The moon and to Mars but on a budget

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    DOBBS: When we continue, the future of our space program. Trying to go to the moon and to Mars but on a budget. Stay with us.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    DOBBS: In January, President Bush unveiled a bold new plan for a man exploration of space. Today however, the president's commission on the moon, Mars and beyond fielded difficult questions about the very future of the space program. Peter Viles reports.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not know where this journey will end yet we know this human beings are headed into the cosmos.

    PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's plan to go back to the moon by 2020 and on to Mars without busting the budget means tough questions for NASA.

    JOHN HIGGINBOTHAM, SPACEVEST: With the greatest respect, I don't understand why the space agency runs a cable channel. I don't get it, OK? I'm sure there's a lot of people at NASA right now. They're about ready to strangle me but...

    VILES: But NASA's administrator essentially agreed, telling a presidential commission we've got to change.

    SEAN O'KEEFE, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: There is no way that the present organizational structure and how we do business today will be the most appropriate way to go about doing this.

    VILES: That commission headed by former Airforce secretary Pete Aldridge will recommend exactly how NASA should move beyond the space shuttle and the space station and go back to the moon and on to Mars while living on a budget.

    PETE ALDRIDGE, PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON MOON, MARS, AND BEYOND: Over the next 30 years, NASA will spend $500 billion over that 30-year period for activities in space. With that kind of money, we should be able to do this mission.

    VILES: One potential key to all of this, privatize more of the space program, perhaps launch services which, in theory, helps build a sustainable space industry in the private sector.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we could be doing a lot more, a lot better, a lot quicker if we could focus on core missions that are government, spend off, privatize, outsource, anything that's not core to those missions.

    VILES: There was a warning from Wall Street. Institutional investors are not explorers. In fact, they're somewhat timid. And with or without commercialization the government will have to lead the way in space.

    (END VIDEOTAPE)

    VILES: The Aldridge commission due to report its recommendations in June. Its mandate is sweeping to set the agenda for space exploration well into the 21st century.

    DOBBS: Thank you very much.

    Joining me now for more on the future of space exploration, astrophysicist Charles Liu of the National Museum of Natural History. Good to have you with us. The idea of commercialization versus federal funding here to drive NASA. Which is the better approach short and long term?

    PROF. CHARLES LIU, ASTROPHYSICS, CUNY: In the short term, if you ignore basic research and funding, you're going to run out of money in this limited budget era before you get anywhere close to the moon or Mars. In the long term you should definitely bring in the private sector. But after the government, academia and non-profit organizations establish the basic research foundations that are so necessary to triple this magnitude.

    DOBBS: Billions of dollars, Mars to the moon, the cosmos. On 15 to 20 billion a year, does that make sense?

    LIU: Not possible under current technology. That's why basic research is so important. People don't realize that before we went to the moon on the Apollo missions there was over a decade of some of the most intensive basic astronomy space science astrophysics research in the history of humanity. If we're going to try to get somewhere like the moon or to Mars on a shoestring budget, we have to rely on the ability of our innovation and our discovery to find us cheaper ways of getting there in the long run.

    DOBBS: Quickly, the Opportunity, Spirit rovers sending back fabulous data detailed and imagery, characterized what we've learned and how important the mission has been.

    LIU: We are now almost 100 percent certain that Mars was once wet. Now as Spirit and Opportunity are rolling around and checking out the craters and the land forms on Mars, we're trying to figure out exactly where that life might have been.

    DOBBS: For that we need a mission to Mars. Charles Liu, thank you very much.

    LIU: My pleasure.

    DOBBS: Still ahead. A warning that soaring energy prices will be painful not only for you and me but for the entire world. We'll have that and a great deal more still ahead. Please stay with us.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    DOBBS: Stocks a little higher on Wall Street today. The Dow up more than three points. The Nasdaq added almost 12. The S&P 500 up over 2. Energy prices soared again today. Christine Romans with the story -- Christine.

    CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Crude oil prices above $39 a barrel. Highest since 1990. Gasoline futures for the seventh day in a row set a record high. We know those energy prices are squeezing middle class Americans. Now, the International Energy Agency says high oil prices will be painful for the entire world economy. In fact, the IEA says energy prices will stay high and may inflict substantial damage to countries that import oil. Lou, those higher energy prices have been a boom for the major oil companies in their profits. Indeed the quarter overall has been blockbuster. S&P 500 company earnings up 25 percent. Look at the stock market averages. They are barely higher for the year for the S&P 500. Lower for the Dow and the Nasdaq.

    DOBBS: And it sounds like a lousy summer for gasoline prices.

    ROMANS: A lousy summer. No end in sight for gasoline prices.

    DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of tonight's poll. A reminder to check our website for our complete list of companies that to this point we have confirmed to be exporting America. CNN.com/lou. We continue in a moment. Please stay with us.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    DOBBS: The results of tonight's poll. 66 percent of you say race does play a significant part in the national debate over immigration reform. That's our broadcast. Join us tomorrow. Edward Peck, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, will be here. Ambassador Peck says the United States should withdraw from Iraq and as soon as possible.

    And we continue our special report on exporting America. More companies finding that outsourcing simply isn't worth the price. For all of us here good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.

    TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


    DOBBS: When we continue, the future of our space program. Trying to go to the moon and to Mars but on a budget. Stay with us.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    DOBBS: In January, President Bush unveiled a bold new plan for a man exploration of space. Today however, the president's commission on the moon, Mars and beyond fielded difficult questions about the very future of the space program. Peter Viles reports.

    (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

    GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We do not know where this journey will end yet we know this human beings are headed into the cosmos.

    PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The president's plan to go back to the moon by 2020 and on to Mars without busting the budget means tough questions for NASA.

    JOHN HIGGINBOTHAM, SPACEVEST: With the greatest respect, I don't understand why the space agency runs a cable channel. I don't get it, OK? I'm sure there's a lot of people at NASA right now. They're about ready to strangle me but...

    VILES: But NASA's administrator essentially agreed, telling a presidential commission we've got to change.

    SEAN O'KEEFE, NASA ADMINISTRATOR: There is no way that the present organizational structure and how we do business today will be the most appropriate way to go about doing this.

    VILES: That commission headed by former Airforce secretary Pete Aldridge will recommend exactly how NASA should move beyond the space shuttle and the space station and go back to the moon and on to Mars while living on a budget.

    PETE ALDRIDGE, PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON MOON, MARS, AND BEYOND: Over the next 30 years, NASA will spend $500 billion over that 30-year period for activities in space. With that kind of money, we should be able to do this mission.

    VILES: One potential key to all of this, privatize more of the space program, perhaps launch services which, in theory, helps build a sustainable space industry in the private sector.

    UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we could be doing a lot more, a lot better, a lot quicker if we could focus on core missions that are government, spend off, privatize, outsource, anything that's not core to those missions.

    VILES: There was a warning from Wall Street. Institutional investors are not explorers. In fact, they're somewhat timid. And with or without commercialization the government will have to lead the way in space.

    (END VIDEOTAPE)

    VILES: The Aldridge commission due to report its recommendations in June. Its mandate is sweeping to set the agenda for space exploration well into the 21st century.

    DOBBS: Thank you very much.

    Joining me now for more on the future of space exploration, astrophysicist Charles Liu of the National Museum of Natural History. Good to have you with us. The idea of commercialization versus federal funding here to drive NASA. Which is the better approach short and long term?

    PROF. CHARLES LIU, ASTROPHYSICS, CUNY: In the short term, if you ignore basic research and funding, you're going to run out of money in this limited budget era before you get anywhere close to the moon or Mars. In the long term you should definitely bring in the private sector. But after the government, academia and non-profit organizations establish the basic research foundations that are so necessary to triple this magnitude.

    DOBBS: Billions of dollars, Mars to the moon, the cosmos. On 15 to 20 billion a year, does that make sense?

    LIU: Not possible under current technology. That's why basic research is so important. People don't realize that before we went to the moon on the Apollo missions there was over a decade of some of the most intensive basic astronomy space science astrophysics research in the history of humanity. If we're going to try to get somewhere like the moon or to Mars on a shoestring budget, we have to rely on the ability of our innovation and our discovery to find us cheaper ways of getting there in the long run.

    DOBBS: Quickly, the Opportunity, Spirit rovers sending back fabulous data detailed and imagery, characterized what we've learned and how important the mission has been.

    LIU: We are now almost 100 percent certain that Mars was once wet. Now as Spirit and Opportunity are rolling around and checking out the craters and the land forms on Mars, we're trying to figure out exactly where that life might have been.

    DOBBS: For that we need a mission to Mars. Charles Liu, thank you very much.

    LIU: My pleasure.

    DOBBS: Still ahead. A warning that soaring energy prices will be painful not only for you and me but for the entire world. We'll have that and a great deal more still ahead. Please stay with us.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    DOBBS: Stocks a little higher on Wall Street today. The Dow up more than three points. The Nasdaq added almost 12. The S&P 500 up over 2. Energy prices soared again today. Christine Romans with the story -- Christine.

    CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Crude oil prices above $39 a barrel. Highest since 1990. Gasoline futures for the seventh day in a row set a record high. We know those energy prices are squeezing middle class Americans. Now, the International Energy Agency says high oil prices will be painful for the entire world economy. In fact, the IEA says energy prices will stay high and may inflict substantial damage to countries that import oil. Lou, those higher energy prices have been a boom for the major oil companies in their profits. Indeed the quarter overall has been blockbuster. S&P 500 company earnings up 25 percent. Look at the stock market averages. They are barely higher for the year for the S&P 500. Lower for the Dow and the Nasdaq.

    DOBBS: And it sounds like a lousy summer for gasoline prices.

    ROMANS: A lousy summer. No end in sight for gasoline prices.

    DOBBS: Still ahead, the results of tonight's poll. A reminder to check our website for our complete list of companies that to this point we have confirmed to be exporting America. CNN.com/lou. We continue in a moment. Please stay with us.

    (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

    DOBBS: The results of tonight's poll. 66 percent of you say race does play a significant part in the national debate over immigration reform. That's our broadcast. Join us tomorrow. Edward Peck, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, will be here. Ambassador Peck says the United States should withdraw from Iraq and as soon as possible.

    And we continue our special report on exporting America. More companies finding that outsourcing simply isn't worth the price. For all of us here good night from New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next.

    TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com
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