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The moon is an important goal for NASA  (Source: NASA)
NASA will receive an additional $2.9 billion for research purposes

Members of the House of Representatives recently disobeyed the White House and gave NASA an additional $2.9 billion for its yearly budget.  The House approved $20.2 billion for the U.S. space agency for the fiscal year starting in October.

Two-thirds majority was needed, but the spending bill received an overwhelming 409-15 vote that helped send a "strong message" to the next president of the United States.  The voting breakdown was as follows:  228 Democrats and 181 Republicans voted yes, while 15 Republicans voted no.

White House officials have not responded to the news.

The additional money will allow NASA to launch one more manned shuttle mission before the space shuttle program is shut down in 2010.  Up to $1 billion in the NASA money also will be designated to help accelerate the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle and Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, both of which will replace the aging shuttle by 2015.

Until Orion is completed, NASA will pay an estimated $2.8 billion to the Russian space agency for its assistance in getting NASA astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA still aims to launch a manned mission to the moon by 2020.  As more nations continue to receive funding required to launch ambitious space missions -- including Russia, China and Japan -- U.S. space officials previously were concerned that other nations will prosper while NASA falls behind.  

India and other nations also have developing space programs that are beginning to blossom due to accelerating technology fields and increased government support.

Late last year, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin admitted China will likely beat NASA and other nations back to the moon.

"Without additional funding for Orion, America risks abdicating its position as the world leader in science and technology to Russia, China and Japan," Rep. Nick Lampson (D, TX) said during the House meeting.   

A committee hearing is now scheduled for the Senate early next week, where the budget increase will be discussed.





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