Of NASA and Budgets

Of NASA and Budgets

Fine print: While I receive funding from NASA for some of my work, this blog post written by me as a private citizen. Today was the NASA Town Hall; that 1 or more hour window of time when some official from NASA stands at the podium and tells us how NASA will grow or crush our dreams. The very first NASA town hall meeting I attended was in 2003, at an LPSC meeting very much like the one I’m attending now, but that was a different economic time. It was actually the same week that we started bombing Iraq after 9/11. At that NASA Town Hall a woman whom I don’t remember stood up and outlined how over the next 10 years everything the planetary sciences field asked for in their Decadal Survey planning document was going to be built and flown. It was glorious. For every...

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A Rocket Car Future (for some)

A Rocket Car Future (for some)

Currently I’m attending the Next Generation Sub-Orbital Research (and Education) Conference in Palo Alto, California. I’m staring at all my notes struggling with finding a coherent theme, idea, or even emotion that I can use to tie together my thoughts. I find that I just can’t; this is a conference that simply defies being captured in a straight forward manner. My struggle to find a coherent message comes from half of my brain bouncing up and down shouting “this is so awesome” as it basks in all the goodness that is commercial space, while the other half of my brain says “But this is only for the 1% – and that’s not me…” I’m going to try and explain this mental dichotomy, but I want to say upfront,...

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LPSC: NASA Night

Live blogging will begin here at 5:30pm 5:10pm A presentation will be by Dr Laurie Leshin, Deputy Associate administrator, Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Title : “New Oppurtunities in the President’s FY2011 Budget” 5:12pm Speaker is not dressed in back. While there are people downstairs pre-lecture drinking in the bar, I don’t think it will be too awful. I fear for man (or at least manned space exploration) but I trust in science (or at least Obama’s support of science and science ed) 5:14pm This liveblog is made possible by my Verizon 3G cell card and the power strip under the mixing board (and the help of the friendly person manning the mixing board). 5:19pm They are now micing people up and the room is filling. 5:24pm...

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News from NASA: Jim Green & Andrew Thomas

Quick notes, often copied from PowerPoints. Attempts to write in full paragraphs not made. Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science Division at NASA State of the State of NASA Planetary Science Division (PSD) 18 months ago PSD had these problems: The Reserarch and Analysis budget had been cut 15%. This below life support levels! With this level of cuts, professors began telling students not to go into Planetary Science. Astrobiology had been cut 50%. This got people asking if Astrobiology can survive? NASA is the parent of the astrobiology field and considers astrobiology very valuable. The field has the important mission to determine if there is life in the solar system. Somehow, in one year it’s budget saw $30 disappear! New Frontiers mission...

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Michael Griffin Redux

The last time I reported on Michael Griffin I was at AAS and he was addressing us (the astronomy community) on the future of astronomy missions (space missions focusing on stuff outside of our solar system). Today he will address the planetary science community (and a few stray astronomers like me) on the future of planetary science at NASA. For this group, the Moon Missions – the manned moon missions – are still a path to science (1 of the many Apollo astronauts was a geologist, and most of those who landed collected rocks). It will be interesting to see how this talk varies from the January talk. The room is packed. Literally – scientists are standing shoulder to shoulder three rows deep at the back and lining the room all the way down the...

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Freedom to like who I want to like

I will be the first to admit that I sometimes don’t understand why politicians do what they do, even when they do what is generally considered the right thing. Last night Hilary Clinton made a complaint against Barack Obama that I just can’t understand.  Background: Recently, Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan endorsed Obama.  Obama has said that he didn’t seek this endorsement and has made it clear he doesn’t agree with all of Farrakhan’s beliefs. I’m good with that. This is, in middle-school term’s, akin to what happens when clean-cut cool kid finds out one of the scary smoker chicks has a crush on him and loudly says “Hey, I’m not into her stuff, and I never flirted with her or led her...

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