NASA and the Budget

A Spending Increase It’s Not

From Space.com

In a move that reflects the uncertainty surrounding NASA’s current strategy for replacing the space shuttle and returning astronauts to the Moon by 2020, House appropriators slashed by 16 percent the space agency’s $4 billion request for manned space exploration in 2010.

The proposed legislation, marked up June 4 by the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee, trims $483 million overall from U.S. President Barack Obama’s $18.7 billion budget request for NASA next year. The $670 million cut to the 2010 manned exploration request would leave $3.21 billion, which is less than is available for the effort this year.

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the subcommittee’s chairman, described the move as a “time-out” in the budget process as the White House awaits the findings of a 10-member panel tasked by the White House to reassess NASA’s post-shuttle exploration plans.

It’s funny how then candidate Obama’s proposals for NASA looked so much better last fall.

During the Democratic primaries, he planned to cut into the Constellation program to pay for increased educational spending. Yet by the general election he had reversed himself and promised increased funding to close the gap between shuttle retirement in 2010 and Constellation’s arrival in 2015. Does this change represent a true change of heart and the beginning of a commitment to our future in space, or an opportunistic campaign tactic to appeal to voters along Florida’s important space coast? That remains to be seen.

And it’s not exactly what the Obama administration told NASA just a month ago.

NASA officials said Thursday that the Obama administration will increase funding for the US space agency by five percent in 2010 and will conduct a review of its programme for manned space flight.

The $18.7-billion budget represents a $903.6-million increase over 2009 and includes money given to NASA under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan.

That, was then. This however, is not.

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