Skip to comments.Futuristic NASA think tank to be shut down[Institute for Advanced Concepts]
Posted on 03/21/2007 7:51:57 AM PDT by FLOutdoorsman
NASA will likely shut down its Institute for Advanced Concepts, which funds research into futuristic and often far-out ideas in spaceflight and aeronautics, officials say. The controversial move highlights the budgetary pressures the agency is facing as it struggles to retire the space shuttles by 2010 and develop their replacement.
The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) was established to "give an opportunity for people outside of NASA to develop really revolutionary and creative concepts for future aeronautics and space missions", says Robert Cassanova, who has served as the institute's director since its inception in February 1998.
The institute, which operates from an office in Atlanta, Georgia, US, receives about $4 million per year from NASA. Most of that is used to fund research into innovative technologies; recent grants include the conceptual development of spacecraft that could surf the solar system on magnetic fields, motion-sensitive spacesuits that could generate power and tiny, spherical robots that could explore Mars.
Now, the future development of those and other projects has been thrown into doubt, since NIAC was unofficially told by NASA last week that it was to be shut down, perhaps in August. "We've been verbally informed that that is likely to happen, but we don't have anything official yet," Cassanova told New Scientist. Limited funding
The reason appears to be down to NASA's tight budget. The agency funds NIAC through its exploration systems programme, which also pays for the development of the shuttle's planned replacement the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares rockets.
(Excerpt) Read more at space.newscientist.com ...
It is funny how NASA's entire annual budget is so close to the amount we pledged to 'fight' AIDS in Africa.
Maybe they'll watch old Star Trek runs!
Nothing wrong with that. :-)
No rubbers for Africans = enough money saved to keep this program.
Aww, no more Project Orions...
AAARRRRRGGGGHHHH!! This is REALLY terrible news. The Advanced Concepts program is where the breakthrough technologies are hatched. This is the kind of research that NASA was created to do. More mundane technologies will be developed and advanced by the private sector, but the really far-out technologies have too low a probabality of success for investors to back them. We only need for 1% of the breakthrough technologies to succeed to pay back the cost of the program 1000 times. This is the kind of stupid decision made when an agency is totally risk averse.
Not really. The Agency effectively has a flat budget and they need to cut wherever they can just to have a fighting chance to keep close to schedule for return to the Moon. NASA is cutting aero programs, parking airplanes, and offering buyouts to retirement-eligible civil servants. As such, the days of keeping little hobby shops like this and others open are over.
I once put my resume in to be NASA Inspector General; there was no chance I would get the job since I'm an engineer and not a lawyer. Having worked as a contractor for 20 years I guarantee that I could have found lots of fraud, waste, and abuse. That said, NASA is far from the worst offender in the federal government. I just wish they would not cut what little cutting edge research that there was.