toy to go along with one of the Mars rovers to measure snow fall, and built an elaborate version of that thing grocers used to have that got cereal boxes down from the top shelf — all very nice, but we *could* do more.

    Why not stop giving aid to India, which is sending it’s own spacecraft to the moon. They should have more pride than to be taking our charity anyway. There are other developing nations as well that are getting one form of aid or another from Canada that have no real need for our generosity and are, in fact, slowly decimating *our* industries with cheap exports.

    I’m not saying Canada should stop giving charity to places that really need it. Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, really is an armpit, and without support from the rest of the Planet would likely collapse entirely. By all means we should send them seeds, mosquito nets and condoms, as well as the odd few million dollars or so.

    But millions of dollars to China, when we already owe them a hundred times as much for imported dollar-store crap? It’s absurd.

    I’m sure that by reviewing our overseas aid programs we would find many that can be ended. We would raise more than enough this way to take over an entire Mars program from the Americans. We could employ the same people from NASA for the most part. Use the same facilities in the short term. It would be nice to import some of the infrastructure and expertise back into Canada, but it doesn’t have to be all at once. The main thing would be to turn over more rocks on Mars. Otherwise we simply go on encouraging the population growth of nations that are already far in excess of what they can support.

    Or, if that sounds too selfish, we can always say that our motives are pure science… which will sometime benefit all mankind. I’m all in favour of better PR.

  2. I like Taral’s idea! — adopt a spacecraft.
    The Webb is more likely to run $9 billion. But NASA won’t cut the teams planning a big booster it hasn’t even decided on yet, and one they don’t need. Sigh…

  3. What’s with that Webb telescope? I know an IR camera in orbit is a good idea, but why is it costing several times the original estimate, and so much more than Hubble? I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t the Webb that NASA should be thinking of cutting… or at least scaling back a little.

    Another option is let the ESA and Russians have the ISS. It’s useless anyway — it does no research is done on Earth sciences that orbital instruments can’t do better, does no deep space science worth mentioning, and surely we know enough about humans in zero gravity to recognize that’s its deeply undesirable to go far without a rotating spaceship of some sort. Do we need to go on measuring how fast bones turn into noodles over ever longer periods? The only imaginable use for a space station is a switchover point for low Earth orbit vehicles and re-usable deepspace vehicles… and we don’t have any of the later.

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