November 24, 2004


NASA Chief Sees Mandate for Bush Space Program: The budget increase Congress just voted for NASA is a clear endorsement of President Bush's plan to send astronauts back to the Moon and later Mars, said Sean O'Keefe. (WARREN E. LEARY, 11/24/04, NY Times)

Now, Mr. O'Keefe told NASA employees in an agency address and later emphasized in a news conference, it is up to the agency to prove it can accomplish Mr. Bush's vision of sending people back to the moon by 2020 and using that venture as a springboard to exploration of Mars and beyond.

"This is a great day," he said. "It's a good start."

In wrangling over the spending bill Congress approved over the weekend, lawmakers approved a $16.2 billion budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a 5 percent increase at a time most agencies took cuts. While the $822 million increase for the space program in the 2005 fiscal year, which began in October was $44 million less than the president requested, NASA was a clear winner in a year when discretionary spending increased only about 1 percent.

The legislation requires Mr. O'Keefe to report within 60 days on the agency's plans, including what programs might be delayed, deferred or canceled because of the new initiative.

NASA officials also acknowledged the role of the House majority leader, Tom DeLay of Texas, whose district includes the Johnson Space Center, in securing the spending.

That which the President and Tom DeLay support seems likely to happen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 24, 2004 8:47 AM

One of the most amusing things this past year was to hear talking heads mock Bush for not talking about his plans for space anymore. As if not talking about them somehow implied they weren't going to happen.

Posted by: Timothy at November 24, 2004 11:10 AM

NASA is a waste of time and money. If we really want space exploration, let's simply declare the Moon and the planets to be open on a first come/first serve basis, like the Oklahoma Land Rush. Currently, by treaty, we have agreed to allow the UN to have hegemony on the moon, thus stifling any reason for anyone to go there.

Posted by: Bart at November 24, 2004 12:14 PM

Ditto undersea exploration, thanks to the UN "Law of the Sea" treaty.

Posted by: Gideon at November 24, 2004 4:47 PM

Just give NASA's budget to Burt Rutan and stand back.

Posted by: PapayaSF at November 24, 2004 6:57 PM

The Moon and the planets ARE as open as the Oklahoma Land Rush was.

Don't forget, just planting your stake wasn't enough; you also had to homestead for so many years, as well as plant a certain number of trees.

If any person or organization has the ability to successfully live on the Moon or Mars, then they could effectively own them.
The UN has no ability whatsoever to enforce its grandiose extraterrestrial proclamations. (Nor most of its terrestrial ones).

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 25, 2004 7:36 AM


The problem would come from trying to sell your goods back on earth or trying to buy stuff on earth to facilitate your exploration.

Since the US is the only spacegoing power at the moment, the envious Europeans and the Turd Worlders would happily do anything they could to hinder our progress.

Posted by: Bart at November 25, 2004 8:51 AM

I'm thinking that there'll always be a nation or two (or two dozen) willing to make some money by trading with those on the UN blacklist.

I can't think of any group or nation ever totally shut out of global commerce, no matter how much the UN or various superpowers wanted to prevent it.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at November 25, 2004 4:45 PM

The future of space exploration belongs to the private domain. The government should concern itself with the military uses of space and leave the rest to the marketplace. We don't need another white elephant boondoggle like the Space Shuttle or the Space Station.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at November 25, 2004 5:44 PM