NASA climate programs being eyed for the budget axe

Jim Hansen arrest at White House

Dr. James Hansen, NASA GISS chief scientist, arrested in front of the White House 9-28-10. Image: via Wonk Room

NASA spent over a billion dollars last year on climate change studies…which would you rather have? Pronouncements about death trains, expert testimony for climate vandals, failed predictions, failed models, and a questionable GISTEMP dataset, or a continued manned spaceflight program?

From my perspective, NASA GISS is a duplication of climate services already covered by NOAA/NCDC, and all we seem to get from it is climate activism arrests of the chief scientist, a coffee table book by his assistant, and a snarky condescending blog called RealClimate that one private citizen and some volunteers are currently beating the pants off of in public outreach. Further, the government spent over $8.7 billion across 16 Agencies and Departments throughout the federal government on these efforts in FY 2010 alone. Inside NASA, we have duplication of climate services not only at GISS in NYC, Goddard Spaceflight in Greenbelt, MD, but also at JPL Pasadena. There’s been all sorts of domestic military base closures in the recent years to save money, and NASA Goddard and GISS re-purposed itself after the Apollo program ended and their mission did too. It’s time to close this duplication of services dinosaur, it will be missed far less than a TV comedy series by the American public.  If you feel the same way, tell your representatives. – Anthony

From SpaceREF: Reps Posey, Adams and Bishop Join Colleagues in Calling on House Leaders to Reprioritize NASA for Human Space Flight Missions, Drop Climate Change

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WASHINGTON – As House leaders examine ways to cut spending and address the ever growing budget deficits that have plagued Washington for years, U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Sandy Adams (R-FL) and Rob Bishop (R-UT) were joined by several other of their colleagues in calling for a reprioritization of NASA so human space flight remains the primary focus of the nation’s space agency as budget cuts are considered.

In their recent letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA), Posey, Adams and Bishop state that while “moving forward under a constrained budget, it will be critical for the Appropriations Committee to produce legislation that is precise in its budget cuts. For years, Presidents and Congress have charged NASA with completing tasks that fall outside the scope of NASA’s primary mission.

“Our space program attracts and inspires the world’s greatest minds and gives our young people inspiration to excel in math and science. Human spaceflight, however, is not simply a matter of national prestige. Our nation’s ability to access space is a critical national security asset and plays an important role in our future economic competitiveness. Space is the ultimate high ground and nations such as China, Russia, and India are anxious to seize the mantle of space supremacy should we decide to cede it.”

“Limited resources force us to make important decisions with regard to the objectives of all federal departments and agencies, including NASA,” said Representative Bill Posey (R-FL). “NASA’s primary purpose is human space exploration and directing NASA funds to study global warming undermines our ability to maintain our competitive edge in human space flight.”

“As NASA’s human spaceflight program hangs in the balance, it is imperative that we ask ourselves: What is the future of NASA? With the current administration unable or unwilling to outline a plan or stick to their original promises, it is time to refocus NASA’s mission towards space exploration,” said Representative Sandy Adams (R-FL). “That is why I am encouraging Chairmen Rogers and Wolf to reduce funding for climate change research, which undercuts one of NASA’s primary and most important objectives of human spaceflight.”

“It is counterintuitive to direct millions of dollars to NASA for duplicative climate change programs and at the same time cancel its manned space flight program- the purpose for which the agency was originally created. Far too many forget that at one time in our nation’s history we were losing the space race. With the creation of NASA, we emerged as leaders and have remained so ever since. If NASA’s manned space program disappears, our nation will once again experience a ‘Sputnik Moment.’ Our country will again watch from the sidelines as countries like Russia, China and India charge ahead as leaders in space exploration and missile defense,” said Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT).

In Fiscal Year 2010, NASA spent over 7.5% –over a billion dollars– of its budget on studying global warming/climate change. The bulk of the funds NASA received in the stimulus went toward climate change studies. Excessive growth of climate change research has not been limited to NASA. Overall, the government spent over $8.7 billion across 16 Agencies and Departments throughout the federal government on these efforts in FY 2010 alone. Global warming funding presents an opportunity to reduce spending without unduly impacting NASA’s core human spaceflight mission.

A copy of the letter can be viewed HERE.

h/t to WUWT reader Mr. Lynn

92 thoughts on “NASA climate programs being eyed for the budget axe

  1. While I applaud the general principles stated, there’s a fine point that needs to be considered. NASA is not just about manned spaceflight, but also encompasses unmanned space exploration, including unmanned space exploration of Earth itself. There are numerous scientific satellites examining Earth which I would hate to see gone in a climate change cut – such as those providing the data to the UAH and RSS datasets. The analysis of those sets, though, I’m happy to be a non-NASA responsibility.

    There has always been some tension between manned and unmanned space exploration. I think the proposals above would be stronger if they recognize the role that unmanned space exploration has, and hopefully will continue, to play.

  2. Continue the manned space program and end climate research and Muslim outreach (currently NASA’s job number 1).

  3. I don’t really consider nasa to be a leader in space flight anymore. Or much else for that matter.

  4. In Fiscal Year 2010, NASA spent over 7.5% –over a billion dollars– of its budget on studying global warming/climate change.

    What a HUGE WASTE!!!

    And what was the work-product of that over a billion dollars? I received nothing, no ‘mailings’ from NASA GISS in my mailbox … I’ve seen some rants by Hansen, and the continued blogging by Gaven is all …

    .

  5. Junk the climate contraption stuff, and let’s get back to NASA Space.
    In a few years, the 1st probe will visit Pluto. New Horizons. Can’t wait.
    HST, STEREO, SDO, Cassini, Mars Rovers and the list is lined with missions that bring home the science bacon the old fashioned way: They take measurements and images. What’s not to like?
    As for the climate studies and endless Supercomputer models, they still can’t get a winters forecast right. Who needs ‘em?

  6. I agree Anthony. The whole US govt needs to be realigned similar to what has been done to the military over the last 15(?) years.

  7. Anthony and others herein,

    Notwithstanding all the above Congressmen.

    Ralph Hall, Chairman of the science committee.
    He has the seniority and the position to do something.

    Call him or the lady assistant in his office who works the Science Committee for him.

    202-225-6673

  8. NASA was always supposed to be all about space exploration.

    Its achievements here were/are spectacular.

    However, the grubby and expensive diversion into the manipulated black arts of ‘climate science’ have discredited NASA’s reputation more than any other of its activities.

    Should these activities be culled? The answer is “No”, if you are a believer in increased taxation for its own sake. As for the rest of us, who believe in a saner world, the answer has to be “Yes”.

  9. “From my perspective, NASA GISS is a duplication of climate services already covered by NOAA/NCDC, …”

    IMO, such duplication is not, of itself, a bad thing.

    Frankly, I think we need more duplication of basic data collection and analysis. Not a bad idea to remove that from NASA, given the clear loss of objectivity of the RC crew. Give it to another agency, or better yet privatize it, and widely separate the data collection and analysis tasks institutionally.

    It helps having independant data to compare against that which is suspect. There are a couple of areas where that is currently a glaring deficiency.

  10. I see a tiny glimmer of hope for a smaller government, no matter how very tiny the reduction in size. : )

    I really think that whatever NASA’s past achievements (and I think some of them were absolutely amazing and wonderful to behold), the torch of advancing space endeavors should be passed to private organizations. I respect the initial NASA role in pioneering, but now more efficient and adaptive modes of behavior (private) should take over.

    John

  11. Defund NASA GISS?
    That should be the start.

    The 1000’s of climate change organizations, departments, laws and jobs were all crash funded and done with current inefficient technology on the dishonest premise of avoiding no less that a global catastrophe. Without catastrophe, they must all go. Now, exposed, they are a disseminated cancer in our society, invaded through our legal, administrative, political and business worlds.

    Every law, every job and every office with the words ‘carbon’ or ‘climate’ in their title should be abolished. Every government department related to carbon or climate should be defunded and abolished if they have no other roles.

    We should not let this cancer, sucking on the public tax teat and skimming every industry preserve itself by switching the goalposts to claim benefits of security, sustainability, business opportunity, ocean acidification or just some intrinsic beauty of being green.

    The Climate industry is an abomination, inefficient, ideological, monstrously corrupt and corrupting, and diverting huge resources into an abyss. It must go. True pollution should be tackled properly, rainforests protected for the right reasons and in time, as resources dwindle and technology leaps and market forces will naturally find alternatives.

  12. I’m against human space flight, robots are cheaper and the only practical way to go.

    Mars doesn’t have an appreciable magnetosphere, we will never colonize it or grow plants there for that reason. It is senseless to try.

    The Moon also has the same issue. Massive shielding would be needed for humans to exist there, and for what purpose? Supposedly to prepare for a Mars expedition? Well, see above.

    So, do we spend a considerable amount of our resources on providing shielding? Why? Physiological barriers would be encountered next.

    We should spend the resources on robots. Robots to mine the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. Robots to peak under the ice on Europa and Enceladus. Robots to investigate the heliopause, and to determine the debris pattern between our solar system and Proxima Centauri. All of these robots would be cheaper than one manned mission to Mars.

    We are never getting off this rock, evolution hasn’t equipped us to, and we won’t evolve for whims and fantasies.

    I like Star Wars/Trek as much as the next guy, but it ain’t gonna happen. The human capacity for imagination exceeds the realistic possibilities of the Universe.

  13. Gedt rid of Giss/NASA climate ??/Real Climate.org and the politics of Hansen and Al Gore. We will save a lot of wasted money.

  14. FTA:

    NASA GISS is a duplication of climate services already covered by NOAA/NCDC, and all we seem to get from it is climate activism arrests of the chief scientist, a coffee table book by his assistant, and a snarky condescending blog called RealClimate that one private citizen and some volunteers are currently beating the pants off of in public outreach.

    The last Weblog Awards winner was announced in 2009: click

    RealClimate never did have much of a following.

  15. If we even got some science in it then there would be benefit but when it has mostly become about dogmatism and politics a billion dollars is a huge waste of money

  16. One billion in a year, I can just imagine what NASA is thinking: “A billion dollars and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt”. Obviously not one by Josh.

  17. Scott,

    You say, “We are never getting off this rock, evolution hasn’t equipped us to, and we won’t evolve for whims and fantasies.

    I like Star Wars/Trek as much as the next guy, but it ain’t gonna happen. The human capacity for imagination exceeds the realistic possibilities of the Universe.”

    The one major thing that humans can do for earthly evolution is to spread Earthly life forms around the universe. Currently we are the best hope to break out that life on planet earth has ever had. In the big picture we can play a huge glorious role for all DNA – the culmination of billions or years of Earthly evolution, enormous variety and complexity. In a sense, as the only creature with a realistic chance of spreading life to other planets we really are “gods”. Space travel may be our destiny and we will take life forms with us.

  18. Congressional leadership is also considering whacking about $1.6 billion off of the EPA’s budget.

    There is no action that mobilizes a government agency to shift to battle stations as effectively as a serious challenge to its funding (been there done that). Almost all other business gets pushed to the back burner while they try to defend their funding, and find ways to by-pass, side step, or neuter the budget ax, by renaming programs, program administrator positions etc.

    It would be wise for the proposals for both NASA and EPA cost cutting measures to explicitly identify the activities that are not to be funded, rather than just the sub-unit of the agency, as the activity can continue, while being hidden in a shell game of reorganization where they just change the names of the groups and administrative titles to protect the guilty.

    Larry

  19. I want to put humans into space on a perminat basis. NASA can not do this, as an Airforce / civilian operation they only do missions and then go home. Roman candle propulsion will never result in real human space travel. Right now we only have a double class “A” expensive dangerous fun ride. This thing needs to be totally rebuilt. And why is the Space administration doing weather / climate science and international PR work.

    Mission creep means too many politicans with their fingers in it, too much money and too many professional administrators building empires.
    Close it down and start over. pg

  20. Scott Ramsdell says:
    February 9, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    We are never getting off this rock, evolution hasn’t equipped us to, and we won’t evolve for whims and fantasies.

    I like Star Wars/Trek as much as the next guy, but it ain’t gonna happen. The human capacity for imagination exceeds the realistic possibilities of the Universe.

    – – – – – – – –

    Scott Ramsdell,

    Thank you for your excellent discussion of the need for robotic application to space exploration.

    However, I must point out some alternate thoughts on space travel by human beings.

    First, shielding is technologically simple; see design of nuclear power plants.

    Second, mankind will be physiology altered by living someplace besides on Earth or on Earth like planets; that is a given. I cannot see anything that would limit technology to achieve necessary alteration of our bodies to achieve non-Earth civilization.

    Third, transport between Earth like planets has many possibilities. Just one being a robotic ship carrying human genetic material, or the code for making human genetic material between Earth like planets; upon arrival at a destination the robotic ship makes the genetic material from its codes in its data base, human growth is then initiated on the planet. {outlined in the SF book ‘Pathfinder’ by Orson Scott Card}

    Fourth, mankind and the stars is a powerful vision. The motivation is irresistible. Therefore I am optimistic that mankind does belong among the stars.

    John

  21. All climate non-science should be deleted from NASA and climate non-scientists should be fired. How much is left? All should go into exploration of both manned and unmanned flight. These accomplishments have been amazing.

    At the same time, a scarlet letter S for “shame” should be hung around NASA along with the dollar amount of wasted resources by these — what else can one call them but — criminals. Even better the wasted dollars should be posted everywhere delineated by year. Tar and feathers anyone?

    Raw temperature data and other excellent research should remain, but NASA should not be permitted to house these. NASA has lost. Find another agency with integrity and a reputation for scientific endeavors.

  22. This will probably contrast with others, but I don’t think NASA should be scrapped…

    As for climate studies, yes defund that. NASA should be studying other worlds, not our own unless it has relevance to other planets. They should be in the business of exploration both man and un-manned.

    Some people think the focus should be on one or the other, but I think NASA can do both and should be doing both. Private enterprise can and will advance lower orbital and other fun stuff such as heading back to the moon, but there are things that NASA can do and innovate without budget constraints that put private companies off. Pure exploration is something that we should all strive for, and a manned mission will provide so much more information then un-manned…the cost is worth it.

    As it is, programming un-manned missions is very hard and is very difficult since it takes one hour or more for signals to go back and forth (Mars) and longer for anything farther out. This puts limits on un-manned missions that we really need to realize and at the end of the day, both of these types of missions have their purposes. We can learn a lot without setting foot on another world, but the true adventure and learning comes from actually living there. The lack of shielding is no doubt a concern for some planets/moons, but there are ways around that. Living underground for instance is probably not a bad idea in those instances, and in fact there is already a design for a moon base which would be permanently powered by solar close to the lunar south pole.

    Shielded, powered the only requirement would be water which might just exist there anyway….so we have the ability to make a fully self-sustained system off of our planet. I don’t see why NASA can not do things such as this if they stop spending money on worthless endevors such as low orbital manned missions and climate change.

    Private enterprise can do a lot in this too. But the basic exploration is best done by NASA both with un-manned and manned probes.

  23. It is not good to combine two issues as this discussion is progressing.

    The weather and climate investigations could easily be turned over to NOAA and the NSF.

    The other issue about space flight just confuses the issue of climate activism and the hooliganism of certain NASA employees.

  24. NASA GISS is a duplication of climate services already covered by NOAA/NCDC, and all we seem to get from it is climate activism arrests of the chief scientist, a coffee table book by his assistant, and a snarky condescending blog called RealClimate that one private citizen and some volunteers are currently beating the pants off of in public outreach.

    But, how do you REALLY feel, Anthony?

    Thanks, you nailed it!

  25. I feel the same way about the Dept of Ed, Parks, Ag, etc, etc, etc. It seems like if states choose to have a Department of Gnat’s Ass Accounting, the feds have to have one too. If a state wants to have a top notch rep for churning out world class educated citizens, fine. And if another state prefers to churn out dimwits, that’s fine too. Each state gets to decide. Wherever you are headed, you will get there. And for sure, the Federal Government needs to downsize and stop duplicating every fart, burp, or high note a state chooses to make.

  26. Would be one small step for NASA, and one giant step for mankind.

    Well, except for the part of mankind on the AGW gravy train.

  27. This place just would not be the same without the unique personality, honeyed eloquence, youthful glow and shining virtues of Pamela Gray.

    I hope they can do something about this…
    US corn reserves hit lowest level in 15 years – Yahoo! News

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_crop_report;_ylt=AqijXLlWbZzUDuEA_YoX13us0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNpaWUyY2o2BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwMjA5L3VzX2Nyb3BfcmVwb3J0BGNjb2RlA21vc3Rwb3B1bGFyBGNwb3MDOARwb3MDNQRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX2hlYWRsaW5lX2xpc3QEc2xrA3VzY29ybnJlc2Vydg–

    And this…

    BERNANKE : JOBS MAY TAKE YEARS TO RETURN

    http://m.cnbc.com/id/41489883

  28. NASA represents nothing less than the betrayal of the American people, another institution hijacked for political ends and it has ended with the pioneers of space exploration without the funds to explore space? There is enough money of course but it is being misspent and misdirected.

    The major role of NASA should be space exploration and preparation for its exploitation to serve humanity but it seems that NASA funding attracted the attentions of of the political parasite class who are experts in the art of finding and then exploiting public funding sources. The UK has suffered greatly with national institutions eaten from the inside out until only a hollow shell remains, its a tragedy and we deserve better.

    National institutions like NASA cannot serve two masters, it is either a space exploration and exploitation organisation or it is merely another arm of government enacting a political set of goals. As NASA involves itself in socio political aims it neglects its core role, more and more resources are diverted away from real and productive activities. You would think that NASA would concentrate its vast income into building a reliable space vehicle first because without that nothing else can be achieved. NASA is making the basic error of trying to do too much with too many people doing too many different things with no focus and no real world plan.

    What to do then? As usual it is so simple. Shut down all unnecessary and frivolous programmes, cull all surplus staff and researchers to the bone and direct resources in turn to each priority as needed until that priority has been accomplished.

    Build a reliable fleet of space vehicles.

    Build a moon base.

    Build up a space exploitation infrastructure.

    Everything that could be done by private capital should be left to them while NASA concentrates on the pioneer role, the capitalists will follow the trail, they always have and they always will.

    Every dollar counts, no waste and no frittering and lack of focus and spreading of resources, get the basics right and concentrate on making every dime count. No freeloading passengers and no parasites, no political appointees or activists just a lazer like concentration on priorities. If taxpayers actually knew how much NASA pays out in direct and indirect salaries to people with no relation to space expolitation each year they would soon realise why the shuttle is not being replaced.

  29. I have only marginal faith that congress will de-fund the climate gravy train. Too many of the R’s (including my local one) drank the Koolade when Cap ‘n Trade came around for me to feel really good about their success in the house. And the Senate is still run by the D’s where the only incentive to vote against AGW funding lies with those who are in red states and are up for election next year.

    In any case it looks like nobody in congress is serious enough about cutting spending beyond 20% or so of the deficit – hardly conducive of hopeful thoughts on my part.

  30. NASA lost it’s way many years ago, but America has not. The successful launch and recovery of the Dragon 9 vehicle by Space X is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved if bureaucracy and those promoted above their level of incompetence are eliminated from the equation. The shuttle was a camel designed by committee and the US can thank it’s lucky stars that Aries was cancelled, because it would have been more of the same.

    My understanding is that Space X operates on 0.01% of NASA’s budget. Imagine what could be achieved if all the 7.5% NASA spent on promoting climate lies and taxes were handed to Space X. Simply handed over. No committees, no plans, no NASA administrators, management or oversight. Fantastic results guaranteed overnight. Why? Because Space X are clearly following Kelly Johnson’s 14 rules and the last time NASA came close was when Wernher was around.

  31. Hmmm, so exactly who was it who cut the lunar programs in the first place?
    Am I wrong to guess that it was Republicans?

    And if the earth sciences programs get cut who will be then be claiming that NASA is not giving value for money and is wasting it on crazy manned space flight ideas.
    Will it be Republicans?

    Or who thinks that if the earth sciences programs are cut there will be suddenly be enough money for a manned space flight program? And if there is not enough money for manned space flight, even after cuts, will these same letter writers be lobbying for increased funding to allow such a manned program to go ahead?
    I am betting the answer is no.

    So I think there is cheating here. The aim is to have cuts, pure and simple, and the manned space flight thing is just prestidigitation to sneak the cuts through without people complaining.

  32. ” Excessive growth of climate change research has not been limited to NASA. Overall, the government spent over $8.7 billion across 16 Agencies and Departments throughout the federal government on these efforts in FY 2010 alone.”

    $8.7bn. In the US alone. And I cannot think of a single useful thing that has come out of the theory of impending climate catastrophe. It cannot even develop a decent record in prediction.

    NASA should re-focus on core purpose, and it will be “one small step” ( sorry, had to be done – one for Josh maybe) towards ending this incessant distraction.

  33. From my perspective, NASA GISS is a duplication of climate services already covered by NOAA/NCDC, and all we seem to get from it is climate activism arrests of the chief scientist, a coffee table book by his assistant, and a snarky condescending blog called RealClimate that one private citizen and some volunteers are currently beating the pants off of in public outreach.

    You have hit the nail squarely on the head. Can’t someone in the US fire off a freedom of information request demanding to know how much time Gavin spends working while on the public payroll?

    No Mann from the USA ;>) will never go to Mars as long as Hansen is in charge.

  34. Just a question or three…

    How does a knuckle-head like Hanson keep a job with as many times as he’s been caught cooking the books? Pull that kind of stunt in the private sector and you’ll be looking for a job about as fast as you can say “hockey stick.”

    Shackelton Crater, 2022.

  35. When I heard NASA I used to think of great scientific and technological achievement. These days that name conjures up: incompetence, fraudulent data and playing petty politics.

    Hanson is doing for NASA what Hitler did for the reputation of Germany.

  36. _Jim says: February 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    NASA –over a billion dollars–And what was the work-product … I’ve seen some rants by Hansen, and the continued blogging by Gaven is all …

    I honestly just thought that Hansen was in NASA as a kind of hanger on with no other place to put their climategate team.

    I just assumed it would be the British “home-guard” at CRU: a handful of second rate “scientists” with a few spreadsheets that they did down the pub at lunchtime so that they had time to do important things like blogging and emailing the rest of the day.

    But of course the US always has to be “better” than the UK. You can’t just waste £15million, you have to show that money is no object in saving the planet and go for $1000million. Must make you proud to be a US citizen!

    Never in the history of human endeavor, has so much been wasted on so little!

  37. Sorry … sorry … just came to me …

    The US wants the money for manned space flight to mars.

    It all makes sense now close one program to find the monkeys for another – where else could you find “scientists” gullible enough to the budget stretches to a return journey?

  38. I think we can cut out altogether the budgets for both GISS and manned space flight, in my humble opinion. There could be enough money left over for unmanned space flight, which is all I think NASA is worth these days, anyway. There are other scientific projects on this planet that we could better spend money on (not necessarily public money, mind you – I’m about fed up with government support of science, even for those items that could demonstrate some long-term value), such as ocean research that could enable us to mine the oceans without doing damage to the overall ecology of the ocean.

  39. Oh dear, what a terrible shame it would be to defund the parasites, the world would almost cease to exist for all the useful idiot followers.
    A catastrophy of epic proportions, heads would be exploding all over the planet, a terrible shame but no great loss and the world will cope.
    NASA was a special place in the hearts and minds of millions, even the enemies of America held the NASA as special. My how the mighty have fallen into disrepair and dis repute. A quarter of the stall and half the budget in the private world would have seen a warp drive by now.

  40. NASA should do what it does reasonably well, like space projects, and leave stuff it does not understand, like climate, to others.

  41. Pamela Gray says:
    February 9, 2011 at 9:16 pm
    I feel the same way about the Dept of Ed, Parks, Ag, etc, etc, etc. It seems like if states choose to have a Department of Gnat’s Ass Accounting, the feds have to have one too. If a state wants to have a top notch rep for churning out world class educated citizens, fine. And if another state prefers to churn out dimwits, that’s fine too. Each state gets to decide. Wherever you are headed, you will get there. And for sure, the Federal Government needs to downsize and stop duplicating every fart, burp, or high note a state chooses to make.

    I think that this was more succinctly put some time ago…..
    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

  42. The NASA that went to the moon is long gone. I was an avid supporter of NASA as a teenager during the Gemini and Apollo programs, but not now. If you look at what NASA got for a dollar on the Constellation program and what Spacex gets for a $ then NASA looks beyond saving. Where did the $9bn spent on the Constellation program go? No wonder even pro-government Obama has given up on them. The NASA story is a story of gross waste, poor leadership and the betrayal of America. Here some of what they did:

    1. Threw everything away from the Apollo program including the Apollo spacecraft, Saturn I and Saturn V (except for Skylab). Both of these rockets are still competitive today and could have been upgraded over time.
    2. Developed a fragile space shuttle with no safety margin and utterly hopeless economics.
    3. Stopped all development of everything else leaving no effective follow on to the shuttle. No new reliable, efficient, cost effective rocket engines. Just 3 ridiculous attempts at single stage to orbit vehicles which were all doomed to fail.
    4. Tried to internalise the irreconcilable conflicts between manned spaceflight and space science – and failed.

    It’s time to break up NASA into it’s manned, science satellite and aerospace components. The scientific analysis (like GISS) can be done free in universities.

  43. The simple answer to government deficits is one has to start somewhere. Understand the hue and cry, the bawling, the stomping, the “killing our kids”, killing the planet, etc., will be heard anytime a RIF occurs. Only truly essential things need to be funded this year and the next year. Tell them they can always re-apply for funding later. But it must be started and it must be now.

    NASA’s GISS is the best place to start. It should be an easy sell if the debate, what that it is, is styled in “do you want your “tax refund” reduced to pay for this?”. That should get even the attention of the pure-Obama voters receiving “work credits”.

    Imho, if the GOP can’t do this one, then nothing much will be done.

  44. I think it best that NASA focus on Muslim outreach.

    After working for NASA on the Apollo program, it is really sad what has happened to this once science dedicated institution. Now turned propagandist.

  45. Michael Cejnar says:
    February 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm
    “…Every law, every job and every office with the words ‘carbon’ or ‘climate’ in their title should be abolished. Every government department related to carbon or climate should be defunded and abolished if they have no other roles.”
    /////////////////////////////////////////////
    That might be a little extreme but I agree that as a start this is what should be looked at, examined to see whether they perform any real, cost effective and worthwhile role and if not, then scrapped.

    Many posters have commented on the role of NASA and space travel. I still remember, as a very young boy, watching and listening in awe to the Apollo flights. I probably still have (somewhere) 30 or 40 hours of mission recordings on reel to reel tape. This was a definitive moment in the history of mankind since it established that man could leave this planet if he had to. The implications of this are enormous.

    However, the reality is that (nuclear holocaust excepted), there will be no reason to leave this planet for millions if not a billion years. There is nothing particularly useful to man on the Moon or on Mars. The cost of rcovering anything from the Moon or Mars and bringing it back to Earth are prohibitive. There are much more useful and beneficial use of resources.

    I see no point in a further manned mission to the Moon (we have been there done that) nor to Mars. I do not see what these would prove or what benefit would be achieed. I agree that robotic exploration is to be preferred. We have already opened the door and stepped out. The next step is to heighten our understanding and knowledge and wait for major technological breakthroughs that may enable us to truly explore space. However, unless we can achieve travel at close to the speed of light any space travel is simply fantasy.

    I hope that man does not lose his quest for discovery and the pursuit of knowledge. The universe is a big place. There are more interesting bodies in our Solar system than either the Moon or Mars, and deep space exploration beckons. It is these that we should fix our horizon on.

    May be I am too sentimental, but I would not wish to see NASA disbanded but I would like to see it return to something more akin to its roots.

  46. wayne Job says:
    February 10, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Oh dear, what a terrible shame it would be to defund the parasites, the world would almost cease to exist for all the useful idiot followers.
    A catastrophy of epic proportions, heads would be exploding all over the planet, a terrible shame but no great loss and the world will cope.
    ==============================================

    Does anyone know if there has been any reaction from AGWers yet? I’ve had look around, but haven’t discovered anything so far.

  47. “ISS” is more like the International Spy Station. Since the ISS cost ca 80 billion and counting, it would never has been built and put into orbit unless it could be used by the military. This is probably the reason the US does not allow the super rich guys to visit their section.

    Space is a vacuum. Why spend billions to explore a vacuum? The manned space program should be discontinued. Its only purpose was political.

    No manned mission to Mars because once the space craft crosses the point of no return, any simple infection could become life-threatening and this would surely result in the death of the astronaut.

    There is always the distinct possibitly that a meteor could hit the spacecraft and disable or destroy a critical system such as the fuel cell or computer. Or it it could punch a hole in the space craft resulting loss of the interior atmosphere which is required to keep the astronauts warm.

  48. It’s a miracle! What a breath of fresh air. Yes, give NASA a space flight mission or close it. If the federal government needs a climate change outreach, send the money to Anthony Watts.

  49. Anthony writes: “NASA spent over a billion dollars last year on climate change studies…which would you rather have? Pronouncements about death trains, expert testimony for climate vandals, failed predictions, failed models, and a questionable GISTEMP dataset, or a continued manned spaceflight program?”

    Anthony, you’ve argued against learning about the climate from unmanned space programs, but do you argue that we have something of value to learn from putting human beings in space? If so, what is that?

    BTW, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is not in Virginia. It’s in Greenbelt Maryland. Next time you are in the DC area, I recommend a visit to see first hand what they do.

  50. Smokey says:
    February 9, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    “The last Weblog Awards winner was announced in 2009: click”

    “RealClimate never did have much of a following.”

    Which makes me think that the “Steig-gate” kerfuffle was nothing more than the “team” trying to find a way to increase their pathetic web traffic.

    As for NASA/NOAA etc., it would certainly save the taxpayers a lot of Climate Ca$h if they consolidated their efforts. For example, GISS should get out of the climate modeling business (let NCAR and/or GFDL do that), and focus instead on the satellite missions. And let NOAA/NCDC handle the “hottest year evah!” stuff since they are caretakers of the data. GISS should also close down their expen$ive New York City office and move their base of operation to Maryland, merging with the rest of the GSFC (of which they are a subsidiary).

    Unfortunately, researchers at GISS, NOAA, EPA, NSF, DOE, academia etc. are so politically connected that it is very unlikely that they’ll lose any of their large budget increases slated for this year and next. After all, they have their six figure salaries and generous pension, holiday/vacation, and healthcare benefits to protect…

  51. “Global warming funding presents an opportunity to reduce spending without unduly impacting NASA’s core human spaceflight mission.”

    And what has the core human spaceflight mission become?

    To kick out all the engineers and hire enviro-bureaucrats[not an easy word but spell-check will get it]?

    To be dependent on old soviet designed rocket to get to ISS in time every time?

    To sit around watching China taking the lead, with Japan, India and Chile following suit? Or is it to just see what happens when the Russian bear wakes from slumber if they ever get their heads out of their gutter filler.

    EU, Canada, Australia and New Zeeland, don’t want to take the lead nor, apparently, become that very technologically advanced in the coming space age. If one is to believe it one of the reasons EU disregard a full blown space program is apparently due to climate change fears. And what has it gotten EU but more dependent on Russia, just like with natural gas.

    So if US don’t want to recommit, reinvigorate, recharge, it’s space program (to get the rest of the crowd on board by, again, showing the way,) then there’s no country in the western world that has proper human manned space flight capabilities (except for fun rides for tourists), and so the whole of the western world–it’s golden era then, obviously, long past–is technologically dead or dying. The idea that the western worlds governments can get a cheap ride on what, eventually, the western world free market might be able spawn on their own is rather bleak (unless of course one sell to those who can afford it) when faced with the trillions of dollars the Chinese government are going to throw into their space tech market the coming decades.

    So join NASA’s human space flight mission – there’s no better way see how everyone else makes it. :p

  52. This is a domestic decision for the American taxpayers and not for the likes of myself to interfere, urge or condemn. But whatever you do, do it well and give your country the best chance it may have to advance itself. A bootstrap time for hard decisions and a clear vision to restore a nation of purpose and pride. As I see it the industrial giant of America is a sleep, and needs regenerating. Make your scientists and academics create the machinery, the products and invest in your people to that end. Make it work!

    That said -Its o.k. if you pack a few like Lazy teenager and his cohorts into a spacecraft and send them off the planet to do some real work, this can only help in defeating the academic lethargy…oh and Gavin can live in his borehole !

  53. Anthony,
    is the traffic chart right? Based on what I see, it’s RealClimate that beats the pants off WUWT. Is the y-axis mistakenly inverted? It must be, because I can’t see how traffic would have fallen so much during Climategate.

  54. I believe NASA has come and gone. Events in history are on the move in America that I’m afraid are impossible to stop. This country is now catering to its lowest common denominator, an “idiocracy,” that the media promotes 24/7. History shows this, over and over again.

  55. Slight correction – GSFC is in Greenbelt, MD.

    On a more disturbing financial note – look at the history of NPOESS. The first program to trigger Nunn-McCurdy (congressional response to massive overruns). While I am all for weather systems and polar orbiting satellites (they have a huge impact on the safety of our military forces operating in harms way) the fact is the first mission under NPOESS is 20 times more expensive than comparable missions at NASA GSFC.

    Yes, you read that right. We could have built 20 missions (flight and ground) for the waste and abuse on NPOESS. It is not the goals, it is the waste and abuse meeting the goals.

    Agree, no one needs GISS – zero it out.

  56. Point of order. The NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center is in Greenbelt, Maryland – not Virginia.

    I’m deeply saddened and appalled by NASA’s decline and heartily support defunding any project that is not directly involved in space exploration. That’s why I think NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) needs to go away entirely to be replaced by SEA (Space Exploration Administration). Take away anthing that happens inside Earth’s atmosphere.

  57. It should be pointed out that in NASA’s original charter, its first objective was “The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.

    So it could be argued that atmospheric (climate) science is certainly within NASA’s purview. However, the final objective (of eight) is, ” The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment.”

    And this indeed is Anthony’s point: “From my perspective, NASA GISS is a duplication of climate services already covered by NOAA/NCDC. . .”

    For reference, here’s the Policy and Purpose preamble of National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958:

    DECLARATION OF POLICY AND PURPOSE

    Sec. 102. (a) The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.

    (b) The Congress declares that the general welfare and security of the United States require that adequate provision be made for aeronautical and space activities. The Congress further declares that such activities shall be the responsibility of, and shall be directed by, a civilian agency exercising control over aeronautical and space activities sponsored by the United States, except that activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems, military operations, or the defense of the United States (including the research and development necessary to make effective provision for the defense of the United States) shall be the responsibility of, and shall be directed by, the Department of Defense; and that determination as to which such agency has responsibility for and direction of any such activity shall be made by the President in conformity with section 201 (e).

    (c) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives:

    (1) The expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;

    (2) The improvement of the usefulness, performance, speed, safety, and efficiency of aeronautical and space vehicles;

    (3) The development and operation of vehicles capable of carrying instruments, equipment, supplies and living organisms through space;

    (4) The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.

    (5) The preservation of the role of the United States as a leader in aeronautical and space science and technology and in the application thereof to the conduct of peaceful activities within and outside the atmosphere.

    (6) The making available to agencies directly concerned with national defenses of discoveries that have military value or significance, and the furnishing by such agencies, to the civilian agency established to direct and control nonmilitary aeronautical and space activities, of information as to discoveries which have value or significance to that agency;

    (7) Cooperation by the United States with other nations and groups of nations in work done pursuant to this Act and in the peaceful application of the results, thereof; and

    (8) The most effective utilization of the scientific and engineering resources of the United States, with close cooperation among all interested agencies of the United States in order to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort, facilities, and equipment.

    From here: http://history.nasa.gov/spaceact.html

    Note that almost all of the objectives pertain to activities in space, not on the Earth.

    /Mr Lynn

  58. As I write this, I’m looking out the window at a street-side display being set-up with the SpaceX vehicle inside. This is the actual test vehicle that has been in orbit. I spent a good 20 minutes in the freezing cold just staring at the thing. This fascinates me, not the hysteria about the 0.8 degrees C per decade rise in global temperatures.

  59. Frank Wolf is my congressman, and I strongly urge people to contact him on this.

    He’s a good man in most ways, and has a strong record on a variety of issues, one of which (unfortunately) has become a lot of support for programs in our district run by some of the most self-serving progressives possible, which he gets sucked into via his legitimate concerns for historic preservation.

    “Preservation” efforts can often do as much harm as good, especially when they involve efforts by the wealthy to get a little personal pork, which we see quite a bit of here in the Virginia estate district outside of DC.

    I’d much rather see NASA engaged in the SCIENCE that brought us not only manned space flight, but the programs which launched multi-year probes sending back amazing and vauable information–movies from the surface of Mars! and the like.

    It would certainly encourage and reward those who take the trouble to grow in true science/engineering disciplines.

    I’ve had enough with the computer-modelled fundraising propaganda. We can’t afford it, on SO many levels.

  60. Re Lazy Teenager: ( a brief education of the political turmoil surrounding the end of Apollo)

    The Apollo program cuts were made by the Democratic-led congress in the early/mid 1970’s. they canceled the last couple of scheduled moon missions and stopped all the future planning for deeper space missions for two reasons: one, the novelty had worn off and the program was no longer drawing the people’s interest (and thus did nothing for congress’ re-election chances), and two, they wished to expand the Great Society and War on Poverty programs started by Johnson, and the surplus funds to do so were taken from NASA and DoD (plus a good bit of deficit spending as the economy was crashing from the Vietnam War and first round of War on Poverty expenditures.) This led NASA to pull the manned program back to low-Earth orbits and develop a reusable orbiter. Politics as usual even mucked that up, as the best shuttle design concept was not the one chosen, while the one with factories placed in the most influential congressional districts was. The President at the beginning of this was Ford (a Republican) but the double down occurred during Carter (a Democrat). The Democrats controlled the legislature throughout.

    On the main topic: NASA shouldn’t be doing Earth data analysis except to the extent required to assure spacecraft and sensor health, or to use for support of extraterrestrial analysis. The data should be freely available to whoever wants to do the analysis with one or more prime research teams selected for each data program. If no prime research team will step forward to be caretaker of the analysis, then the program to collect the data should be canceled. Unlike in Europe, the Government of the US has no copyright in government information: all government data BELONGS to the people (some withheld due to national security – mostly to prevent other nations from being able to thwart intelligence collection – other data illegally withheld to prevent politicians from being embarrassed=BAD). All that NASA or ANY other US Government agency does should be freely accessible to US citizens and on a pay as you go basis to others (they didn’t pay the taxes that generated the data after all). It goes beyond the science, but like in science everything should be held up to the light. Government and Science both stink when they choose to work behind barriers and hide information.

    Wow, that was quite a soap box…sorry

  61. Dr. Hansen, Al Gore, and their hangerons are a bunch of know-it-all snobs with Lt. John F. Kerry type awards and citations.

    Keep it simple.

  62. Certainly cut all the climate stuff out of NASA. Should have been done many years ago. NASA should focus much more on unmanned space exploration and much less on manned flight.

  63. NASA lost its way due to the American war machine starting with Vietnam. The USA’s military budget (elephant in the room) cancels anything good that America could hope for in space. BTW I agree get NASA out of climate activism.

  64. We need to establish a base on a lunar pole.
    A telescope perhaps?
    If we don’t someone else will…like China.

  65. Eric says:
    February 10, 2011 at 6:45 am
    I’d rather have a continued manned spaceflight program. Next stop Mars!

    I think that’s putting the cart way before the horse. Mars is a two year round trip with no slingshot recovery in the event of a failure.

    The moon is three days, and we have safely recovered the crew of one severe failure already.

    It’s doable, we have the technology. It’s the will that appears lacking.

  66. Schadenfreude doesn’t quite capture my delight in anticipation of these proposals becoming realized fact. [self-snip]!!!!

  67. writing from abroad, it would be a fine thing for NASA to return to its origins.

    David Hume once said “The corruption of the best produces the worst”

    However, I don’t see this as an irredeemable state of affairs.

    It can be fascinating how the worst can be turned around and made the best again

  68. WOW, when I was a kid, NASA was the ICON of America, now it’s tarnished. Obama needs to go, he is pathetic.

  69. On the topic of Jim Hansen, the eco-missionary masquerading as a NASA ‘scientist,’ these promo-blurbs for his new book pretty much say it all, without intending to:

    “Dr. James Hansen is Paul Revere to the foreboding tyranny of climate chaos—a modern-day hero who has braved criticism and censure and put his career and fortune at stake to issue the call to arms against the apocalyptic forces of ignorance and greed.”

    — Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

    “When the history of the climate crisis is written, Hansen will be seen as the scientist with the most powerful and consistent voice calling for intelligent action to preserve our planet’s environment.”

    — Al Gore, Time Magazine

    “Jim Hansen is the planet’s great hero. He offered us the warning we needed twenty years ago, and has worked with enormous courage ever since to try and make sure we heeded it. We’ll know before long if that effort bears fruit—if it does, literally no one deserves more credit than Dr. Hansen.”

    — Bill McKibben, coordinator 350.org and author of The End of Nature

    “If you want to know the scientific consensus on global warming, read the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. But if you want to know what the consensus will be ten years from now, read Jim Hansen’s work.”

    — Dr. Chuck Kutscher, National Renewable Energy Laboratory and American Solar Energy Society (ASES), editor of ASES report “Tackling Climate Change in the U.S.

  70. In response to Sun Spot:

    The USAF funded much of the space shuttle research and development when congress was trying to kill by underfunding. The USAF saw the shuttle as a potential launch vehicle for communications satellites, but abandoned the program after the Challenger accident. Many of the technologies developed for the shuttle worked their way into other USAF launch vehicle programs, and were spun off into the commercial launch vehicles in the US. So it wasn’t the “war machine” siphoning off funding. In fact many of the rocket motor, avionics and sensor advances NASA uses came out of research for the original so-called “Star Wars” program during the Reagan build up. In fact even the NOAA weather satellites owe much of their sensor development to USAF weather satellites that came before. As much as it galls many to admit, military requirements drove many of the technologies NASA uses, but in true sabers to plowshares symbolism were converted for civilian use. The real killer of NASA’s funding has been the rise of cradle-to-grave socialism in the US. Expenditures on the “War on Poverty” dwarfs military spending many times over and have even less to show for it. There are more poor today then when the programs started, though the US does have the richest poor people of any country I have visited (of about 30) when it comes to material wealth and comfort.

    Off my soapbox…twice in one day, I better watch it or I may get to liking it up there…

  71. He has taken a symbol of American pride and patriotism and used it for his own outlandish goals. Their should be an investigation into how much data he falsified so he could use the once good name of NASA to further his alarmist adgenda.
    Steps should be taken to assure nothing of this scale will ever happen again.

  72. I agree with Anthony Watts. Let the ‘climate’ programs go as they are redundant and wasteful, and not what we want from our space agency. But not too unceremoniously.

    For a parting gift, the newly unemployed from NASA should be given carbon credits. Lots of carbon credits. Also in recognition of the value of their services as they leave, they should at least be presented with Official White House Union Waivers, to excuse them from Obamacare (which they could speedily sell to others for large sums, before it is declared unconstitutional and repealed).

  73. Just in case NASA did have to close its doors (except to keep the spacecraft already on missions working), manned space flight enthusiasts could always…

    “Book your place in space now and join around 390 Virgin Galactic astronauts who will venture into space.

    Tickets cost $200,000 and deposits start from $20,000. If you are interested in discussing your reservation with us directly please fill in the booking form below or contact one of our Accredited Space Agents around the world. They have been specially selected and trained by us to handle all aspects of your spaceflight reservation. If you just want to receive regular updates from us then please click here.

    Virgin Galactic Mission Control

    http://www.virgingalactic.com/

    Spaceport American, New Mexico:

    http://www.virgingalactic.com/overview/spaceport/

  74. Someone needs to tell NASA what President JFK actually said. “Many years ago, the great British explorer George Mallory was asked, ‘Why do you want to climb Mt Everest?’ He said, ‘Because it is there.’ Well space is there. And we are going to climb it!”

    Climb it. Not climate.

  75. I’m surprised anyone would even need funding for climate change research anymore, you know, with the science being “settled” and all.

  76. (4) The establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.

    Utilization of space activities for the purpose of Earth observations from an orbiting satellite for scientific purposes sure seems to fit into the above pretty well. That’s probably why they came up with the ideas for the Landsat and Nimbus programs, both of which have been marginally useful for science.

  77. “The weather and climate investigations could easily be turned over to NOAA and the NSF.”

    The NSF budget FY2010 was 7.08 billion. Plenty of “AGW” dollars included here already. After the 2008 elections, everyone thought a proposal related to climate change would fly through.

    Forgive me if I’ve said this here before: Much funding for science is to keep the scientist working on something. My father was an aerospace engineer. He spent far more time in his career on weaponry. He didn’t like it much but he had to do that work in order to be there for the aerospace work.

    I asked two scientists, at my workplace, what they thought fellow scientists believed about global climate change. I posed the question in this way so they didn’t need to reveal their personal views. One bypassed that and discussed reasonable causes for skepticism. (We were friends and he had no problem telling me what he thought.) The other squirmed and finally admitted that climate change or not, we needed to have renewable sources of energy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He said this was what he believed to be the view of most of his colleagues. I think eventually, the focus and funding will shift from climate change research to energy research.

  78. “We are never getting off this rock, evolution hasn’t equipped us to, and we won’t evolve for whims and fantasies.”

    It’s a good job young Ogg didn’t turn to young Ugg and make a similar comment right after they had crawled out of the primeval swamp for the first time. Where would we be now?

  79. You guys who think we don’t have the tech to do spaceflight properly ever hear about Project Orion? Not the recent NASA idiocy, the Freeman Dyson/Ted Taylor one. Read George Dyson’s book about it. What fun it must have been to be working at General Atomics on Orion in the late 1950s in the sun and space of southern California !

  80. Every dollar spent by NASA is $1.25 not spent by private research and development. Science as a public good is a myth and bad economics. I say we scrap NASA – sell it for parts, and cut taxes.

  81. If NASA GISS disappears and Dr. James Hansen loses his job, who is going to keep their thumbs on the temperature scale and keep homogenizing the ever-decreasing station data so the next year will always be the warmest on record?

  82. This was inevitable once a “consensus” was announced. The free romp on taxpayer money is coming to a close. There is no need to keep spending money if the science is solved; what’s the point of continually proving the proven? To this end I keep expecting a change in the “consensus” to occur where they start embracing some of the AGW critics so that they can use them to string it out longer. Let’s face it, for the funding fountain to stay turned on, they NEED the critics. Embracing the critics would bring more funding for both, and in the end, better science. But it’s probably too late. As a taxpayer, I’m holding out hope that it’s too late anyways…

  83. I was at NASA last year at the Kennedy Space Center. It’s a disappointing shell of it’s former self. They were excited about the Orion project, which the Obama administration later cancelled. It’s a disgrace that ideologists have turned our once proud space program into the science propaganda wing of their delusional fantacies.

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