Jun 26, 2009
The budgetary committee of the U.S. Senate yesterday approved a bill that would give NASA all the money President Obama requested for the agency for fiscal year 2010, undoing a proposed House cut of roughly half a billion dollars.
The House bill slashed funds from the space agency's programs for human exploration, with the chair of the appropriations subcommittee, West Virginia Democrat Alan Mollohan, calling it "a pause, a time-out" while a White House–convened panel chaired by former aerospace executive Norman Augustine reviews NASA's human spaceflight program.
May 8, 2009 | 1
The White House yesterday announced that it will convene a 10-member independent panel to thoroughly review NASA's plans for human spaceflight. The announcement calls into doubt the agency's current cornerstones for manned missions, including the planned replacement for the soon-to-be-retired space shuttle and the stated goal of returning humans to the moon by 2020.
In a teleconference with reporters today, the panel's chair, former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine, gave few hints as to the future of manned spaceflight in the U.S., saying that his group's mission was simply to "take a fresh look and go where the facts are and basically call it the way we see it."
Feb 27, 2009 | 11
Pres. Obama's budget proposal for fiscal year 2010 throws White House support behind two of the more controversial NASA plans of the Bush era: retiring the space shuttle in 2010 and returning humans to the moon by 2020.
The shuttle's scheduled phaseout, part of Pres. Bush's 2004 Vision for Space Exploration, is opposed by thousands of people who work at Cape Canaveral or in jobs tied to the shuttle missions as well as lawmakers such as Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who don't want the U.S. to rely on Russia for transport to and from the International Space Station. As currently planned, the U.S. will not ready a replacement manned transport system before 2015.
But many in the space community, including the nonprofit Planetary Society, have encouraged NASA to hold fast to the 2010 retirement, citing the orbiter's spotty safety record, outmoded technology and limited reach—shuttle flights can only reach low Earth orbit, leaving the moon, let alone Mars, well out of reach. (The Obama budget leaves the door open for an additional shuttle flight beyond the nine currently scheduled, "if it can safely and affordably be flown by the end of 2010.")
Jan 7, 2009 | 1
Earlier this week, we told you that the incoming Obama administration was reportedly mulling increased cooperation between NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to bolster the manned U.S. space program. The media noted the cooperation might include NASA's adopting and modifying military rockets to launch future crewed missions into space. (NASA is currently developing its own rockets to serve that purpose under the embattled Constellation program, which would provide a next-generation transport system following the space shuttle's retirement, presently scheduled for next year.)
Sep 8, 2008 | 4
NASA's chief is fuming over what he calls a "jihad" by the White House to retire the space shuttle and delay the development of a new moon rocket.
In an Aug. 18 e-mail obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, which reported its contents yesterday, NASA administrator Mike Griffin says he is "as pessimistic as it is possible to be" about the space program.
When he took the helm at NASA in 2005, Griffin planned to retire the shuttle in 2010 to free up money for the Constellation program — a project set to build over the next three years a new generation of space vehicles that includes the Ares moon rocket and Orion crew capsule, according to the Sentinel. But budget constraints have extended that timeline to 2015.
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