Print 31 comment(s) - last by Spookster.. on Jan 31 at 2:15 AM

Ares 1-X launch; October 28, 2009  (Source: NASA)
Obama's 2011 budget proposal is expected to face stiff opposition

America's space program is at a crossroads. This year, the Space Shuttle fleet is expected to be retired after nearly 30 years of ferrying astronauts and equipment into space. In addition, there have been calls to have its immediate successor -- the Ares I launch vehicle which would be topped with an Orion crew capsule -- shelved altogether.

A 155-page report issued in November 2009 by the Augustine Panel made a number of recommendations on which direction to steer NASA in the future. The recommendations included 1) hitching rides into space using spacecraft from other nations or private contractors, 2) keeping the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs alive, albeit in more limited roles, and 3) shifting the focus from returning to the moon and instead aiming for Mars.

The Augustine Panel also made it clear that the estimated $145 billion cost to return to the moon by 2020 would not be possible given NASA's $18.7 billion yearly allowance for all operations.

According to a new report by Space News, it appears that the Ares 1 launch vehicle and the Orion crew capsule may be put on the chopping block. President Obama is not expected to give NASA the $1 billion increase in its yearly budget that had been hoped for to help further develop the Ares program.

President Obama's 2011 budget for NASA aligns closely with the recommendations of the Augustine Panel. The budget calls for the the use of commercial spacecraft and rockets to carry astronauts into space instead of relying on the behind schedule, cost-overrun Ares program. Another Augustine Panel carryover is the decision to bypass the moon and instead gun for near-Earth asteroids and onward to Mars.

The Wall Street Journal says that the efforts to initialize the private sector -- including startup firms -- for carrying astronauts into space will be a "multi-year, multi-billion-dollar initiative". Private firms are expected to receive roughly $200 million during the first phase of the program. The total amount doled out within the first five years could balloon to more than $3.5 billion according to sources familiar with the details of the budget. The funds for the private ventures would be pulled from NASA's yearly $18.7 billion budget.

Industry stalwarts like Boeing and Lockheed Martin are expected to benefit from this new initiative, but smaller firms like Space Exploration Technologies would also be vying for NASA dollars.

Not surprisingly, there is opposition to the there mere mention of NASA outsourcing crew vehicles to the private sector. Charles Precourt, a senior exec at Alliant Tech Systems remarked that such proposals are "really radical" and that they are "extremely high risk". In addition, Precourt said that whatever option is selected for the future direction of NASA must be accompanied by a subsequent increase in its budget.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Here's what I make of it
By Solandri on 1/25/2010 1:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
The military never sent a man to the moon,

Just before the Soviets put Sputnik into orbit, the USAF (in conjunction with NASA and the Navy) was working on getting into space with lifting bodies:

While we're getting into speculation here, it's been argued that Sputnik and the space race actually did more harm than good. Rockets are an incredibly inefficient way to put stuff into orbit. NASA resorted to it as the quick and dirty (and expensive) way to get stuff into orbit. It's been speculated that had the space race never occurred and the USAF/NASA continued their research along lifting bodies, we would already have sub-orbital hypersonic transports between NY and Tokyo by now.

From a practical standpoint, that would be a lot more useful than planting some flags on the moon and bringing back a few hundred pounds of rocks.

RE: Here's what I make of it
By maven81 on 1/25/2010 3:06:19 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't think this one through at all.

The X-15 is not a lifting body, it's a rocket with wings. It also flew after Sputnik. The airforce did have their own human spaceflight program but did not get very far. And NASA has done a wealth of research on lifting bodies.
You might actually say it was airforce interference in the shuttle project that negatively effected it, as there was a time when the the hope was it was supposed to launch every military payload, no doubt adding all sorts of design requirements that were necessary to the military but not to anyone else.
Ironically it's the airforce itself that's taking the best ideas out of that program and resurrecting the old lifting body research, and pushing their unmanned shuttle, the X-37.

"it's been argued that Sputnik and the space race actually did more harm than good."

It's also been argued successfully I think, that without Sputnik we would not have the internet. (It was Sputnik that caused the creation of DARPA, which was basically given a lot of money to work on any project that would push US technology forward. This work even extends to computer graphics in fact).

"NASA resorted to it as the quick and dirty (and expensive) way to get stuff into orbit."

You mean the only way to get to orbit with existing technology.

"It's been speculated that had the space race never occurred and the USAF/NASA continued their research along lifting bodies"

If the space race never occurred, there would be no NASA!!!!

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
Related Articles

Latest Headlines

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Yahoo Hacked - Change Your Passwords and Security Info ASAP!
September 23, 2016, 5:45 AM
A is for Apples
September 23, 2016, 5:32 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki