Ep. 629: The Cost of Delays

Feb 7, 2022 | History, Missions, Observing, podcast, Science, Spacecraft | 0 comments

With all the success of James Webb so far, it’s looking like science’s huge gamble is going to pay off, but there were years of delays and budget overruns. What impacts did these delays have on science, careers, and the future of space exploration?

Download MP3 | Show Notes | Transcript

Show Notes

PAPER: The CosmoQuest Moon Mappers Community Science Project: The Effect of Incidence Angle on the Lunar Surface Crater Distribution (The Open Journal of Astrophysics)

JWST (NASA)

Space Launch System (NASA)

Hubble Space Telescope

NASA

Canada Space Agency

ESA

Orion Spacecraft (NASA)

Constellation program (Wikipedia)

SpaceX

Space Shuttle (NASA)

RS-25 Engine (Aerojet Rocketdyne)

Mars Curiosity Rover (NASA)

Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)

TESS Exoplanet Mission (NASA)

Mars Perseverance Rover (NASA)

Mars Pathfinder (NASA)

Mars Pathfinder / Sojourner Rover (NASA JPL)

What is Iterative Design? (and Why You Should Use It) (Enginess)

Roman Space Telescope (NASA)

Dawn (NASA)

New Horizons (JHUAPL)

Gain sustainable advantage using a capabilities-driven strategy (PwC)

New Report Charts Path for Next Decade of Astronomy and Astrophysics; Recommends Future Ground and Space Telescopes, Scientific Priorities, Investments in Scientific Community (NASEM)

Transcript

Transcriptions provided by GMR Transcription Services

Fraser:                         Astronomy Cast Episode 629: The True Cost of Delays. Welcome to Astronomy Cast, your weekly facts-based journey through the cosmos where we help you understand not only what we know, but how we know what we know. I’m Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today. With me as always is Dr. Pamela Gay, a senior scientist for the Planetary Science Institute and the director of CosmoQuest. Hey Pamela, how are you doing?

Dr. Gay:                      I am doing well. We actually have a new publication out of CosmoQuest that was just published showing that our moon mappers folks are as good as the professional markers and we are happy clams and I just wanted –

Fraser:                         Nice!

Dr. Gay:                      – to share that.

Fraser:                         So, just power from the people?

Dr. Gay:                      Yes. Yes.

Fraser:                         Right on. Are there more coming up where people can hate rocks or craters?

Dr. Gay:                      So, we have a new tiny, tiny grant award letter in my inbox, and I’m going to be working on programming as much as my brain will let me. So, yeah, there’s gonna be more projects coming.

Fraser:                         Awesome. With all the success of James Webb so far, it’s looking like science’s huge gamble is going to pay off, but there were years of delays and budget overruns. What impacts do these delays have on science, careers, and the future of space exploration? All right, Pamela. You threw this topic into the list. I was kinda surprised because I think this is gonna get pretty raw.

Dr. Gay:                      Well –

Fraser:                         It’s gonna be some personal experience. The scientists among you, the people who’ve gone through this process, you might want to skip this episode because it’s gonna be – it could be triggering. There’s gonna be a lot of dark, gloomy moments and perhaps a light at the end of the tunnel.

[Crosstalk] [00:02:48]

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah, the –

Fraser:                         Where do you wanna –?

Dr. Gay:                      – irony –

Fraser:                         What are you thinking?

Dr. Gay:                      Well, so the irony is I scheduled out this episode in August.

Fraser:                         Hm.

Dr. Gay:                      August.

Fraser:                         Right. Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      And when I scheduled this out, it was anticipated that JWST was going to launch sooner than it did, and that –

Fraser:                         Hm.

Dr. Gay:                      – SLS was going to be more on schedule than it seems like it will ever be –

Fraser:                         Mm-hmm.

Dr. Gay:                      – and I thought we’d be having this conversation after the first launch of SLS and after JWST was much further along. And so, there are levels of irony within irony of this –

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      – particular show and –

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      – we’re just going to embrace the pain.

Fraser:                         Well, I think that the points that you wanted to bring up and that we’re gonna discuss –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – are just magnified. Like everything that you’ve talked about is now bigger, stronger, more expensive, more delayed, more –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – more stress, etc. And it just sorta shows. And so, I think it is funny that the show to talk about delays was delayed because the things that we were talking about were delayed.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah, yeah.

Fraser:                         This is perfect. All right. So, how do we want to sort of peel this onion? So, let’s talk about some missions to give people sort of a sense of the true scale of the delay. Pick a mission that has been very delayed that you’d like to talk about.

Dr. Gay:                      Well, I mean, there’s two favorite ones to look at and those are the JWST and the SLS launch system.

Fraser:                         Right. Okay. Well, let’s pick one, so –

Dr. Gay:                      Which was a redundant way to state that.

Fraser:                         Sure. So, the Space Launch System launch system. So, let’s turn to JWST. So, back in the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘80s, when people were envisioning –

Dr. Gay:                      More like ‘80s or ‘90s, but yeah.

Fraser:                         Eighties or ‘90s, all right, yeah. Yeah. So, back in the ‘80s and ‘90s when people were envisioning the telescope that would succeed Hubble.

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         What kind of budget time frame were they anticipating?

Dr. Gay:                      Well, they were expecting a time frame around 2010, and a budget of far less than $5 billion.

Fraser:                         Yeah. I –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – had seen as early as 2010, 2008, $4.5 billion.

Dr. Gay:                      It got kicked up to 4.96 in –

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      – the late 2000s when it was given the 2014 launch date that they missed.

Fraser:                         Yeah, and I had even seen lower, like $1.6 billion.

Dr. Gay:                      Oh, yeah. Early, –

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      – early on –

Fraser:                         Yeah, early, early on.

Dr. Gay:                      – there were amazing mistakes made.

Fraser:                         Right. Okay. And then the reality was 2021, late 2021 –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – $10 billionish.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah. NASA’s contribution strictly for spacecraft development, so this is the money spent before the sucker even launches, came in at $8.8 billion as of October 25th.

Fraser:                         Mm-hmm.

Dr. Gay:                      And we’re still waiting for the final numbers to come out for what went into the rest of 2021. And that was only the NASA part. So, beyond the NASA part, there was an additional $200 million from Canada and then, of course, the European Space Agency threw in for instruments and the launch for another 700 million euros. So, yeah, we’re looking at $10 billion to get that sucker into the air and then for the next five years almost another billion to support it, but I’m okay with those costs.

Fraser:                         Yes. Right, right. So, okay. So, let’s just put that – set that aside so we get a sense of the scale.

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         And then let’s talk about the Space Launch System.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah. So, I don’t even know where to start with that one.

Fraser:                         Well, what was the plan? I mean, I guess, what was the – I see why you’re having trouble –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – picking it apart because there is sort of a smooth, continuous, goalpost-changing –

Dr. Gay:                      Right.

Fraser:                         – set of requirements from the early 2000s until now.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah, so they had multiple different rocket types. There was the Orion program. There was –

Fraser:                         The Constellation.

Dr. Gay:                      There was Constellation and then things got switched over to Space Launch Systems, which it looks like we may have at least one launch of. And at the same time that all of that government-funded, government-contractor built specifically for NASA chaos was going on, we had SpaceX off to the side.

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      They do have NASA funding, but they’re also funded through the services they sell. They’re a commercial launch provider.

Fraser:                         I think we can roughly compare apples to apples with James Webb here.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         Like the original Constellation program, essentially the successor to the space shuttle.

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         The going back to capsules with a big rocket –

Dr. Gay:                      Right.

Fraser:                         – was during the first term of George Bush –

Dr. Gay:                      Yes.

Fraser:                         – the Second, and I’m feeling like it was 2004ish when –

Dr. Gay:                      Yes.

Fraser:                         – those announcements were made and that was going to be the Constellation program with the Ares rocket. I recently looked into it and the total budget, if you sort of include the original Constellation stuff with the follow-on with these SLS, we’re approaching $20 billion of budget so far.

Dr. Gay:                      And the thing that got me was one of the reasons they went back to using disposable rockets was it was supposed to significantly reduce the cost, because they realized the space shuttle was not saving them any money, and was costing about $1.5 billion per launch. And it’s currently estimated that SLS will cost $2 billion per launch.

Fraser:                         Right, right.

Dr. Gay:                      And it just hurts the soul.

Fraser:                         Yeah, yeah. I mean for all of the refurbishment that was required with the space shuttle, you did get to keep the orbiter. You did get to keep the external solid rocket boosters. The part that had to be disposed of was the big fuel tank.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         But, apart from that, parts of it were, but it was just the amount of refurbishment that was required. The part that breaks my heart with SLS, I mean, just all the time. It’s just these beautiful RS-25 engines that – 

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – are the space shuttle main engines.

Dr. Gay:                      They aren’t reusing.

Fraser:                         They’re not reusing them, and yet these things were meant to be reused. They are the Ferrari’s of rocket engines.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         And four are destroyed in the ocean with every launch. All right. So, I think when you look at it actually, James Webb and SLS follow similar timelines and over-budget issues, and we could add more projects like that. We could probably add even the original space shuttle. We could probably add the original Hubble Space Telescope and –

Dr. Gay:                      Mars Curiosity was a great sink. Atacama Large Millimeter Array was a large sink. No one stressed about that one, I’m gonna say though, because it was on the ground. It was not gonna blow up.

Fraser:                         Right, right. Yeah, that’s true. That’s funny. You always add, like, there’s all of these time delays and then in the very end, you add the possibility that the thing will just detonate –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – and all of the work is for nothing. Yeah. Oh, yeah. That really is the icing on the cake. I love that.

Dr. Gay:                      Right.

Fraser:                         Okay.

Dr. Gay:                      Right.

Fraser:                         So, why do they happen? Why do these budget and time overruns happen?

Dr. Gay:                      So, in prepping for this, I looked up one of the executive reviews of the JWST costing, and I’m just gonna read the first paragraph because this first paragraph applies to so much of science.

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      So, the first paragraph of the executive summary reads, “The problems causing cost growth and scheduled delays on the JWST project are associated with budgeting and program management, not technical performance.”

Fraser:                         Hm.

Dr. Gay:                      “The technical performance on the project has been commendable and often excellent. However, the budget baseline accepted at the confirmation review did not reflect the most probable cost with adequate reserves in each year of the product execution. This resulted in a project that was simply not executable within the budgeted resources.”

Fraser:                         Oh, god, that is – I mean, look, if you worked on any technical project, which most of my career has been project managing –

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         – technical projects.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         That is technical creep. That is –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah, scope creep.

Fraser:                         – scope creep, yeah. That is just like you ask the engineer to give you an estimate. They came back with some numbers. You took them at face value, and then you tried to build the thing, and it ended up costing more and taking longer than you thought.

Dr. Gay:                      And one of the things that we don’t talk about when we look at this that comes in under, “Well, who exactly is your project manager?” And if you go high enough up the food chain, it’s going to be the Congress where they say, “Okay, so you need to do this thing, and we’re going to give you money on this timeline to do this thing.” And they don’t figure in that if it cost $100 million to do it in one year, it’s not going to cost $100 million to do the exact same work over two years because you have facilities costs.

You have some people you have to have on full-time, like your HR people, your finance people. And so, extending the timeline and lowering the budget per year, but keeping the total budget the same, does not work.

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      And this project over and over faced those, “We’re only going to give you this much money this year, but we still need you –

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      – to do everything.” And humans are not good at budgeting.

Fraser:                         Yeah, so in my project management days, my rule was to double and add 10. Just in the –

Dr. Gay:                      I love the lack of units on that, by the way.

Fraser:                         Well, exactly. Yeah, I know the units are important, right? So, you tell me, like, if you tell me that it’s going to take you two days, then in my mind –

Dr. Gay:                      Uh-huh.

Fraser:                         – that’s 14. That’s two weeks. Double and add 10, right? So, you told me two days, I take four days, add 10 –

Dr. Gay:                      Uh-huh.

Fraser:                         – fourteen days, two weeks.

Dr. Gay:                      All right.

Fraser:                         Fourteen working days, so three weeks. And just as crazy as that sounds, that was very effective at me being able to get a much more realistic view of how long a project was going to take.

Dr. Gay:                      And that takes into consideration one of the biggest problems that I faced as a manager, which is when you’re doing your costing and your budget, you figure out, “How long would it take me to do this thing?” And how long it takes you to do that thing is different from the, “How long does it take me to find the hours out of my day to get the thing done around all the other interruptions I face?”

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      And so, what might only require me four hours of effort might end up taking me a full week to get done because of all the telecons, the other things I have to deal with, the payroll issues. There’s a whole –

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      – ecosystem around actually just trying to get something super simple done sometimes.

Fraser:                         Yeah. And I think one of the big issues is: you mentioned this sort of briefly in passing, was that when you compare the projects that NASA has done internally. Tests, –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – perseverance, a lot of these other missions, some which are very complicated and are billions of dollars. They tend to happen perfectly on time and perfectly on budget. NASA is the, arguably in my opinion, the best project managers, software technical project managers that exist. When I was developing policies and procedures for software development, we would develop software projects. I went to NASA documents. They wrote the bible –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – on a lot of ways to develop software, but the thing that you indicated, and I think this is exactly right, is that once the budget gets so big that you have to bring in Congress. Congress has political requirements –

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         – that write into law who your supplier has to be, where things have to be built. It gets complicated, unnecessarily complicated, in a way that is really difficult to get that simplicity back in the bottle.

Dr. Gay:                      And they insert chaos you would not anticipate. Back in 2000, around 2010 or ‘11, I don’t remember exactly which year it was. I was on a trans-Atlantic cruise with my husband, and we were as out-of-contact as two people could possibly be, but I had told people where I was going. And one of the administrator-level bureaucrat people that I worked with through my NASA-funded projects hunted me down on a cruise ship because Congress had asked for a data pull on a very short turnaround time.

Fraser:                         Right.

Dr. Gay:                      And I needed to fork over all my money to the cruise ship’s internet provider to allow me to do the data pull.

Fraser:                         Right.

Dr. Gay:                      My husband has never been more upset, and we have not gone on a cruise since then.

Fraser:                         That’s of another complicating factors. All right. So, we’ve talked about the kinds of delays that can happen. We’ve talked about why they kind of happen: technical issues, people are just – they underestimate how long things are going to take –

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         – which is just human nature. You can’t –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – estimate something without dramatically underestimating. It’s just how it works.

Dr. Gay:                      Well, and to point out something that wasn’t made entirely clear in the last segment. You mentioned how good NASA has been especially with the development of all the rovers landers on the surface of Mars. And there they used iterative development where they tried Pathfinder and Sojourner and they got bigger and bigger and more complex, and iterative design is exactly what they teach you when you’re doing project development training.

Fraser:                         Yep.

Dr. Gay:                      Now, with JWST, the analogy I like to use is, “It was like jumping from the electric cars that were developed in the 1890s to the Tesla Model S, and not having anything in between.”

Fraser:                         Right, right.

Dr. Gay:                      And so, that kind of a, “There was no iteration. We’re just going to innovate something entirely new.”

Fraser:                         Yes.

Dr. Gay:                      That was gonna have problems.

Fraser:                         And each time that happens, I mean, you can see that. That was the space shuttle. That’s the SLS.

Dr. Gay:                      Yes.

Fraser:                         That was James Webb.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         You’re throwing too much technical challenge into it and as that report said, the NASA engineers and scientists step up to the challenge and deliver admirably.

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         But it’s like, you ask how long the thing is gonna take and then you say, “And then also double it,” and then you don’t give them the chance to take the longer time.

Dr. Gay:                      Right.

Fraser:                         So, the last piece of the story, I think, is to talk about the implications. What have been the implications to scientists, engineers, politicians, the public, taxpayers, etc.? What happens when these projects go long and go expensive?

Dr. Gay:                      Well, it literally is going to cause a staffing gap at a certain level in Astrophysics. We are looking at decades of one out of every $3.00 spent on Astrophysics out of NASA went directly to the JWST. And when you have so much of your funding going to developing and developing and developing and not going to funding science, not going to generating data out of smaller systems, you are making it impossible for people to basically get their career started by innovating. And this is how we get our career started. We join new programs.

We get involved in a mission and you kind of grow up with the mission that you’re working with, with the telescope that you’re working with, with the project you’re working with. And it becomes part of your identity in a lot of ways. I grew up with a citizen science. That’s how I built my career. Now, if you were an early career researcher who was planning to build your career on JWST, which is a whole lot of people our age.

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      Like Gen X, we were supposed to be mid-career scientists working on JWST datasets. And now we’re all senior scientists who are bitter, which is suitable for Gen X.

Fraser:                         Right.

Dr. Gay:                      So, you have that problem with all of the people who don’t have opportunities: the lack of post-docs, lack of grant funding. So, those are doors that are just plain never opened.

Fraser:                         Right.

Dr. Gay:                      You also have all of the costs of efforts that were wasted. There have been multiple calls for observing proposals for the JWST. Get your proposals in. They reviewed the proposals. And these things – you’re not funded while you’re writing the proposal.

Fraser:                         Right.

Dr. Gay:                      So, you have people who are totally annoying their entire household, dedicating every waking fiber of their body that isn’t already paid for by some other means, to putting together these observing proposals. And then nothing comes of it. That is completely – that just makes you bitter and sad.

Fraser:                         Right.

Dr. Gay:                      Because you waste your passion and then we’ve had to see scientists who are like, “Okay. I’m funded to figure out this thing by the National Science Foundation. I need to find a new way to do it.” And so, you have all these people that are desperately innovating ways to do their science with no JWST.

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      And then you have all the projects that – and this is where you mentioned that it would be bitter for me. In August of 2018, I got a phone call from my program officer at NASA saying, “Look. JWST’s launch got delayed again. We’re gonna have to have some cuts. Just to let you know, that could be you.”

Fraser:                         Mm-hmm.

Dr. Gay:                      And in October 2018, my programs got zeroed.

Fraser:                         Yep.

Dr. Gay:                      And so, you have things that got canceled because of the cost overruns. You have opportunities that were never allowed to come to fruition, and you have all the wasted effort that just makes people bitter.

Fraser:                         Yeah, yeah. And I think the other thing – and we saw this as a sentiment.

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         That the public loses faith in NASA, loses faith in the work of scientists.

Dr. Gay:                      So do the scientists, sometimes.

Fraser:                         So do the scientists, sure. But, I mean, you think –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – all we heard leading up to JWST’s launch was just jokes about, –

Dr. Gay:                      Oh, yeah.

Fraser:                         – “What if it doesn’t launch?” Right? Generally, there was just this negative, skeptical, dismissive consideration.

Dr. Gay:                      The Just Waiting Space Telescope.

Fraser:                         Sure. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Right? Just waste more money on the space telescope, etc.

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         That was the –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         And so, that is a credibility loss –

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         – for interesting projects that is really hard to make back up. I mean, hopefully, JWST is gonna just be dumping beautiful images and incredible science and everyone is going to come around. And they already are mostly there. Like, now –

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         – it has switched to pure enthusiasm, but it was a loss. And then you’ve got the same loss of credibility with Artemis and SLS, etc.

Dr. Gay:                      Well, and it affects missions like the Nancy Grace Roman –

Fraser:                         Mm-hmm.

Dr. Gay:                      – where folks are like, “Yeah, you’re not gonna finish that. Let’s just cancel it now.”

Fraser:                         Yeah, yeah. Or it’s coming right from the White House. So, what is the solution? What can we do either as scientists, as the public, as politicians, as governments? How can we make this process smoother and better?

Dr. Gay:                      I mean, honestly, if we just remember iterative design is a good thing. That would end a world of hurt.

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      With SLS, they are trying to go from zero to their first rocket gets towards the moon. That’s a lot to ask of your first launch.

Fraser:                         Right.

Dr. Gay:                      Look at the iterative design that instead SpaceX has been doing. With the space telescope, look at the iterative design that was done with all of the rovers and learn from that. There is, within NASA, a really good, more recent tradition of funding a variety of small missions, a few mid-sized missions, and one or two massive missions. And this allows new technologies to get tested out while science is still getting innovated. This gets done a ton on the planetary side.

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      So, we see missions like Dawn for instance. Even New Horizons wasn’t a massive mission and by having these smaller PI-led missions that allow you to test ideas. It makes a larger cornucopia of possibilities for these mid-size missions, and then you actually know what you’re doing when you build the large missions.

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      Iterate.

Fraser:                         Iterate. So, there is a proposal at NASA, and this is sort of a thinking that it came around a couple of years ago, –

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         – and I really fell in love with it. It’s called the capabilities-driven approach and as opposed to setting a big goal like, “We’re going to send humans to the moon. We’re going to send humans to Mars. We’re going to send humans to Titan.”

Dr. Gay:                      Yeah.

Fraser:                         You just increase the capabilities of human space flight, mission by mission by mission.

Dr. Gay:                      Mm-hmm.

Fraser:                         And so, now you send longer in space, like each mission should exceed what you thought you were capable of doing in a very measured, iterative approach.

Dr. Gay:                      Yes. Yes.

Fraser:                         And as you do that, various things become within your capability, like, “Oh, we can send two humans out beyond the orbit of the moon for three weeks, and they grow all their food, and they’re recycling all of their air, and they’re docking various ships together. Could they land it on the moon? Oh, yeah, I guess they could. Let’s do that.”

Dr. Gay:                      And this goes back to Gemini and Apollo days –

Fraser:                         Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      – where everything was the next step. We forgot how to do that for a while.

Fraser:                         Yeah. Yep. I am hopeful. I think, at this point, some harsh lessons were learned, and I don’t see that same risk with the decadal survey, with the new telescopes that are proposed. They were de-risked right out of the gate. You can see, like LUVOIR. “Let’s build a 15-meter space telescope, send it out to L2. And oh, no, no, no.”

Dr. Gay:                      What?

Fraser:                         “Let’s not. Let’s make it smaller. Let’s make it a size we change with. Let’s put. Let’s simplify.” So, I think we’re going to see a return to this iterative and simplicity. I would love to see that in human space exploration, which I don’t see.

Dr. Gay:                      Hm.

Fraser:                         But I think you’re exactly right. Iterative approach for everything is the path to success.

Dr. Gay:                      What worries me is the loss of humans.

Fraser:                         Yes.

Dr. Gay:                      Because we have all the senior folks that came in with the Voyager and Apollo generations. They’re all still here. They’re all still working. Didn’t retire. We didn’t have new jobs opening up with a whole suite of new telescopes and instruments over the past 20 years, and so there has been this huge drain of people that will do two or three post-docs and then just give up.

Fraser:                         Yep.

Dr. Gay:                      And go become bankers or something.

[Crosstalk – Inaudible] [00:29:04]

Fraser:                         Right.

Dr. Gay:                      And –

Fraser:                         Work on trading algorithms.

Dr. Gay:                      And so, how many people that could’ve solved the amazing problems we still have are now bitterly doing something else with their life due to lack of funding? And that is what I mourn.

Fraser:                         Or happily with enormous bank accounts, so?

Dr. Gay:                      Well, so, I’ve met many that are bitterly doing it with giant bank accounts.

Fraser:                         Right. Yeah.

Dr. Gay:                      Because they would have rather be a scientist, but…

Fraser:                         True. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Well, I think on that note, I think we’re running out of time. So, thank you, Pamela.

Dr. Gay:                      Thank you, Fraser. And thank you to all of you out there that support us through Patreon. This week I would like to thank schercm, Abraham Cottrill, Andrew Stephenson, Glenn McDavid, Gfour184, Steven Coffey, Kseniya Panfilenko, Jen Greenwald, Claudia Mastroianni, Rachel Fry, The Air Major, Peter, Gabriel Gauffin, Sean Martz, The Mysterious Mark, John Drake, Tim Garrish, Joe Wilkinson, John öiseth, Roland Warmerdam, Benjamin Davies, Sean Freeman (Blixa the cat), Aron Tannenbaum, Corinne Dmitruk, Lee Zealand, or Lew Zealand,

Dean, Brian Kelby, Bart Flaherty, Naila, Arcticfox, Leigh Harborne, Mark Phillips, Kathleen Mattson, Bob the boodle cat, Chris Wheelwright, Jason Kardokus, Olivia Bryanne Zank, Ron Thorrsen, PAPA1062, Robert Hundl, Kim Barron, Vitaly, Paul Esposito, Arthur Latz-Hall, Frank Stuart, Ganesh Swaminathan, Bob Zatzke, Ruben McCarthy, Uhmu, Geoff MacDonald, Wayne Johnson, and Iggy Hammick. Thank you all so much, and if you’d like me to do better pronouncing your name, please put pronunciation guides on Patreon. We love you.

Fraser:                         Thanks, everyone.

Dr. Gay:                      Thank you all. You make this possible.

Fraser:                         See you next week.

Dr. Gay:                      Buh-bye.

Recorded Voice:         Astronomy Cast is a joint product of Universe Today and the Planetary Science Institute. Astronomy Cast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license, so love it, share it, and remix it, but please credit it to our hosts, Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay. You can get more information on today’s show topic on our website, astronomycast.com. This episode was brought to you thanks to our generous patrons on Patreon. If you want to help keep this show going, please consider joining our community at patreon.com/astronomycast.

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