A new direction for NASA?

Mike Staton wrote this post.

Late January and the first days of February are tough months for fans of American manned spaceflight. We lost three spacecraft between 1967 and 2003 – Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia.

With Donald Trump now President of the United States, I wonder what the future holds for NASA and manned space exploration.

Very little is coming out from the Trump Administration about NASA and any goals for the space agency. Will the agency’s budget be cut drastically and all dreams of Mars put on the backburner? Or will the agency be allowed to creep forward as it did during the Obama years? Or will Trump do the unexpected and pump a cash infusion into the agency to get it moving more quickly into interplanetary exploration, specifically a flight to Mars.

A SLS (Space Launch System) rocket thunders skyward from the Kennedy Space Center. This is the rocket that will power America’s interplanetary dreams.

Trump is asking for executive branch department heads to make deep cuts in their budgets, so it doesn’t look good for NASA. Yet if he truly wants to Make American Great Again, what better way than to show America’s exploration prowess. Which way will the pendulum swing? Anyone willing to take an educated guess?

One of my favorite space websites has two levels of membership. One is free and is mostly made up of articles written by freelance writers with some expertise on space matters, and a space forums that cover manned and unmanned space exploration of all the space powers. The other cost money, a subscription that earns the person access to what is called L2.

This is the spacecraft that will take American astronauts to the moon and beyond. Long-distance flights will require more than Orion, however. Habitation and supply modules will be needed.

In past years, I’ve paid for access to L2, and get insider information on what happening at NASA. But I let my subscription lapse and haven’t renewed it. Things are moving at a snail’s pace, and I couldn’t get motivated. But I think I’m going to renew in the hope L2 will provide some insider information on what President Trump intends to do with NASA. Maybe when I post my Feb. 20 story I can give you some insider information. Perhaps a major push to Mars? Or the obituary for America’s manned space program. Who knows?


On one of the forums, I did read a post that relayed information from a member of one of Trump’s transition teams – this one looking at NASA. The guy claimed there was a push for a big increase in NASA’s budget – from $19.3 billion to $27 billion. The reason? The speed up a mission to Mars. Some bad news, though. The giant Space Launch System rocket, based on space shuttle technology, would be canceled. Is this reliable information? Probably not. Maybe I’ll know more when I get a look at L2.

The Orion for a planned late 2018 flight to the vicinity of the moon is now under construction. As of now, the flight will be unmanned.

Anyway, when everyone is worried about what is going to happen to their healthcare, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, public education, and National Parks, a substantial hike in NASA’s budget probably wouldn’t go over well.

It’s tough for me. I’ve loved astronomy and space exploration ever since elementary school. And I’d love to see American astronauts walk on Mars in my lifetime – and I’m not getting any younger.

# # #

I’m not one of those who can kick out three novels a year. I’ve managed to get three published over the last seven years. Those three belong to a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy published by Wings ePress. They’re available on the websites of Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Come a little closer… I’ve something I want to whisper in your ear: “Buy them and help my sales.”

I’m working on a fourth novel, a Civil War tale full of battle scenes and romance. I’ve come up with a title: Blessed Shadows Dark & Deep. It’s written; I’m now editing the chapters. It’s my best work yet; I’m not exaggerating.


19 thoughts on “A new direction for NASA?

  1. Mike, Great post. Like you, I’m fascinated by space and its possiblities. People who have decent wages will spend more, and space is a never ending field of possibilities for jobs and income. You have income, you spend. Seems so simple, but trickle down has never worked, you have to prime the pump, not fill the pocket without sharing. It is a group effort, and the more you get in your group, if they do their part, the more you get.

    Anyway, here’s to NASA. Doris


    1. Most people here write about the writing craft. I sometimes try to be different just to add variety to the blog. I’ve learned quite a bit more since I wrote this post. Trump’s people are apparently going to redirect NASA toward the moon. The SLS isn’t going to be canceled far as I can tell. What’s really ‘out there’ is this… NASA is allegedly being asked to delay the first SLS flight for a year — to 2019– and fly it with astronauts aboard Orion. The folks on the space forums are having heart attacks. Most think it’s too risky flying men and women on a first test flight, especially out to the moon. One commenter pointed out that there’s a three-year gap between the 2018 test flight and the 2021 manned flight. He wondered why NASA doesn’t fly the first manned flight a year after the unmanned test flight? Makes sense to me. But NASA would need additional money to do that, I think. The next few months should be interesting as Trump’s plans for NASA and space become more clear. The redirection of the moon will be my Feb. 20 post.


  2. It seems man needs a frontier to explore, and space will be a never ending one, unlike America’s west! I keep thinking back to the Flintstones every time I see some great new technology like driverless cars etc. Also, I believe conquering space gives the conqueror an edge perhaps in power. It will be exciting to see what comes next. You have a lot of interests!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope we Americans still have that strong Manifest Destiny philosophy that fit so well back in Apollo days. Nowadays I sometimes think that too many of us want to explore the Universe through VR technology instead of doing it in person.


    1. Never met David in person, but I know of him. Was an official in the National Space Society, and back in the day I subscribed to the Society’s magazine. And I have watched all the space-related stuff Ron Howard and Tom Hanks has been associated with. I’ll be doing a follow-up on Trump’s plans for space on Feb. 20, so stay tuned.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. President Trump is a Visionary and likes to be the first to do things, so I imagine after the economy is under control a bit, he’ll expand it. Usually the military and Nasa expansion go together. I’m excited to see what happens. Cher’ley

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Funding of such projects like NASA is a major issue. It will be devastating to many scientists if the programmes are axed or put into deep storage. I did wonder how you seemed to have really up-to-date information on some thing you’ve posted over the years. And as I write this on the 8th Feb I’ve heard some news updates which sound awful.


  5. Some people are hopeful that good changes are on the horizon. Others feel very discouraged. I think we are all wondering what the next four years holds for us.The bottom line is we just have to wait and see how things play out.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting thoughts and thought-provoking post, Mike. My husband loves astronomy and space travel stuff, like you do, Mike. His parents once llived in Florida and he was able to visit one of the launch sites and watch a launch as well. That’s a visit he treasures, for more than one reason. I’m not into that so much — I’d rather see our money go to helping the poor, feeding orphans, creating housing for the homeless, especially our veterans, and helping animals in need. But, that’s me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always remind folks that the NASA budget is only one-half of one percent of the federal budget. $19 billion sounds like a lot until you realize the huge size of the overall budget. And many fans of New Space Companies say that $19 billion actually provides very little… that SpaceX and the other pioneering companies could provide the spacecraft and the rockets to NASA at far less cost if the space agency didn’t use its budget to bolster its various fiefdoms. They say: Lots of money spent, little to show for it. Look at SpaceX, landing the first stages of their rockets for reuse. I’ll talk about it more later this month in my Feb. 20 post.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, you will, Darrah. In my Feb. 20 post. I know so much more than I did earlier this month. Could be that the young, heady New Space companies will soon ignite a revolution at NASA. Maybe. Sometimes the old driftwood ends up clogging the river and acting like a dam.


  7. Interesting post, Mike. My mom kept me home from school the morning John Glenn made his first flight so I could watch on television. I didn’t ask–she told me I was going to be late to school. If something historic was going to be shown on TV, she tuned in. I miss the time when space exploration was a Big Deal. To most young people (and adults) today, it’s ho-hum, one more thing in a sea of technological change. I look forward to your updates.


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