Articles on Government Stupidity to NASA Budget

Larry Klaes (
Tue, 27 Jul 1999 13:10:09 -0400

Look at what our so-called representatives in the United States Government have done to our future in space!

At least in principle, they are supposed to serve the needs of the people - so let them know how you feel about this backward leap for mankind. Rail against the dying of the light of knowledge and progress, to paraphrase a poet.

Perhaps we should take a cue from SETI when its NASA project funding was cut off by the US Government in 1993: Go Private. It may not be as easy at first, but if we let the ignoramuses continue to control the purse strings, we will have no choice in the matter, unless we want to see our future fade away.

Here are some relevant articles on the subject. I have reproduced the SpaceViews article in full so you can see exactly what may be lost here.

House Committee Approves "Devastating" NASA Cuts

Published: 1999 July 27
12:12 am ET (0412 UT)

       A House appropriations subcommittee
       approved a bill late Monday, July 26,
       that would cut NASA's year 2000 budget
       by nearly 10 percent and essentially gut
       NASA's space science programs.

         The House Appropriations Committee subcommittee for
       Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and
       independent agencies approved legislation that would cut
       NASA's fiscal year (FY) 2000 budget to $12.3 billion, $1.3 billion
       below the President's original request and $1.4 billion below
       the 1999 budget.

         The budget cuts approved by the committee had a
       disproportionate impact on earth science, space science, and
       aeronautics. Complete numbers were not available by late
       Monday night, but it appeared that up to $800 million of the
       $1.3 billion in cuts would hit these programs.

         Several projects were outright canceled by the committee's
       cut, including the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF),
       Triana, and the Contour Discovery-class comet mission. The
       cuts also killed future missions for the Earth Observing System
       and the LightSAR Earth-observing radar.

         The committee also approved deep cuts in NASA Explorer
       and Discovery programs that would effectively kill future
       missions, such as the recently-selected Messenger and Deep
       Impact Discovery-class missions. Also sharply cut was funding
       for NASA's Mars exploration program, all but killing Mars
       missions beyond the 2001 programs.

         Other NASA projects that would could be cut back or killed
       by the planned cuts include the Gravity Probe-B mission to
       study general relativity, the Stratospheric Observatory for
       Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft, and other smaller
       spacecraft missions, as well as future missions to Europa and

         While space and earth sciences suffered the brunt of the cuts,
       the space station program survived relatively unscathed. Its
       FY2000 request was cut by just $100 million, which still results
       in a $100 million increase over 1999. The space shuttle program
       is also likely to suffer only minor cuts.

         Full budget figures are expected to be released Tuesday and
       throughout the week.

         NASA has already been tightening its budget belt,
       announcing in June that it was cutting funding for the Deep
       Space 4 "Champollion" comet lander mission. Cuts in funding
       for extended mission programs had also been discussed.

         Reaction against the proposed cuts was swift and sharp.
       "We're talking about gutting space exploration," NASA
       administrator Dan Goldin told the Associated Press.

"The space science cuts are the most devastating in NASA’s
history and effectively curtail space exploration after 2001," said Lou Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society. "It’s an irresponsible budget that does terrible harm to America’s future."
"If the House is truly serious about these cutbacks, it should
hold hearings to allow for public comment," Friedman said. "At a minimum, a full and open debate about alternatives to ending the American role in space exploration should be held." Rep. James Walsh (R-NY), chairman of the subcommittee, tried to be apologetic about the cuts and told the AP that he would "make every effort to address these difficulties" later in the year. "This is only the beginning of the process," he said. "We're at about the bottom of the third in a nine-inning ball game." However, the Senate is considered likely to approve similar cuts in NASA's budget when it considers its own version of appropriations legislation in the near future. The reason for the cuts is a set of spending caps that Congress and the President agreed to in 1997 in an effort to reduce the budget deficit. Ironically and perversely, this most stringent set of spending caps yet comes at a time when Congress and the President are debating what to do with a projects budget surplus that will be in the dozens of billions of dollars for 1999 alone.
"Given the previous lack of concern for NASA's declining
budget by the White House, this further proposed cut... amounts to nothing less than a repudiation of the value of America's space program in general, and space science and aeronautics in particular," noted Keith Cowing, editor of the NASA Watch Web site.
"What a wonderful way to commemorate the 30th
anniversary of Apollo 11."