Space Exploration News and Commentary


For several years now, I've been saying it's time to scrap NASA.  That is still true, I believe, but until that happens, NASA keeps spending money on pointless and futile projects that deserve the taxpayers' attention.

This page is all about the latest news on the subject of space exploration and the enormous price tags that come with those projects.  The obsolescense and pointlessness of NASA's manned space flight program is covered on this page, but NASA's other make-work projects are highlighted below.  In addition, there are links to other articles with derogatory commentary about NASA's pointless goals and colossal cost.

These space exploration projects have very few tangible end products — certainly nothing that benefits the average taxpayer.  The exploration of other planets (or any other space flight) is not authorized by the Constitution and is not the proper role of government.  The exception would be military projects in support of our national defense, but the Pentagon has its own aerospace facilities.

Yes, I know NASA's projects are the highest of high tech.  I'm not saying space flight research isn't cool, but spending taxpayers' money on it is illegal.  The Constitution defines the limits of our government, and NASA operates outside those limits.  The work being done by NASA should (according to the 10th Amendment) be conducted by private industries, and of course no private company could afford to spend billions of dollars per year on pointless experiments in zero-g.

As the shuttle Atlantis landed in Florida recently I noticed that NASA called the flight a "mission to expand the global village of space." [1] [2] [3]   NASA seems to have two ultimate goals:  finding life on another planet, and building a global village in space, for the purpose of advancing a unified world government.  It is difficult to imagine a greater waste of taxpayers' money.

Look at the numbers:  NASA's Budget Appropriations for 2007 and Projections for 2008 to 2012.

Incidentally, the section about NASA's mission to appease the Muslims has been moved to this page.




NASA's Worst Plan Yet.  In the early months of the Trump administration, some lunar advocates spread the rumor that the new president would seek a return to the Moon within his first four years, thereby dramatically making America great again in space.  That is not the plan.  Nor is the plan to send humans to Mars within eight years, something that I think we could achieve.  Nor is it to send human missions to explore near-Earth asteroids, as then President Obama suggested in 2010, nor is it even to send humans to a piece of an asteroid brought back from deep space to lunar orbit for study, as called for in the ARM. No, instead NASA is proposing to build a space station in lunar orbit.  This proposal is notable for requiring a large budget to create an object with no utility whatsoever.

Unmanned U.S. Air Force Space Plane Lands After Secret, Two-Year Mission.  The U.S. military's experimental X-37B space plane landed on Sunday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing a classified mission that lasted nearly two years, the Air Force said.  The unmanned X-37B, which resembles a miniature space shuttle, touched down at 7:47 a.m.  EDT on a runway formerly used for landings of the now-mothballed space shuttles, the Air Force said in an email.

Mysterious military spacecraft lands in Florida causing sonic boom.  The Air Force posted tweets that the X37B spacecraft landed Sunday morning [5/7/2017] at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral after 718 days in orbit.

Widow can sue over NASA's sting operation on her.  A 75-year-old widow in tough financial straits reached out to NASA about selling a speck of moon rock her late husband had given her.  Joann Davis then became the target of a sting operation at a Denny's that a federal appeals court suggested Thursday was outrageous overkill.  The lead agent "organized a sting operation involving six armed officers to forcibly seize a Lucite paperweight containing a moon rock the size of a rice grain from an elderly grandmother," wrote Judge Sidney Thomas of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in the decision allowing Davis to sue, per the Los Angeles Times. [...] Agents also forcibly restrained her second husband, who had accompanied her to the supposed sale.  Davis' first husband, Robert, worked as an Apollo 11 engineer, and he saved a paperweight with moon material and another with a bit of the heat shield.

Solar wind stripped Martian atmosphere away.  Solar wind and radiation are responsible for stripping the Martian atmosphere, transforming Mars from a planet that could have supported life billions of years ago into a frigid desert world, according to new results from NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission) spacecraft led by the University of Colorado Boulder.  "We've determined that most of the gas ever present in the Mars atmosphere has been lost to space," said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator for MAVEN and a professor at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).

The Editor says...
This may be the least plausible work of science fiction I've ever heard, and, with a price tag of $452.9 million, it is also the most expensive.  If what they say is true, then why do Venus and Earth — which are much closer to the Sun — still have their atmospheres and oceans intact?  What NASA is saying, with a great deal of desperation, is that it is impossible to believe that Mars was created just the way it is.  Believing the first chapter of the Bible is much easier than believing that "solar wind" blew the atmosphere completely off Mars, and affected Mars exclusively.

This is exactly what President Hillary Clinton would have done.
President Trump's Proposed OMB Budget.  The President's 2018 Budget [...] Provides $3.7 billion for continued development of the Orion crew vehicle, Space Launch System, and associated ground system, to send American astronauts on deep-space missions.  To accommodate increasing development costs, the Budget cancels the multi-billion-dollar Asteroid Redirect Mission.

Trump renews NASA mission for human space travel, deep space exploration.  President Trump put NASA on course for deep space exploration Tuesday [3/21/2017], signing a bill that authorizes $19.5 billion in funding to revive the agency's manned-space flight program and plan missions to Mars and beyond.  Mr. Trump spoke of the renewal of NASA's mission, including development of new spacecraft and preparation for a mars mission, in historic terms.  "Almost half a century ago our brave astronauts first planted the American flag on the moon.  That was a big moment in our history," he said at an Oval Office signing ceremony.  "Now this nation is ready to be the first in space once again.  Today we are taking the initial steps toward a bold and bright new future of American space flight."

Trump wants to make space exploration great again.  President Trump peeled back the curtain on his plans for the US space program on Tuesday — singing a sweeping NASA policy bill into effect and reaffirming the agency's commitment to human exploration and putting a man on Mars.  "For almost six decades NASA's work has inspired millions and millions of Americans to imagine distant worlds and a better future right here on Earth," Trump explained during the signing, which was attended by astronauts, lawmakers and scientists.

Is Anybody Else NOT Surprised That NASA Making an Announcement Days after Defunding?  NASA never fully recovered after the Apollo program.  To be fair, it hasn't always been NASA's fault.  The agency is constantly the victim of politics.Yet they managed to struggle their way through the shuttle program, the International Space Station, and many different science projects including telescopes, and probes — every one of them costing millions more than budgeted due to technical errors, and accidents.  Currently the Juno probe is having engine trouble and is indefinitely stuck in orbit around Jupiter and their heavy-lift rocket motor is plagued with problems[.]  Worse yet, the agency has become another tentacle in the Democrat agenda in attempts to make the case of global warming.

NASA proposes radical plan to surround Mars with a magnetic field to restore an 'Earth-like' atmosphere.  NASA scientists have proposed a radical idea to launch a magnetic field around Mars, with hopes it could protect the red planet from intense solar wind and allow humans to explore alongside rovers.  Jim Green, NASA's Planetary Science Division Director, revealed the idea today [3/2/2017] at the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop in Washington DC.

Infuriating List of Ridiculous Spending Items By Obama Administration.  NASA spent $124,955 to develop pizza that can be printed on a 3-D printer.  It already pays Lockheed Martin $1 million a year to develop food for a Mars mission that isn't happening for several decades.  The space agency also spent $390,000 to develop a "green ninja" cartoon character to promote climate change, $360,000 on "pillownauts" that lay in bed for 70 days and $3 million on a mission to study the inner workings of Congress.

Why is NASA is Exploring an Alien World in Antarctica?  Mount Erebus is at the end of our world — and offers a portal to another.  Covered in ice and filled with bubbling lava, the massive volcano rising 12,448 feet (3,794 meters) above Ross Island in Antarctica is the perfect proxy for an alien world, which is why NASA's Aaron Curtis, who joined JPL's Extreme Environments Robotics Group in 2016, travels there to test space exploration robots.

Has the Cold War started up again?
NASA, heeding Trump, may add astronauts to a test flight moon mission.  President Trump has indicated that he wants to make a splash in space.  During his transition, he spoke with historian Douglas Brinkley about John F. Kennedy's famous 1961 vow to go to the moon before the decade was out.  Now Trump and his aides may do something very similar:  demand that NASA send astronauts to orbit the moon before the end of Trump's first term — a move that one Trump adviser said would be a clear signal to the Chinese that the U.S. intends to retain dominance in space.

NASA Gets Religion About Extraterrestrials.  [Scroll down to page 58]  "How might the world's religions respond to the discovery of life on other planets?"  NASA is enlisting theologians to answer that question to prepare for if and when human contact is made with extraterrestrials.  The NASA Astrobiology Program awarded more than $1.1 million to the Center of Theological Inquiry (CTI) to examine "the societal implications of the search for life in the universe."

NASA to explore asteroid made of $10,000 quadrillion worth of metal.  NASA recently announced it's latest endeavor:  Explore a giant metal asteroid the size of Massachusetts.  Made up of mostly nickel and iron, the giant hunk of space metal is about three times further away from the Sun than Earth.  Enticingly, the mission's lead scientist has put a price tag of $10,000 quadrillion on the asteroid, known as "16 Psyche."

The Editor says...
The metal may be worth a lot of money — nickel is about $10,000 per ton — but even at that price, the transportation costs would be prohibitive.  Moreover, there would be considerable costs involved in sending robots out there to do the assaying -- autonomously.  If we need nickel that badly, perhaps the government should stop creating "national monuments" that prevent mining in the western U.S.  Nice try, NASA.  Keep searching for a reason to exist, and do it quickly, because there's a new president now who was sent to Washington to cut wasteful spending.

NASA's next stop — Mars or the Moon?  [W]ith NASA's limited funds, even before possible cuts under a Trump administration, the space agency can't do both.  Sending astronauts to the Moon and establishing a colony would push human exploration of Mars into the second half of this century.  Alternatively, making a direct push toward Mars would preclude any meaningful human exploration of the Moon.  A choice must be made.

The Editor says...
There is a third option:  Stay home and stop spending borrowed money on pointless boondoggles.  And a fourth option:  if you really want samples of lifeless dirt from another planet, send a machine to get them and return them to Earth.

Making NASA Great Again.  In 1962, at the height of the Cold War, space was important and worthy of such risk.  We were going to the moon to demonstrate our technological superiority to the Soviets and the world, and Glenn's flight was a crucial milestone on that path.  Half a century later, that sense of importance — and the willingness to take risks that came with it — has been lost.

Return America to glory:  Retake U.S. space lead.  For a couple of decades now, I have been writing that the manned and unmanned space programs of the United States have to be, first, in the best interests of the national security of our nation and, second, never wasteful of the American tax dollar.  In full disclosure, I say this as one who has no interest in being part of the Trump transition team, being part of the Trump administration, or having any access whatsoever to those who do.  None.  I say this only as an American who for years has been deeply concerned that the Obama administration has systematically ceded control of space to the People's Republic of China and Russia and, in the process, has greatly endangered the national security of our nation.

The Editor says...
If manned space flight is a matter of national defense, it should be undertaken by the Air Force.  All other defense-related activity in space should be done by the Air Force and the Army.  NASA is all about the exploration of other planets and the operation of various scientific research projects that have more to do with atmospheric science (i.e., global warming) than national defense.

NASA was neutered, turned into political PR machine, and Trump is going to fix that.  In the last 20 years NASA has been turned from a space agency to one that ignores satellite data in favour of doing statistical tricks with badly placed ground thermometers and relies on Russia to do things in space.  Former NASA stars have been protesting for year at the dismal standards in NASA climate research.  The same guys who walked on the moon, worked on the Apollo missions, and ran the shuttle program were fed up with NASA's excellent brand name being exploited by junk scientists to do political promotions.  Under Obama NASA was told to do three things — inspire kids, help international relationships and help Muslim nations "feel good".  So much for space exploration and science.

Donald Trump expected to slash Nasa's climate change budget in favour of sending humans back to the moon — and beyond.  US President-elect Donald Trump is set to slash Nasa's budget for monitoring climate change and instead set a goal of sending humans to the edge of the solar system by the end of the century, and possibly back to the moon.  Mr Trump, who has called climate change a "Chinese hoax", is believed to want to focus the agency on far-reaching, big banner goals in deep space rather than "Earth-centric climate change spending".  According to Bob Walker, who has advised Mr Trump on space policy, Nasa has been reduced to "a logistics agency concentrating on space station resupply and politically correct environmental monitoring".

Gavin Schmidt Warns Donald Trump Not to Interfere with the NASA Climate Division.  Gavin Schmidt, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has "warned" President-elect Donald Trump not to interfere with their climate activities.  Schmidt maintains the GISS global temperature series, arguably the most adjusted of all the global temperature products.

The Editor says...
Climate science is what NOAA is for -- not NASA.

AT&T And NASA To Build National Drone Tracking System.  AT&T and NASA aren't the only ones trying to regulate the skies.  In September, DARPA announced the Aerial Dragnet program, requesting proposals for technology that would allow the government to keep track of all objects flying below 1,000 feet.  The agency initially envisioned their system relying on a network of tower- or drone-mounted "surveillance nodes" scattered throughout cities.

NASA in talks with Russian space agency over joint mission to Venus - report.  The US and Russia may join efforts in exploring the second planet from the Sun, as NASA and Russian space agency Roscosmos are discussing a joint mission to Venus, Russian media reports.  NASA has already drawn up a number of scenarios for the joint mission with their Russian counterparts to Venus, director of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences Lev Zeleny told the Izvestiya daily.

The Editor says...
Like everything NASA now undertakes, this mission to Venus is pointless.  How will this benefit anyone without connections to NASA?

Obama Is Restarting the Mars Program He Canceled 8 Years Ago.  President Barack Obama will restart NASA's mission to Mars after he effectively canceled the program eight years ago, according to an op-ed he wrote.  Obama's op-ed calls for NASA to send humans to Mars by 2030, but Obama has a long history of slashing programs that would have sent America to Mars much sooner.

Obama Vows Mars Mission Even as He Cuts NASA's Budget.  [Scroll down]  Of course, Obama forgets to mention in the piece that, memories of grandpa and astronauts being fished out of the sea near Hawaii aside, he proposed earlier this year significantly cutting the funding for space exploration so he could pursue all his various earthbound social welfare and environmental policies.

Air Force's X-37B Space Plane Mystery Mission Wings by 500 Days in Orbit.  The U.S. military launched the robotic X-37B space plane on May 20, 2015, marking the fourth flight for the Air Force program.  A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lofted the spacecraft from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to kick off the OTV-4 mission (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-4).  Exactly what the winged space plane's duties are while it's in orbit continues to remain a tight-lipped affair.  Similarly, how long the vehicle will remain in orbit has not been detailed.

Obama [is] Helping U.S. Lose a New, Dangerous Space Race to Red China.  President Barack Obama's anti-space exploration policies have created a vacuum that's being filled by China, bemoaned lawmakers on both sides of the aisle during a congressional hearing Tuesday [9/27/2016].  China is catching up to the space programs of NASA and the U.S. military, according to expert witnesses at the hearing, causing Republicans and Democrats to blame Obama for delays and funding cuts.  "All of [NASA's] success came to a screeching halt when President Obama was sworn in," Texas Republican Rep.  Brian Babin, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Space, said during the hearing.  "His fiscal year 2010 budget request slashed well over a billion dollars from the exploration project and budget... China has capitalized on this administration's weakness."

The Editor says...
How is this a dangerous space race, and what is at risk here?  What have we lost if some other country sends a (most likely) suicidal mission to Mars to collect samples of frozen-over sterile dirt?  How are we worse off if some other country sends astronauts to the Moon?  If the next person to walk on the Moon is from a Communist country, how does that do us any harm?  The ugly reality is this:  We don't have the money for fruitless science projects.

NASA is going to an asteroid, and it wants your help.  NASA is seeking research partners for its ambitious asteroid redirect mission, the space agency recently announced.  The asteroid mission sounds like science fiction.  In December 2021, NASA plans to launch a robotic mission that will travel to an asteroid, grab a multiton boulder off its surface, bring it back — and then put it in orbit around the moon.  The space agency says they've already identified four asteroid candidates.  After that, with a launch in 2026, astronauts will travel to the asteroid and research it, bringing back samples to Earth.

The Editor says...
Somehow the writer neglected to mention the cost of this project, or the benefit it will bring to the average taxpayer.

Private Moon Mission Gets Go-Ahead From U.S. Government.  A small startup is to become the first private company to receive permission from the U.S. government to land a craft on the moon. [...] On Wednesday [8/3/2016], Moon Express announced on its website that it had become the first private enterprise to be granted permission to land a robotic spacecraft on the Moon's surface, following discussions with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), the U.S. State Department, NASA and other federal agencies.

The Editor says...
Since when do you need permission from the FAA or NASA (or anyone else) to go to the moon?  What's the penalty for landing on the moon without permission?  When was that law enacted?

Why NASA still believes we might find life on Mars.  The day Gil Levin says he detected life on Mars, he was waiting in his lab at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, watching a piece of paper inch out of a printer.  Levin snatched the sheet and scrutinized the freshly inked graph.  A thin line measuring radioactive carbon crept steadily upward, just as it always did when Levin performed the test with microbes on Earth.  But this data came from tens of millions of miles away, where NASA's Viking lander was — for the first time in history — conducting an experiment on the surface of Mars.  "Gil, that's life," his co-investigator, Patricia Straat, exclaimed when she saw the first results come in.  There was jubilation at JPL. [...] It was July 30, 1976.  Forty years later, Levin and Straat still believe that their experiment was evidence of microbiotic Martians.  But few people agree with them.

NASA's next Mars rover will 'seek the signs of life' on red planet.  NASA gave a glimpse into its plans for its next Martian rover on Friday [7/15/2016], a craft that will focus on looking for evidence of life on the red planet and preparing samples for possible return to Earth someday.  The still-unnamed rover will launch in the summer of 2020 (so the space agency is calling the program Mars 2020) and will arrive at its destination in February of 2021.

NASA Spends $73,500 on 'Unconscious Bias' Training.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is spending at least $73,500 to teach astronauts about diversity, their "unconscious biases," and how to "use their privilege."  NASA is adding a new curriculum to its "Diversity Dialogue Project," and has hired a contractor to hold "regularly scheduled dialogue sessions" about inclusion.  The program is designed for employees to "engage in a facilitated dialogue process in an "open, non-judgmental and comfortable environment," according to documents released by the agency.

NASA is really good at finding solutions for which there is no problem.
NASA Unveils Plans for Electric-Powered Plane.  A new experimental airplane being built by NASA could help push electric-powered aviation from a technical curiosity and pipe dream into something that might become commercially viable for small aircraft.  At a conference on Friday [6/17/2016] of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Washington, Charles F. Bolden Jr., the NASA administrator, announced plans for an all-electric airplane designated as X-57, part of the agency's efforts to make aviation more efficient and less of a polluter.  "The X-57 will take the first giant step in opening a new era of aviation," Mr. Bolden declared.

NASA Hopes to Reach Mars by 2030s, With Israel's Help, Space Agency's Administrator Says.  NASA hopes to reach Mars in the 2030s, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, adding that the U.S. space agency looks forward to working with Israel, whose "incredibly innovative people on the cutting edge of technology" can help NASA successfully launch the first human voyage to the red planet.  Bolden's lecture was attended by a packed audience at Bar-Ilan University Monday morning [6/6/2016].  On Tuesday evening, the university will present Bolden with an honorary doctorate.  During his visit to Israel, Bolden will meet with representatives of the Israel Space Agency to discuss the 250 experiments taking place during every six-month expedition on the International Space Station.  "We are excited about ongoing relations with the Israel Space Agency and what we can do together on the International Space Station," Bolden said.

The Editor says...
Nobody outside of NASA or Roscosmos benefits from the existence of the International Space Station, and its purpose — basic scientific research — is not authorized by the Constitution.  The United States should sell its interest in the space station to the Russians, and let them waste money on it.

NASA struggles to inflate space 'bounce house'.  NASA's attempts to inflate a unique new module on the International Space Station have stopped for today, the space agency announced this morning [5/26/2016], because the module only inflated "a few inches."  The new module, called BEAM, was supposed to be expanded early this morning.  But NASA announced that the operation did not go as planned.

NASA to officially unveil its green rocket fuel project in Colorado this week.  Since 2012, the folks over at NASA have been working on developing a high performance "green" rocket propellant it hoped to one day use as an alternative to the incredibly toxic hydrazine fuel currently in use.  According to a press release published in August of 2012, the Washington D.C.-based space agency selected Boulder, Colorado's Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation to research the fuel alternative and as of this month, it appears it's ready to show off its work.  In an invite sent to media outlets late last week, Ball Aerospace will officially open its doors on March 31 to unveil NASA's Green Propulsion Infusion Mission.

Here's Why Congress Says Obama Has Wrecked NASA.  Lawmakers grilled National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charlie Bolden during a Thursday [3/17/2016] congressional hearing on President Barack Obama's 2017 budget plan.  Republicans argued the budget hurts the space agency by diverting more money into global warming research.  NASA's budget proposal is far more concerned with spending on global warming research than supporting the agency's mission of space exploration, according to Republican lawmakers.

Pluto's moon could have been home to subsurface ocean.  Pluto's largest moon Charon may have once had a subsurface ocean that long ago became frozen and expanded.  As a result, the expanding ocean that was identified through images from NASA's New Horizons mission may have pushed out the moon's surface — causing it to stretch and fracture on a massive scale, NASA said.  The side of Charon viewed by the passing New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015 is characterized by a system of "pull apart" tectonic faults, which are expressed as ridges, scarps and valleys — the latter sometimes reaching more than 4 miles deep.

The Editor says...
Given that the average temperature of Pluto is 44° Kelvin, it is unlikely (to say the least) that anything resembling an "ocean" has ever existed there, inasmuch as there are very few substances that are liquids at those temperatures.  Even ordinary air is a solid at that temperature, and in the absence of atmospheric pressure, liquid air would boil away into space.  NASA says there might have been an ocean there years ago, but anyone who paid attention in high school can see it's impossible.

NASA wants to unlock the universe's secrets with telescope more powerful than Hubble.  NASA has unveiled plans for a powerful new telescope with a view more than 100 times wider than Hubble.  The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is designed to help researchers unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, and explore the evolution of the universe, according to NASA.  "It also will discover new worlds outside our solar system and advance the search for worlds that could be suitable for life," explained the space agency, in a statement released Thursday [2/18/2016].

The Editor says...
There is no mention of the pricetag for this telescope on NASA's web page, which explains every other aspect of the project in detail.  Wikipedia indicates that the total cost will be somewhere around two billion dollars.

Scientists find evidence of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein.  After decades of searching, scientists announced Thursday [2/11/2016] that they have detected gravitational waves — essentially ripples in the fabric of space-time — that had been predicted by Einstein.  An international team of astrophysicists said that they detected the waves from the distant crash of two black holes, using a $1.1 billion instrument.

The Editor says...
How are you any better off, knowing that another of Einstein's theories was allegedly proven?  Is 1.1 billion dollars a negligible amount now?

The Moon or Mars? NASA must pick 1 goal for astronauts, experts tell Congress.  NASA can't afford to put humans on Mars while also pursuing missions to put astronauts back on the moon, according to a panel of experts who testified to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space Wednesday [2/10/2016].  "Today the future of NASA's human spaceflight program is far from clear," said Tom Young, former director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.  "There has been continual debate about should we go to the moon or Mars or both ... It is clear, again, that we cannot do both.  And there is a need to focus our attention, capability and resources on one option."

The Editor says...
NASA is currently flying around in circles, and now somebody at NASA thinks that the Moon is a stepping stone to Mars.  It was already demonstrated, in the early 1970's, that the Moon is a mass of lifeless sand and rocks.  As I have said before, if the Moon were made of uranium, it still would be economically infeasible to send astronauts there.  The same is true — and perhaps even more true — of Mars.  It is not by any means an imperative national priority to send men to Mars.  It is only an instrument NASA is using to extend its own existence.

White House proposes $19 billion NASA budget.  The Obama Administration's final budget request, released Feb. 9, offers $19 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2017, a decrease of $300 million from the agency's final 2016 budget.  The budget, as proposed, would shift some funds from NASA's exploration programs to aeronautics and space technology, in addition to the overall cuts, while also shifting funds within the agency's science account.  The budget request is likely to face strong opposition in Congress, where House and Senate leaders have already said that the administration's overall budget request will be considered dead on arrival.

NASA Will Return to the Moon in Preparation for Human Mars Mission.  Project managers from Lockheed Martin and NASA gathered last week at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to usher in the return of the Orion crew module and to discuss future missions that will see humans travel beyond low-Earth orbit for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972.  Development of the Orion spacecraft will now be ramping up in preparation for Exploration Mission 1 — the module's first journey to the Moon and into deep space.  This feat will act as a dress rehearsal for a crewed asteroid retrieval mission in lunar orbit and be a major stepping stone for NASA's manned mission to Mars.

NASA Bans The Word 'Jesus'.  The name of Jesus is not welcome in the Johnson Space Center newsletter, according to a complaint filed on behalf of a group of Christians who work for NASA.  The JSC Praise & Worship Club was directed by NASA attorneys to refrain from using the name 'Jesus' in club announcements that appeared in a Space Center newsletter.  "It was shocking to all of us and very frustrating," NASA engineer Sophia Smith told me.  "NASA has a long history of respecting religious speech.  Why wouldn't they allow us to put the name Jesus in the announcement about our club?"  Liberty Institute, one of the nation's largest religious liberty law firms, threatened to file a federal lawsuit unless NASA apologizes and stops censoring the name 'Jesus'.

The Space Shuttle's Last Launch.  The infrastructure behind NASA's shuttle program was unimaginably vast.  At $1 billion each, the launches were so audacious that they seemed to risk collapsing under the weight of their own hubris.  And yet, for 30 years the orbiters came and went, acting as a protective vessel, enabling a select group to contemplate the fury of the world in a stillness unobtainable by the rest of us.  Then in early 2011, the space shuttle program came to an end.

The Editor says...
I don't share this writer's nostalgia, but it is interesting that he says the Shuttle launches cost $1 billion apiece.

Harsh: Obama Official Who Pled Guilty to Espionage Gets... $250 Fine.  Glenn Woodell, a NASA supervisor who pled guilty to violating U.S. espionage laws involving a Chinese NASA contractor was given a slap on the wrist with six months' probation and a $250 fine, the Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.  Daniel Jobson, a Woodell colleague and fellow NASA supervisor, had his espionage charges reduced to a misdemeanor and was released without any penalty.  The lenient plea deals were quietly delivered October 26 in U.S. District Court in Newport News, Virginia.  The U.S. Attorneys office did not to [sic] issue a press release about the deals and declined comment when contacted by the DCNF.

Government Funding of Basic Science? Knock It Off.  For decades now, even free-market economists have argued that the government should fund basic scientific research.  I myself have always felt suspicious of the argument — this is one reason I remain skeptical of NASA, despite the ridicule of my comrades Rob Long and James Lileks, who can barely contain their pleasure at the thought of spending untold sums to send someone to Mars — but I confess that I've never possessed the analytical skills to investigate the argument, let alone refute it.

Mars Shows Strong Signs of Flowing Water, Researchers Say.  A new study provides the "strongest evidence yet" that salty liquid water sometimes flows on modern-day Mars, researchers said on Monday [9/28/2015] in a discovery that holds implications for future expeditions to the Red Planet.  "Our quest on Mars has been to 'follow the water' in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we've long suspected," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator at NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.  "This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars."

NASA Confirms Signs of Water Flowing on Mars, Possible Niches for Life.  [Scroll down]  Many mysteries remain.  For one, scientists do not know where the water is coming from.

Water Found on Mars Could Be First Signs of Martian Life.  Mars is drier than the driest desert on Earth:  It has no lakes, oceans, or rivers, and its atmosphere has at best tiny traces of water vapor.  However, Mars used to be much wetter.  We can see signs of long-gone lakes and riverbeds, though it's unlikely the planet was ever warm enough to be a lush, damp place like Earth is.  The disappearance of Mars' surface water is one of the mysteries we still have to solve.  However, we've suspected water can sometimes flow on Mars for a while.  The various orbiting Mars-mapping probes have spotted small landslides along slopes that appeared between orbital passes, which could be caused by water, but are more likely to be the result of more boring geological processes.

The Editor says...
The assertion that "Mars used to be much wetter" is highly speculative.

Mars Has Water: Why NASA Discovery Matters.  Traces of liquid water have been found on Mars, NASA said today [9/28/2015], raising questions about the possibility of life on the Red Planet.  Dark, 100-meter-long streaks flowing downhill on Mars are believed to have been formed by contemporary flowing water, according to NASA.  The findings come from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and raise the possibility there could be life — or even microbes — living inside the Red Planet. [...] While today's discovery is huge, it is small compared to the rivers, lakes and vast oceans that are believed to have flowed on Mars billions of years ago.

The Editor says...
What happened on Mars "billions of years ago" — if anything — is idle speculation.  The announcement of water "flowing" on Mars — without clouds or rain — water originating from nowhere, accumulating nowhere, visible from an orbiting spacecraft, and "flowing" in sub-zero temperatures, is way beyond dubious.  But it's NASA's satellite orbiting Mars, so when they announce a "discovery," the poorly-educated public is expected to take their word for it.  Apparently NASA believes that if we all keep chanting "life on Mars" long enough, eventually that will make it come true.  Much of this "water on Mars" story depends on what the meaning of "water" is.  The the average recorded temperature on Mars is -81° F.  Even a river of ethylene glycol would have a hard time "flowing" in that weather.  Besides the low temperature, there's the near-zero atmospheric pressure to consider (and NASA hopes you don't).  The atmospheric pressure on Mars is about 0.087 psi — the same as the pressure at about 117,000 feet above the Earth's surface.  With an average temperature well below zero, water exists only as ice, and at near-zero ambient pressure even ice will dissipate due to sublimation, unless the ambient temperature is too low.  There is no water flowing on Mars.

NASA reports flowing water on Mars. But how?  A U.S. satellite, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, has found evidence there of water, the foundation of life.  Actually, flowing water from as recently as a year ago.  Observers, of course, have known of vast quantities of water locked within Mars' polar ice caps.  But water elsewhere?  Flowing?  On a surface ranging from about 80 degrees to minus 190?

The Editor continues...
Water is not the foundation of life.  God himself is the foundation of life.  If this alleged liquid on Mars can run downhill in sub-zero temperatures, it's something other than pure water.  Even if the temperature occasionally went above 32°F., when exposed to near-zero atmospheric pressure the water would boil immediately.

Is exploring Mars worth the investment?  It's hard to calculate a total price tag, but over the 48 years that NASA has been launching missions to Mars, Americans have spent a significant sum.  The Viking missions alone cost nearly $1 billion — in 1970s dollars.  The twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity cost a total of about $1 billion to build and operate as well.  Curiosity, as the Mars Science Laboratory rover is known, is over budget at $2.5 billion.

Bias alert:
Notice that the LA Times calls it an investment, not an expense.

Cost of NASA's Next Mars Rover Hits Nearly $2.5 Billion.  NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission needs an $82 million cash infusion to maintain its late November launch date after development of the $2.47 billion rover exhausted program funding reserves last year, according to agency officials.

Has NASA Become Mars-Obsessed?  $390 million for Mars Odyssey, $500 million for Opportunity, $820 million for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, $2500 million for Curiosity, $670 million for MAVEN, $600 million for Insight, $1500 million for the Mars Rover in 2020 (yet to be named).  Total:  $6.98 billion.

NASA's $17.5 Billion Budget Request for 2015 Would Fund New Science Missions.  NASA's 2015 budget would remain essentially flat at $17.5 billion under a White House spending proposal unveiled today (March 4) that would hold the line on the agency's biggest space programs while laying the groundwork for major new astrophysics and planetary science missions.

NASA employees caught buying child porn from site which showed three-year-olds being abused — but they escape prosecution.  NASA employees were caught buying child pornography from a criminal ring in Eastern Europe that distributed images of minors as young as three, it can be revealed.  An investigation by Daily Mail Online found 16 staff members from the space agency paid for pictures and videos of children in sexual situations, but were never prosecuted.  Their names have never been released because of government guidelines which protect their privacy — prompting fears some of the culprits are still employed by NASA.

Japan launches vital supplies (and mice) toward International Space Station.  A robotic Japanese cargo vessel launched toward the International Space Station Wednesday [8/19/2015], embarking on a five-day journey to the orbiting lab to deliver tons of supplies and experiment gear, including a rodent crew of 12 mice [...] whose experiences aboard the space station will help researchers better understand the effects of microgravity on the bodies of mammals.

The Editor says...
How much do the Russian charge us for transporting mice into space?  Hasn't every manned space mission resulted in similar studies already?  Has anyone published any conclusions about the adverse (or beneficial) effects of microgravity on humans?  Does anyone, other than future astronauts, have the slightest concern about those effects?  The only reason science projects like this are conducted is because the government and the news media are in a symbiotic relationship.  The news media love animal stories, espcially those involving newborn animals or small non-threatening animals.  (Animal stories are wedged in to the local TV news in the last two minutes of the Big Show, especially when there's surplus time to fill.)  The local news media really like upbeat stories about big government.  If they can combine the two, everyone's happy.  The government can get away with wasting billions of dollars on pointless space travel if the news media keep publicizing the warm and fuzzy aspects of space flight.

NASA: Seats on Russian rockets will cost us $490 million.  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden sent a letter to Congress saying the agency would need to pay $490 million to Russia for six seats on Soyuz rockets for U.S. astronauts to fly through 2017.

Methane in Mars meteorites suggests possibility of life.  Methane, a potential sign of primitive life, has been found in meteorites from Mars, adding weight to the idea that life could live off methane on the Red Planet, researchers say.  This discovery is not evidence that life exists, or has ever existed, on Mars, the researchers cautioned. [...] Much of the methane in Earth's atmosphere is produced by life, such as cattle digesting food.  However, there are ways to produce methane without life, such as volcanic activity.

NASA's head of science says humans 'are on the cusp' of answering the ultimate question.  When NASA representatives made their case for more funding to lawmakers in Washington D.C. Tuesday [7/28/2015], they made a bold announcement:  that humanity could be about to turn a page in its history.  We're nearing contact with alien life, NASA's head of science John Grunsfeld said to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology near the end of a two-hour hearing.  That was his response to a question by committee member John Moolenaar (R-Michigan), who asked what should inspire people to continuing following NASA like they did in the days of the space race.

The Editor says...
First of all, what does "contact with alien life" mean?  It doens't mean radio contact, because it would be impossible to predict the reception of the first radio signals from other planets.  It apparently means NASA hopes to be close to the discovery of bacteria or fungus on another planet, in addition to methane or CO2.  But again, how does one testify before Congress that he is about to discover something?  (Mr. Grunsfeld needs to find a dictionary and look up the word discover)  This is an obvious attempt by NASA to stay relevant and keep the money flowing.

Hi-def space telescope to be used in search for alien life.  25 times more powerful than Hubble.

The Editor says...
Searching for alien life is most of what NASA does.  Such a search is pointless and expensive.  Suppose we pick up a radio station on a planet that's 100 light years away.  What will that prove?  What would be the point of responding?  Who among us would benefit in any way?

NASA selects 4 astronauts to fly first commercial space expeditions.  Each astronaut has test pilot experience and has flown twice in space.

Methane in Mars meteorites suggests possibility of life.  To shed light on the nature of the methane on Mars, Blamey and his colleagues analyzed rocks blasted off Mars by cosmic impacts that subsequently crash-landed on Earth as meteorites.  About 220 pounds of Martian meteorites have been found on Earth.

The Editor says...
In my opinion, which I have stated before, the likelihood of "Martian meteorites" is approximately zero.  Where are all the meteorites that were spontaneously knocked off the Moon by the same "cosmic impact" mechanism?  How massive would an object have to be, and how fast would it have to be traveling, in order to spray relatively large rocks into space (at greater than the Martian escape velocity of 16,500 feet per second*)?  The rocks would have to be massive enough to withstand entry into Earth's atmosphere, which is dense enough to burn up almost all but the largest meteors*.  Why would rocks ejected in such a manner from Mars come to Earth of all places?  And how can anyone prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a rock came from Mars?  To summarize, this is an implausible rationalization of the most unlikely physics since the Magic Bullet killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally without incurring any damage itself.

Earlier story from 2012 with editorial comments attached:
Mars meteorite chunks fall to Earth.  Meteorite chunks from Mars fell over Morocco last summer — the first time in 50 years such an event has occurred, scientists confirmed Tuesday [1/17/2012].  It is only the fifth time newly fallen Martian rocks have been confirmed chemically by experts.  Known Martian meteorite falls have happened only once every 50 years or so — 1815 in France, 1865 in India, 1911 in Egypt and the last in 1962 in Nigeria.  Scientists and collectors were celebrating the find.

The Editor says...
My skepticism of this story knows no bounds.  Why should we send probes to Mars if Martian rocks spontaneously "fall to Earth?"  How much energy would it take to launch a rock from the Martian surface?  (For those of you who attended public schools, rocks don't just fall off of other planets.)  Why would rocks leap from the Martian surface in excess of the planet's escape velocity and head for the Earth?  What are the odds that a rock leaving Mars in a random direction would find its way to Earth and not burn up in the atmosphere?  (Zero.)  What chemicals are found in Martian rocks that are not found on Earth?  Why don't parts of other planets "fall to Earth" as well?  Why just Mars?  What about the moon — why don't rocks travel from the moon to the Earth (and remain intact, and are somehow identifiable as having lunar origin?  Mars is, on average, about 581 times as far away as the moon.

NASA sets $2.25m prize for 3D printed Mars habitats.  Getting astronauts safely to Mars is only the start of your problems when you're trying to explore the red planet:  then you have to give them somewhere to live.  NASA has kick-started a competition to figure out just how to do that, challenging inventors to come up with a way to not only 3D print a habitat — preferably using materials found on-site — but do so at least semi-autonomously.  To encourage the best brains in construction, NASA is dangling a $2.25m prize in the 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge.

Mercury Killed The Messenger Probe.  The scientific instruments aboard measured the planet's magnetic field and variations in gravity that show how dense rock is below the surface.  MESSENGER scientists determined that Mercury's interior is very different than the other terrestrial worlds (Venus, Earth, the Moon, and Mars).  Instead of a slippery plasticine layer called the mantle between the solid crust and hot core, Mercury has a layer of molten rock.

The Editor says...
As usual, there is no mention of the cost, no mention of the benefit.

Messenger probe crashes on Mercury after 4-year historic mission.  Messenger, a mission that cost $450 million, was launched in August 2004 and in 2011 became the first probe to go into orbit around the closest planet to the Sun and one of those holding the most mysteries for scientists.

NASA probe detects possible polar cap on Pluto.  New photos and animations of Pluto and its large moon Charon taken by the fast-approaching New Horizons probe are revealing distinct surface features for the first time, including a bright area that could be a snowy polar cap, mission managers said Wednesday [4/29/2015].

The Editor says...
So what?  If Pluto is a solid ice ball, what does that prove?  How would that discovery benefit anyone?

We'll Find Alien Life Within 20 Years, NASA Says.  Is there life on other planets?  People have pondered this question for millennia, without any definitive answer.  But now, NASA officials say, we may soon be on the cusp of a breakthrough.  "I believe we are going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth in the next decade and definitive evidence in the next 10 to 20 years," Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for NASA, said at a public panel Tuesday [4/7/2015] in Washington, according to the Los Angeles Times.  "It's definitely not an if, it's a when," said Jeffery Newmark, one of Stofan's colleagues.

The Editor says...
NASA's primary mission, if not its only mission, is to find life on other planets.  How can this obsession be justified?  If NASA searches for another hundred years and finds nothing, what rationale will be peddled for continuing the hunt?

NASA LEAPTech plane
Here Is NASA's 18-Motor All-Electric Plane.  This is NASA's LEAPTech plane, an all-electric aircraft that could help to usher in a new era of environmentally friendlier aviation.  The prototype is small, with just a 31-foot wingspan.  It's also light, built out of carbon composites.  A total of 18 independently operated motors keep it aloft, and NASA says the plane will be able to reach speeds similar to that of most small planes.  It'll be the Tesla of the skies.


The Editor says...
Obviously if there were any demand for an aircraft that runs on batteries, one of several aircraft manufacturers would have already built this plane.  And if the plane had any military use, it would have already been built by the Air Force.  In other words, this is somebody's science project in search of a reason to exist.

NASA launches billion-dollar mission to solve mystery of magnetic fields.  NASA launched four identical spacecraft Thursday [3/12/2015] on a billion-dollar mission to study the explosive give-and-take of the Earth and sun's magnetic fields.

MMS Launched on March 12, 2015.  The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission is a Solar Terrestrial Probes mission comprising four identically instrumented spacecraft that will use Earth's magnetosphere as a laboratory to study the microphysics of three fundamental plasma processes:  magnetic reconnection, energetic particle acceleration, and turbulence.  These processes occur in all astrophysical plasma systems but can be studied in situ only in our solar system and most efficiently only in Earth's magnetosphere, where they control the dynamics of the geospace environment and play an important role in the processes known as "space weather."

The Editor says...
Every last tiny detail about the MMS mission — other than the cost — is available here.

NASA spacecraft blast off to provide 3D views of magnetic field reconnection.  The findings from the $1.1 billion US mission will be useful in understanding magnetic reconnection throughout the universe.  Closer to home, space weather scientists along with everyone on Earth hopefully will benefit.  "We're not setting out here to solve space weather," Burch said.  "We're setting out to learn the fundamental features of magnetic reconnection because that's what drives space weather."

The Editor says...
The NASA description of the project is as follows:

"The Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission studies the mystery of how magnetic fields around Earth connect and disconnect, explosively releasing energy via a process known a magnetic reconnection.  MMS consists of four identical spacecraft that work together to provide the first three-dimensional view of this fundamental process, which occurs throughout the universe.  The mission observes reconnection directly in Earth's protective magnetic space environment, the magnetosphere.  By studying reconnection in this local, natural laboratory, MMS helps us understand reconnection elsewhere as well, such as in the atmosphere of the sun and other stars, in the vicinity of black holes and neutron stars, and at the boundary between our solar system's heliosphere and interstellar space."
Ordinary taxpayers don't care about any of that.  Space weather can be observed, but it can't be changed — just like terrestrial weather.  It is not a problem to be solved.  This entire project is a waste of money because it is a study of natural forces that are of interest only to a handful of people who study theoretical astrophysics.  Government expenditures of this sort are unconstitutional (i.e., illegal) because they benefit only a few specific people, not the general public.  Let the scientists spend their own money on their research projects!

What does soil moisture have to do with aeronautics and space?
NASA launches $916 million soil moisture satellite.  A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket boosted an innovative NASA satellite into orbit Saturday [1/31/2015], kicking off a three-year, $916 million mission to measure the moisture, frozen and liquid, in the top few inches of Earth's soil to improve forecasting, to better understand the causes and impact of droughts, floods and other natural disasters and to improve long-range climate change projections.

NASA's Soil Moisture Satellite Goes Into Orbit.  The uncrewed Delta 2 launched NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive observatory, or SMAP, which is to spend at least three years making precise measurements of the amount of water in Earth's topsoil. [...] NASA's price tag for the launch, spacecraft and three years of operation is $916 million.

Get NASA Out of the Climate Alarm Business.  Unless you live on the moon you've probably heard lots of feverish hype attributed to NASA about 2014 being the "hottest year" ever.  And being NASA, you'd expect that they should know, given that they have all those advanced satellites we taxpayers bought them.  Well, maybe you'd be very wrong to assume that, much less to expect an honest and objective report.  A lot more skepticism on the part of the media would be prudent.

White House budget would fund NASA's Europa, Mars missions.  The White House budget request for 2016 has proposed to give NASA $18.5 billion, including funding for the Mars 2020 rover and a mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa. [...] The White House proposal would set aside $1.361 billion for planetary science, which is about $76 million less than Congress allotted the division in 2015.

Isn't this what NOAA is for?
NASA climate scientists: We said 2014 was the warmest year on record... but we're only 38% sure we were right.  The Nasa climate scientists who claimed 2014 set a new record for global warmth last night admitted they were only 38 percent sure this was true.  In a press release on Friday [1/16/2015], Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed '2014 was the warmest year on record'.  The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS's analysis — based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide — is subject to a margin of error.  Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.

NASA Facing The Heat For Hottest Year Lie.  With great fanfare NASA announced that 2014 was the hottest year on record.  The part of the story they didn't mention is they are only 38% sure it was the hottest on record.  The other thing they didn't mention is that surface temperatures were used rather than satellite data and part of their data used estimated temperatures.  Per the UK Daily Mail, "the claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS's [NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies] analysis — based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide — is subject to a margin of error.  NASA admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.

Spacecraft Nears Pluto After Nine-Year Trip.  NASA spacecraft New Horizons is finally drawing close to Pluto almost nine years after setting off on the three-billion-mile journey from Earth.  Pluto is around 3.67 billion miles from the Sun and, when it was discovered in 1930, it was the planet furthest from the solar system's centre.

Before explosion, NASA knew aging Soviet engines posed risks.  Years before an unmanned rocket erupted in a fireball in October, NASA officials knew the metal in its 50-year-old Soviet-made engines could crack, causing fuel to leak and ignite, government documents show.  As early as 2008, a NASA committee warned about the "substantial" risk of using the decades-old engines, and a fire during a 2011 engine test in Mississippi heightened the agency's concern.

Lockheed Gets NASA Funding for the SR-72 Hypersonic Spy Drone.  NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a modest $892,292 earlier this month to study the feasibility of developing an unmanned hypersonic spy plane called the SR-72.  This superfast recon drone, first teased in November 2013, would fly at speeds of Mach 6.0, or 4,500 mph.  That's almost double the speed of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, which made its first flight 50 years ago.

NASA's $349 million monument to its drift.  In June, NASA finished work on a huge construction project here in Mississippi:  a $349 million laboratory tower, designed to test a new rocket engine in a chamber that mimicked the vacuum of space.  Then, NASA did something odd.  As soon as the work was done, it shut the tower down.  The project was officially "mothballed" — closed up and left empty — without ever being used.

NASA launches Orion spacecraft.  [Lockheed Martin Corp.] handled the $370 million test flight for NASA from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, opting for the Delta IV rocket this time given its heft.

Design a climate change coping app and win cash in NASA's new $35,000 challenge.  NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are offering more than $35,000 in prizes to citizens who design apps — computer applications — to make use of available climate data to respond to climate change.  The competition opens Dec. 15.  The challenge stems from the latest National Climate Assessment that says the U.S. already faces or will face challenges because of climate change.

Where did Earth's water come from? Rosetta data muddies [the] picture.  Water vapor emitted by Comet 67P/Churyumov-Geramisenko is very different from the water found on Earth, casting doubt on the belief that Earth's water originally came from comets. [...] A leading theory to explain the Earth's oceans has been that the water was delivered from space by heavy bombardment by comets in the distant past.

The Editor says...
No, the "leading theory" is in the first chapter of the Bible.  Only a fool would believe that comets from nowhere delivered the oceans to this planet, especially considering that the mass of the oceans is 1.35 x 1018 metric tons, and further considering the fact that comets must have stopped bringing water (for no reason) sometime before written history began, and the comets from nowhere delivered water to this planet, but not to Venus or Mars.

NASA's New Horizons Pluto Probe 'Wakes Up' for Work.  From 2.9 billion miles away, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft let its handlers know on Saturday that it has awakened from hibernation and is ready for the climax of its nine-year trip to Pluto.  The first signals were received at the mission's control center at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland via a giant radio antenna in Australia just before 9:30 p.m. ET, nearly four and a half hours after it was sent by the piano-sized probe.  It takes that long for signals to travel between there and here at the speed of light.

The Editor says...
Wow-eeee!  I just can't wait to see what Pluto looks like, especially after we spent $650 million for the pictures — assuming there'e enough light to make pictures.

51 Examples of Government Waste.  [#43] NASA spent $360,000 for people to stay in slightly declined beds for 70 days to test the effects of gravity on humans over long durations of time.  NASA had already conducted this experiment many times since the 1960s.  [#44] NASA gave two grants totaling $237,205 to the University of Washington to study how rainfall effects the red crab's annual migration to Christmas Island.  Researchers hope this study will help them better understand the potential consequences of climate change for the red crabs.

Mystery Surrounds NASA's Secret Mission in Africa.  A NASA official recently confirmed that one of the agency's aircraft had been spotted on an American military airstrip in eastern Africa a few weeks ago, but like a series of U.S. military officials, declined to say what the space agency's high-tech bird was doing there.  "I really can't give you any of the details," Jim Alexander, a NASA official with the WB-57 High Altitude Research Program, told ABC News.  "You know, the airplane was there, you see it in the picture.  But I really can't tell you what it was for."

The wobbling of Saturn's moon might mean there's an ocean sloshing inside of it.  Planets aren't always filled with molten rock, and guessing the composition of distant planets can be a tricky business.  But scientists now believe that Saturn's moon Mimas has one of two things under its icy, rocky surface:  a core shaped like a football or a liquid ocean.  In a study published Friday [10/17/2014] in Science, researchers analyzed Mimas's movements as it orbited Saturn.  By looking at images from NASA's Cassini satellite, they determined how much Mimas was wobbling.  The wobble was a lot wonkier than expected, leaving the research team puzzled.

The Editor says...
That's all very amusing, and it must be nice to make a living by engaging in idle speculation about such immaterial concerns.  (That's a problem if they are government scientists whose paychecks come from tax dollars.)  But the maximum temperature of Mimas is something like 80 or 85 degrees Kelvin, and there aren't many materials that "slosh" at those temperatures.

Having solved all other problems...
White House Seeks Ideas For Building a 'Solar System Civilization'.  While the rise of the barbarous Islamic State and the spread of the modern day plague of Ebola has many concerned about the state of civilization here on earth, some at the White House are turning their attention beyond our planet.  A Tuesday [10/14/2014] entry on the White House blog solicits ideas for "massless exploration and bootstrapping a Solar System civilization" and "how the [Obama] Administration, the private sector, philanthropists, the research community, and storytellers can further these goals."  "Bootstrapping" is a term employed by Dr. Phillip Metzger, former NASA research physicist now on the University of Central Florida faculty.

Get ready! NASA's MAVEN mission is about to reach Mars.  The spacecraft, the first mission to examine the planet's upper atmosphere, was 218 million kilometers away from Earth on Wednesday [9/17/2014] and a mere 1.2 million kilometers from Mars.

MAVEN takes off: what you need to know about NASA's new mission to Mars.  Today [11/18/2013], NASA will launch a new mission — one that cost $671 million and has been in development for 10 years — to determine what happened to the water on Mars.

The Editor says...
How will your life improve if and when NASA reaches an indisputable conclusion about what happened to the water on Mars — assuming they can tell if there ever was any water?  Such a discovery won't make any difference to anybody.  The entire project is a complete waste of taxpayers' money.

MAVEN spacecraft enters Mars orbit to explore its climate change.  It won't land on the red planet but instead study Mars' atmosphere from above to answer questions about its climate change, NASA says.  NASA's MAVEN craft will live up to its formal name — the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft — by helping scientists figure out how ancient Mars changed so dramatically into the planet we know today.

The Editor says...
The writer of the article immediately above relies (as Perry Mason would say) on facts not in evidence.  How do NASA scientists know with any certainty what Mars looked like long ago, and what makes them think Mars has changed at all?  More importantly, how is the history of the Martian climate relevant to anything on Earth?

NASA picks Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts.  NASA will turn to aerospace giant Boeing and "new space" startup SpaceX to launch U.S. astronauts again from American shores, ending a reliance on Russian Soyuz capsules that began after the last space shuttle landed on Earth three years ago.

Boeing and SpaceX Will Fly Astronauts to the International Space Station.  In a much anticipated announcement, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said today (Sep. 16) during a webcast that spacecraft made by Boeing Company and SpaceX will carry American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2017.  Two vehicles, Boeing's CST-100 and SpaceX's Dragon V2, will launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida and take Americans into low Earth orbit, before docking with the ISS.  Each company will run between two to six missions, carrying teams of four astronauts per mission.

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover reaches 'far frontier'.  The biggest Mars rover ever made landed on the Red Planet in August 2012 after a dramatic touchdown, with the goal of exploring the terrain for traces that life may once have existed.

The Editor says...
Or, to put it another way, looking for traces of life that probably never existed.

New space race: 3 companies vie to build space shuttle successor.  The agency says a decision on which company will build its next-generation vehicle to put astronauts in space is imminent.  A $4 billion contract is at stake, and that's made for some intense competition.  Boeing is one of three companies competing to build the successor to the space shuttle.  It hopes its CST-100 capsule will be chosen to ferry Americans to the International Space Station.

Scientists think they have dust specks from outside our solar system.  Researchers studying the contents of a capsule returned to Earth in 2006 at the conclusion of the Stardust spacecraft's primary mission believe that they have found seven remarkable specks on its collection panels.  Although they weigh about 10 trillionths of a gram in all, the microscopic motes of "alien" dust described in the journal Science could alter astronomers' perception of the galaxy beyond our own stellar neighborhood.

The Editor says...
So-called scientists are determined to find and explain the real origins of the universe — not that mythical story in the Bible — and they are willing to base their beliefs on a few picograms of dust.

Historic rendezvous between a comet and a space probe.  If all goes well, the mission in November will carry out the first landing on a comet.  Rosetta will send a robot chemistry lab to the surface to delve into a theory that comets hold the key to understanding how our star system formed.  "After completing a complex series of nine orbital manoeuvres since the end of hibernation on January 20, Rosetta is finally in position to rendezvous with the comet," the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Tuesday [8/5/2014].

The Editor says...
As usual, the whole purpose of this probe is to find a way to disprove the first chapter of the Bible.  That's what they mean when they talk about "searching for clues about the origin of the universe."  At least in this case, it's the European Space Agency throwing money into space, not NASA.

The Mars Mission: Red Ink for the Red Planet.  [Scroll down]  What we don't see with our earth-bound eyes is a dollar sign anywhere in this exciting news.  Visionaries aren't fond of mundane concerns such as the costs of their pet projects.  George W. Bush, who was never very good at counting costs, urged the nation to embrace the Mars mission in 2004.  Bob Park of the American Physical Society recalled at the time that the president's father was boosting a Mars mission when he was in the White House in 1989.  "He invoked Columbus, as they always do," Park said.  "He said like Columbus 'we dream of shores we've never seen' and went on to propose a return to the Moon and then on to Mars.  And that lasted until they got a cost estimate."  Cost estimates of the Mars mission appear to be rarer than moon rock and wide as the solar system, ranging from $6 billion to $500 billion or more.  The race to put men on the moon has been pegged at $100 billion.  The space station cost another $100 billion.

Editor's note:
The total cost of the International Space Station, through 2015, is estimated at $150 billion.  [1] [2]

Is the International Space Station Worth $100 Billion?  Asking the International Space Station to justify its existence is a tall order.  NASA estimates the station has cost U.S. taxpayers $50 billion since 1994 — and overall, its price tag has been pegged at $100 billion by all member nations. [...] The space agency contends that the weightless environment provided by the station offers a unique way of unmasking processes of cell growth and chemistry that are hidden on Earth.  But some critics don't see a zero gravity laboratory as filling a crucial scientific need.

The Editor says...
Why study zero-gravity cell growth?  Nobody operates a farm in zero gravity.

Congress should phase out the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  NASA could not mask its embarrassment when the $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter was lost after reaching the Red Planet because technicians neglected to convert crucial numbers from English to metric units.

Saving Two American Astronauts From Russian Blackmail.  The United States paid Russia 60 million dollars per American astronaut to get access to the Space Station.  Russia pledged tit-for-tat measures in revenge for U.S. sanctions, by refusing to allow Americans access to our 150 billion-dollar International Space Station, of which the United States paid 84 percent of the cost.  Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin even threatened to cut off American access to the station, saying "I propose that the United States delivers its astronauts to the ISS with the help of a trampoline."  Sadly, today NASA cannot put men into space without Russian cooperation and hasn't done so for years.

Why NASA is Stagnant.  [W]hile NASA was able to put men on the Moon within eight years of the Apollo program's start, the space agency has been unable to go further in the four and a half decades since.  In fact, it is no longer capable of going to the Moon and, as these lines are written, is totally adrift, with no real plan for going anywhere.

The Editor says...
This is the perfect time to eliminate NASA — while nothing is being accomplished.

NASA to launch replacement global warming satellite.  The $468 million mission is designed to study the main driver of climate change emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes.

The Editor says...
By that, the Associated Press apparently means carbon dioxide; however, CO2 is not the main driver of climate change.  In my opinion, the variable output power of the sun is.  Nor is carbon dioxide the most influential greenhouse gas.  That would be water vapor.  Even so, one must give the AP credit for one thing:  At least they mentioned the half-billion-dollar price tag of this futile mission.  Most news coverage of NASA projects omit dollar amounts.

Activists Seek to Block Florida Space Launch Facility.  Environmental activists are attempting to block construction of a space launch facility in Florida, claiming the proposed site should be preserved for scrub jays and other species.

Dramatic NASA satellite images show our air getting cleaner.  If Americans are breathing easier than they were a decade ago, these new NASA satellite images may help explain why.  They show — in vividly color-coded maps — that levels of nitrogen dioxide, an important air pollutant, have plummeted across the country over the last decade.

The Editor says...
That's all very nice, and it proves that the EPA's work is finished, so we can get rid of the EPA now.  But why was this a NASA project rather than a NOAA project?

NASA's deep-space craft readying for launch.  The U.S. space shuttle program retired in 2011, leaving American astronauts to hitchhike into orbit.  But after three long years, NASA's successor is almost ready to make an entrance.  Orion, the agency's newest manned spaceship, is being prepared for its first mission in December.  In future missions, it will journey into deep space — to Mars and beyond — farther than humans have ever gone before.

The Editor says...
There is no mention of the cost of Orion in this article, but it is estimated elsewhere at $500 million per launch.

Global Warming 'Fabricated' by NASA and NOAA.  Scientists at two of the world's leading climate centres — NASA and NOAA — have been caught out manipulating temperature data to overstate the extent of the 20th century "global warming".  The evidence of their tinkering can clearly be seen at Real Science, where blogger Steven Goddard has posted a series of graphs which show "climate change" before and after the adjustments.  When the raw data is used, there is little if any evidence of global warming and some evidence of global cooling.  However, once the data has been adjusted — i.e., fabricated by computer models — 20th century 'global warming' suddenly looks much more dramatic.  This is especially noticeable on the US temperature records.

The news media waves a shiny object to divert us from Barack H. Obama's many scandals.  Providing those distractions may be their primary mission!
NASA Curiosity Rover Celebrates First Martian Year.   Today marks the first Martian year — 687 Earth days — since NASA's Curiosity rover landed safely on Mars.  The robot has had a string of groundbreaking discoveries since it landed on the red planet in August 2012.

NASA: Humans on Mars by 2035 is 'primary focus'.  "In the near term, Mars remains our primary focus," Ellen Stofan, NASA's chief scientist said May 15 in a talk at the Royal Institution in London. [...] "I don't think that first group will necessarily stay there, but we need to think of this as establishing an outpost," she said.  "We want it to be possible for those people to come back if they want to, but it's the beginning of sustained human presence on Mars."  Stofan said the drive behind this huge undertaking is the fundamental question: "Are we alone?"  NASA also plans to continue studying the moon and asteroids, she said.

The Editor says...
Someday the American taxpayers are going to realize that as a country we do not have money to spend on the exploration of other planets.  There is no practical reason for it, and it does not "promote the general Welfare," as some people tend to claim about every government undertaking.  Samples of lunar dirt were brought back in the 1970's and they're just dry, sterile and lifeless rocks and dirt.  The same is almost certainly true of the rocks and dirt on asteroids and other planets.  NASA has no tangible end product, and even if NASA could import a truckload of dirt from the Martian surface, it would be a laboratory specimen of no value to the general public.

As NASA seeks next mission, Russia holds the trump card.  As an uncommonly brisk night fell over Houston last week a tiny Russian spacecraft, bathed in blinding sunlight, re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and plunged toward a dusty steppe in Kazakhstan.  Of the three astronauts inside one was American, Rick Mastracchio, returning from a 188-day stay aboard the International Space Station. His arrival was closely watched in Houston, where Johnson Space Center has responsibility for U.S. human operations in space. [...] Such is today's space Realpolitik that, while the United States paid for most of the $140 billion space station, launched nearly all of it into orbit, and controls most of its day-to-day operations from Houston, Russia still holds the trump card:  access.  "They have us right where they want us," said three-time NASA astronaut Mike Coats.

Where no man has gone before.  James Van Allen, after whom the radiation belt is named, asked in 2004 whether human spaceflight is a legacy dream, a survival of some outdated science-fiction notion, now overtaken by harsh reality. [...] He asks the obvious question:  why bet on the loser, manned space flight when unmanned space has proved the winner?

Russia to ban US from using Space Station over Ukraine sanctions.  Russia is to deny the US future use of the International Space Station beyond 2020 and will also bar its rocket engines from launching US military satellites as it hits back at American sanctions imposed over Ukraine crisis.  Russia's deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced a series of punitive measures on Tuesday [5/13/2014] against the US in response to sanctions imposed after Russia annexed Crimea.  The two countries have long cooperated closely on space exploration despite their clashes in foreign policy.  The Space Station is manned by both American and Russian crew, but the only way to reach it is by using Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

As Obama tightens sanctions, Russia notes its control of U.S. space access.  In the event of escalating sanctions, Russian diplomats promise a "tit for tat" exchange of punishments.  Which might seem comical given Russia's relatively small economic power.  Except for one major thing.  Because Obama allowed the U.S. space shuttle program to die in 2011, scores of missions short of the crafts' designed lifespans, the only way for American astronauts to reach space and return now is in Soyuz spacecraft atop Russian rockets.  This relinquished America's hard-won space superiority.

Rocket Science: House Conservative Targets NASA's $3 million Spent to Find Intelligent Life ... in Congress?  An Arizona conservative congressman is shining light on how President Barack Obama is using $3 million of taxpayer money to teach National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) officials how to lobby Congress.  In the first of a series of efforts targeting wasteful government spending, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) wrote to House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) last week to pressure him to include language banning the Obama administration from spending money on the program.

Nasa Cuts Ties With Russia Over Ukraine.  Nasa employees cannot travel to Russia, host visitors, or email Russian counterparts, according to a memo sent out to workers.  Activities relating to the International Space Station are exempt.  In a statement Nasa said it will continue to work with Russia's space agency "to maintain safe and continuous operation" of the station.

The Editor says...
It's hard to imagine that the Russians will continue to provide transportation for American astronauts if the U.S. is burning its bridges.  In other words, this is a bad time to be an American in space.

NASA Pays Russians $71 Million to Send American Astronaut into Space.  President Obama cancelled NASA's $9 billion space program in 2010, which was set to build three new shuttles.  "To people who are working on these programs, this is like a death in the family," NASA chief Charles Bolden said at the time.  Bolden has expressed concern about relying on the Russians for space missions, and others are worried that current tensions with the country could leave American astronauts stranded in space.

NASA launches a mission to measure snowpack in California, Colorado mountain ranges.  The snowpack atop mountain peaks in California and Colorado has a new set of eyes watching from high above to better gauge the amount of water that will rumble down rivers and streams each spring as runoff.

Here's How NASA Thinks Society Will Collapse.  Few think Western civilization is on the brink of collapse — but it's also doubtful the Romans and Mesopotamians saw their own demise coming either.  If we're to avoid their fate, we'll need policies to reduce economic inequality and preserve natural resources, according to a NASA-funded study that looked at the collapses of previous societies. [...] As limited resources plague the working class, the wealthy, insulated from the problem, "continue consuming unequally" and exacerbate the issue, the study said.

The Editor asks...
What does this have to do with aeronautics and space?

Our Comrades at NASA.  You may well wonder just what NASA, (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is doing funding research on the decline of the Roman Empire when officially it is supposed to be responsible for America's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research.

Which Gov't Agency Is Becoming an 'Organ to Play the Music of Karl Marx'?  Glenn Beck slammed NASA on his radio program Tuesday [3/18/2014], saying it should be "defunded right now" and is being fitted into an "organ to play the music of Karl Marx."  Beck's ire centered around a study sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center claiming industrialized nations have created an unsustainable model doomed to implode, and the solution is to dramatically reduce resource consumption and income inequality.

NASA is planning to make water and oxygen on the Moon and Mars by 2020.  NASA is forging ahead with plans to make water, oxygen, and hydrogen on the surface of the Moon and Mars.  If we ever want to colonize other planets, it is vital that we find a way of extracting these vital gases and liquids from moons and planets, rather than transporting them from Earth.

The Editor says...
Projects of this sort take money out of your pocket and result in no benefit to you whatsoever.

NASA launches newest communication satellite.  This newest $350 million satellite — which will work its way up from a temporarily low orbit — is designated "L" in the TDRS series.

Nasa to try growing vegetables and herbs on the moon to see if humans could one day live there.  Nasa is to try growing vegetables and herbs on the moon to see if humans could one day live there.  The US space agency plans to send seeds to the moon in 2015 in sealed canisters containing everything that is needed for the seedlings to thrive.  As well as ten seeds each of basil and turnips, there will also be around 100 seeds of Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard.

MAVEN takes off.  Today [11/18/2013], NASA will launch a new mission — one that cost $671 million and has been in development for 10 years — to determine what happened to the water on Mars. [...] It could be that some of the missing water has been absorbed into the soil or simply frozen.  But scientists are intrigued by another possibility — water on Mars may have evaporated and been lost to space.

NASA Aims for Mars, With Robotic Maven Set to Soar.  The Maven mission will cost $671 million over its entire lifetime.

NASA launches new spacecraft to orbit Mars.  You may have heard it before: Billions of years ago, Mars probably looked more like Earth does now, with clouds and oceans and a much thicker atmosphere. [...] So what happened? Where did the air and water go? [...] NASA says the mission will cost $671 million.

The Editor says...
NASA — or at least CNN — presumes to know what Mars looked like "billions of years ago."

It's Official! Voyager 1 Spacecraft Has Left [the] Solar System.  A spacecraft from Earth has left its cosmic backyard and taken its first steps in interstellar space.  After streaking through space for nearly 35 years, NASA's robotic Voyager 1 probe finally left the solar system in August 2012, a study published today (Sept. 12) in the journal Science reports.

Voyager probe 'leaves Solar System'.  Launched in 1977, Voyager was sent initially to study the outer planets, but then just kept on going.  Today, the veteran Nasa mission is almost 19 billion km (12 billion miles) from home.  This distance is so vast that it takes 17 hours now for a radio signal sent from Voyager to reach receivers here on Earth.

Exiting the Solar System and Fulfilling a Dream.  By today's standards, the spacecraft's technology is laughable:  it carries an 8-track tape recorder and computers with one-240,000th the memory of a low-end iPhone.  When it left Earth 36 years ago, it was designed as a four-year mission to Saturn, and everything after that was gravy.

The Editor says...
This event happened about a year before it was announced.  I suspect NASA is just now announcing it to push Obama's many scandals off the front page of the local newspapers.  In the next few weeks, look for other wonderful discoveries to be announced by various government agencies.  Don't listen to the American mainstream "news" media without a great deal of skepticism.

Google's Brin, Page lose Pentagon fuel subsidy on private jets.  Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have lost a jet fuel perk, according to a new report.  Google and the Pentagon inked a deal, which started in 2007, that let Google purchase fuel for its entire fleet — seven jets and two helicopters — at a discounted price from the US government, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google Jet Fleet Loses a Pentagon Fuel Perk.  The agreement between the Google founders and the government, which started in 2007, ended Aug. 31 after officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — which sponsored the arrangement — opted not to renew it, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Man Made Climate Change Arguments Don't Survive Scrutiny.  As an example, in 2006 NASA predicted sunspot cycle 24, the current cycle we're in now, would be the strongest in 300 years.  The reality is that it will be the weakest in 100 years.  They could not have been more wrong.  Computer models from the 1990s predicted that global average surface temperature would continue to increase after the year 2000.  They were wrong.  There has been no measured temperature increase since 1998.

Everything you need to know about LADEE, the thing NASA just sent to the moon.  It's the first spacecraft designed and built by NASA's Ames Research Center and the first spacecraft to use a modular body.  It's 7.7 feet high, 4.74 feet deep and wide, and powered by a bunch of solar cells mounted on the body.

The Editor says...
The article goes on and on and on about the technical specifications of the satellite, and indeed, tells you "everything you need to know" about it — except the cost.  Apparently the Washington Post writer believes you don't "need to know" that.  Once again NASA, with nothing else to do, is flying around in circles, but this time the circles will be around the moon.

LADEE.  The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is designed to study the Moon's thin exosphere and the lunar dust environment. [...] Total mission cost is $263 million.

Energy Department nominee struggled with financial management at NASA.  Elizabeth Robinson, the woman President Obama has named to make the Energy Department's oft-criticized contracting more efficient, is leaving behind a trail of spending questions in her past job as NASA's chief financial officer.  A Washington Times review of NASA inspector general reports finds the space agency struggled to achieve austerity under Ms. Robinson's financial leadership, as cost overruns grew sixfold from $50 million in 2009 to $315 million in 2012.

Sounds like busy work to me.
NASA To Study How Pollution, Storms And Climate Mix.  NASA aircraft will take to the skies over the southern United States this summer to investigate how air pollution and natural emissions, which are pushed high into the atmosphere by large storms, affect atmospheric composition and climate.

Caution:  Chinese propaganda site.  May not be factual.
US eyes Mars mission.  The Obama administration has called to an end to the Constellation program which was initiated by the Bush administration, but his new space policy commits to increasing NASA funding and focuses on a Mars mission.  What does his administration's Aerospace plan mean for the US?  "We start by increasing NASA's budget by $6 billion dollars over the next 5 years. [...]"

NASA Makes Another Useless Global Warming Prediction.  A new NASA study says global warming could "increase the risk for extreme rainfall and drought."  We've heard this sort of threat many times before and, no, there's nothing to see here.

Another day, another pointless and expensive experiment.
Why NASA Is Firing Cell Phones Into Space.  The space agency this week took a handful of cheap but powerful smartphones, slapped them to a gigantic rocket and blasted them into low-earth orbit to see how they'd fare.  The project, called PhoneSat, is one of those wacky experiments that seems at first to have nothing to do with science.

US won't be returning to moon, NASA chief says.  "NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime," Bolden told a joint meeting of the Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board in Washington last week, according to Jeff Foust of SpacePolitics.com.  "And the reason is, we can only do so many things."  Instead, he said the focus would remain on human missions to asteroids and to Mars.

Senator: NASA to lasso asteroid, bring it closer.  NASA is planning for a robotic spaceship to lasso a small asteroid and park it near the moon for astronauts to explore, a top senator revealed Friday [4/5/2013].

The Editor says...
Park it near the moon?  Why not park it near the Earth?  Would that not be more reasonable?  Are we going to send astronauts almost all the way to the moon, so they can study a hijacked asteroid instead?  Not likely.  Chances are, every asteroid is a mass of sterile dirt and rocks, much like Mars and the Moon.  I suspect the robots have already seen everything worth seeing.  With a national debt approaching $17 trillion, do we have the money for this foolishness?  What could NASA possibly find on a randomly selected asteroid that would justify this expense?  And what exactly IS the price tag on this boondoggle?

This article makes no mention of lunar orbit, except in a photo caption.
NASA unveils plans to tow asteroid into Earth's orbit for astronauts to explore: senator.  Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday $100 million of President Obama's budget will be set aside for the space mission.  The two-phased plan would help put an astronaut on an asteroid by 2021, four years ahead of Obama's previous goal.

Treasonous Obama Strikes Again.  The world is laughing at us.  It has come to light that the Obama administration has allowed hundreds of Chinese nationals — who are closely associated with the Chinese Liberation Army — to work in a sensitive area of NASA's Langley Research Center.  What could possibly go wrong?  Here's what:  one of these nationals, Bo Jiang, was arrested on Monday [3/18/2013] at Dulles International Airport for apparently attempting to take sensitive information out of the U.S.

NASA's Chinese Spy Problem.  Looks like NASA is suffering from a massive infestation of Chinese spies.  So, let me get this straight (and I'm not being funny here):
  •   We've got radical Islamists in our government, committing a soft coup from within.  Check.
  •   We've got Commie radicals in our unions, schools and major institutions.  Check.
  •   We've got Commies, radical Islamists and spies in our political ranks.  Check.
  •   We've got Commie spies from China throughout our scientific communities.  Check.
The only surprise here, is that we haven't been totally destroyed from the enemies within yet.

NASA — Subjugated, "Repurposed" and Sleeping With Our Enemies.  When Obama came into power over four years ago, I knew it was the opening volley of the destruction of much of what America holds dear.  One of the first things he did was attack NASA.  People may have forgotten the layoffs and changes in NASA.  I haven't.  Obama has overseen the Islamization of NASA with instructions to run a Mohammedan outreach program.  He cut the Constellation program, intended to develop new rockets to carry people into space and the space shuttle program was mothballed — with a special dissing of Texas because they bucked Obama's EPA mandates.  Stellar thuggery gone mad — space exploration, the Chicago way.

FBI probe of defense tech allegedly leaked from NASA stonewalled, sources say.  A four-year FBI investigation into the transfer of classified weapons technology to China and other countries from NASA's Ames Research Center is being stonewalled by government officials, sources tell FoxNews.com.  Documents obtained by FoxNews.com, which summarize these and other allegations and were given to congressional sources last week by a whistle-blower, described how a "secret grand jury" was to be convened in February 2011 to hear testimony from informants in the case, including a senior NASA engineer.  But federal prosecutor Gary Fry was removed from the case, which was then transferred from one office in the Northern District of California to another where, according to the documents, "this case now appears to be stalled."  "The information is staggering," the whistle-blower told FoxNews.com.

NASA spends your money on projects unrelated to space travel:
The Green Ninja.  What, you might ask, is the Green Ninja?  It is an animated climate-action superhero aimed squarely at school children.  In other words, mind poisoning climate alarmist propaganda meant to indoctrinate children into the green belief system.  What's worse, it is being funded by US government grant money.  Not since communism has such a concerted effort been made to brainwash the young before they have a chance to learn how to think for themselves. [...] The project has received a $390,000 grant from NASA to support professional development for teachers, and $20,000 from PG&E to pilot an energy reduction contest for Santa Clara County middle schoolers.

NASA to smash two probes into the moon today.  [Scroll down]  This information will give scientists insights into what lies beneath the lunar surface, and in addition to enlightening us about the moon, it will tell us about the evolution of Earth and other rocky worlds in the inner solar system.

NASA crashes two probes into a mountain on the moon.  A pair of NASA moon-mapping probes smashed themselves into a lunar mountain on Monday [12/17/2012], ending a year-long mission that is shedding light on how the solar system formed.

The Editor says...
The two articles immediately above included no mention of the cost of this mission.  Nor is there any explanation of how the average taxpayer benefits from gravity mapping the moon.  Nor is there any proof that NASA is any closer to disproving the first chapter of the Bible, which offers a theory (at the very least) of "how the solar system formed."

The Air Force has its own space program.
U.S. military sends mystery space drone back into orbit.  The U.S. military launched its highly secretive unmanned $1 billion X-37B space plane into orbit today from Cape Canaveral on top of an Atlas V rocket.  The U.S. Air Force which operates the small, top-secret version of the space shuttle still will not say how long the third X-37B mission will last, nor what the vehicle will be doing in orbit.

NASA to send new rover to Mars in 2020.  Most missions to Mars have failed, although there have been a handful of successful projects, including the Pathfinder, which landed in 1997 and the Spirit, which landed in 2004 and roamed the surface for six years before contact was lost.  The $2.5 billion nuclear-powered Curiosity is designed to hunt for soil-based signatures of life on the Earth's nearest neighbor and send back data to prepare for a future human mission.

The Editor says...
How many Martian probes do we really need?  There have been multiple robotic probes sent to Mars already, and they have all landed in exactly the most favorable spots to "find evidence of life" or to "pave the way for manned missions" to Mars, etc., and they have all found nothing but sterile dirt.  Every Mars mission is called a success, even if nothing is found.  The Martian probe business is a classic example of multi-billion-dollar pork that benefits almost no one in this country.

Of Space and Men.  With its moon mission accomplished, if NASA was to achieve the eternal life that Ronald Reagan identified, space travel needed to be cheaper.  The answer appeared to be a reusable orbiter.  The space shuttle promised, but it failed to deliver.  Over its 30-year life, 135 missions have cost over $200 billion, two orbiters, and fourteen astronaut lives.

Endeavour's final final approach.  Interesting how attached humans can become to a machine with a name, as if it had a personality.  Or, more likely, carried within it some of the peoples' hopes and dreams.

This will never happen:
NASA considers orbital outpost near moon as next big project.  Top NASA officials have picked a leading candidate for the agency's next major mission:  construction of an outpost that would send astronauts farther from Earth than they've ever been.  Called the gateway spacecraft, it would hover in orbit on the far side of the moon, support a small crew and function as a staging area for future missions to the moon and Mars.

Somebody doesn't know what unprecedented means.
Illiteracy at NASA.  Apparently NASA should start distributing dictionaries to the authors of its press releases.

The chances of finding spontaneous life on any planet are practically zero.
Doug Axe explains the chances of getting a functional protein by chance.  The final probability of getting a functional protein composed of 100 amino acids is 1 in 10125.  Even if you fill the universe with pre-biotic soup, and react amino acids at Planck time (very fast!) for 14 billion years, you are probably not going to get even one such protein.  And you need at least 100 of them for minimal life functions, plus DNA and RNA.

Boeing, SpaceX win $900 million in awards for spacecraft.  The U.S. retired its shuttle fleet last year and relies on countries such as Russia to ferry astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station.  The administration wants the private sector to take over those jobs so NASA can focus on missions to asteroids and Mars.  NASA pays about $63 million per seat on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

In the private sector, this is called "outsourcing" and "shipping jobs overseas".
NASA chief: U.S. won't go it alone on manned Mars mission.  U.S. astronauts won't land on Mars by themselves but with international partners in the 2030s, NASA's chief said Wednesday. [...] Obama administration plans are for the $17.7 billion space agency to land an astronaut on an asteroid in 2025, then go to Mars by the middle of the 2030s.  The mission inevitably will be international, as will any future human landings on the moon, [Charles] Bolden said.  "We already have gone there first," he said.

Arctic Ocean mega-bloom: Scientists' eyes popped and jaws dropped.  The discovery of an "enormous, off-the-charts" bloom of microscopic marine plants in the Arctic has floored scientists.

The Editor asks...
What does that have to do with aeronautics and space?

NASA gets two military spy telescopes for astronomy.  The secretive government agency that flies spy satellites has made a stunning gift to NASA:  two exquisite telescopes as big and powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope.  They've never left the ground and are in storage in Rochester, N.Y. [...] The telescopes have been declassified, though they remain sufficiently sensitive that neither the NRO or NASA would provide a photograph of them.

The Editor says...
Last year's model, perhaps?  These two have "never left the ground", they say, but how many others just like them are in orbit right now?

Pentagon releases results of 13,000-mph test flight over Pacific.  The results are in from last summer's attempt to test new technology that would provide the Pentagon with a lightning-fast vehicle, capable of delivering a military strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.

The Editor says...
This "aeronautics and space" project apparently has no connection to NASA, which just goes to show that the development of spacecraft for national defense is being done by the U.S. military, and the frivolous use of space for "human cannonball" stunts is being done by NASA.

NASA rocked by global warming rebellion.  Fifty top astronauts, scientists and engineers at NASA have signed a letter asking the agency to cease its global warming buffoonery.  The global warming emperor has no clothes, and people are finally saying so out loud and in public.  Notrickzone brings us the entire letter, noting that the signers have a combined 1000 years of professional experience.

Astronauts condemn NASA's global warming endorsement.  In an unprecedented slap at NASA's endorsement of global warming science, nearly 50 former astronauts and scientists — including the ex-boss of the Johnson Space Center — claim the agency is on the wrong side of science and must change course or ruin the reputation of the world's top space agency.  Challenging statements from NASA that man is causing climate change, the former NASA executives demanded in a letter to Administrator Charles Bolden that he and the agency "refrain from including unproven remarks" supporting global warming in the media.

Former Astronauts Protest NASA's Global Warming Activism.  With proponents of the theory that human activity is the cause of global warming becoming increasingly defensive of their flawed theory, the joint letter signed by NASA veterans — including several heroes of the space program — is one more blow to a theory which has been losing ground in the realm of public opinion.  And the letter is particularly critical of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, where both director Jim Hansen and climatologist Gavin Schmidt have been particularly vocal proponents of the theory of manmade climate change.

NASA 1986: All Life Extinct In A Few Decades Due To Global Warming.  Milwaukee Sentinel, June 11, 1986.

If NASA has no official position on climate change, what is this?  If NASA has no official position on climate change, as claimed to Andy Revkin by as-usual clueless Gavin Schmidt, what is this?  "NASA Policy Statement — Adapting to a Changing Climate" (May 2011).

Nasa scientist: climate change is a moral issue on a par with slavery.  Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a "great moral issue" on a par with slavery, according to the leading Nasa climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen.  He argues that storing up expensive and destructive consequences for society in future is an "injustice of one generation to others".

NASA probe offers new view of Mercury.  Mostly ignored since a brief fly-by in the 1970s, Mercury, our solar system's smallest, swiftest planet, received a longer house call last March:  NASA's $450 million Messenger probe, which achieved orbit, a tricky feat never before attempted.

The Editor says...
The government took money out of your paycheck (under threat of imprisonment) to pay for this.  How are you better off if we now have clearer pictures of Mercury?  You aren't.

A Year Later, Mysterious Space Plane Is Still in Orbit.  The Air Force's secretive X-37B space plane gets more mysterious by the day.  Designed to spend up to nine months on unspecified errands in Earth's orbit, the second copy of the Boeing-made craft, known as Orbital Test Vehicle 2, has now been in space for a year and two days — and is still going strong.  The endurance milestone is unqualified good news for America's space force at a time when its funding and future missions are in doubt.  There's just one thing.  We still don't know exactly what the 30-foot-long X-37B is doing up there.

Update:
X-37B to land after a year in orbit.  The plane resembles a mini space shuttle and is the second to fly in space.  It was meant to land in March, but the mission of the X-37B orbital test vehicle was extended — for unknown reasons.

Stolen NASA laptop contained the command codes to control the International Space Station.  A laptop stolen from NASA contains the control codes used to command the International Space Station.  The unencrypted laptop stolen last year is among dozens of mobile devices containing sensitive information that have been reported missing from the space agency, an internal investigation has found.  Giving testimony on the space agency's security issues, NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin told Congress that 48 agency devices were lost or stolen over a two year period.
[Emphasis added.]

Stolen NASA laptop had Space Station control codes.  A NASA laptop stolen last year had not been encrypted, despite containing codes used to control and command the International Space Station, the agency's inspector general told a US House committee.  NASA IG Paul Martin said in written testimony (PDF) to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology that a laptop was stolen in March 2011, which "resulted in the loss of the algorithms used to command and control the ISS".

Obama's Budget Would Cut Mars Program, Solar System Exploration.  The budget coming Monday [2/13/2012] from the Obama administration will send the NASA division that launches rovers to Mars and probes to Jupiter crashing back to Earth.  Scientists briefed on the proposed budget said that the president's plan drops funding for planetary science at NASA from $1.5 billion this year to $1.2 billion next year, with further cuts continuing through 2017.

Mars too dry for life.  Life could not exist on the surface of Mars because the planet has experienced a 600 million year "super-drought", scientists claim.

The Editor says...
Good!  Now we can stop sending expensive probes to Mars.

Russia postpones two manned launches to International Space Station.  Worrisome cracks in its spacecraft have forced Russia to postpone two manned launches to the International Space Station (ISS), the Interfax news agency reported Friday — echoing a 2011 situation that left the country's space transport vehicles grounded and led to speculation that scientists may be forced to abandon the orbiting space base.

Red Flag on the Red Planet: China's Great Leap Marsward?  American society is becoming increasingly risk-averse, fearful, and mistrustful of science and technology.  Not surprisingly, public enthusiasm for America's space program is at an all-time low.

Twin NASA Probes Have New Year's Date with the Moon.  [Scroll down]  While scientists focus on gravity, middle school students will get the chance to take their own pictures of the moon using cameras aboard the probes as part of a project headed by Sally Ride, the first American woman in space.  There's already chatter about trying to extend the $496 million mission, which was slated to end before the partial lunar eclipse in June.

NASA admits losing moon rocks.  NASA's Inspector General says the US space agency seems to have misplaced some pieces of the moon, meteorites and other space items.  NASA concedes that more than 500 pieces of space material have been stolen or been missing since 1970.  That includes 218 stolen moon samples that were returned and about two dozen moon rocks and chunks of lunar soil that were reported lost last year.

Have they checked eBay?
Hundreds of NASA's moon rocks reported missing.  The space agency has lost or misplaced more than 500 pieces of the lunar rocks and other space samples, NASA's inspector general reported Thursday [12/8/2011], making the case for better inventory controls.  Astronauts on the Apollo moon landings from 1969 to 1972 returned 842 pounds of lunar rock and soil to Earth.  The space agency now loans samples, along with meteorite and comet dust, to about 377 researchers worldwide.  The space agency now lists 517 moon rock samples as missing or stolen.

With discovery, NASA now on the road to finding Earth's twin.  Our world felt a little less special on Monday, as NASA's Kepler mission announced the discovery of an "Earth-sized" planet orbiting a "sun-like" star.  Yes, another one.  But this new orb merits special status — because it's the first planet to be officially confirmed to exist in the so-called "habitable zone."  It's an ideal size.  It orbits just the right distance from its star, which is a lot like our own sun.

The Editor says...
The Earth is "a little less special" only to the godless left-wing fools who run NASA.  The article above sounds as if it were written by NASA itself:  "It orbits just the right distance from its star," etc.  Oooo... It's just the right color and it all nice and round and everything.

Absolute Certainty Is Not Scientific.  One of the changes among scientists in this century is the increasing number who believe that one can have complete and certain knowledge.  For example, Michael J. Mumma, a NASA senior scientist who has led teams searching for evidence of life on Mars, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, "Based on evidence, what we do have is, unequivocally, the conditions for the emergence of life were present on Mars — period, end of story."

Liftoff! NASA mission heads to Mars, looking for life.  The world's biggest extraterrestrial explorer, NASA's Curiosity rover, rocketed toward Mars today [11/26/2011] on a search for evidence that the red planet might once have been home to itsy-bitsy life.

The Editor says...
This time, NASA says methane would be concrete proof of life on Mars.  What are the chances of finding methane in the air if they can't find water on the ground?  Why didn't they test for methane two or three probes ago, and how does the presence of methane prove anything?  And how do we know there's not a little can of methane on the probe just in case they can't find any native methane?

American astronaut hitches a ride on Russian rocket to space station.  Not suprisingly, news that an American astronaut lifted off from Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in a Soyuz rocket along with two Russian cosmonauts was not given much publicity by our government.

Obama readies to blast NASA.  Word has leaked out that in its new budget, the Obama administration intends to terminate NASA's planetary exploration program.  The Mars Science Lab Curiosity, being readied on the pad, will be launched, as will the nearly completed small MAVEN orbiter scheduled for 2013, but that will be it.  No further missions to anywhere are planned.

After running out of things to do...
NASA rolls out Web-based game.  NASA must think some people are interested in learning how astronauts, mission controllers and scientists communicate during space missions.  The agency is rolling out a game called NetworKing that puts players in charge of building a fast and efficient communication network.

U.S. Abandons Space.  Not long ago, Capt. Shen Zhong of the Chinese Navy Research Institute said:  "The mastery of outer space will be requisite for military victory, with outer space becoming the new venue for combat."  Certainly the Chinese development of an operational anti-satellite program speaks to Beijing's view that space is not a demilitarized zone.

The Editor says...
Even if there are no U.S. astronauts in orbit, we have not abandoned space.  There is still a lot of hardware in orbit, and unmanned rockets are launched periodically to add more.  If there is a potential for warfare in space, that's a matter for the Air Force and the Army, not NASA.

NASA's Fallen Satellite Highlights Human Fears.  [Scroll down]  Undoubtedly anyone who had just avoided being hit by a piece of satellite crashing to Earth should be warned about its potential for "sharp edges"  — but the government's decision to send UARS plummeting into the atmosphere on an unknown trajectory sounds like the very definition of abandonment of property.  The notion that the killjoys at NASA would insist on trying to pry fragments of their abandoned property from the hands people who had nearly become victims of their reckless practices for de-orbiting satellites is lost somewhere between humorous and positively insulting.

The Wages of Terror.  We may not have a space program anymore, but NASA has partnered with Saudi Arabia on "lunar and asteroid science research".  The good news is that the Saudis can afford to buy us a new shuttle, so long as we don't let any women drive it.

Will NASA Abandon Ship?  Problems with the Russian crew rocket may force the space agency to abandon the space station.

Prominent scientist pleads guilty to attempted espionage.  Stewart Nozette, once a prominent scientist for NASA who served on the Space Council under President George H.W. Bush, pleaded guilty Wednesday [9/7/2011] to attempted espionage, a case that attracted widespread notice but began as a seemingly routine fraud investigation.

Obama's Creepy Agency Creep.  In a much-reported event, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration revealed that its "foremost" mission is to improve relations with the Muslim world.  Note the complete and obvious lack of intersection between the words "aeronautics/space" and "Islam/outreach."  Nonetheless, President Obama decided that such outreach logically followed the space shuttle, Hubble, Rover, and space station successes.  In a more recent drift from core competencies, NASA chief Charles Bolden played politics by steering the shuttle museum decision away from Republican-dominated Houston, home of the shuttle program and most of its astronauts.

Obama Administration: Lost in Space.  Astronauts are stranded on the space station.  America's once-mighty Space Shuttle fleet has been disassembled and mothballed with nothing to replace it.  The Russians, once the inferior player in the space race, is the only hope left to rescue the stranded astronauts.

Aliens May Strike Humans To Save The Galaxy: Study.  Beyond endangering the earthly inhabitants, humans may have posed a serious threat to the entire galaxy, possibly prompting aliens to destroy humanity in order to end global warming and save the rest of the galaxy from being contaminated as well.  Surprisingly, the suggestion comes from one of NASA's scientists.

The Shuttle: a journey through space and time that took us nowhere.  The Shuttle story should really be titled "Lost in Space".  About $210 billion went towards a programme born of fantasy.  The story came to an end because the American government finally accepted what experts realised at the beginning:  strip away the drama of manned space travel, and the Shuttle is an expensive and complicated way to provide what should be a cheap and simple service.

NASA: Muslim world here we come.  Now that the space shuttle program has been retired, NASA can start focusing on its primary mission:  reaching out to the Muslim world.

Soyuz carrying Furukawa blasts off for ISS.  [Satoshi Furukawa] is the third Japanese to spend an extended period of time at the space station.  Also on his task list at the ISS are zero-gravity experiments, including making green tea, trying out "suminagashi" Japanese ink marbling and growing cucumbers.

The Editor says...
In other words, they sent him up there with nothing to do.

Boeing lays off 260 shuttle workers in Houston.  Boeing today [6/3/2011] sent layoff notices to 510 employees — including 260 in Houston — involved in space shuttle work.  The notices give 60 days advance notice of an expected job elimination.

Harrison Schmitt Proposes Dismantling of NASA and Creation of a New Agency.  When a new President takes office in 2013, he or she should propose to Congress that we start space policy and its administration from scratch.

Federally Funded NASA 'Educates' Children About Global Warming on 'Climate Kids' Web Site.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Web site network includes "Climate Kids:  NASA's Eyes on the Earth," which use cartoons, games, and other activities to teach children about man-made global warming and climate change.  According to NASA's budget request for fiscal year 2012, totaling $18.7 billion, the agency would dedicate $145.8 million to educational programs.  The "Climate Kids" site is supported through NASA's educational programs, according to a spokesman with the agency.

NASA Over a Russian Barrel.  The Russians are asking exorbitant fees to transport our astronauts to the space station while preventing American private companies from doing the job.

Adventures in Federal Budget Cutting.  [Scroll down]  Though a space scientist, I have never actually worked for NASA, but was considered for the position of chief scientist by NASA heads Jim Fletcher in 1989 and by Mike Griffin in 2001.  But perhaps my views about certain NASA programs had become known to them.  I have always considered the International Space Station as a big 'White Elephant' — and the manned-moon base of George Bush the elder and George W. Bush an even bigger disaster.  Needless to say, I did not get the NASA job.  I still consider the space station to be a fairly useless enterprise.

Space isn't a jobs program.  In the most austere fiscal climate in memory, Congress refuses to be serious about space policy.  When the Obama administration, based on recommendations from a blue-ribbon panel in 2009, proposed cancellation of the overbudget, behind-schedule, underperforming Constellation program a year ago, its decision was hamstrung by wording that Congress had added to legislation that prevented NASA from shutting down any aspect of it.  As a result, the space agency, like other government programs, has been forced to continue spending hundreds of million dollars on a program that most, including many in Congress, now agree will not move forward in its present form.

$424 million dumped in the ocean.
NASA Satellite Rocket Launch Fails, Lands In Ocean.  A rocket carrying an Earth-observation satellite plummeted into the Pacific Ocean after a failed launch attempt Friday [3/4/2011], the second-straight blow to NASA's weakened environmental monitoring program.

Another Climate Fail for NASA.  The earth observation satellite Glory failed to reach orbit on Friday [3/4/2011] after its protective cover did not detach following its launch, a NASA official said.  "The fairing did not separate and the vehicle does not have sufficient velocity with the fairing on to achieve orbit," an official said on NASA TV, adding that there was "no indication as to why it did not separate."

Eerie Coincidences in Failure of NASA Climate Monitoring Satellites.  [Scroll down]  Just a little over two years ago, on February 24th, 2009, a Taurus assigned to deliver the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) met exactly the same fate, and the two lost satellites are probably sitting on the ocean floor not far from each other.  After that failure, OSC [Orbital Sciences Corporation] conducted an investigation to determine its cause.  Apparently, that investigation failed as well, because if they had discovered and fixed the problem, it's unlikely it would have happened again on Friday.

Lawmakers questions NASA's budget proposal.  Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle criticized NASA's fiscal 2012 budget proposal this week for diverting funding from manned spaceflight towards boosting the commercial space industry.

Increased air traffic may be a factor in climate change.  Wispy white jet contrails are a familiar sight, a sign of today's considerable air traffic, and to some people, a visible reminder of environmental threat.  The trails — formed when moisture condenses around aircraft engine exhaust — create cirrus clouds that block solar energy from above and trap heat below.  They may be contributing to warming of the Earth's surface temperature, NASA studies show.

Obama Administration Unilaterally Limiting U.S. Space Development, Ceding to China.  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates just finished explaining how the U.S. needs to suit up for future space wars, so naturally the Russians are pushing for us to forgo developing our space assets, promising they'll follow along.  Now the problem with striking arms deals with the Russians is that they cheat.

Congress to NASA: Study Space! (Not Climate.)  The amount of money being spent to study global warming, as a percentage of NASA's budget, is startling — especially when one considers this is not part of NASA's original mission.  In budget year 2010, NASA spent 7.5% of its funding — over $1B — to study global warming.  On top of that — the vast majority of federal stimulus money given to NASA in 2010 was spent on studying global warming.  As a whole, the U.S. federal government has spent $8.7 billion dollars on global warming studies — just in the past year!  Many of the sixteen separate agencies doing this work were performing redundant research.  In a time of federal spending cuts that are sure to come, much of this redundancy certainly can and must be eliminated, saving taxpayers billions.

NASA launches search for 'moon trees'.  The agency announced last week that it is still searching for several hundred "moon trees" grown from seeds carried aboard the Apollo 14 command module that orbited the moon in 1971.  Part science experiment, part public relations campaign, the idea was to see whether space flight affected their ability to sprout.

The Editor says...
The seeds orbited the moon before they sprouted.  So what?  Unless you're extraordinarily superstitious about the moon, how does that add any value to the trees?

NASA extremist advocates U.S. decline.  Consider James E. Hansen, director of the taxpayer-funded NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  Last week, blogger Marc Morano discovered a Nov. 24 blog post by Mr. Hansen calling on China to lead an international effort to impose fees on carbon-dioxide emissions, then lead the World Trade Organization to allow import fees on goods from any county — with the U.S. being the target — without such fees.  The goal would be to punish America, causing "continual descent into second-rate and third-rate economic well-being," until the "fossil-money- 'democracy'" no longer "rules the roost in Washington."  Mr. Hansen also praised communist Chinese leadership for "tak[ing] the long view ... in contrast to the West with its [lamentably] short election cycles."

The Tom Friedman of Climatology.  One of the striking features of our political era is that increasing numbers of liberals are coming out of the closet as enemies of the Constitution and of democracy.  The latest is James Hansen, who heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  Hansen is, to be blunt, an awful human being and one of the worst of the global warming fraudsters.  Under his guidance, NASA's data have become so unreliable as to be an embarrassment to any scientists who may still be in the picture.

One giant leap from a lake to a lapse.  The news is buzzing with headlines like "Arsenic eating bacteria suggests extraterrestrial life possible," the headlines are not on the Enquirer at the checkout line, they are coming from NASA.

NASA pushes for a green jetliner.  They might be best known for space travel, but the folks at NASA are determined to shape the future of commercial aviation.  The agency says airliners need to be quieter, greener and more fuel-efficient.  To attain those goals, NASA handed out nearly $6 million in contracts this week to two defense industry giants:  Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp.

The Editor says...
Nothing in the Constitution authorizes the funding of basic scientific research, and nothing in the Constitution permits the federal government to meddle in the operation of lawful private businesses.  If the airlines consider projects of this sort to be necessary, let them foot the bill.  Remember, NASA has no money of its own.  That was your money they gave away!

With NASA Budget, Time for Republicans To Be ... Republicans.  Part of the mythology of the agency is that it is somehow important to national security for NASA to have its own unique means of getting astronauts into space.  Some (and even some who should know better, on the Hill) imagine that it's literally true, in the sense that there are secret military missions performed by NASA astronauts (there aren't).  Others see it as symbolic, harkening back to Apollo when it was a matter of international prestige in an existential Cold War with the Soviets.

The Future Of NASA and A "Moon Shot" At The Economy.  Since the Apollo program ended and the shuttle program began, astronauts have been going only on orbital missions, launching and servicing satellites, and building the hugely expensive space station which seems to be used more by the Russians than the U.S.  What new innovations, discoveries, or developments have come from the space station program?  Maybe occasionally they use it for something useful but mostly it's just a waste of money and was primarily built for political purposes to give Russia and the U.S. common grounds for working together after the cold war.

NASA previews its sexiest Mars Rover yet.  JPL scientists allowed a sneak peak Thursday at "Curiosity," the $2.3-billion generation-next of Mars rovers that has scientists both elated and tense as they draw near its 2011 launch date.

A candy-coated suicide mission:
The Hundred Year Starship.  Nasa is planning an audacious mission to send a manned spacecraft on a one-way trip to permanently settle on other planets.  The ambitious idea is known as the Hundred Years Starship and would send astronauts to colonise planets like Mars, knowing they could never come home.

Does the 'S' In NASA Suddenly Stand for 'Stupid'?  The latest example of the brainless void in the Obama administration (no, not Joe Biden this time) comes directly from the head of NASA.  The space agency's Administrator Charles Bolden said recently that the "foremost" mission of our space agency was to make Muslims feel good about stuff they did hundreds of years ago.  It's not an accident.  Bolden had been in Cairo promoting this stupidity, following up on Obama's speech a year ago catering to the Muslim world.

NASA's Muslim outreach:  Al Jazeera was told first.  Lawmakers across Capitol Hill, both Democrats and Republicans, were surprised to learn recently that the Obama administration has made reaching out to Muslim nations a top priority for the space agency NASA.  They will probably be more surprised to learn that administration officials told the Middle East news organization Al Jazeera about it before they told Congress.

President Dogbert.  Set aside whatever you are thinking now about making Muslim nations feel good.  If this was the new NASA administrator's "mission," how is it discernible from, say, a mission that could be assigned to the Secretary of Education?  Couldn't General Bolden accomplish his mission without even having to put anything or any person into space ever again?  This "mission" has the earmarks of the bad mission statements I recall from my tenure as a cubicle-dweller:  It is a "save the world" (and its children and Muslims) mission, and it has nothing specific to do with NASA itself.  It could apply equally to the Dept. of Education, the Dept. of Energy, or the Dept. of Agriculture.

Farewell to Space.  Just when you thought Barack Obama's toadying to Islam could not get any worse, now comes this:  The President directed the new administrator of NASA, retired Marine Major General Charles Bolden, as "perhaps [his] foremost" charge to "find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage more dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science... and math and engineering."

One Giant Leap (Backward).  "Waste anything but time."  That was the motto of the teams behind NASA's Apollo missions.  That spirit has long since evaporated.  Today's NASA is pulled by a million missions, from improving education and spinning off more products like Tang to its latest call of duty:  telling Muslims how good they are at math. ... We've gone from "waste anything but time" to "waste everything, especially time" in about a generation.

The NASA-Muslim Outreach Story 'Has Not Made the Cut'.
Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program in the New York Times: 0.
  •   Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program in the Washington Post:  0.
  •   Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on NBC Nightly News:  0.
  •   Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on ABC World News:  0.
  •   Total words about the NASA Muslim outreach program on CBS Evening News:  0.

The Distance NASA Travelled Over 48 Years.  [Scroll down]  One listens to this interview and remembering this is the United States of America we are talking about, one is tempted to say the piece is an absolutely nutty story, one wants to say it is ridiculous, even bizarre, a fraud.  Then one realizes it is real, it is where we have traveled in the last 48 years, and one shudders.

Allah's final frontier.  What's unclear is what Mr. Bolden believes the United States has to gain by reaching out to a part of the world that has been technologically stagnant for centuries.  The Muslim world has nothing to offer the United States as a space-faring nation.  If anything, America should be discouraging Middle East space programs.  Iran has the most advanced space initiative in the region and claimed to have launched a satellite in February.  It's a short step from putting satellites in space to being able to do the same with warheads.

U.S. Space Program Bows To Mecca.  At a time when the only missile programs in the Arab world, namely in Syria and Iran, are aimed at hitting Israel with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, NASA administrator Charles Bolden goes on Al Jazeera to tell the Muslim world his "foremost" goal was to make them feel good about their achievements in math, science and engineering.  Citing the International Space Station as an example, Bolden described space travel as an international collaboration of which Muslim nations must be a part.

Obama Making Carter Years look Like Paradise.  The United States government and some in media seem obsessed with appeasing anybody and anything Islamic.  Only the latest example is the decree from NASA that its "foremost" mission is to recognize and appreciate the contributions of Muslims to science.

The Right Stuff Goes Wrong.  The president and Bolden think it will improve relations with the Muslim world if we praise them for their work in math and science many centuries ago, but what has the Muslim world done for humanity lately?

Muslim pandering 'not good for the country'.  A conservative media watchdog thinks the mainstream media has virtually ignored the NASA administrator's recent outlandish statement that the "foremost" mission of the space agency is to improve relations with the Muslim world.  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden made that announcement on the English language version of Al Jazeera, which Jeff Poor of the Media Research Center's Business and Media Institute believes was a questionable move in and of itself.

The White House backpedals at full speed:
Muslim Outreach Not the Job of NASA, White House Says.  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday [7/12/2010] that NASA Administrator Charles Bolden must have misspoken when he told Al Jazeera last month that one of his top priorities is to reach out to Muslim countries.  "That was not his task and that's not the task of NASA," Gibbs said.  Bolden, though, said last month in the interview that it was President Obama who gave him that task.  He made a similar claim in February.

White House denies NASA remark on Muslim outreach.  The White House is contradicting the NASA administrator's claim that President Barack Obama assigned him to reach out to Muslims on science matters.

In Search of Islam's Contributions.  NASA administrator Charles Bolden gave an interview in late June to Al Jazeera television and told the Arabic-language news network that before he took his new job, Obama told him that "perhaps" his "foremost" duty was "to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering."  This is ludicrous.  It is not our government's job to make foreigners feel good about themselves.

Norm Augustine's Subversive Agenda.  To commemorate the first anniversary of Barack Obama's Cairo speech, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, interviewed on al Jazeera TV, said that one of his foremost responsibilities was improving relations in the Muslim world by highlighting their contributions to math, science and engineering, thereby making them feel better.  Notwithstanding that Muslims abroad learned of this outreach before the Americans who will fund it did, while your first instinct may be to focus on the emotional aspects of using taxpayer-funded NASA to enhance public relations with Muslims, a sizable majority of whom hate us, we must look at the totality of what Barack Obama is doing to America's military and space programs and how those actions are intertwined, before the national security implications become apparent.

NASA's Final Frontier.  Once upon a time, NASA led America's great ascent into the final frontier.  But in a stunning case of misplaced priorities, the space agency now seems to be primarily concerned with raising Muslim self esteem.

NASA Outreach Program 'Confirmed' Despite White House Denial, Rep Says.  The White House is disavowing a plan to have NASA conduct outreach to Muslim countries, but a congressman who talked to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about that plan last month said the initiative was very real until somebody slammed the brakes on it.  Rep. Pete Olson, ranking Republican on the Space and Aeronautics House Subcommittee, told FoxNews.com that Bolden described the outreach program as part of the administration's space plan during a conversation they had in June.

What Muslim Scientific Achievements?  [Scroll down]  Walid Phares, an author and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted that the U.S. shouldn't "be in the business of bringing religion, Islam or other to space development." ... "This is a ridiculous concept.  Those who enter a spaceship are humans not members of religious sects.  I think what lays behind this medieval perception of space technology is a policy of partnership with Islamist regimes, most of which are oppressive of their own people."

More about Obama and the Muslims.

This is a man with very little work to do:
Holdren: US Must Prepare for Asteroid.  If an asteroid were on a collision course with Earth, would we be ready to defend against its destructive impact or would we be helpless and defenseless?  NASA, America's space agency, is being charged with leading the way to protect not only the U.S. but the entire world in the event of such a horrifying scenario.

Now that global warming has fizzled, let's move on to the next crisis.
Climate Alarmism Takes Off in a New Direction.  NASA has just voiced its concern over the threat that our modern technological society is now facing from "solar storms."  Now it's true of course, that our society has become quite dependent on new technology, such as satellite communications and GPS mapping, that is vulnerable to the effects of major solar storms, but NASA seems to be a bit too worried about how big the threat really is.

One Giant Leap for Commercial Space.  While the Obama administration shuts down the Shuttle and the Constellation programs, commercial space firms are stepping into the void.

NASA's mission to nowhere.  In a speech given at the Kennedy Space Center last month, President Obama reaffirmed his administration's decision to cancel Constellation, NASA's program to create new vehicles for human flights to the moon and Mars.  If implemented, this decision will guarantee a decade of non-achievement by NASA's human spaceflight program, at a cost of more than $100 billion.

NASA accused of 'Climategate' stalling.  The man battling NASA for access to potential "Climategate" e-mails says the agency is still withholding documents and that NASA may be trying to stall long enough to avoid hurting an upcoming Senate debate on global warming.

Did someone mention ClimateGate?

CEI's NASA global warming lawsuit.  In case you missed this item on Thursday [5/27/2010], the Competitive Enterprise Institute is suing NASA over its failure to respond to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act going back to 2007.

Obama Space.  [Scroll down]  Why are they doing this?  I haven't a clue.  The real disappointment is that they choose to decentralize and privatize manned space flight while doing everything humanly possible to take over and control the rest of the American economy.  My guess is that the $19-billion NASA budget is not large enough to warrant their interest and that most of the manned space flight activities are conducted in "Red States."

U.S. military launch space plane on maiden voyage.  A top secret space plane developed by the US military has blasted off from Cape Canaveral on its maiden voyage.  Billed as a small shuttle, the unmanned X-37B heralds the next generation of space exploration.  It will be the first craft to carry out an autonomous re-entry in the history of the US programme.  But its mission — and its cost — remain shrouded in secrecy.

A weapon that can strike anywhere on Earth in 30 minutes.  Call it a reusable space vehicle.  Call it a space plane.  But whatever you do, just don't call it a space weapon.  That's the message from the Air Force after last week's launch of its X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which can stay on orbit up to 270 days.  The Air Force won't say what, exactly, the robotic space plane will be doing there, how long it will linger this time, or even how much it costs.

The Editor says...
All that secrecy can only mean one thing:  It's a weapon.

Nasa:  Evidence of life on Mars.  NASA scientists last night unveiled compelling evidence of life on Mars.  A special mission to the Red Planet has revealed the likely presence of a form of pond scum — the building blocks of life as we know it.

The Editor says...
I wonder why we're only hearing about this "discovery" in a British tabloid.  And what exactly is a "special mission"?

Losing it in space.  Rather than reaching toward the stars, America's premier scientific organization has settled its sights on studying shrimp schools beneath the Antarctic ice cap and sticky accelerators on Toyotas.

Hiding NASA Decline.  The agency that put Americans on the moon can't tell you the temperature that day.  It isn't returning to the moon, but it will fix the brakes on your car.  Two senators want to know what's going on.

NASA chief vows help for Florida employees.  NASA chief Charles Bolden on Wednesday [2/24/2010] outlined plans to help the Kennedy Space Center and Florida's aerospace workers through the cancellation of the back-to-the-moon program — without mentioning comparable assistance for Houston's Johnson Space Center.

Turning NASA into a Global Alarmism and Scares Administration:  The president's budget gives the National Aeronautics and Space Administration a hefty $6 billion budget increase over the next five years, with nearly $2.5 billion dedicated to research on global climate change. ... It is activism, not science, that the Obama administration's vast new funding will encourage.

To Boldly Go Nowhere:  NASA Foregoes Moon, Concentrates on 'Global Warming'.  [Scroll down]  The President of the United States, according to [a] story in the Orlando Sentinel, doesn't seem to share that sense of wonder or to understand the educational, societal and economic value that comes along with indulging natural human curiosity about the universe we live in.  If he has his way, Obama will replace the sonorous call to "boldly go where no man has gone before" with a mere murmur, to blandly study what everyone has been studying for years.

The Atheist-Dominated National Academy of Sciences.  It is important for us to understand the mindset of the hierarchy of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) because they are the ones whose alleged expertise on "global warming" will justify the Democrats' cap-and-tax legislation.  Over the last 50 years, the NAS hierarchy has become one of the most poisonous organizations in America, a nest of atheists who base their pseudo-scientific dogma on the arbitrary rejection of God, and not upon empirical evidence and the scientific method.

NASA chief:  Mars is our mission.  NASA's emerging exploration plan will call for safely sending humans to Mars, possibly by the 2030s, and de-emphasize exploration of the moon, the agency's leader said Tuesday [2/9/2010].

Panel Says NASA Needs To Privatize.  A blue-ribbon panel said Tuesday [9/8/2009] that a lack of financing has left NASA's current space program on an "unsustainable trajectory" and that the Obama administration should consider using private companies to launch people into low-Earth orbit.  The panel, convened in May in response to a request by President Obama, delivered an executive summary of its report to the Office of Science and Technology Policy.  The full report is expected later this month.

This report is dubious at best:
India's lunar mission finds evidence of water on the Moon.  Dreams of establishing a manned Moon base could become reality within two decades after India's first lunar mission found evidence of large quantities of water on its surface.  Data from Chandrayaan-1 also suggests that water is still being formed on the Moon.  Scientists said the breakthrough — to be announced by Nasa at a press conference today [9/24/2009] — would change the face of lunar exploration.

The Editor asks...
Large quantities of water, really?  If you paid any attention in high school, you may remember that the moon has no atmosphere, so if there is a puddle of water, it sits in a vacuum, and must endure an average daytime temperature of about 107°C.  (Remember what happens at 100°C.?)  A pond or a lake would last about half an hour under those conditions.  If there are large quantities of water on the moon, why has no probe detected them until now, and why are there no clouds around the moon?  And really, "water is still being formed on the Moon"?  It is being formed out of what?  Could this report be any more absurd?

40 years later, the moon landings have unintended consequences.
Plan to Combat Global Warming? Pie in the Sky.  Whenever you hear a politician start a sentence with, "If we can put a man on the moon...," grab your wallet.  For years, Democrats, enthralled by the cargo cult of the Kennedy presidency, have used the moon landing as proof that no big government ambition is beyond our reach. ... The problem with the "if we can put a man on the moon, we can certainly spend trillions on this or that" formulation is that it sees political and scientific accomplishments as interchangeable.

NASA's mission to bomb the Moon.  The LCROSS mission will blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying a missile that will blast a hole in the lunar surface at twice the speed of a bullet.  The missile, a Centaur rocket, will be steered by a shepherding spacecraft that will guide it towards its target — a crater close to the Moon's south pole.  Scientists expect the blast to be so powerful that a huge plume of debris will be ejected.

The Editor says...
In all likelihood this explosive long-distance exploration will probably accomplish little or nothing.  How many billions of dollars will be thrown away on fireworks shows of this kind, before the general public complains about the waste of their money?

Wanted:  A Space Program with a Vision.  In 1993, when the space station was on the verge of being canceled, it was saved by only one vote in Congress, and then only because the Clinton administration converted it to a foreign-aid program for the Russians.  This explains much of the quandary in which we remain today; in which we are dependent on them for a lifeboat to get us to the Space Station and for actual access to it after the Shuttle retires next year, if current policy follows through.

Earth bears scars of human destruction:  astronaut.  [In July 2009, the Endeavour] astronauts delivered a Japanese-built experiment platform, installed new batteries for the station's solar power system and stashed spare parts to keep the station operational after shuttles are retired next year after seven more flights.  The $100 billion station, a project of 16 nations, is nearing completion after more than a decade of work.

Astronaut's underwear an endeavor of its own.  In what might embarrass less adventurous souls, astronaut Koichi Wakata is returning to Earth with the pairs of underwear he wore for a solid month during his space station stay so that scientists can check them out.  They are experimental high-tech undies, designed in Japan to be odor free.

The Editor says...
Was it necessary for this man to be in orbit to test his underwear?  Is this going to be called a beneficial by-product of space travel, even though it could have been accomplished on the ground?  Are experiments of this sort really worth 18 billion dollars a year?

NASA employee speaks out on 'Pride Month'.  A NASA employee is voicing concern over a recent email and memo from her supervisors.  The controversial memo was sent out by NASA officials to employees and encouraged them to celebrate "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month," in accordance with a presidential proclamation.  NASA officials not only encouraged employees to celebrate the pro-homosexual observance, but also encouraged them to participate in pride events in their communities.  If there was no such event in their community, employees were encouraged to start one.

NASA chief tells employees to celebrate gay pride month.  The Catholic News Agency reported this morning [6/12/2009] that National Aeronautics and Space Administration's acting Chief Christopher J. Scolese sent an internal communication to all employees at the space agency directing them to organize and participate in Gay Pride Month celebrations.

Family Advocates Baffled as NASA Celebrates Homosexual "Pride" Month.  Pro-family advocates are charging The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with having gone "completely-off mission" with its decision to officially promote homosexual rights. ... "LGBT Pride Month is a reflection of NASA's commitment to inclusiveness across the broad spectrum of our workforce," said NASA's Acting Administrator Christopher J. Scolese.

NASA goes 'completely off-mission' with LGBT Pride Month, critic charges.  [Scroll down]  John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, said [Christopher J.] Scolese's announcement was "stunning" and charged that it promoted activities which "'celebrate' aberrant forms of sexual conduct."  He called the action "completely off-mission" and counterproductive to the best interests of children, families and "the common good of society." ... He said the action breeds "bad internal morale" and disrespects the consciences of "tens of thousands, if not the vast majority, of NASA's own 300,000 employees" who object to "the promotion of sexual activism."

NASA:  A Scientific Organization or a Political One?  NASA is wasting time, energy and taxpayer dollars promoting an immoral, unnatural and unhealthy sexual behavior, something that — if they really wanted to do a public service — they would discourage along with other self-destructive unhealthy behaviors.

NASA is launching a telescope to find Earth-like planets.  The universe may be filled with Earth-like planets — worlds where extraterrestrials might flourish.  But these planets were once considered too small to spot, even with the latest in space technology.  Now, many astronomers believe NASA's $600 million Kepler telescope, which is scheduled to shoot into space this week, will help to clear up the mystery.

NASA Satellites Get 'Counterfeit' Parts; Taxpayers Pay.  Maybe it was something he didn't mean to say.  Or maybe NASA has a problem.  At a House subcommittee hearing on NASA's cost overruns, the agency's acting administrator, Christopher Scolese, was asked why it is that so many space projects fail to stick to their budgets.  He listed a variety of reasons, including management mistakes, bad planning or the sheer complexity of missions that have never been tried before.  And then he said, as one extra point, that some spacecraft are built with parts that turn out to be "counterfeit."

Bolden Is Tapped to Run NASA.  President Barack Obama picked former astronaut and retired Marine Corps Gen. Charles Bolden Jr. to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, but controversy over his background and NASA's future direction could complicate his job.

Obama offers extra $1.4B for lunar missions.  Efforts to return to the moon are supported by the Obama White House, and NASA will receive $1.4 billion extra next fiscal year for a variety of lunar missions, a preview of the new administration's first federal budget showed Thursday.  The White House released a bare outline for the $3.55 trillion federal spending plan that includes a recommendation of $18.7 billion for NASA.

On the other hand...
NASA may abandon plans for moon base.  NASA will probably not build an outpost on the moon as originally planned, the agency's acting administrator, Chris Scolese, told lawmakers on Wednesday [4/29/2009].  His comments also hinted that the agency is open to putting more emphasis on human missions to destinations like Mars or a near-Earth asteroid.

H.R.1:  The House's Pig Pen.  [Excerpt from NASA's requests:]  $400,000,000 — Science (not less than $250,000,000 "shall be solely for accelerating the development of the tier 1 set of Earth science climate research missions); $150,000,000 — Aeronautics; $50,000,000 — Cross Agency Support Programs (restoration and mitigation of NASA infrastructure and facilities damaged during 2008 disasters).

The Editor says...
It sounds like NASA is moving away from space exploration and turning into an employment agency for environmentalists.

Martian Methane Suggest Solar-Induced Global Warming.  A group associated with NASA`s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, using NASA`s Infrared Telescope Facility at Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii discovered plumes of methane in the Martian atmosphere over several seasons of observations.  Methane is a gas normally produced by biological or volcanic processes-something not believed possible on Mars, which is considered both biologically and geologically dead.

The Editor says...
If Mars is considered dead, why are we spending billions to send probes there?

Nasa rocket crash is big setback to knowledge of climate change.  The satellite, which was the first Nasa had dedicated to measuring the greenhouse gas from space, was expected to transform science's grasp of the "carbon sinks" in soil, forests and oceans that absorb CO2 and keep much of it out of the atmosphere.  Its observations were considered crucial both to predicting future carbon dioxide levels and to developing strategies for protecting the sinks that hold back its damaging effects.

Nasa's £190m 'global warming' satellite crashes.  Nasa scientists were left red-faced today after a £190 million rocket carrying a global warming satellite crashed into the ocean near Antarctica.  The Orbiting Carbon Observatory was the agency's first attempt to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide from space and was designed make climate change models more accurate.

Professor, Wife Accused of Defrauding NASA of Hundreds of Thousands of Taxpayer Dollars.  The FBI and NASA are investigating a University of Florida professor and his wife for allegedly defrauding NASA out of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for their own personal use.  Iranian-born Samim Anghaie, 59, is the Director of the Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute at the University of Florida.  His wife, 55-year-old Sousan Anghaie, is president of New Era Technology Inc. (NETECH) in Gainesville, Fla.

Conspiracy theorists spot 'timber plank' on Mars.  An image sent back from the Red Planet has revealed an object bearing an uncanny resemblance to a wooden log.  It was captured by the Mars Rover near the Endurance Crater. ... [However], there is no scientific evidence of any macroscopic plant life on Mars and the vista in the image is one of a vast and desolate desert.

What are the chances?
U.S. And Russian Satellites Collide.  In an unprecedented space collision, a commercial Iridium communications satellite and a defunct Russian satellite ran into each other Tuesday [2/10/2009] above northern Siberia, creating a cloud of wreckage, officials said today.  The international space station does not appear to be threatened by the debris, they said, but it's not yet clear whether it poses a risk to any other military or civilian satellites.

Big Communication Satellites Crash 500 Miles Above Siberia.  Scientists are keeping a close eye on orbital debris created when two communications satellites — one American, the other Russian — smashed into each other hundreds of miles above the Earth.  NASA said it will take weeks to determine the full magnitude of the unprecedented crash and whether any other satellites or even the Hubble Space Telescope are threatened.

Thousands of fragments spread from satellite wreck.  A high-speed collision between American and Russian satellites in one of the most congested regions of space was bound to happen and has significantly increased the floating pools of debris above the Earth, experts said Thursday.  "The debris cloud created by this collision is like a shotgun blast," said David Wright, a senior scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists' Global Security Program.

Space Laws:  Space is governed by laws, too.  Today in Popular Mechanics, Glenn Reynolds gives an overview about space laws — what he calls "rules of the road" for space. But he also explains how certain "standards of practice" have not yet been written, most having to do with space debris.  When the laws governing space were written forty years ago, who would have every thought there would be so many satellites roaming overhead?

The Law of Space Collisions:  International Rule Above the Earth.  When two satellites collided on Wednesday nearly 500 miles over Siberia, the first thought for NASA scientists was to assess the effects space debris would have on the International Space Station.  Now that the ISS has been deemed out of harm's way, damages are being assessed.  The question now turns to who pays for damages in space.

Astronauts vow remaining tool bag won't drift away.  Astronauts vowed to double-check, even triple-check, to make sure a bag of tools is properly tied down during a spacewalk Thursday [11/20/2008] so it doesn't float away like one did earlier this week. ... The bag was one of the largest items ever lost by a spacewalking astronaut, and NASA guessed it cost about $100,000.

Update:
Tool Bag Lost In Space Meets Fiery End.  A tool bag lost by a spacewalking astronaut last year met its fiery demise in Earth's atmosphere Monday [8/3/2009] after months circling ever closer to the planet.  The $100,000 tool bag plunged toward Earth and burned up as it re-entered the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Air Force's Joint Space Operations Center tracking it and more than 19,000 other pieces of space junk in orbit today from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Space station's remodeling will fix water supply — but don't ask.  Time for a remodeling job for the International Space Station.  At 10 years old, it needs more bedrooms, another kitchen and bathroom and a more reliable water supply — though one that might make most folks squirm a bit.  Top priority for the Endeavour crew, poised to lift off Friday night from Florida for a 15-day mission:  installing hardware designed to recycle urine into drinking water.

New NASA capsule Orion resembles Apollo.  The agency unveils the test module for structural testing at Edwards Air Force Base.  The capsule, designed to carry humans to the moon, looks a lot like the one that first did so four decades ago.

NASA can't reach Mars lander, ends mission.  NASA scientists said on Monday they could no longer communicate with the Phoenix Mars Lander and were calling an effective end to its five-month-plus mission on the Red Planet.  Mission engineers last received a signal from the lander on November 2, the space agency said.

NASA's Ares V may crush Kennedy crawlerway.  The budget for NASA's Constellation programme — comprising the Orion and Ares vehicles — looks like it may have run to a few billion cubic metres of road surfacing after the agency admitted the Kennedy Space Center crawlerway over which spacecraft are trundled to their launchpads could collapse under the weight of the Ares V heavy lifter.

This is tabloid journalism at its most doubtful.
Life on Mars.  Alien microbes living just below the Martian soil are responsible for a haze of methane around the Red Planet, Nasa scientists believe.  The gas, belched in vast quantities in our world by cows, was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes.

The Editor says...
If that is proof of life on Mars, it also proves there is life on nearly every other planet as well.*

Computer viruses make it to orbit.  A computer virus is alive and well on the International Space Station (ISS).  Nasa has confirmed that laptops carried to the ISS in July were infected with a virus known as Gammima.AG.  The worm was first detected on Earth in August 2007 and lurks on infected machines waiting to steal login names for popular online games.

Frustrated NASA chief vents about agency's fate.  In congressional testimony and speeches across the country, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has presented the Bush administration's space policy as under pressure but on track to returning humans to the moon by 2020.  His public face has been steadfast.  But privately, the agency chief is far less certain.  In a remarkably candid internal e-mail to top advisers obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, Griffin lashed out last month at the White House for what he called a "jihad" to shut down the space shuttle, expressed frustration at the lack of funding for a new moon rocket — and despaired about the future of America's human-spaceflight program.

The Editor asks...
Is it really a "jihad" when taxpayers want to stop throwing money down the drain?

Discord With Russia a Worry for NASA.  NASA's ability to send its astronauts to the $100 billion international space station is in danger of becoming a costly casualty of the Russia-Georgia war. ... NASA wants to negotiate a contract this year to have Russia's Soyuz spacecraft transport all astronauts traveling to and from the station during the gap.  But first, Congress has to pass a waiver to a 2000 law forbidding government contracts with nations that help Iran and North Korea with their nuclear programs, as Russia has done.

Ambitious NASA Probe to Fly Through Sun's Fringe.  Spurred to action by Congress, NASA is finally moving out on an ambitious mission to send a spacecraft closer to the sun than any has ever gone before.  NASA directed the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) to begin preliminary work on a proposed $750 million Solar Probe mission last month, with plans to launch around 2015 to fly through the sun's corona and study the stream of charged particles it regularly blasts into space.

1.5 billion dollars down the drain.
The Device NASA Is Leaving Behind:  The instrument, which would detect and measure cosmic rays in a new way, took 500 physicists from around the world 12 years to build.  But with room on the 10 remaining shuttle missions to the space station in short supply, many fear that it will remain forever warehoused on Earth, becoming the most sophisticated and costly white elephant of the space era.

Phoenix Mars Lander Prepares For Final Countdown.  [Scroll down]  It will be for the first time when a Mars mission reaches so far north, with the clear purpose of determining whether the Red Planet is a setting for past or future forms of life.  The Mars Lander will examine the soil in place at the surface, at the icy layer and in between, and will take samples for analysis.

[No mention of the price tag.]

Mars Phoenix to try shake-and-bake once more.  In a series of maneuvers that sounds more like cooking class than research on Mars, scientists said Monday [6/9/2008] they would try one more time to shake bits of the clumpy Martian soil into a test oven on NASA's Phoenix lander before switching to a backup strategy that called for dribbling the soil into the oven. ... The Martian soil is proving to be much clumpier — cemented, in scientific terms — than expected.

Alkaline Soil Sample From Mars Reveals Presence of Nutrients.  Stick an asparagus plant in a pot full of Martian soil, and the asparagus might grow happily, scientists announced Thursday [6/26/2008].  An experiment on the Phoenix Mars lander showed the dirt on the planet's northern arctic plains to be alkaline, though not strongly alkaline, and full of the mineral nutrients that a plant would need.

Mars Phoenix lander finds soil similar to that in backyards on Earth.  The Phoenix lander's first taste test of soil near Mars' north pole reveals a briny environment similar to what can be found in backyards on Earth, [emphasis added] scientists said today in Los Angeles.  The finding raises hope that the Martian arctic plains could have conditions favorable for primitive life.

The Editor says...
"Similar?"  I don't think so.  The soil in my back yard is full of last year's grass and a bunch of spiders, ants, snails, worms, and the decaying excrement of every dog that has ever lived here.  It could very well be that all the scientists have found — after spending billions of our tax dollars — is slightly alkaline dirt (or dust) and sterile water.

Update:
Mars soil may not be so good for life.  New results from NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander suggest that the surface layers of the Martian arctic region may not be as friendly to life as initial results suggested, NASA said Monday [8/4/2008].  Two samples analyzed within the last month … suggest that the Martian dirt may contain perchlorate, a highly oxidizing substance, which would create a harsh environment for any potential life.

Martian soil may not have life after all.  Weeks after being billed as fit for growing asparagus, it now seems the red soil of Mars may not be quite so friendly after all.  After days of growing speculation about an important discovery, NASA finally revealed a secret yesterday.  Its Phoenix lander, which touched down in May, has found not the chemistry of life, but perchlorate — a toxic, highly corrosive compound used in household cleaners, explosives and rocket fuel that can destroy organic matter.

At last!  Proof of life on Mars!  WRONG!
Mars Craft Detects Falling Snow.  Icy snow falls from high in Mars's atmosphere and may even reach the planet's surface, scientists working with NASA's Phoenix lander reported yesterday.  Laser instruments aboard the lander detected the snow in clouds about 2½ miles above the surface and followed the precipitation as it fell more than a mile.

The Editor says...
If snow is found on Mars, that is not proof of life on Mars.  Snow is not life.

Will NASA Ever Find Life on Mars?  NASA has long taken an incremental approach to searching for biology, with "follow the water" as a driving strategy.  That means, perhaps to the frustration of some, that the current Phoenix lander mission and the twin rovers on Mars are not even designed to detect Martian life.

The Editor says...
Why the "incremental approach"?  Money, obviously.  Once NASA finds Clue #1 and Clue #2, it just has to send another billion-dollar probe to find Clue #3.

Court nixes NASA background checks.  A federal appeals court ruled Friday [1/11/2008] that NASA should be blocked from conducting background checks on low-risk employees at its Jet Propulsion Laboratory, saying the practice threatens workers' constitutional rights.

NASA Wary of Relying on Russia.  The launch of the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) … highlights a stark reality:  In 2½ years, just as the station gets fully assembled, the United States will no longer have any spacecraft of its own capable of carrying astronauts and cargo to the station, in which roughly $100 billion is being invested.

The Editor says...
The logic behind NASA's concern escapes me.  Apparently the justification for squandering more money is the fact that We have invested $100 billion in the space station already.  That's like finding out that you're on a dead end road and refusing to turn around because you've gone so far already.

First View of Mercury's "Other Face".  The first of many planned images from NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft is showing astronomers a side of Mercury no one's ever seen before.  Mercury is tough to view from Earth, since it's so close to the sun.  And when the Mariner 10 probe flew past the innermost planet in 1974 and 1975, only one side of the body was facing sunlight.

[The article includes no mention of the price tag for these pictures, nor any explanation of how these new pictures benefit the taxpayers.]

Nasa investigates virtual space.  The US space agency is exploring the possibility of developing a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game.  The virtual world would be aimed at students and would "simulate real Nasa engineering and science missions".

At last — something important!
Boomerangs come back in space, Japanese astronaut finds.  Japanese astronaut Takao Doi has thrown a boomerang in space and found, to the surprise of many, that it does come back.  The 53-year-old conducted an experiment aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday [3/18/2008], Japanese time, to see whether boomerangs fly back in space.

Scientists aim for origami space flight.  Japanese scientists and origami masters hope to launch a paper airplane from space and learn from its trip back to Earth.  It's no joke.  A prototype passed a durability test in a wind tunnel this month, Japan's space agency adopted it Wednesday [3/26/2008] for feasibility studies, and a well-known astronaut is interested in participating.

The Editor says...
It is comical and somewhat surreal to see well-educated men undertake these studies as if the answers were urgently needed.

Let's go to Mars, says Nicolas Sarkozy.  President Nicolas Sarkozy of France has called for the world to unite to explore Mars.  Speaking during a visit to French Guaiana, Mr Sarkozy called for a coalition of the willing from Europe, America, Russia and beyond to explore the red planet.

The Editor says...
The Socialist Sarkozy is merely looking for a handout from the U.S.  In other words, if there is to be a trillion dollars spent on a trip to Mars, he wants France to climb aboard the gravy train.

Secrets of 1957 Sputnik launch revealed.  50 years later, it emerges that the momentous launch was far from being part of a well-planned strategy to demonstrate communist superiority over the West.  Instead, the first artificial satellite in space was a spur-of-the-moment gamble driven by the dream of one scientist, whose team scrounged a rocket, slapped together a satellite and persuaded a dubious Kremlin to open the space age.

World Magazine

  World magazine, September 22, 2007.

NASA Awards $1.8 Billion for Moon Mission Motor.  NASA has awarded defense contractor Alliant Techsystems Inc. $1.8 billion to develop a motor for the Orion capsule, which will replace the space shuttle and be able to reach the moon and Mars, the company said.

NASA Presents Details of Plans for Moon Base.  NASA announced new details yesterday [9/20/2007] about its plans for a Moon base that included a pair of small, pressurized rovers with a range of nearly 600 miles.  The space agency plans to return astronauts to the Moon around 2020.  Agency officials first described proposals last December for a polar lunar base powered by near constant sunlight on solar panels.

How many probes must we send to Mars to prove a negative?
NASA Sends Robotic Lander In Search Of Water And Life On Mars.  A US space probe embarked Saturday [8/4/2007] on a 10 month journey to Mars, where it will dig through Martian soil in a search for signs of life in a frigid region of the Red Planet.

We can't all go to the moon, but our names can.  NASA has established a free "Send Your Name to the Moon" Web site that "enables everyone to participate in the lunar adventure and place their names in orbit around the moon for years to come," according to the space agency.

Phoenix lander blasts off to Mars.  NASA's Phoenix Mars lander blasted off on Saturday on a mission to determine whether icy ground near the planet's north pole could ever have supported life.  The mission launched at 0526 EDT (0926 GMT) on a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, US.

[The article includes no mention of the price.]

Where are the PETA people?
NASA, Russia To Study Effects Of Spaceflight On Small Lizards, Snails.  According to NASA, the Russian Foton-M3 mission will launch from Kazakhstan this Friday [9/14/2007], sending an automated Vostok spacecraft — a heavily modified version of the same basic spaceship that carried Yuri Gagarin into orbit in 1961 — into low Earth orbit for 12 days.  Instead of a human astronaut, however, the small craft will hold several geckos, newts, and snails.

[And again, the article includes no mention of the pricetag.]

Just another government cover-up...
NASA won't disclose survey of pilots on air safety.  An unprecedented national survey of pilots by the U.S. government has found that safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than previously recognized.  But the government is withholding the information, fearful it would upset air travelers and hurt airline profits.

NASA won't disclose air safety survey.  NASA gathered the information under an $8.5 million safety project, through telephone interviews with roughly 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots over nearly four years.  Since ending the interviews at the beginning of 2005 and shutting down the project completely more than one year ago, the space agency has refused to divulge the results publicly.

NASA Won't Disclose Air Safety Survey.  Among other results, the pilots reported at least twice as many bird strikes, near mid-air collisions and runway incursions as other government monitoring systems show, according to a person familiar with the results who was not authorized to discuss them publicly.  The survey also revealed higher-than-expected numbers of pilots who experienced "in-close approach changes" — potentially dangerous, last-minute instructions to alter landing plans.

[Since when is NASA in charge of airline safety?  Isn't that the function of the FAA?]

Update:
NASA reluctantly releases airline safety study.  NASA begrudgingly released some results today from an $11.3 million federal air safety study it previously withheld from the public over concerns it would upset travelers and hurt airline profits.  It published the findings in a format that made it cumbersome for any thorough analysis by outsiders.

[If you wanted to avoid news media coverage, what better time to release such a study than New Year's Eve?]

NASA again postpones the launch of Atlantis.  NASA was forced to postpone the scheduled Jan. 10 launch of shuttle Atlantis so flight engineers can fix the problematic fuel tank sensor system on the shuttle. ... Even though the shuttle launch is indefinitely delayed, NASA declined to comment on possible future launch dates.

NASA'S Luxury, At Your Expense.  [Scroll down] The awards are to honor workers who've contributed to flight safety.  But it's not just a low-key dinner for a handful of the best and brightest.  Try five days and four nights at a luxury Florida hotel for 300 honorees and their guest. (sic) Fancy receptions and front-row tickets to the most exciting show in the space business, the shuttle launch.  All paid for by your tax dollars.

NASA gives Google founders a coveted parking place for their private jet.  [NASA] confirmed earlier this week that H211, a limited liability company that counts Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, as one of its principals, had secured rights to operate a refurbished wide-body Boeing 767-200 out of Moffett Field, an airport that is run by NASA and is generally closed to private aircraft.

Drunk astronauts allowed to fly, admits panel.  A panel has found that astronauts were allowed to fly on at least two occasions despite warnings they were so drunk they posed a flight risk, Aviation Week reported today on its website.  The publication said the panel set up by NASA to study astronaut health issues reported "heavy use of alcohol" within 12 hours of launch.  It said flight surgeons and other astronauts warned that the drunken astronauts posed a flight risk when they flew on the two known occasions.

NASA's hangover won't easily go away.  NASA plans to overhaul the way it monitors the behavioral and mental health of its astronauts following findings that shuttle astronauts in at least two instances were launched into space despite warnings that they posed a safety risk by being intoxicated.

Update:
NASA to begin drug testing for astronauts.  After finding no evidence of astronauts drinking before launching into space, NASA said Wednesday [8/29/2007] it is considering limited alcohol testing of its employees, including astronauts.

Russia Denies Report Astronauts Flew on Space Shuttle Drunk.  Russia's space agency denied Saturday that an astronaut could have flown drunk aboard a Soyuz spacecraft from its Baikonur cosmodrome, reacting to allegations reported by the chairman of an independent U.S. panel on astronaut health.

Amid NASA turbulence, Congress stays on board.  With NASA pushing ahead with plans for exploring the moon and Mars, administrator Michael Griffin acknowledged last week that scandals and reports of astronaut misconduct have "shaken public confidence" in his agency.  Congress, however, is standing by NASA, ignoring a veto threat in an attempt to fund space endeavors with more money than President Bush's $17.3 billion request for the 2008 fiscal year.

NASA Reports Sabotage of Flight Computer.  A space program worker deliberately damaged a computer that is supposed to fly aboard shuttle Endeavour in less than two weeks, an act of sabotage that was caught before the equipment was loaded onto the spaceship, NASA said Thursday [7/26/2007].

Muslim astronaut given guidelines.  Malaysia's first astronaut will blast off into space next month armed with guidelines from Muslim authorities on how to pray, wash and even be buried in space.

Guidebook issued for Muslims in space.  Malaysia has come up with the world's first comprehensive guidebook for Muslims in space as its first astronaut prepares to go into orbit next week.  The book, Guidelines for Performing Islamic Rites at the International Space Station, teaches the Muslim astronaut how to perform ablutions, determine the location of Mecca when praying, prayer times, and how to fast in space, the Star newspaper reported.

NASA Buys $19 Million Toilet System.  NASA has agreed to pay $19 million for a Russian-built toilet system for the international space station.  The figure may sound astronomical for a toilet in space, but NASA officials said it was cheaper than building their own.  "It's akin to building a municipal treatment center on Earth," NASA spokeswoman Lynnette Madison said Thursday, explaining the cost of the new toilet system.

The Editor says...
Yes, "it's akin to building a municipal treatment center" for the exclusive use of four or five people.

Spacecraft to examine massive asteroids.  The US spacecraft Dawn, due to launch on Sunday [7/8/2007], will take a close look at two massive asteroids to try to penetrate the mystery of our solar system's origins 4.6 billion years ago.  By examining the two celestial bodies Ceres and Vesta in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, scientists hope the unmanned Dawn probe will shed light on the earliest moments in the birth of the solar system.

NASA set to launch "Dawn" asteroid spacecraft.  NASA is ready to launch this weekend a spacecraft that will search for clues about the solar system while traveling to the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter for a rendezvous with two of its largest asteroids. … Dawn is set to blast off Sunday afternoon from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on a Delta II rocket.  The launch caps a tumultuous effort in which the $344 million mission was killed last year because of cost overruns and technical problems, then brought back online after NASA appeals.

This is no longer news, but it is instructive...
Shuttle return may be delayed.  Russian computers that control the international space station's orientation and supply of oxygen and water have failed, potentially extending the space shuttle's mission — or cutting it short.  Russian engineers are not sure why the computers stopped working.  A failure of this type has never occurred before on the space station.

Last try for space station computer reboot.  Space officials said it was so-called secondary power sources that had failed, rather than the German-built computers themselves or the Russian software that they run on.

The Editor says...
With all the billions of American taxpayer dollars that have been poured into the Space Station, why is it held in place with German computers running Russian software?

Update:
Internal NASA Reports Explain Origins of June Computer Crisis.  The technological — and diplomatic — lessons of that crisis need to be fully understood and appreciated.  Because if the failure had occurred on the way to Mars, say, it probably would have been fatal, and it will likely be the same international partnership that builds the hardware for a future Mars mission.

NASA paid $26.6M to Columbia families.  NASA paid $26.6 million to the families of seven astronauts who died aboard space shuttle Columbia — a settlement that has been kept secret for more than 2½ years.  The space agency recruited former FBI Director William Webster, also a former federal judge, to act as a mediator and adviser in negotiating the out-of-court settlements, according to documents released to the Orlando Sentinel through a federal Freedom of Information Act request.

Columbia's Sacrifice:  On February 1, 2003 the Space Shuttle OV-102 Columbia broke apart during reentry and took with it the lives of seven astronauts.  The resulting debris field spread across several states and possibly a portion of the Pacific Ocean as well.  This tragedy left not only an extended debris field and grieving families, but also left many questions in the minds of those who witnessed it in person as well as on TV.  As a mechanical engineer with an aerospace background, I believe that there are aspects of the events that took place between 8:45 and 9:00 a.m. EST on February 1st that do not appear to fit the theories NASA is currently making public.  Neither damaged tiles, missing tiles, or a breach of the shuttles wing itself adequately explain the chain of events that led to the final catastrophic breakup of the orbiter.

As far as why the Columbia was destroyed any analysis or comments regarding politics is outside the scope of this website and anything written here is pure conjecture.  It is very difficult to believe that anyone in our government would willingly give an order to murder seven astronauts and destroy a space shuttle.  It would be far easier to believe that Columbia's destruction was simply a terrible accident.  Either a test of the HAARP transmitter was being conducted without the knowledge that a Space Shuttle was reentering the atmosphere or the Columbia was part of a test that went terribly wrong. … The reason for the cover-up is probably to keep the capabilities of the HAARP system secret.*

NASA Ponders Death, Sex On Mars Mission.  With NASA planning to land on Mars 30 years from now, and with the recent discovery of the most "Earth-like" planet ever seen outside the solar system, the space agency has begun to ponder some of the thorny practical and ethical questions posed by deep space exploration.

Rover discovery supports idea life was possible on Mars:  NASA.  A soil analysis by the Mars rover Spirit strongly suggests that the Red Planet was once wet, providing evidence of conditions that might have supported life, NASA scientists said Monday.  Spirit found soil that is rich in silica, and "the processes that could have produced such a concentrated deposit of silica require the presence of water," it said in a release.

US achieves autonomous docking in space.  Two free-flying satellites performed the first autonomous separation and docking for the US on 5 and 6 May.  The test was done without any human intervention as the craft flew nearly 500 kilometres above the planet, and could one day lead to robotic spacecraft that are able to repair damaged satellites.

On to Mars!  The current American space program has clearly reached a dead end.  The construction and maintenance of a space station, and its regular resupply by space shuttles, have been remarkable achievements, albeit costly ones in both lives and treasure.  But the landing of men on the moon in 1969 and a few subsequent years were the last really historic steps that NASA took, and the experiments recently devised by high-school students to occupy the time of astronauts in the space shuttles are little more than insults to the human intelligence.

US military wants $10m space-weapon funding.  The US Missile Defense Agency wants $10 million to investigate space-based weapons over the next year.  As Pentagon budgets go, it is small change, but it is also a red flag for critics who worry that such plans could turn space into a shooting gallery.

Satellite to probe mysterious glowing clouds.  NASA is about to launch a spacecraft to study mysterious invaders lurking above Earth's poles — not UFOs, but the shimmering, high-altitude apparitions known as noctilucent clouds.

NASA Releases 3D Images of Sun.  NASA released the first three-dimensional images of the sun Monday [4/23/2007], saying the photos taken from twin spacecraft may lead to better predictions of solar eruptions that can affect communications and power lines on Earth.

[Better predictions?  Will it make any difference if we get another 24 hours notice of such an event?  There's still nothing we can do about solar eruptions when they happen.  NASA is one of the few places where people never weigh the cost of new projects versus the benefits, because the greatest benefit is NASA's continued existence.]

Russians accuse US of sabotaging satellite during missile tests.  According to one unnamed space official quoted by the Russian Interfax news agency, communications were lost with the Russian satellite on 9 March just as the US was carrying out missile experiments.  A second Russian specialist, also unnamed, gave a different rationale, arguing it was affected by ground-based tests to knock out spacecraft through wave experiments.

As if the US owns the moon...
The Moon opens for business.  The first private Moon landing has finally been given the green light by the US government.

NASA:  China could be next to go to the moon.  China's surging space program could launch explorers on the moon before Americans make a lunar return, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told a congressional oversight panel Thursday. … That prompted a round of questions from Rep Ken Calvert, R-Calif., on whether the United States might lose its lead in space to China.  "How good is their space program? … Do you think they have an opportunity to get to the moon before we do?" Calvert asked.

[Why should we care if China goes to the moon?  Is there any justification for a space race in the absence of a Cold War?]

NASA being shortchanged, congressman charges.  The chairman of the U.S. House science committee said Thursday [3/15/2007] that NASA is headed for "a train wreck" if the space agency isn't better funded to finish building the international space station and develop the next-generation spacecraft.

[They act as if there is some grave danger to us all if the space station is not maintained and expanded.]

A waste of space.  [The International Space Station is] little more than an updated MIR where scientists can float around and study the effects of zero gravity.  Its major reason for existing seems to be to give the shuttle fleet a destination.  And, in a nice circle of reasoning, the shuttles exist to service an international space station.  How convenient.

Cosmonaut to Hit Golf Ball Into Orbit.  A Russian cosmonaut will whack a golf ball from the international space station in a publicity stunt on Thanksgiving Day, NASA officials said Tuesday [8/22/2006].  Russian flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin will show off his swing to promote a Canadian golf club manufacturer during a spacewalk on November 23.

[At last we know what the Space Station is good for.]

Lockheed Martin wins NASA moon contract.  NASA on Thursday [8/31/2006] gave a multibillion-dollar contract to build a manned lunar spaceship to Lockheed Martin Corp., the aerospace leader that usually builds unmanned rockets.  The nation's space agency plans to use the Orion crew exploration vehicle to replace the space shuttle fleet, take astronauts to the moon and perhaps to Mars.  Unlike Apollo and earlier spacecraft perched atop rockets, it will be reusable.  NASA estimated the cost at $7.5 billion through 2019 for likely eight separate spaceships.

Nasa looks to a new frontier by building telescope on the Moon.  The most powerful radiotelescope yet devised is to be built on the Moon, under plans being put together by Nasa for its 2018 lunar mission.  Mike Griffin, the head of the US space agency, said the construction of a telescope is being "factored into" the mission.

[What is the end product?  More research into the origins of the universe, no doubt.  No mention of the price tag, as usual.  NASA is pretty obviously struggling to come up with new ways to spend the taxpayers' money.]

NASA crushes lunar real estate industry.  NASA has confirmed its moon base will not illegally occupy other people's land.  The news deals a crushing blow to the dreams of thousands of idiots, who coughed the cash for their very own patch of dusty countryside on the moon.  NASA announced earlier this week it would start building a permanent lunar outpost in 2020.

NASA to review process of screening astronauts.  NASA said today [2/7/2007] it would review its psychological screening process in light of an astronaut's arrest on charges she tried to murder a woman she believed was her romantic rival for the affection of Discovery astronaut William Oefelein.

Spacecraft will hunt for planets.  [William Borucki's] proposal was rejected four times by NASA.  Then other delays and budget cuts threatened to scuttle the $500 million effort before it reached the launch pad.  But persistence is paying off for Borucki, 68.  The Kepler space telescope is under construction at Ball Aerospace & Technologies in Boulder, with launch set for November 2008.

NASA Studies Manned Asteroid Mission.  NASA is appraising a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid-gauging the scientific merit of the endeavor while testing out spacecraft gear, as well as mastering techniques that could prove useful if a space rock ever took aim for our planet.

NASA's Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet.  From 2002 until this year, NASA's mission statement, prominently featured in its budget and planning documents, read:  "To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers … as only NASA can."  In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet" deleted.

For $35M, You Too Can Walk in Space.  You don't have to be an astronaut anymore to experience walking in space.  All you need is $35 million and the willingness to risk your life.  A private Virginia firm that already has sent three super-rich men to the international space station for $20 million each announced Friday [7/22/2006] it would offer an even rarer adventure:  A stroll outside the space station for an extra $15 million.

Nixon was ready to report NASA deaths.  The US was so eager to beat the Soviet Union in the race to the moon that it launched its 1969 mission before it was ready, and president Richard Nixon even prepared an address to announce the deaths of the astronauts aboard, a new documentary says.

It's time to go beyond the shuttle.  The hesitance about the coming launch among members of the NASA team responsible for mission safety is alarming.  So was the apparent "reassignment" of one such NASA official who was a bit too public in expressing his misgivings about mission safety.  And the billion-dollar price tag that American taxpayers have picked up since the last tragic loss of shuttle and crew raises the biggest issue of all.

Ohio, Ala. to Play Bigger Roles for NASA.  Space centers in Ohio and Alabama will get added work as NASA shifts direction from flying circles around the Earth in a shuttle to zooming to the moon again in a brand new space vehicle.

NASA's DART spacecraft smashes into satellite.  NASA's 800-pound Demonstration for Autonomous Rendezvous Technology (DART) spacecraft was supposed to circle a defunct orbiting Pentagon satellite.

NASA orbiter arrives at Mars.  A NASA spacecraft successfully slipped into orbit around Mars yesterday [3/10/2006], joining a trio of orbiters already circling the Red Planet. … The $720 million mission is managed by the JPL in Pasadena, Calif.

[There were three probes orbiting Mars already?  How many of these do we really need, at $720 million each?]

Missions to the moon and Mars:  The US House of Representatives yesterday [7/22/2005] overwhelmingly endorsed President Bush's plans to go to the moon and Mars.  But the House also insisted that NASA concentrate on space research and on repairing the Hubble orbiting telescope.  The Hubble, along with science programs and aeronautics research, are popular in Congress – partly because the contracts generate thousands of jobs, injecting millions into the economies of many lawmakers' districts.

There could be no clearer example of pork barrel spending!

Scientists find new clue to life on Mars.  A vast, dust-covered ocean of ice is the most likely place to discover life on Mars, according to a team of British scientists.  The frozen ocean was captured by cameras aboard the European Space Agency's Mars Express probe, which revealed an expanse of pack ice just north of the Martian equator, in Elysium, a region strewn with dormant volcanoes.

If the European Space Agency is sending probes to Mars, why are we duplicating the effort?

Scientists object to Bush's moon-Mars missions.  They say the president's two-year-old Vision for Space Exploration program is gobbling up billions of dollars that they think could be better used for less expensive projects, including new telescopes and unmanned robots such as the twin rovers on Mars.

[This assumes that the billions of dollars must be spent somewhere.]

NASA to unveil plan for moon mission in 2018.  NASA briefed senior White House officials Wednesday [9/14/2005] on its plan to spend $100 billion and the next 12 years building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to put humans back on the Moon by 2018.

NASA to unveil plans for 2018 moon mission.  NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle is expected to cost $5.5 billion to develop, according to government and industry sources, and the Crew Launch Vehicle another $4.5 billion.  The heavy-lift launcher, which would be capable of lofting 125 metric tons of payload, is expected to cost more than $5 billion but less than $10 billion to develop, according to these sources.

NASA Wants Astronauts Back on Moon by 2018  ...at a cost of $104,000,000,000.

NASA Planning Moon Launch for 2018.  It will cost $104 billion over the next decade to send astronauts back to the moon, NASA's chief said Monday [9/19/2005], defending the price tag as an investment the nation can afford despite the expense of Hurricane Katrina.  Described as "Apollo on steroids," the new moon exploration plan unveiled by the space agency will use beefed-up shuttle and Apollo parts and aims to put people on the moon by 2018.

[Suppose NASA lands on the moon again in 2018.  What will that accomplish?  What is there to learn about moon rocks that hasn't already been learned?]

Space:  The Ultimate Prize.  Recently asked [November 1999] what it would take to return to the moon, NASA responded by stating, "20 years."  Those old enough, recall in the 1960s that the task took only 10 years when there was no experience and no technology to achieve it.  NASA has evolved into a bureaucracy.

Has a New Era of Space Venture Arrived?  The 1967 UN Treaty on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which the U.S. government signed, prohibits claims of national sovereignty on any extraterrestrial body.  Moreover, the 1979 Moon Treaty disallows any private ownership on the moon.  The commission reported that the United States "has not ratified the 1979 Moon Treaty, but at the same time, has not challenged its basic premises or assumptions."  As a result, "the legal status of a hypothetical private company engaged in making products from space resources is uncertain."

NASA administrator says space shuttle was a mistake.  The space shuttle and International Space Station — nearly the whole of the U.S. manned space program for the past three decades — were mistakes, NASA chief Michael Griffin said Tuesday [9/27/2005]. … The shuttle has cost the lives of 14 astronauts since the first flight in 1982.  Roger Pielke Jr., a space policy expert at the University of Colorado, estimates that NASA has spent about $150 billion on the program since its inception in 1971.

NASA Eager to Fix the Problem, But Some Have Doubts.  Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers Union … called it "ridiculous" that American taxpayers continue to "pour billions" into the shuttle program as well as the international space station — based on the "circular logic" that we need to send people into space to see how they act in space.

House backs Bush on space quest.  The House on Friday overwhelmingly endorsed President Bush's vision to send astronauts back to the moon and eventually on to Mars as it passed a bill to set NASA policy for the next two years.

No inspiration in space-based socialism.  NASA will cost taxpayers $16.2 billion in fiscal 2005, up $822 million from 2004.  That is an astronomical sum, considering not only the less-than-stellar returns NASA has yielded Americans recently, but also this year's projected deficit of $348 billion (to be piled atop a $7.4 trillion national debt).

Our Future in Space.  A truly bold vision of the future of space exploration for America would place private space entrepreneurs at the forefront.  Like other industries (e.g. semiconductors, biotech, and the internet), the federal government played a significant early role in demonstrating key technologies.  But these industries flourished when entrepreneurs stepped in and took the reins.  We are now at that point with the exploration of space.

Computer will tell Muslim astronaut how to pray in space.  Malaysian scientists and religious scholars are trying to determine how Muslims should behave in space, as the predominantly Islamic country prepares to dispatch its first astronaut next year.

[Perhaps Muslims shouldn't be in space at all.  How would you know if you're really bowing toward Mecca in a zero-g environment, where the floor is the same as the ceiling?  How would you know, at any given moment, that you weren't also bowing toward Jerusalem, or New York, or Hell itself?]

Cutting Out HUD, NASA and Other Losers.  The civilian space program is a 21st century version of Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA) program, a boondoggle that provides employment on useless projects.  It is nothing more than high-class welfare for scientists and engineers and the domestic aerospace industry.

 Editor's Note:   The article above is just one of several excellent articles by Jim Grichar in which he lists dozens of federal agencies that should be trimmed or eliminated.

Pork Hamstrings NASA'S Mission.  Originally, the shuttle was expected to be a cheap way to transport people back and forth into space.  At just $5 million per launch, it would supposedly open space up to all sorts of possibilities.  However, the space shuttle program has not exactly lived up to our original expectations.  To begin with, the cost per launch is actually 100 times higher than originally projected — at $500 million per trip.

Nickels and dimes add up:
NASA Employs a Performance Artist with a $20,000 Taxpayer-Funded Stipend.  For two years, NASA paid Laurie Anderson as the agency's "artist in residence."  The performing artist was commissioned to perform a theatrical story-telling piece in theaters across the nation, as part of a NASA outreach effort.  The artist in residence position was not specifically authorized by Congress. … Her job Description:  Create and tour a theatrical piece, educating theater-goers about NASA; and "…to produce a film on the moons of the solar system" for the 2005 World Expo.

Why Do We Have A MANNED Space Program?  As Poul Anderson put it in a 1984 lecture, Space:  Promises and Problems, "The average man is not dumb; he's perfectly able to see that sending men to the moon is a rather roundabout and expensive way of producing a teflon frying pan, especially considering that teflon was already in existence."  There are too many worthy research programs, such as on aircraft icing, that are notoriously underfunded, and too much of the manned space budget goes for repetitive "operations" that have little to do with technology development.

Moon and Mars Missions are Not a Priority for Taxpayers.  The President's initiative was left for dead in the summer of 2004 after a lukewarm reception from the public and deep skepticism from prominent scientists.  But funding for the initiative was included at the last minute in the fiscal 2005 omnibus bill.  For fiscal 2006, House appropriators have marked up NASA's budget at $16.5 billion including $3.1 billion for the moon/Mars initiative which is $275 million above fiscal 2005 levels and $15 million above the President's budget request.

Scrap The Shuttle Program.  The shuttle is far more expensive than expendable rockets used for the Apollo program the 1960s.  The orbiter and solid rocket boosters are recovered for reuse, but an army of engineers must inspect and rebuild them for the next mission.  As a result, plans for 100 shuttle missions a year have fallen to around four, costing $550 million each and employing 30,000 people.

Don't Lavish Funds on NASA.  After NASA sold the nation on the space shuttle as an inexpensive, reusable lifter, the cost of hefting a pound of payload into space, accepting NASA's accounting, soared from $3,800 in the 1960s Apollo program to $6,000 (in constant dollars).  When Alex Rowland of Duke University included the development and capital costs of the shuttle, the cost rocketed to $35,000 per pound.  NASA's costs went up when the cost of just about everything else — megabytes of computer memory, airline tickets, shipping a barrel of oil — were falling in real dollars.  The difference between NASA's rising costs and the falling costs elsewhere is that computer makers, airlines, and oil shippers are in competitive markets.

Time to Privatize NASA.  The inflation-adjusted cost of commercial air travel has dropped by about 30 percent since the late 1970s, when airline deregulation began.  And the cost of shipping oil has dropped by as much as 80 percent in a little over two decades.  But the government's reusable shuttle has actually made spaceflight more expensive.

Interesting web site:
Space Projects dot com:  "A bilingual, international directory of nearly everything space-related, including constructive reform proposals [by ex-NASA personnel] focused on making space access far more affordable."

Somewhat related article:  Scuttle the shuttle program.  After Columbia clearly had disintegrated, NASA briefers characterized the occurrence as "a contingency."  This mirrored the language of football coaches characterizing ruptured spleens and broken limbs as "bumps and bruises."  Then followed suggestions to media that budget cuts inflicted by White House and Congress might have compromised shuttle safety.  This crass, self-serving reaction was quickly replaced, however, by another football coach-like reaction:  NASA would have to get the shuttles back into space again, as the dead astronauts would have wanted it.

This just in:  Probe finds a frozen orange world.  The Huygens probe, part of a $3 billion joint mission involving NASA and the European and Italian space agencies, made its pioneering descent to Titan on Friday [1/14/2005], sending back readings on the moon's atmosphere, composition and landscape. … Scientists believe a study of the icy moon could yield clues about how life developed on Earth.

 Editor's Note:   As I was saying at the top of this page, NASA's only remaining mission is the never-ending search for theories about the origin of the universe.  Any theory will do, as long as it disagrees with the first chapter of the Bible.  There is no end to this sort of theorization.

Worrisome news in NASA survey.  More than a year after the loss of space shuttle Columbia, NASA workers are still afraid to speak up about safety concerns, according to a survey released Monday [4/12/2004] that places much of the blame on the agency's leadership.

Auditor quits with NASA finances in chaos.  As NASA sets course for the moon and Mars, the space agency's finances are in disarray, with significant errors in its last financial statements and inadequate documentation for $565 billion posted to its accounts, its former auditor reported.

NASA's Last Days?  NASA is still mired in the old "throw money away" method of space travel.  Testing such expensive equipment [as the X-43A] and throwing it away is wasteful, as if millions of dollars that went into it were nothing, and the jet itself, after the test, was of no more value than a model airplane.

What Troubles NASA:  A 248-page report issued by a 13 member board on the Columbia space shuttle accident makes 29 important recommendations to ensure the safe return of the shuttle for use in America's space program.  However, there is nothing new in this report.

Space Station May Have to Be Abandoned.  If crew members have to leave the station they would do so aboard a Russian-made Soyuz vehicle that is left docked to the station as a lifeboat.

China [is trying] to buy the moon.  A company has set up operations in China to sell land on the moon for 289 yuan ($45) an acre, cashing in on renewed interest in space travel after the successful five-day voyage of Shenzhou VI.

Privatize the Space Program.  Phase out government involvement in space exploration, and the free market will work to produce whatever there is demand for.

NASA's Unhappy Birthday:  While space is indeed challenging, there's no excuse for many of the management mistakes that have given us near-sighted telescopes, misguided space probes, the fiery loss of billions of dollars of hardware with its crews, and most tragically, the squandering of billions of dollars, and irreplaceable years, on mismanaged and misbegotten programs that were ostensibly to reduce the cost of space flight, but instead ended up lining the pockets of contractors while delivering, at best, hangar queens.

The space shuttle is a major polluter.  The Shuttle is the largest of the solid fuel rockets, with twin 45 meter boosters.  All solid fuel rockets release large amounts of hydrochloric acid in their exhaust, each Shuttle flight injecting about 75 tons of ozone destroying chlorine into the stratosphere.  Those launched since 1992 inject even more ozone-destroying chlorine, about 187 tons, into the stratosphere (which contains the ozone layer).

Scrap NASA.  Throughout its existence, the most rewarding aspect of the space program has been sticking it to the Russians.  With the ending of the Cold War, this motivation no longer applies.  What then are we getting out of the program which will consume $86 billion dollars over the next five years?  Tragically it seems these days that the only time the space program is grabbing top headlines is when disasters occur.

[We just can't stop the manned space program at that point.  When astronauts get killed in the line of duty, we must press on, because "that's what they would have wanted."  This is an example of decision making based upon emotion rather than reason.]

NASA Hopes to Spur Commercial Space Growth.  The U.S. space agency is sponsoring a competition in which winning companies will get $500 million in seed money to develop space vehicles that NASA will never design, build or own.  Like a U-Haul truck rental, NASA instead will merely lease them on a per-trip basis for sending cargo and eventually crew to the international space station.

$500 million in "seed money"?  Sounds like an enormous SBA loan.  Maybe NASA's should be called the Large Business Administration.  This still sounds like pork barrel politics and a busy-work project for rocket scientists, because there still is no end product in sight, other than support of the space station.



Deep Impact probe hits comet.  At a cost of $330 million, Deep Impact is the eighth mission in NASA's Discovery Program, which supports low-budget science missions.

$333 million is the price of a low-budget mission!

Deep Impact:  NASA hopes the core of the Tempel 1 comet may hold cosmic clues to how the sun and planets formed.

Permit me to reiterate:  Every NASA mission — whether it's the Mars lander looking desperately for water, Deep Impact hitting a comet, or just flying around in circles for several days at a time — has as its goal something having to do with gathering clues about the origins of the solar system.  After decades of these projects, what new clues are there?  Does NASA have any tangible end product?

Some estimate the cost of Deep Impact at $333 million. [1] [2] [3] [4]
Others, perhaps rounding down, say $330 million. [5] [6]

Update:
NASA Announces Another Comet Mission.  The University of Maryland-led team that produced the spectacular Deep Impact mission, which smashed an impactor into Comet Tempel 1 in July, 2005, hopes new information gathered from Comet Boethin will help coalesce the vast array of new cometary information into solid ideas about the nature of comets, how they formed and evolved and if they have played a role in the emergence of life on Earth.



Comet dust capsule lands in desert.  The mission, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, cost $212 million.

Comet Dust Capsule Lands In Utah.  The mission, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, cost $212 million.  Stardust's return to Earth was the reverse of the ill-fated Genesis mission that carried solar wind particles.

Stardust of yesterday.  Scientists believe comets are icy, rocky debris left over from the beginning of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. … They expect that analysis of the Stardust samples will help them better understand how the planets formed and evolved.

NASA's Comet Tale Draws to a Successful Close in Utah Desert.  NASA's Stardust sample return mission returned safely to Earth [1/15/2006]. … Scientists believe these precious samples will help provide answers to fundamental questions about comets and the origins of the solar system.

Capsule Brings First Comet Dust to Earth.  After a seven-year journey, a NASA space capsule returned safely to Earth on Sunday [1/15/2006] with the first dust ever fetched from a comet, a cosmic bounty that scientists hope will yield clues to how the solar system formed.

And now, on to the next frivolous project:

Super Fast Spacecraft Zooms Toward Pluto.  The New Horizons spacecraft blasted off aboard an Atlas V rocket Thursday afternoon [1/19/2006] in a spectacular start to the $700 million mission.  Despite the speed – it can reach 36,000 mph – it will take 9½ years to reach Pluto and the frozen, sunless reaches of the solar system.

The Long Road to Pluto and Why We're Going.

... and the price tag for this boondoggle is $700 million.  [1] [2] [3]



Satellite could open door on extra dimension.  An exotic theory, which attempts to unify the laws of physics by proposing the existence of an extra fourth spatial dimension, could be tested using a satellite to be launched in 2007.  Such theories are notoriously difficult to test.  But a new study suggests that such hidden dimensions could give rise to thousands of mini-black holes within our own solar system — and the theory could be tested within Pluto's orbit in just a few years.

The official GLAST web pages at NASA, Stanford University, and General Dynamics can tell you everything there is to know about this project, except the cost.

How many people care so much about black holes?

Let them pay for this kind of research from their own pockets!



Special subsection about the Genesis probe

Capsule from Genesis Space Probe Crashes in Utah Desert.  Scientists will soon begin trying to recover as much data as they can from the damaged Genesis canister in an attempt to salvage the $264 million mission.

Crash of Genesis disappoints.  Genesis held hundreds of fragile silicon wafers embedded with microscopic bits of the sun's surface.  They were precious cargo, collected during the spacecraft's three-year, $264 million mission to unlock mysteries of the solar system's formation.

NASA Board To Investigate Crash Of Spacecraft.  One of the men who got an up close look at the Genesis space probe that crashed Wednesday in Utah said the outer shell and the canister with solar particles opened when it hit the desert.  A drogue parachute and a parafoil that were supposed to allow helicopters to capture the delicate samples apparently did not fire, allowing the 500-pound craft to smash into the desert.

Chute failure turns space probe descent into a crash landing.  A NASA capsule carrying pieces of the sun hurtled out of control before smashing into Utah's west desert Wednesday, an almost-200-mph crash landing that could reverberate through the nation's troubled space agency.

There goes another $264 million down the drain in an attempt to gather information to support a new theory about the origin of the universe.  Is there no one at NASA or in the US Congress who can (or will) veto an idea like this before any money is spent on it?  How many more missions of this sort are already underway?

Update:
Genesis slammed to Earth after parachutes failed.  A report released Tuesday [6/13/2006] blamed a design flaw for the 2004 crash of a NASA space probe carrying solar wind atoms back to Earth and criticized engineers for failing to detect the error.  The 231-page document prepared by independent investigators found that gravity switches on the Genesis probe designed to trigger the deployment of its parachutes were installed backward.

[At first you might ask, "Doesn't somebody check things like that during construction?  A better question would be, "How many people were fired as a result of this?"  I would guess the answer would be a maximum of two people.  The actual number will probably be closer to zero.]



Again I say, it is time to pull the plug on NASA and privatize or terminate everything NASA does.  It was the coolest science project of the 1960's, and it was a peaceful way to show the other superpowers that we had big rockets and fast computers, but the Cold War is over, and there is no reason — other than shameless pork barrel spending — to keep NASA around forever.



Top Ten NASA Contractors for Fiscal Year 2005:

$2,041,608,378 to United Space Alliance
$1,516,216,915 to California Institute of Technology
$1,337,979,568 to Lockheed Martin Corp.
$1,300,155,000 to Boeing
$  428,771,225 to Science Applications International Corp.
$  384,582,105 to Alliant Techsystems, Inc.
$  322,390,911 to Space Gateway Support
$  315,459,867 to Honeywell, Inc.
$  297,369,749 to Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc.
$  283,567,087 to Northrop Grumman Corporation

Also of interest:  A number of huge grants to companies that the average taxpayer has never heard of, as well as grants that are somewhat counterintuitive.

$ 61,391,592 to West Virginia High Tech Consortium
$ 12,144,530 to United Negro College Fund Special Programs Corporation
$  9,674,997 to American Museum of Natural History
$  9,200,297 to SETI Institute
$  4,097,810 to National Science Teachers Association
$  3,033,269 to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Total federal contracts awarded by NASA for Fiscal Year 2005:  $14,548,190,252.
[Source]

Total federal contracts awarded by NASA for Fiscal Year 2011:  $15,401,074,637.
[Source]

NASA budget requested for 2015.  $17,460,600,000 — including 3,050,800,000 for the International Space Station



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Updated May 17, 2017.

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