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As it attempts to finish the ISS, NASA faces major budget issues

A report released by the Congressional Budget Office indicates NASA faces continued manned launch delays and budget issues that could delay several of NASA's immediate space plans over the next 15 years.

The full report, "The Budgetary Implications of NASA's Current Plans for Space Exploration," is available here [PDF] and outlines all of the threats facing NASA over the next few years.  It reports that NASA's current budget of $18 billion per year isn't enough, and more funds are necessary for the U.S. space agency to stay relevant in an evolving space industry.

NASA hopes to return to the moon by 2020, but is unlikely to be able to do this with current budget numbers given to NASA.  The U.S. space agency continues to try and complete the International Space Station (ISS) before the shuttle is retired.

"If NASA's funding was maintained at $19.1 billion annually and the agency realized cost growth in its program's consistent with the average for 72 of its past programs, its planned schedules for spaceflight programs would be delayed," according to the report.  "In particular, the initial operating capability for Ares 1 and Orion would be pushed to late 2016, the return of humans to the moon would slip to 2023, and 15 of 79 science missions would be delayed beyond 2025."  

It's possible a delay to the science missions could help offer a 10 percent bump up to $21.1 billion to the space budget each year.  Regardless of its possible decisions, it'll be very difficult for the U.S. space agency to try and launch future budgets without eliminating or delaying a few missions.

Furthermore, the shuttle retirement will cause thousands of people at the Kennedy Space Center and Space Coast to lose their jobs after 2010.

In a separate report, an independent safety panel officially eliminated the idea of extending the life of the current generation of shuttles, which is scheduled to end next year.  Its life line shouldn't even be extended despite the fact that budget issues could delay the Orion next-generation shuttle past 2015.  NASA must either receive additional funds or a bit more time for construction to be completed.



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Billions sre peanuts
By BernardP on 4/17/2009 11:33:49 AM , Rating: 5
With the US Government budget in a trillion-dollar hole and money flying out the windows to bailout dying automakers and banks, what would allocating a few billion dollars more to NASA mean in the grand scheme of government finances?

NASA is possibly not as efficient as it should be, but at least they are working for the future.




RE: Billions sre peanuts
By Expunge on 4/17/2009 11:44:18 AM , Rating: 5
Compared to other government run departments, I think it would be at or near the top of effciency. My father (now retired) used to work down at Johnson Space Center and I have been in a couple of the buildings on campus and they are old dreary buildings for the most part which is depressing to say the least.

They do their best to stretch each dollar.


RE: Billions sre peanuts
By Clauzii on 4/17/2009 1:32:50 PM , Rating: 2
It would also be disastrous to blow something up, just because it was build in a hury.


RE: Billions sre peanuts
By Moishe on 4/17/2009 12:46:13 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is that politicians only use our money to pay for things that benefit them. Despite it's administrative problems, NASA really does have a non-political mission and it performs that mission very well.

I think a well funded NASA would be a great thing, especially if they were to drop some of the promotion type stuff they spend time and money on. What they should be working on should be pretty much 95%+ exploration and scientific missions with the only media promotion being a single press release for each and every major goal met. It would be nice too if the main stream media would give each one of NASA's press conferences free air time... but like politicians, the media is in it for political or financial gain and not a moment for altruistic purposes.

Ohh wait, does this sound like a rant? Well it is.


RE: Billions sre peanuts
By RabidDog on 4/17/2009 1:49:28 PM , Rating: 2
While agree completely with you about funding the agency, I disagree as to reporting their results and meeting with the Media. It's very important that all government agencies be responsible to the public that they serve. I hate to throw the buzz words around, but transparency in government is important for everyone.


RE: Billions sre peanuts
By KnightBreed on 4/17/2009 10:54:00 PM , Rating: 2
NASA has been inspiring interest in science and mathematics in children for decades. What benefits do you see in them operating in obscurity? Don't underestimate the importance of their public responsibility.


RE: Billions sre peanuts
By KnightBreed on 4/17/2009 10:55:29 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, that was directed at Moishe.


RE: Billions sre peanuts
By Pneumothorax on 4/17/2009 8:36:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yup instead of donating another $10 Billion to "Golden Sacks" (These rich scum of the earth has benefited greatly from the bailouts while posting a profit), throw an extra $10 Billion at NASA


STUPID GOVERNMENT.
By Moishe on 4/17/2009 11:09:47 AM , Rating: 5
Of all the things we throw money at, NASA is one of the few that actually deserves it. NASA generally doesn't involve a lot of politics and doesn't bolster a politician's electability, so these self-interested bastards don't see any reason to give it money.

It's a f**king shame.




RE: STUPID GOVERNMENT.
By Expunge on 4/17/2009 11:39:08 AM , Rating: 2
Too true..


NASA wears to many hats.....
By RoberTx on 4/17/2009 12:45:33 PM , Rating: 1
Why does NASA do NOAA's job? Why does NASA employ huge numbers of engineers that literally do nothing? NASA needs to get its clock cleaned by a manager with big balls. NASA's job is to develope technology, not be a social club for the politicaly correct.




RE: NASA wears to many hats.....
By Clauzii on 4/17/2009 1:48:45 PM , Rating: 2
Engineers doing nothing?

You mean one man can design a space toilet in one week? Would designing a module for ISS be as easy as assembling a LEGO Racer?

There might be too many employees, I really don't know, but in science, an extra pair of eyes are always better. 'Art' is sometimes created when doing nothing.

It IS rocket science, You know ;)


RE: NASA wears to many hats.....
By RoberTx on 4/18/2009 4:30:10 PM , Rating: 2
NASA has more engineers than they know what to do with. Some have spent their entire careers with NASA and have never engineered anything. Many of them wind up spending their time playing golf for most of their careers. This issue has been addressed many times by budget analyst but the issue continues. Why does my post cause you to have a sarcistic hissy fit?


RE: NASA wears to many hats.....
By Expunge on 4/17/2009 2:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
The only social person at NASA is the director that the President appoints. The rest are engineers, contractors, and astronauts. And having met a couple of astronauts I can tell you these people are some of the finest human beings on this planet. Extremely intelligent, very personable, hard working, down to earth, just absolute great people.


Moon Mission Costs
By bentech on 4/18/2009 11:53:21 PM , Rating: 2
Why are the costs of launching a new moon mission so high? Historically, in 1972 the last (and most expensive) Apollo mission cost only 2.3 billion in 2008 dollars (450 million, 1972). What new toys are needed that cost so many times an 'Apollo' budget?




RE: Moon Mission Costs
By Skilty on 4/19/2009 8:49:32 AM , Rating: 2
Well I imagine in this day and age, safety for one. Mission parameters is another but I guess because NASA is not only developing Aries I but also Ares V along with the Orion capsule which can carry between 4 and 6 astronauts compared to Apollos 3.

Having seen the Orion capsule mockup it looks extremely similar to the CM from the Apollo missions. Still in awe every time I see the Saturn V at KSC.


RE: Moon Mission Costs
By bentech on 4/19/2009 12:51:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I thought of the safety issues, but with over 30 years of engineering know-how and materials/tolerances improvements, I bet they could simply dust off those old plans and get to the moon for a similar budget, and relatively safely. Any improvement to the old designs that is basically 'free' due to modern technology could go in. In other words, if 'getting there' were a priority, rather than building an all-new system, it could be done soon. Heck, ask 'Space Adventures' to do it for 1 billion and they would probably jump at the chance and turn a profit on the whole thing too.


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