Scientists say NASA's budget inadequate for its goals

Dec 06, 2012
The NASA logo on a protective box for a camera near the space shuttle Endeavour in 2011 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA suffers from a "mismatch" between its goals and the budget it has been given to achieve them, according to a panel that said the US space agency may need a complete overhaul.

NASA suffers from a "mismatch" between its goals and the budget it has been given to achieve them, according to a panel that said the US space agency may need a complete overhaul.

The National Research Council, which convened an independent group of top US scientists, urged the to set a clear agenda for the agency, amid in the scientific community, and in the country as a whole, regarding just where the agency should be going.

The panel lamented "the lack of national consensus on NASA's most publicly visible human spaceflight goal," said Albert Carnesale, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, who chaired the committee that wrote the report.

"One stated goal for NASA's human spaceflight program is to visit an asteroid by 2025," he said, but he noted that inside the agency have questioned this objective.

"We've seen limited evidence that this has been widely accepted as a compelling destination by NASA's own work force, by the nation as a whole, or by the international community," he said.

This lack of agreement, "along with budget , has undermined the agency's ability to guide program planning and allocate funding," said Carnesale.

The study, which was sponsored by NASA, called on the White House to take the lead in setting long term priorities for the .

The panel flagged what it called "a mismatch between the portfolio of programs and activities assigned to the agency, and the budget allocated by Congress."

It added that "legislative restrictions inhibit NASA from more efficiently managing its personnel and infrastructure."

The panel said there were several possible ways to reduce the "mismatch," though it acknowledged any path would be difficult.

One scenario would involve "an agressive program to reduce infrastructure and personnel costs and improve efficiency," the panel suggested.

Another would involve "more cost-sharing partnerships with other US government agencies, private sector industries, and international partners," while a third possibility would be to "increase the size of the NASA budget."

The fourth possibility the committee suggested was for the US administration to considerably reduce the size and scope of 's portfolio to better fit its current and anticipated budget.

Explore further: Breezy science, plant studies and more head to space station on SpaceX-4

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US Senate votes to extend space shuttle program

Jul 16, 2010

A key Senate panel approved Thursday a 2011 budget proposal for the US space agency NASA that would extend the space shuttle program in a compromise from the Obama administration's demands.

Where next for NASA? Scientists draw up wish list

Mar 08, 2011

(AP) -- Land a rover on Mars to collect rocks and soil samples that could later be returned to Earth. If that's a budget-buster, then orbit Jupiter's moon Europa, which may have a liquid ocean beneath its frozen surface, ...

NASA boosts Webb telescope cost to $8.7 billion

Aug 25, 2011

NASA has boosted its cost estimate of a major telescope project to 8.7 billion dollars, even as lawmakers have threatened to slash the space agency's budget, a spokesman said Wednesday.

NASA budget will axe Mars deal with Europe: scientists

Feb 10, 2012

US President Barack Obama's budget proposal to be submitted next week for 2013 will cut NASA's budget by 20 percent and eliminate a major partnership with Europe on Mars exploration, scientists said Thursday.

Recommended for you

NASA launches RapidScat wind watcher to Space Station

5 hours ago

A new NASA mission that will boost global monitoring of ocean winds for improved weather forecasting and climate studies is among about 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilograms) of NASA science investigations and cargo ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Lurker2358
2.9 / 5 (7) Dec 06, 2012
Yeah.

Looks like NASA has figured out that since a government agency isn't allowed to make a profit, and since nuclear technology is banned in space, it's pretty much impossible to do anything noteworthy, except idiotic "symbolic" manned missions to fly to rock and turn around and come back. Further, they've realized that everyone else realizes this.

I wonder if sending a human out of Earth orbit might be considered a human rights violation in the international courts?

Besides all that, most presidents and congressman don't have any scientific mind or interest. Many of them have degrees in politics, literally, and are otherwise unskilled.

You can't land on an icy asteroid, even if it would somehow otherwise be the best target, because ice is too unstable and your rocket will melt some of it, and if you fall down a crevasse you're all dead.

The scans we got back from Vesta are actually in some respects better science than the manned moon missions did!! It's true...
Shakescene21
3 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2012
The panel lamented "the lack of national consensus on NASA's most publicly visible human spaceflight goal,"...

NASA's robotic mission to Mars is an amazing achievement. Compared to a manned expedition, it is far cheaper, has not risked human lives, was able to launch sooner, and is able to stay on Mars longer. But this panel would have been happier spending $100 billion to send astronauts to Mars and bring them back to Earth.

VendicarD
3 / 5 (2) Dec 06, 2012
Correction: NASA's goals are too ambitious for it's budget.
CapitalismPrevails
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 06, 2012
Maybe NASA should havce prioritized launch efficiency since the budget cuts after Apollo were so traumatic to them. Instead they made the Space Shuttle. Which was more productive in new ways but they still could have done the job better with newly designed rocket. Instead they made a political contraption which was supposed to convey a sense that round the clock taxi cab shuttling to space was around the corner. NASA is a bureaucracy and by default it's more concerned about the status quo by making short term political decisions rather than long term economic decisions.
ShotmanMaslo
3.3 / 5 (3) Dec 06, 2012
Solution:
1. Scrap the expensive and unneeded Senate Launch System and pointless asteroid flag-planting mission.

2. Outsource everything you can to private spaceflight companies (SpaceX, ULA, Bigelow Aerospace, Reaction Engines Skylon). Only develop in-house something private companies would be probably incapable of delivering (nuclear propulsion?). NASA should be banned from rocketry, its not 1960 anymore, private sector is perfectly capable of providing launch vehicles and spacecraft, far cheaper than NASA.

3. Bigger orbital space station, or permanent Moon colony should be the next target. The most logical goal after colonising LEO. Not asteroid, and not Mars. Commit resources to developing long term space colonisation infrastructure, but one step at a time.
jaded
1 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2012
Since NASA takes the billions we do give them and in return deletes and censors information given to us regarding the sun the moon,mars, etc. etc. then who cares?Just yesterday there was a huge explosion on the sun,something BIG impacted it.within hours all history of it was erased by NASA.The censored and or fabricated pics on the moon and mars are a slap in the public's face. So whatever NASA,you`ve lost all integrity.Where do the lies end and the truth starts?Pretty sad. I`m very sure NASA is aware of big things looming in our near future,somethings wrong with the sun and were gonna find out what the hard way.
dan42day
1 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2012
Shotman,

I agree with all three. A permanent colony on the moon, with resupply or rescue just days away would provide a much more forgiving environment to learn valuable lessons for the future colonization of mars or other natural objects.

The space station does not provide access to physical resources such as water or minerals.

If we could learn how to maintain an outpost on the moon using the local resources, we would become a true spacefaring civilization.

Considering the current pathetic state of our propulsion technology, this would be the best use of the next 25-50 years. Perhaps we will develope some sort of fusion powered high output propulsion during that time. When that happens, we will already have the skills needed to colonize any terestrial object in the solar system.