• Andrew_M_Swallow

    The first year of the project will be the architecture, publishing the specifications and issuring the requests for information or bids. That is pure paperwork and does not involve too many people. It is when one manager part time turns into a team that things get expensive.

  • mike shupp

    1.6 billion? In the context of a 4 trillion dollar federal budget? This is not a serious revamp of an ongoing project. This is a rounding error.

  • savuporo

    This is an invalid context to latch on. Non-defense discretionary spending is the real context, and of that, NASA gets a massive chunk.

    2017 NDD was at 530 Billion. NASA gets almost 4% of that which is insane

  • therealdmt

    Good point about the overall federal budget. Most of the spending (more than half) is “baked-in” mandatory spending. Mandatory spending covers making interest payments on the national debt (essentially mandatory) and programs for which, if someone is eligible and they apply, they have to be paid. Such programs include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, Prescription Drug Benefit, Veteran’s Benefits, Federal Pensions and whatever other mandatory spending program you might not benefit from and want to mention.

    Then, of the remainder, we have discretionary spending (money we choose to spend), and more than half of that goes to the military. Although substantial cuts could potentially be made to the military, it’s a cruel world out there.

    The remainder after mandatory and defense spending is the shrinking piece of the pie, ‘non-defense discretionary spending’, that everyone is fighting over. NASA’s in there.

  • therealdmt
  • therealdmt

    They appear to have learned from the elder Bush’s ill-fated Space Exploration Initiative roll-out. Bush’s team unveiled the entire price tag of the 30 year program at once, about half a trillion dollars in 80s money (the equivalent of close to a trillion today).

    The current program, in contrast, is merely disclosing the first year start up costs (to accelerate a program that is already in progress and incorporates large elements that already have established political support [SLS & Orion]). 1.6 billion is swallow-able

  • savuporo

    And that NDD pie is ever shrinking, while NASA has gotten decent boosts over last years. So anyone who bitches about NASA not getting enough just doesn’t understand the context

    Other worthwhile spending lines like NSF or National Science Foundation get relative pittance in comparison

  • mike shupp

    Can’t be precise about such things since modern notions of economic statistics only go back to the 1930s, but I’ve seen estimates that in Elizabethan times (1580-1610 say), the English were spending 1.0-1.5% of their GNP on exploration and colonization. In our period, for this country, that’d run 200-300 billion dollars. The 20 billion bucks per annum for NASA, which terrifies so many, is a pittance in comparison.

  • savuporo

    Elizabeth didn’t have a crushing mandatory spending slice weighing everything down

    Obviously, infant mortality and overall life expectancy reflected that fact too

    Conquests are easy peasy when the social safety net provided to the citizens is basically: we won’t cut your head off.

  • duheagle

    That isn’t quite the way it happened. The Bush 41 SEI – not terribly detailed – was rolled out first. It had a lot of enemies in Congress, CBO and, not least, NASA itself. So that half-trillion budget projection was quickly ginned up and hung around SEI’s neck which caused it to sink with barely a trace.

    Something similar, if less grandiose, was tried recently anent what has now been named the Artemis program. There was that 8-extra-billion-a-year number that just popped out of the woodwork suddenly. I suspect its provenance was the same as that of the half-trillion SEI “estimate” – people both inside and outside the agency happy with NASA’s current non-performing ways who don’t want to actually have to exert themselves and do anything.

    This time, though, Bridenstine shot it down right away in Congressional testimony and has now put together a much more modest supplemental budget request that isn’t going to set anyone’s hair on fire.

  • duheagle

    SpaceX did Falcon Heavy in five years for a half-billion. Don’t sneer at rounding errors.

  • mike shupp

    That sounds reasonable, but I skep a bit. These are NOT the first years of the SLS/Orion/Lunar Gateway projects, which have been around for some time, so much of that preliminary spadework should have been done long ago. What we’re talking about now is a speedup of stuff presumably already in development.

    Granted, a speedup is a change, but the modern aerospace industry ought to be able to cope with that. Consider– if Lockheed were to get DoD requirements slowing up some phase of F-35 development and deployment, or Boeing were to put off development of another mid-sized passenger jet for a few years because a recession cut into orders, would they fall apart? Or are such changes just the sort of thing aerospace firms have been accustomed to for over fifty years? The latter I think, having witnessed such delays.

    So yeah, there’s a cost to schedule changes, big costs for big changes, but industry ought to be able to guesstimate the costs by now and respond appropriately.

  • duheagle

    NDD in Trump’s requested FY 2020 budget is $676 billion. NASA was to get $21 billion of that – 3.1%. Now it is to get $22.6 billion – 3.34%. By way of comparison, the State Dept. is to get $42.8 billion – 6.33%. The Dept. of Education is to get $62 billion – 9.17%. It’s not as though there aren’t any less-deserving entities from whose budgets one can get the extra $1.6 billion for NASA.

  • Andrew_M_Swallow

    The lunar lander has not been in development.

    The Gateway is likely to need many changes to make the mini version useful. Temperature control for instance.

  • duheagle

    It isn’t shrinking if your number for 2017 is accurate. For 2020, NDD in Trump’s budget is $676 billion. NSF gets less than NASA, but part of NASA’s budget is for science too. There are a whole lot of less deserving agencies than NASA that get a lot more money.

  • duheagle

    Yes, Elizabeth I didn’t provide her citizens much of a safety net. Charity was a church, not government, function in those days. And given that medical knowledge was barely above the witch doctor level, an Elizabethan NHS would’ve killed a lot more people than it cured. “Bleeding and leeches for everyone!” the Elizabethan socialists would have cried. Good thing there weren’t any.

  • duheagle

    A NASA lunar lander has not been in development. Obama would never have stood for it. But Jeff Bezos has been working on Blue Moon for three years.

  • savuporo

    Of course it’s shrinking, it’s been doing it for decades. Of course there are up and down years but the average trend is for mandatory spending to gobble up the entire budget by 2050

  • therealdmt

    My thought has been that the floating of that $8 billion number may have had the opposite intention — that by putting 8 large out there and then indirectly resetting expectations to around around half that during Congressional testimony , and then finally coming in under that, that they (the administration) was reframing their request as an eminently reasonable number. I’ll admit my first reaction was a long the lines of, “Just $1.6 billion, that’s not much!”

    Without properly setting the table though, the reaction could well have been, “What?!! $1.6 BILLION! Are you crazy?!”

  • Vladislaw

    Well except for the Royal Navy..

  • Vladislaw

    I am sure that Mitch ‘filibuster every time Obama opens his mouth” McConnell would have been more than happy to fund a lunar lander if Obama would have proposed it.

  • duheagle

    Interesting notion, but I don’t see that Trump, et all, could have been certain things would work out that way. There is such a thing as being too clever. In general, your thesis violates Occam’s Razor.

    No, I think this $8 billion number came from the same sorts of people who scuppered Bush 41’s SEI. Back in the day, they might have put out a number like $20 billion, but nobody’s quite that gullible anymore. As was, the $8 billion number totals to $40 billion over five years. But the Trump people are way better chess players than the Bush 41 people were.

  • duheagle

    It may be shrinking as a percentage of the total federal budget, but the dollar amounts keep going up – along with the rest of the budget. 676 is definitely more than 530.

  • duheagle

    Though in some years, the Royal Navy was a profit center.

  • duheagle

    Obama would have been barely more likely to propose a lunar lander during his administration than he would have been to propose legislation to make Jefferson Davis’s birthday a national holiday. He was Mr. “been there and done that,” anent the Moon – remember?