[FPSPACE] USA Today on anticipated Bush space exploration speech

Peter Pesavento eagle267@svol.net
Mon, 12 Jan 2004 12:18:33 -0500


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=20
Moon plan risky on many fronts=20
Mon Jan 12, 6:35 AM ET=20
By Traci Watson and Judy Keen, USA TODAY=20

The exploration plan President Bush (news - web sites) is scheduled to =
announce Wednesday would put the USA far in front of the pack in the =
world's space race. But it would also pose serious financial and safety =
risks, space historians and engineers say. (Related graphic: Back to the =
moon)=20

    =20

Bush is expected to lay out the most ambitious goals in space since =
President Kennedy vowed in 1961 to send a man to the moon by the end of =
the decade. Administration officials with knowledge of the details say =
the proposal will include a human colony on the moon, a manned trip to =
Mars and a new spaceship - which NASA (news - web sites) is already =
designing - to make it all possible.


But others - even supporters of space exploration- point out that the =
president's plan would be a gamble. NASA has spent billions of dollars =
and many years trying to develop a vehicle to replace the shuttle, which =
is now the USA's only means to launch humans into space. Those efforts =
have failed.


Political opponents are already attacking the Bush plan as the wrong =
place to put scarce funds.


"We've got sky-high deficits and increasing demands on every dollar here =
at home," Democratic presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (news - web =
sites) said last week.


Quick planning


The plan Bush will present at NASA headquarters in Washington was =
patched together during the past few months, according to an =
administration official familiar with the process.


Bush is not exactly a space buff. As president, he has seldom spoken =
about space. As governor of Texas, he never visited NASA's Johnson Space =
Center in Houston. He made a trip there last year to honor the crew of =
space shuttle Columbia, which broke apart as it returned to Earth on =
Feb. 1.


Nonetheless, Bush chose a sweeping new vision for NASA rather than a =
more modest plan. The reasons, according to two administration officials =
familiar with the president's thinking:


The president wanted to revitalize NASA. After the Columbia accident, =
investigators slammed the agency for poor safety practices and for =
lacking clear goals.=20


Vice President Cheney persuaded Bush that there could be military =
benefits, such as space-based defense systems.=20


The president thought that a big goal would inspire and unite Americans, =
no matter their political affiliation.=20


Two other sources familiar with the administration's plan say the =
president will ask Congress to raise NASA's $15 billion budget next year =
by roughly $800 million. By contrast, the entire Apollo program cost =
$150 billion to $175 billion in 2003 dollars, says Howard McCurdy, a =
space historian at American University.


Bush plans to find more funds for his space agenda by retiring the three =
remaining shuttles, the same sources say. The shuttles demand nearly =
20,000 people to care for them, and a single flight costs roughly $500 =
million.


Supporters of the president's plan say it would also offer lots of side =
benefits. It would allow NASA to mothball the space shuttle, which is =
based on 1970s technology and doesn't have a good escape system for =
emergencies.


The plan would also give the United States cover for cutting ties to the =
space station. Administration officials regard the $100 billion station, =
run by a 16-nation partnership, a boondoggle. Bush's proposal would keep =
the shuttles flying only until the station is built.


A moon base would offer scientists a chance to study intriguing =
questions, such as whether there's ice at the moon's south pole. The =
possibility fascinates scientists because water is the basis for life. A =
lunar base would also allow astronauts to test equipment and techniques =
for a stay on Mars. Engineers could try out spacesuits, living quarters =
and vehicles.

      =20



But alongside the promise of benefits runs the threat of heavy costs, =
including the loss of life. No astronaut ever died on the flight to or =
from the moon, but many who worked on the Apollo program agree that was =
just good luck.

Scientists point out the moon is a hostile place. It has no atmosphere, =
and temperatures range from 250 degrees to minus-250 degrees. The flight =
to Mars would last six to nine months and expose astronauts to high =
levels of radiation.

"People have to realize that working in deep space is much more complex =
and carries much higher risks than working in low-Earth orbit," says =
Harrison Schmitt, who in 1972 became one of the last two men on the =
moon. "Deep space is much tougher, much tougher."

Paul Spudis, a scientist at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics =
Laboratory, has been a vocal supporter of returning to the moon. Yet he =
says Americans shouldn't assume that the risk is low just because we've =
made the trip before.

"The moon's a quarter-million miles away, and it's moving around the =
Earth at a fairly high rate of speed," Spudis says. He says it's =
difficult to navigate there, even in the 21st century.

Others say it would be a mistake to cut short America's involvement in =
the space station. A moon colony won't help NASA prepare for the journey =
to Mars, critics say. Research on the space station will, because it =
takes place in space rather than on a planetary surface.

"There are real questions that have to be answered, and the space =
station is the place to do that," says Robert Zimmerman, author of a =
book about the space station.

"It would be a shame" to end American involvement in the station =
prematurely, agrees Columbia University biologist Rae Silver, who led a =
NASA review on the station's scientific capabilities.

Money questions

There's also skepticism about NASA's idea to replace the shuttle with a =
single spaceship that would travel to the space station, the moon and =
Mars. Such vehicles often aren't cost-effective because they're trying =
to be all things to all people, some experts say. America's first fleet =
of moon ships wasn't exactly cheap. The five that landed on the moon =
after the first landing in 1969 cost a total of $6 billion in 2003 =
dollars, McCurdy says.

If NASA's new spaceship "is too much like the old Apollo vehicle, it =
could be too expensive to fit inside the budget," McCurdy warns.

What worries space analysts most is the Bush administration's =
determination to get to the moon without spending lots of money. Ample =
funding allows engineers to reduce risk, they say. Underfunded programs =
create more risk.

A $500 billion deficit this year may make the whole proposal moot. =
Members of Congress worry that overspending may doom the next moon shot =
before a single spacesuit is produced. But Treasury Secretary John Snow =
said Sunday in an interview on ABC's This Week that the proposals would =
not upset the administration's goal of cutting record budget deficits.

"I don't see major technological problems," says Jerry Grey of the =
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. "Money and time - =
those are the two big worries."

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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><!--StartFragment --><FONT =
face=3D"Times New Roman"=20
size=3D3>&nbsp;</FONT>
<DIV class=3Dstoryheadline>Moon plan risky on many =
fronts<!--StartFragment -->=20
<DIV class=3Dtimedate>Mon Jan 12, 6:35 AM ET<!--StartFragment -->=20
<P><FONT size=3D-1><I>By Traci Watson and Judy Keen, USA =
TODAY</I></FONT> </P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>The exploration plan President Bush (<A=20
href=3D"http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.news.yahoo=
.com/search/news?p=3D%22President%20Bush%22&amp;c=3D&amp;n=3D20&amp;yn=3D=
c&amp;c=3Dnews&amp;cs=3Dnw">news</A>=20
- <A=20
href=3D"http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.yahoo.com/=
search/search?p=3DGeorge+W.+Bush">web=20
sites</A>) is scheduled to announce Wednesday would put the USA far in =
front of=20
the pack in the world's space race. But it would also pose serious =
financial and=20
safety risks, space historians and engineers say. (<B>Related graphic: =
</B><URL=20
onclick=3D"window.open('','popup737','width=3D620,height=3D460,left=3D100=
,top=3D100,resizable,scrollbars=3Dno')"=20
target=3D"popup737"=20
href=3D"http://news.yahoo.com/news/nation/tothemoon/flash.htm">Back to =
the=20
moon</URL>)<!--StartFragment --> </P>
<P>
<TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D0 width=3D"1%" align=3Dleft =
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  <TBODY>
  <TR vAlign=3Dtop>
    <TD width=3D5></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><FONT face=3Darial =
size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Bush is expected to lay out the most =
ambitious goals=20
in space since President Kennedy vowed in 1961 to send a man to the moon =
by the=20
end of the decade. Administration officials with knowledge of the =
details say=20
the proposal will include a human colony on the moon, a manned trip to =
Mars and=20
a new spaceship - which NASA (<A=20
href=3D"http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.news.yahoo=
.com/search/news?p=3D%22NASA%22&amp;c=3D&amp;n=3D20&amp;yn=3Dc&amp;c=3Dne=
ws&amp;cs=3Dnw">news</A>=20
- <A=20
href=3D"http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.yahoo.com/=
search?p=3DNASA&amp;h=3Dc">web=20
sites</A>) is already designing - to make it all =
possible.</FONT></P><FONT=20
face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>But others - even supporters of space =
exploration-=20
point out that the president's plan would be a gamble. NASA has spent =
billions=20
of dollars and many years trying to develop a vehicle to replace the =
shuttle,=20
which is now the USA's only means to launch humans into space. Those =
efforts=20
have failed.</FONT></P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Political opponents are already =
attacking the Bush=20
plan as the wrong place to put scarce funds.</FONT></P><FONT =
face=3Darial=20
size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>"We've got sky-high deficits and =
increasing demands=20
on every dollar here at home," Democratic presidential candidate Joe =
Lieberman=20
(<A=20
href=3D"http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.news.yahoo=
.com/search/news?p=3D%22Joe%20Lieberman%22&amp;c=3D&amp;n=3D20&amp;yn=3Dc=
&amp;c=3Dnews&amp;cs=3Dnw">news</A>=20
- <A=20
href=3D"http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.yahoo.com/=
search?p=3DJoe+Lieberman">web=20
sites</A>) said last week.</FONT></P><FONT face=3Darial =
size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1><B>Quick planning</B></FONT></P><FONT =
face=3Darial=20
size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>The plan Bush will present at NASA =
headquarters in=20
Washington was patched together during the past few months, according to =
an=20
administration official familiar with the process.</FONT></P><FONT =
face=3Darial=20
size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Bush is not exactly a space buff. As =
president, he=20
has seldom spoken about space. As governor of Texas, he never visited =
NASA's=20
Johnson Space Center in Houston. He made a trip there last year to honor =
the=20
crew of space shuttle Columbia, which broke apart as it returned to =
Earth on=20
Feb. 1.</FONT></P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Nonetheless, Bush chose a sweeping new =
vision for=20
NASA rather than a more modest plan. The reasons, according to two=20
administration officials familiar with the president's =
thinking:</FONT></P><FONT=20
face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>The president wanted to revitalize NASA. =
After the=20
Columbia accident, investigators slammed the agency for poor safety =
practices=20
and for lacking clear goals. </FONT></P><FONT face=3Darial =
size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Vice President Cheney persuaded Bush =
that there=20
could be military benefits, such as space-based defense systems.=20
</FONT></P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>The president thought that a big goal =
would inspire=20
and unite Americans, no matter their political affiliation. =
</FONT></P><FONT=20
face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Two other sources familiar with the =
administration's=20
plan say the president will ask Congress to raise NASA's $15 billion =
budget next=20
year by roughly $800 million. By contrast, the entire Apollo program =
cost $150=20
billion to $175 billion in 2003 dollars, says Howard McCurdy, a space =
historian=20
at American University.</FONT></P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Bush plans to find more funds for his =
space agenda=20
by retiring the three remaining shuttles, the same sources say. The =
shuttles=20
demand nearly 20,000 people to care for them, and a single flight costs =
roughly=20
$500 million.</FONT></P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Supporters of the president's plan say =
it would also=20
offer lots of side benefits. It would allow NASA to mothball the space =
shuttle,=20
which is based on 1970s technology and doesn't have a good escape system =
for=20
emergencies.</FONT></P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>The plan would also give the United =
States cover for=20
cutting ties to the space station. Administration officials regard the =
$100=20
billion station, run by a 16-nation partnership, a boondoggle. Bush's =
proposal=20
would keep the shuttles flying only until the station is =
built.</FONT></P><FONT=20
face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>A moon base would offer scientists a =
chance to study=20
intriguing questions, such as whether there's ice at the moon's south =
pole. The=20
possibility fascinates scientists because water is the basis for life. A =
lunar=20
base would also allow astronauts to test equipment and techniques for a =
stay on=20
Mars. Engineers could try out spacesuits, living quarters and=20
vehicles.</FONT></P>
<P>
<TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D0 width=3D"1%" align=3Dleft =
border=3D0>
  <TBODY>
  <TR vAlign=3Dtop>
    <TD width=3D"99%"></TD>
    <TD width=3D5>&nbsp;</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>But alongside the promise of benefits =
runs the=20
threat of heavy costs, including the loss of life. No astronaut ever =
died on the=20
flight to or from the moon, but many who worked on the Apollo program =
agree that=20
was just good luck.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Scientists point out the moon is a =
hostile place. It=20
has no atmosphere, and temperatures range from 250 degrees to minus-250 =
degrees.=20
The flight to Mars would last six to nine months and expose astronauts =
to high=20
levels of radiation.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>"People have to realize that working in =
deep space=20
is much more complex and carries much higher risks than working in =
low-Earth=20
orbit," says Harrison Schmitt, who in 1972 became one of the last two =
men on the=20
moon. "Deep space is much tougher, much tougher."</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Paul Spudis, a scientist at Johns =
Hopkins=20
University's Applied Physics Laboratory, has been a vocal supporter of =
returning=20
to the moon. Yet he says Americans shouldn't assume that the risk is low =
just=20
because we've made the trip before.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>"The moon's a quarter-million miles =
away, and it's=20
moving around the Earth at a fairly high rate of speed," Spudis says. He =
says=20
it's difficult to navigate there, even in the 21st century.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>Others say it would be a mistake to cut =
short=20
America's involvement in the space station. A moon colony won't help =
NASA=20
prepare for the journey to Mars, critics say. Research on the space =
station=20
will, because it takes place in space rather than on a planetary=20
surface.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>"There are real questions that have to =
be answered,=20
and the space station is the place to do that," says Robert Zimmerman, =
author of=20
a book about the space station.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>"It would be a shame" to end American =
involvement in=20
the station prematurely, agrees Columbia University biologist Rae =
Silver, who=20
led a NASA review on the station's scientific capabilities.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1><B>Money questions</B></FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>There's also skepticism about NASA's =
idea to replace=20
the shuttle with a single spaceship that would travel to the space =
station, the=20
moon and Mars. Such vehicles often aren't cost-effective because they're =
trying=20
to be all things to all people, some experts say. America's first fleet =
of moon=20
ships wasn't exactly cheap. The five that landed on the moon after the =
first=20
landing in 1969 cost a total of $6 billion in 2003 dollars, McCurdy=20
says.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>If NASA's new spaceship "is too much =
like the old=20
Apollo vehicle, it could be too expensive to fit inside the budget," =
McCurdy=20
warns.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>What worries space analysts most is the =
Bush=20
administration's determination to get to the moon without spending lots =
of=20
money. Ample funding allows engineers to reduce risk, they say. =
Underfunded=20
programs create more risk.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>A $500 billion deficit this year may =
make the whole=20
proposal moot. Members of Congress worry that overspending may doom the =
next=20
moon shot before a single spacesuit is produced. But Treasury Secretary =
John=20
Snow said Sunday in an interview on ABC's This Week that the proposals =
would not=20
upset the administration's goal of cutting record budget =
deficits.</FONT></P>
<P><FONT face=3Darial size=3D-1>"I don't see major technological =
problems," says=20
Jerry Grey of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. =
"Money and=20
time - those are the two big=20
worries."</FONT></P></FONT></DIV></DIV></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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