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Nasa can’t do it alone: ExpertsNasa can’t do it alone: Experts


A space shuttle, mounted atop a Nasa shuttle-carrier aircraft.

Washington: If Nasa wants to help humans boldly go where no man has gone before, the US space agency must work with other countries, say experts who fear budget constraints will keep astronauts stuck on Earth.

The fears were laid out in stark terms last week in a report by the National Academy of Sciences, which concluded that the space agency's $18 billion-a-year budget was simply not enough for it to fulfill all its missions.

Moreover, it said, there is a lack of national consensus on where exactly Nasa should be spending its money in the first place.

Some think the agency should focus on getting humans back on the moon, four decades after the last astronaut landed there, as a stepping stone toward heading to Mars.

That's the "Constellation" program, promoted by then president George W. Bush in 2004, and later cancelled by President Barack Obama, who deemed it
too expensive.

Humans to asteroid
Obama instead has proposed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 before launching a manned voyage to the Red Planet in the 2030s.

But Nasa doesn't have the money to make this plan a reality, the report said. Nor is it clear anyone is really dedicated to making it happen.

"We've seen limited evidence that (an asteroid) 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," said Albert Carnesale, a professor at the University of California at
Los Angeles, who chaired the review committee.

Its congressionally-mandated report urged Obama to set an ambitious but technically feasible agenda for Nasa, after consulting with potential international partners, in order to better align NASA's goals with its resources.

The White House has yet to respond, with the president mired in fraught negotiations over the broader federal budget, aimed at finding a deficit-slashing compromise with Republicans to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff" looming just weeks away.

But analysts said the president can't ignore Nasa forever.

In recent years, the White House has acted under the assumption that "things are stable and are not a problem.

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The Moon is, and by logic ought to be, our next step, i.e., a permanent lunar base or bases, where we can test ourselves for long-duration manned missions to Mars and elsewhere.

When (not if) our moon bases become self-sufficient, then, and only then, should we go off to Mars. A one-off dramatic manned mission to Mars would not only be a big waste of money for now, it would also be a huge gamble on the future of humans in space.

Why? Because wed go to Mars, stay for a year!?, and then come back, shows over. "We did it!" Now what? Ill tell you what, we goof around in Low Earth Orbit for another 40 years, twiddling our thumbs about the next grand, dramatic feat and waste of money, as the public will once again lose interest.

We need a steady, long-term, logical, step-by-step program of establishing a permanent presence on the Moon. The Moon is close (roughly 200,000 miles), and if things go wrong, which theyre bound to do when we humans are involved, we can easily send rescue teams, re-supply ships, etc. Not so with Mars.

Any realistic one-off Mars mission would have to be excessively redundant, with a backup lander, Mars orbital "Mother Station" for possible refuge, etc.

It just makes sense to go back to the Moon. It will be our testing ground and platform for sensibly going deeper into the Solar System. On a thread at Space.com (before they ruined their regular forums by going through Facebook), Buzz Aldrin said, "Weve already been to the Moon. We need to go to Mars."

I replied to Buzz, as Zen Galacticore, "No Buzz. YOU and 11 other guys have been toand walked on the Moon. The rest of us watched it on TV."

The Moon is about the size of the Western Hemisphere wrapped up into a ball, and weve landed at six sites and sent rovers and other landers. In other words, weve hardly explored the Moon, and we have much still to do there. In fact, well have bases there for as long as we are here!





The Moon is, and by logic ought to be, our next step, i.e., a permanent lunar base or bases, where we can test ourselves for long-duration manned missions to Mars and elsewhere.

When (not if) our moon bases become self-sufficient, then, and only then, should we go off to Mars. A one-off dramatic manned mission to Mars would not only be a big waste of money for now, it would also be a huge gamble on the future of humans in space.

Why? Because wed go to Mars, stay for a year!?, and then come back, shows over. "We did it!" Now what? Ill tell you what, we goof around in Low Earth Orbit for another 40 years, twiddling our thumbs about the next grand, dramatic feat and waste of money, as the public will once again lose interest.

We need a steady, long-term, logical, step-by-step program of establishing a permanent presence on the Moon. The Moon is close (roughly 200,000 miles), and if things go wrong, which theyre bound to do when we humans are involved, we can easily send rescue teams, re-supply ships, etc. Not so with Mars.

Any realistic one-off Mars mission would have to be excessively redundant, with a backup lander, Mars orbital "Mother Station" for possible refuge, etc.

It just makes sense to go back to the Moon. It will be our testing ground and platform for sensibly going deeper into the Solar System. On a thread at Space.com (before they ruined their regular forums by going through Facebook), Buzz Aldrin said, "Weve already been to the Moon. We need to go to Mars."

I replied to Buzz, as Zen Galacticore, "No Buzz. YOU and 11 other guys have been toand walked on the Moon. The rest of us watched it on TV."

The Moon is about the size of the Western Hemisphere wrapped up into a ball, and weve landed at six sites and sent rovers and other landers. In other words, weve hardly explored the Moon, and we have much still to do there.