The death of Spirit?

In yet another example of mixed up priorities “NASA officials have directed the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) program to cut $4 million dollars from its approximately 20 million dollar budget this year” as reported here. The implications of this to program run on such a tight budget is that there will be staff cuts resulting in one of the rovers (Spirit) having to discontinue science operations and be put into hibernation mode.

Now I don’t know about you, but this makes me incredibly angry. The fact that such a valuable program will be so dramatically reduced because of such a paltry sum makes no sense at all. These two rovers have taught us enormous amounts about our one of our nearest planetary neighbours, not to mention the lessons learned in the development and running of such advanced robotic explorers.

Now, I’m not an American so these aren’t my tax dollars, but surely the average American can see that there are some real problems with the way their money is being spent. The Iraq war has cost $505.5 billion and change so far and what has it got the American people apart from 4000 dead soldiers and nearly 30,000 wounded?

I appreciate that maybe your average Joe in the street doesn’t feel as strongly about space exploration as I do, but wouldn’t you rather your money was spent on advancing human knowledge than killing other people?

Back from holiday and Go NASA!

Well, I have just returned from the most fantastic holiday in the Scottish highlands. If anyone is thinking of heading up there and doing a tour I can definitely recommend MacBackpackers and if you can get on a tour lead by Colin even better! I will try an get photos up on as soon as possible.

I have been following the Discovery return to flight mission with great interest. I have always been a bit of a space nut, but this mission really caught my attention partly because of the test flight nature of it I guess. I think NASA are absolutely fantastic and don’t get anywhere near the recognition or funding the deserve in spite of the rubbish the media would have you believe. To prove a point, here are a few interesting figures I found with a quick bit of googling:

2005 NASA budget $16.2 billion
2005 military budget $400.1 billion
Cost (to US) of war in Iraq $314 billion
US GDP 2005 $11,750 billion

So, NASA gets 0.14 % of the US GDP or put another way, 4% of what the US spends on it’s military.

Pretty sad.