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posted by Fnord666 on Monday November 19 2018, @12:09AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the science-of-politics-and-politics-of-science dept.

The Planetary Society reports:

Representative John Culberson, an 8-term Texas Republican and staunch supporter of NASA and planetary exploration, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Lizzie Fletcher last week. Many factors played into this outcome, but one bears consideration by space advocates: his support for the scientific search for life at Europa was seen as a weakness and attacked accordingly.

Over the past four years, Culberson used his chairmanship of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations subcommittee to increase spending on NASA and missions to search for life on Europa. He directed hundreds of millions of dollars to this effort and played a critical role in getting the Europa Clipper mission officially adopted by NASA and the White House. And he did this without cannibalizing other NASA programs. His motivation was passion, not parochialism, as the prime benefactor of these federal dollars was California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, located far outside his Houston-area congressional district.


Original Submission

Related Stories

White House Budget Request Would Move Launches from SLS to Commercial Providers 49 comments

NASA budget proposal targets SLS (Space Launch System)

The White House's fiscal year 2020 budget request for NASA proposes to delay work on an upgraded version of the Space Launch System and would transfer some of that vehicle's payloads to other rockets.

The proposal, released by the Office of Management and Budget March 11, offers a total of $21 billion for the space agency, a decrease of $500 million over what Congress appropriated in the final fiscal year 2019 spending bill signed into law Feb. 15.

A major element of the proposal is to defer work on the Block 1B version of the SLS, which would increase the rocket's performance by replacing its existing Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage with the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage. The budget "instead focuses the program on the completion of the initial version of the SLS and supporting a reliable SLS and Orion annual flight cadence," the OMB budget stated. The first SLS/Orion mission, without a crew, is now planned for the "early 2020s," according to the budget, an apparent slip from the planned 2020 launch of Exploration Mission 1.

NASA had previously planned to use the Block 1B version of SLS to launch elements of its lunar Gateway, using a "co-manifesting" capability enabled by the rocket's greater performance. Instead, according to the budget document, those components will be launched on "competitively procured vehicles, complementing crew transport flights on the SLS and Orion."

[...] The budget proposal would also remove one non-exploration payload from the SLS manifest. The proposal offers $600 million for the Europa Clipper mission, enabling a launch in 2023. However, NASA would instead seek to launch the mission on a commercial launch vehicle rather than SLS, a move it claims "would save over $700 million, allowing multiple new activities to be funded across the Agency." The fiscal year 2019 budget request also proposed a commercial launch of Europa Clipper, but Congress placed into law in the final funding bill the requirement to use SLS for that mission.

Are we nearing a good timeline?

Related: After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System?
House Spending Bill Offers NASA More Money Than the Agency or Administration Wanted
NASA Administrator Ponders the Fate of SLS in Interview
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Could Launch Japanese and European Payloads to Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway
Northrop Grumman Exec Warns of Coming "Affordability" in the Space Launch System's Future
Impact of the Midterm Elections May be Felt at NASA
When Space Science Becomes a Political Liability


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Monday November 19 2018, @12:32AM (22 children)

    This makes me chuckle. Our resident space geeks would normally be bitching profusely over this but since the guy had an R by his name you can hear every chirp.

    --
    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by aristarchus on Monday November 19 2018, @12:49AM (3 children)

      by aristarchus (2645) on Monday November 19 2018, @12:49AM (#763698) Journal

      So, he's kinda like the Jordan Peterson of Space Science, only a bit less with the "all beef" diet? [theatlantic.com]

      You wiley anti-reason devouror of carrion and alt-Republican, some Mightly Brissard.

      --
      #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @07:10AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @07:10AM (#763810)

        Wow, so much crap can be written because somebody sick said she feels better when after eating beef and her father decided to do the same. Btw, he has a lot of good things to say for people like you aristarchus.

        • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Monday November 19 2018, @07:41AM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Monday November 19 2018, @07:41AM (#763815) Journal

          Feels better? The man is a charlatan, besides being a psychologist! This has all the markings of critical thinking that back up gluten-free diets and vaccinations causing autism! Science, my dear and less-than-optimally-functioning AC, science and philosophy are the way to truth, not anecdote and Youtube likes.

          --
          #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @05:51PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @05:51PM (#763945)

        If i am not mistaken TMB was being critical of the guy and mocking users for their paartisanship.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @01:39AM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday November 19 2018, @01:39AM (#763716) Journal

      We already discussed Culberson: Impact of the Midterm Elections May be Felt at NASA [soylentnews.org]

      The Planetary Society's post was written after that date and goes into details I didn't know (the Houston Chronicle editorial and attack ad), so I won't drop the D-word.

      The Planetary Society doesn't consider whether a half-baked lander will do any good at Europa, or Culberson's support of the pork rocket.

      We need to think about drilling [nextbigfuture.com] kilometers down into Europa and Enceladus. That is not on the table yet.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by PartTimeZombie on Monday November 19 2018, @01:44AM (7 children)

      by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Monday November 19 2018, @01:44AM (#763719)

      I have never heard of the bloke myself, but I am wondering what an 8-term Texas Republican has to do to lose his seat?

      It can't be because of his support for a particular space project. That's just not credible.

      I had a quick search, but the only thing I could find was about him skipping a MAGA rally, and how he was not a firm Trump supporter, so he may well have been made an example of by his own party.

      Also, I don't really care. If the disappearance of one representative means a $multi-million, multi-year project gets cancelled, you guys are doing it wrong.

      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @02:10AM (5 children)

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday November 19 2018, @02:10AM (#763727) Journal

        There's no indication that Europa Clipper will get cancelled. Maybe the optional lander portion of the mission will get cancelled.

        --
        [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Monday November 19 2018, @02:20AM (4 children)

          by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Monday November 19 2018, @02:20AM (#763733)

          That's not good though is it? I thought the lander bit was the most interesting part of the project.

          • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @02:43AM (3 children)

            by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday November 19 2018, @02:43AM (#763748) Journal

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_Lander_(NASA) [wikipedia.org]
            https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=18/07/23/2120200 [soylentnews.org]

            The lander would be nice to have, but won't be entering the internal ocean, which is what we would want from an aggressive, multi-billion dollar Europa landing mission. Can it find signs of life by drilling a few inches at the surface? Maybe, maybe not.

            --
            [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
            • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday November 19 2018, @05:56AM (2 children)

              by c0lo (156) on Monday November 19 2018, @05:56AM (#763803) Journal

              Right. To illustrate the risks of half-arsed missions.

              Drilling down and founding microscopic life demonstrate what? The preexistence of that life or the contamination of the probe?
              If the latter and the contaminant microbe survives/thrives, we may never know for sure if we didn't actually kill the endogenous life.

              --
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @12:14PM (1 child)

                by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday November 19 2018, @12:14PM (#763852) Journal

                NASA has means to decontaminate their spacecraft up to a point. If they start taking samples and find more microbes than could be expected to have come from the spacecraft, that would point to an extraterrestrial origin. But if they find fish-like organisms down there, then we're golden.

                --
                [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @06:55PM

                  by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @06:55PM (#763964)

                  Fish-like organisms? Clearly, you have not seen the movie. Tentacles, dude! Japanese got there first.

      • (Score: 2) by Blymie on Monday November 19 2018, @11:26AM

        by Blymie (4020) on Monday November 19 2018, @11:26AM (#763846)

        To be fair, the article doesn't say that he lots his seat because of him pushing for it.

        What the article does say, is that it demonstrates that it was seen as a liability, because the political attack ad (shown in the article), uses his stance on science -- and this mission, to denounce him as .. well, "silly".

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @01:57AM (8 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @01:57AM (#763724)

      Like most republicans, AND democrats, you don't get it.

      It's not a matter of him being a republican, it's a matter of him supporting the pussy-grabbing child-molester in the White House.

      It's not a matter of republicans vs democrats anymore, although that's what the ennemies of your country would like to have you believe. It's a matter of having psychopath after psychopath after psychopath as presidential candidates.

      How the fuck did it come to this ? You supposedly want to give the big finger to the "establishment" (whatever the fuck that is) and to do so, you put in power someone that is even worse. And no, Clinton would not have been a better choice.

      What the hell is wrong with you people ? It's more than time for you to look back and reflect on when did you take a wrong turn, before it's too late to save that joke of a democracy of yours.

      • (Score: 2) by The Mighty Buzzard on Monday November 19 2018, @02:33AM

        You get that I'm of the "A pox on both their houses" variety, yes?

        --
        My rights don't end where your fear begins.
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @02:40AM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @02:40AM (#763746)

        As mentioned above: "skipping a MAGA rally, and how he was not a firm Trump supporter"

        Failure to fully support Trump means no enthusiasm. Lots of never-Trump republicans lost their seats in this past election. Those who supported Trump did better.

        You aren't American, so I guess you understand us via what CNN tells you. The reality is that the median person likes Trump now. Outside of large cities (where news media is based) we are generally quite fond of Trump. Even in California, it is just the cities that hate Trump.

        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 19 2018, @03:01AM (5 children)

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19 2018, @03:01AM (#763759) Homepage Journal

          I don't know about "likes Trump". Maybe "accepts Trump". Maybe "grudgingly respects Trump". I, for one, still insist that the election campaign was between the Court Fool and the Wicked Witch. So far, the Court Fool hasn't done us terribly wrong.

          --
          There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @04:03AM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @04:03AM (#763781)

            The court fool, or jester, was usually highly intelligent. Yes, his job was to entertain, but also to present unpalatable truths to power in a way that didn't end up with his head on a spike. People who were stupid did not last long in that role.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @05:54PM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @05:54PM (#763946)

            He has tanked our reputation, wasted money, and rolled back a ton of regulations. Maybe you just need to pay more attention.

            • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday November 20 2018, @01:02AM

              by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 20 2018, @01:02AM (#764102) Homepage Journal

              Many of us ARE paying attention. I note that you don't complain about one, or six, or 36 specific regulations. Instead, you mention "a ton of regulations". From any point of view outside of your own, it would seem that you believe regulation to be good, for the sake of regulation. That is an authoritarian thing there. Not only is it authoritarian, but it is far more authoritarian than I can stomach. It goes beyond authoritarianism, into the realm of martinetism.

              --
              There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @12:44AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @12:44AM (#763695)

    How come the video of the add is unlisted and as such can not be found using google or youtube search?

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Ethanol-fueled on Monday November 19 2018, @01:31AM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Monday November 19 2018, @01:31AM (#763713) Homepage

      The Democrats have been caught stealing elections, and now the RICO prosecutions will commence. The Democrats have not forgotten the bitter defeat of Slick Willie at the hands of Kenneth Starr's kangaroo-court, and have since then adopted Morroccan-tier sportsmanship. What the Democrats defending Slick Willie didn't know, though, was that he was a de-facto agent of China.

      Those complicit in the tech industry will be spared...for now...since they have obvious bias but also plausible deniability.

  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Monday November 19 2018, @01:03AM (1 child)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Monday November 19 2018, @01:03AM (#763706)

    Guy likes space, pushes for funding. Now that he's gone the funding is gone. This is not how you fund long term projects.

    Main corollary being funding big projects. Cost effective to have a few places build stuff. Politically effective for lots of small places in various districts to build stuff. If you like bang for the buck you choose 2-3 vendors. If you want political cover you spread out the costs, so some dipshit can "bring home the bacon", never mind that bacon cost 3x what a normal person would pay.

    --
    I fondly remember the day I made sandcastles with my grandmother. Just wish I hadn't done it in the crematorium.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @01:44AM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday November 19 2018, @01:44AM (#763718) Journal

      Now that he's gone the funding is gone.

      Not the case as far as I know. The mission is on schedule, and NASA still has the extra money that Culberson directed to them. It's unclear whether they will be able to add a lander to Europa Clipper [wikipedia.org], but barring unforeseen screw-ups it will launch by 2023, even if SLS is out of the picture.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 2) by looorg on Monday November 19 2018, @01:45AM

    by looorg (578) on Monday November 19 2018, @01:45AM (#763720)

    From the seat he had could he even have funneled large amounts of money into some water sanitation project in his home district or was that somewhat out of his purview? I could be wrong but if you chair a subcommittee named "Commerce, Justice and Science" wouldn't it be a fairly large misappropriation of funds if you started to send money home to Huston to pay for municipal issues?

    The Huston Chronicles issue was that he cared more about science then his hometown/district? Does one rule out the other? Is the Chronicle (and the person that wrote the piece) a democratic or republican leaning newspaper? That said I did laugh a bit at the advert, but it was also fairly disturbing since that type of attack-ads are very uncommon here. That said can a Democrat (in Texas) even be against "aliens" these days? Doesn't that scare away all the coloured voters ...

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Phoenix666 on Monday November 19 2018, @02:29AM (1 child)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday November 19 2018, @02:29AM (#763738) Journal

    Soylentils?! Really, nobody knows the reason why the guy lost? I know for a fact that there are many regular contributors here who are old enough to know the real answer why this guy is gone.

    Sigh:

    ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS—EXCEPT EUROPA
    ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.

    When Monolith speaks, you should listen to Monolith.

    That is all.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by archfeld on Monday November 19 2018, @03:44AM

      by archfeld (4650) <treboreel@live.com> on Monday November 19 2018, @03:44AM (#763776) Journal

      "I'm sorry Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that..."

      --
      For the NSA : Explosives, guns, assassination, conspiracy, primers, detonators, initiators, main charge, nuclear charge
  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday November 19 2018, @02:37AM (2 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday November 19 2018, @02:37AM (#763744) Journal

    I was the leader of a decent sized grassroots activist group in the 00's. We were active in a lot of electoral races, one of which was the NYC mayor's race. The guy we backed against the self-funded billionaire lost.

    When we held the election post-mortem, one of our members, a paraplegic in a hoveround, gravely lamented that our candidate would have won had he only gone out strong for accessible taxi cabs (that was his hobby horse).

    Monday morning quarterbacking is as popular with political junkies as anyone else. With elections, it's seldom clear why one candidate wins, and another loses.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @07:21AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @07:21AM (#763813)

      This is one of those times when RTFA will help you.

  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday November 19 2018, @02:43AM (4 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday November 19 2018, @02:43AM (#763749) Journal

    Without delving too deeply into the politics of it, Europa ought to be a more ardent target of our collective search for life. We're pretty sure there are significant amounts of liquid water there. Life on Earth evolved in our oceans, so it stands to reason it could well have done on Europa. Closely behind Europa should be Enceladus, which has been proven to have water geysers; it's another niche with the energy and liquid water life as we know it would need.

    Those should be the scientific facts that inform the exploration priorities of our space agencies, not the slings and arrows of political fortune.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 19 2018, @03:08AM (2 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19 2018, @03:08AM (#763761) Homepage Journal

      I just think those two have sexy names. Some of the others could use name changes. How about that former planet, Pluto? Thanks to Disney, Pluto is just a dumb sounding dog's name. No one wants to go to Pluto, just to become one of many fleas on a dog's ass. Europa? It just sounds sexy. Pretty much any guy would like to snuggle up to Europa. Enceladus may be less sexy, but she's intriguing!

      --
      There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday November 19 2018, @06:07AM (1 child)

        by c0lo (156) on Monday November 19 2018, @06:07AM (#763806) Journal

        Enceladus may be less sexy, but she's intriguing!

        Enceladus is a masculine name - not remotely sexy or intriguing to me'; even less considering the original Enceladus was a giant [wikipedia.org] (if you want the full gory details, he was "the offspring of Gaia, born from the blood that fell when Uranus was castrated by their son Cronus". Still sexy for you?).

        If were looking for a feminine name? Maybe... Enchilada?

        (grin)

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 19 2018, @07:16AM

          by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19 2018, @07:16AM (#763811) Homepage Journal

          Mmmmm - point taken, but even so, some names are more intriguing and/or more sexy than others. A good for instance is Steven, or Stefan. Same name, really, same roots, but Steven sounds manly, and Stefan sounds - uhhhhhh - not feminine, but less manly at least. But, then, we're back to "Beauty is in the ear of the beholder." Chicks seem to go for Stefan at least as often as they go for a Steven.

          --
          There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @03:21AM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday November 19 2018, @03:21AM (#763765) Journal

      There may actually be more proof of action at Enceladus.

      Hydrogen Emitted by Enceladus, More Evidence of Plumes at Europa [soylentnews.org]
      Complex Organic Molecules Found on Enceladus [soylentnews.org]
      Europa Plume Sites Lack Expected Heat Signatures [soylentnews.org] (you subbed this one)

      The icy crust of Enceladus is supposed to be thinner [arstechnica.com] than that of Europa, which could make it easier to drill through, and easier for it to spew plumes.

      On the other hand, Europa's surface is smoother. Europa has a lot more mass then Enceladus, which could provide more material for life to work with.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20 2018, @09:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20 2018, @09:15AM (#764187)

    Because science.

    Quite a weak troll. And shit like this gets promoted on SN these days...

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