The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Saturday, November 27, 2004

Q: What's red, white & blue and has CCCP written all over it?

A: The Bush space program. Looks like he'll do anything to make it into the history books, a la Sputnik. You might remember him mentioning, way back when, a trip to Mars. In the face of scorn and derision from the public-- and more tellingly, from the scientific community-- it was dropped like a hot appetizer. Until the infamous 51% mandate came along. Now it's ahead Warp Factor 666. Screw science, screw the public, and screw the budget. This is about legacy!

This comes from a favorite weekly newsletter of mine by physicist Robert Park:


To reach a deficit of $7.5 TRILLION in this session, Congress had to get down to business and make a lot of really bad spending decisions. Take Moon-Mars, for example. I like the moon; it was beautiful this morning as I drove to the office. Scientifically however, it has to be the least interesting destination in the heavens. As a launch platform to get to Mars it's just nuts.
Mars is more interesting, but we have two robust geologists there already. If there's some reason to send frail humans, they sure haven't found it yet. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said the election was a clear mandate for the President's Moon-Mars thing, but WN could find no mention of it by Bush since January, and Congress has held virtually no hearings on it. The APS Panel on Public Affairs just issued a Discussion Paper on Moon-Mars. The URL would take up the entire page, so go to and click on Moon-Mars Program in the column on the left. It warns that Moon-Mars would far exceed budget projections and jeopardize real NASA science. The Discussion Paper also urges the government to pay attention to recommendations on priorities in space from the National Academy of Sciences. You wouldn't think you'd have to tell them that, but that's the way it is.