Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

House OKs Missions To Moon, Mars

Filed under
Sci/Tech

The House Friday overwhelmingly endorsed President Bush's vision to send man back to the Moon and eventually on to Mars as it passed a bill to set NASA policy for the next two years.

The bill passed 383-15 after a collegial debate in which lawmakers stressed their commitment to not just Mr. Bush's ambitious space exploration plans but also to traditional NASA programs such as science and aeronautics.

There is some tension between Congress and the White House over the balance between Mr. Bush's vision for space exploration and other NASA initiatives. Originally, the measure would have shifted $1.3 billion in funds from exploration to other NASA programs. But after administration objections lawmakers added the money back to the budget for exploration during floor debate. That was done by adding to the bill's bottom line - now at $34.7 billion - not at the expense of science and aeronautics.

Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee said Mr. Bush's ambitious Moon and Mars missions "should not be done by cannibalizing other NASA missions."

The bill is the first NASA policy measure -- its budget is funded by a separate bill - to pass the House in five years. It advanced as the space agency tries to rebound from the Columbia disaster in February 2003 with the launch of the space shuttle Discovery next Tuesday.

The measure permits but does not explicitly endorse retiring the space shuttle fleet by 2010, as the administration would like to do. It directs the agency to launch a new crew exploration vehicle - which would lack the full capabilities of the shuttle but could travel to the International Space Station - as close to 2010 as feasible.

NASA's plans call for a new vehicle to be ready by 2014, which unnerves lawmakers who do not want the United States to have to rely on other countries to catch a lift to the space station.

A companion Senate measure approved by the Commerce, Science and Transportation panel last month would bar NASA from retiring the shuttle before a replacement vehicle is ready.

Both House and Senate bills also endorse a servicing and repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Without such a mission, the Hubble will fail when its gyroscopes and batteries wear out in the next few years, but the agency has not announced whether to let the telescope fail or whether it will undertake a costly manned repair mission.

"Congress endorses the President's Vision for Space Exploration," said Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y. "The United States will work to return to the moon by 2020, and then will move on to other destinations."

The full Senate has yet to act on the NASA measure.

Regardless of the ringing endorsement Friday, NASA must still compete with other agencies for its budget in the annual appropriations process, which moves on a separate track. That promises to make it difficult to fulfill all of the policy recommendations made by the House on Friday.

Still, there was one lone voice against the bill. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., questioned spending billions to go to Mars when "day after day ... we're told we can't do enough for housing and we can't do enough for health care."

"This is a fundamental debate the country ought to have ... about whether or not to commit these untold billions ... at the expense of other important programs," he said.

By Andrew Taylor
Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Linux and FOSS Events

  • Keynote: State of the Union - Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, The Linux Foundation
    As the open source community continues to grow, Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation, says the Foundation’s goal remains the same: to create a sustainable ecosystem for open source technology through good governance and innovation.
  • Open Source for Science + Innovation
    We are bringing together open source and open science specialists to talk about the “how and why” of open source and open science. Members of these communities will give brief talks which are followed by open and lively discussions open to the audience. Talks will highlight the role of openness in stimulating innovation but may also touch upon how openness appears to some to conflict with intellectual property interests.
  • Announcing the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge Winners
    Six months ago, we created the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge to add an additional dimension to the important work Mozilla has been leading around the concept of “Equal Rating.” In addition to policy and research, we wanted to push the boundaries and find news ways to provide affordable access to the Internet while preserving net neutrality. An open call for new ideas was the ideal vehicle.

Docker/Kubernetes/Containers

  • Containerization Leaders Explore Possible Standardized Data Storage Interface
    A group of engineers from every leading container orchestrator maker have gathered together, virtually, around an initiative to explore a common lexicon for container-based data storage. Initially proposed by Mesosphere’s Benjamin Hindman, the Container Storage Interface initiative — which, for now, is essentially a GitHub document — is exploring the issue of whether the community at large, and their users, would benefit from a standardized API for addressing and managing storage volumes.
  • What are the top open source tools for Docker management?
  • Enterprise container DevOps steps up its game with Kubernetes 1.6
    Managing containers isn't easy. That's where such programs as Docker swarm mode, Kubernetes, and Mesosphere can make or break your containers initiatives. Perhaps the most popular of these, Kubernetes, has a new release, Kubernetes 1.6, that expands its reach by 50 percent to 5,000 node clusters. Conservatively, that means Kubernetes can manage 25,000 Docker containers at once.

Security Leftovers

  • Someone is putting lots of work into hacking Github developers [Ed: Dan Goodin doesn't know that everything is under attack and cracking attempts just about all the time?]
    Open-source developers who use Github are in the cross-hairs of advanced malware that has steal passwords, download sensitive files, take screenshots, and self-destruct when necessary.
  • Security Orchestration and Incident Response
    Technology continues to advance, and this is all a changing target. Eventually, computers will become intelligent enough to replace people at real-time incident response. My guess, though, is that computers are not going to get there by collecting enough data to be certain. More likely, they'll develop the ability to exhibit understanding and operate in a world of uncertainty. That's a much harder goal. Yes, today, this is all science fiction. But it's not stupid science fiction, and it might become reality during the lifetimes of our children. Until then, we need people in the loop. Orchestration is a way to achieve that.

Leftover: Development (Linux)

  • Swan: Better Linux on Windows
    If you are a Linux user that has to use Windows — or even a Windows user that needs some Linux support — Cygwin has long been a great tool for getting things done. It provides a nearly complete Linux toolset. It also provides almost the entire Linux API, so that anything it doesn’t supply can probably be built from source. You can even write code on Windows, compile and test it and (usually) port it over to Linux painlessly.
  • Lint for Shell Scripters
    It used to be one of the joys of writing embedded software was never having to deploy shell scripts. But now with platforms like the Raspberry Pi becoming very common, Linux shell scripts can be a big part of a system–even the whole system, in some cases. How do you know your shell script is error-free before you deploy it? Of course, nothing can catch all errors, but you might try ShellCheck.
  • Android: Enabling mainline graphics
    Android uses the HWC API to communicate with graphics hardware. This API is not supported on the mainline Linux graphics stack, but by using drm_hwcomposer as a shim it now is. The HWC (Hardware Composer) API is used by SurfaceFlinger for compositing layers to the screen. The HWC abstracts objects such as overlays and 2D blitters and helps offload some work that would normally be done with OpenGL. SurfaceFlinger on the other hand accepts buffers from multiple sources, composites them, and sends them to the display.
  • Collabora's Devs Make Android's HWC API Work in Mainline Linux Graphics Stack
    Collabora's Mark Filion informs Softpedia today about the latest work done by various Collabora developers in collaboration with Google's ChromeOS team to enable mainline graphics on Android. The latest blog post published by Collabora's Robert Foss reveals the fact that both team managed to develop a shim called drm_hwcomposer, which should enable Android's HWC (Hardware Composer) API to communicate with the graphics hardware, including Android 7.0's version 2 HWC API.