NASA's new budget, approved by a House and Senate conference committee and going before the full House today, will save the over-budget James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). But the allotment for commercial space taxis to ferry crews to and from the International Space Station has been cut in half.
So goes budgeting in the era of austerity. NASA would receive $17.8 billion overall to cover the fiscal year that is already underway as of October 1. That's $684 million less than NASA received last year and $924 million less than President Obama requested for the space agency. It green-lights $3.8 billion for human space exploration activities--$1.8 billion of which would go toward NASA's new heavy-lift rocket while $1.2 would go toward its new deep space crew capsule--and preserves the JWST, provided costs don't spiral beyond $8 billion.
On the science side of things, NASA would receive roughly $155 million more than it got last year for a total of $5.1 billion. About half a billion of that would go toward getting the JWST into space on schedule in 2018.
But for every give there must be a take. President Obama requested $850 million to hurry along the development of commercial spacecraft capable of replacing the space shuttle's principal task of resupplying and re-staffing the ISS. He's getting less than half that--$406 million to be exact.
That could make things tough for NASA's commercial spacecraft development programs. The agency had hoped to keep at least two--and possibly three--companies currently developing spacecraft (those are Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corp., and Blue Origin) in enough money to continue developing their spaceships. Building spaceships is expensive, and on a budget now halved some tough decisions may have to be made, though NASA has not yet commented on how the bill might affect its spending on commercial space initiatives.
Just another example to how Congress gives the shaft to this space agency, not presidential administrations. Guess there are trade offs everywhere.
But I have faith that commercial aerospace can survive without government funding. Space-X has done superb thus far without NASA before it entered its COTS and CCDev programs. Blue Origin can survive with the wealth acquired through Amazon, and as long as the Sierra Nevada Corp. looks to biggy back on Air Force technology, it will stand a chance because the one thing that can't afford second rate funding in this nation is the defense budget, especially airpower defense spending.
In the end, I think the new fledging private aerospace industry will be alright. I'm at least glad they see the importance of NASA developing Webb for our continued pursuit to study and understand the universe, and the construction of a platform that will help move NASA's human spaceflight workload beyond LEO and to towards new horizons.
23NOV The super committee has to make budget cuts all over the place for the government. And say if they don't come to any type of decisions, automatic cuts kick in too. I really wonder how the fall-out will play?
go spacex! this is a quote from the spacex web site
For the first time in more than three decades, America last year began taking back international market-share in commercial satellite launch. This remarkable turn-around was sparked by a small investment NASA made in SpaceX in 2006 as part of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. A unique public-private partnership, COTS has proven that under the right conditions, a properly incentivized contractor — even an all-American one — can develop extremely complex systems on rapid timelines and a fixed-price basis, significantly beating historical industry-standard costs.
hopefully nasa won't be hurt be too much by budget cuts, the best spent tax dollars are spent on nasa, cheers
NASA has always been severely underfunded. It makes no financial, scientific, or political sense why they keep chipping away at one of the most important organizations in the world. Cutting funding from a beacon of scientific accomplishment is a terrible decision on all fronts.
I'm glad JWST is moving forward. NASA needs to incentivize staying under budget, too many programs go above and beyond what they "should" cost. Anywho, I understand why NASA is being cut. What I don't understand is why NASA isn't collecting royalties for technologies it developed, or were developed in its labs. That could be a major source of funding. Maybe it already is and we just don't know...
Other than that, NASA has to have a purpose. We can't spend the next 20 - 30 years building rovers. Nor can we wast billions more on a space station with a lifetime only as long as it took to construct. NASA needs to get busy making larger orbital platforms that can serve as commercial and scientific purpose. VASIMR powered ships that zip us through the solar system. Building lunar bases, mining asteroids and selling the product. Space is another frontier, and with new frontiers come new opportunities to earn a profit. Why isn't NASA doing this? Speaking of NASA being "in business" I don't see how exactly, NASA has allowed startup companies to takeover the business of delivering satellites to orbit, or servicing those satellites. That is big money, money that NASA needs.
Here is a sustainability idea for NASA:
Become the premier organization to (1) design, (2) build, and (3) "ship" satellites into orbit. Design those satellites for longer lifespans, but require maintenance. Make a profit at the above 4 points. Use that profit to fund projects that don't generate revenue, like JWST. But, take pictures from Hubble, JWST, and other experiments and LICENSE THEM! Build a solar array on the moon, beam that energy down to various power stations, sell that energy. NASA could get to the point where its a profitable agency, and it should. Just requires the right vision and ambition.
@lawsonrw I'm not citing it because I can't remember where it is, maybe someone else can cite it, but Nasa does have a program that licenses its technology, but if I remember correctly its mostly focused at their in-house developed software and code, not their materials tech.
I wouldn't be surprised though if Nasa were brought into the armed forces eventually due to defense reasons. Or maybe its enough of a political and social figure, the relevant defense focused applications will get outsourced to DARPA, Air Force, or specific private builders like Lockheed Martin. That way Nasa remains in the public eye while the real work gets done at a super classified level.
The USAF and Navy already operate their own space programs which are pretty much completely independent of NASA. As commercial space companies grow, I see NASA being absorbed into the FAA, if anything. But I'd really like to see NASA continue to be an independent agency, but doing more. We hit the moon and started resting on our laurels which is why NASA is being cut--it doesn't inspire.
For all the money the agency spends there isn't a great deal of "Wow" being produced. NASA should be the group to move us into the space-economy. No other institution has the same level of expertise.
yay more austerity measures;**
more people out of work, when debt needs to be paid;
(Austerity=Nobody working=Debt Vanishes) yeah rightee;
america can be greece or italy any day soon;
the only time nasa has ever had proper funding was in the 1960's ; yet they are still expected to achieve the same level and wow factor;
a big kudo's to the guys @ nasa, after 40+ years of being dumped on by various governments, they still wanna work @ nasa & set their sights on space;
America is and has been and is currently Greece, Italy; we just doctor the books better. Fake dollars and economy with inflation and other magic tricks. Do not be naive; it is all mirrors and shadows with hopes of prosperity continuous. If we sink or do we sink, so does another great many! This can not be allowed and so those who are wise choose to make a blinds eye.
Science sees no further than what it can sense.
Religion sees beyond the senses.
It's just typical, less money for things that might push us forward as a race (yes it should be more of a priority for most countries in the west) and more money for war mongering and invading of other countries..typical of congress and senate gatherings. This along with the foolish falling back in design styles for space travel, going back to the several stage rocket design is a bad idea, but thats a different argument altogether. Seems that NASA is getting quite the raw deal by politicians more and more lately, i dont know..seems they did so much more with so much less in a much shorter time 50 years ago than they can do now. So sad how the shining beacon for space exploration is given quite the shaft by its own government, i wonder how Kennedy and the great men and women of NASA back then would think if they were all around now, i wonder what they'd say about the how little has been done since their pioneering days (and yes im sure some of them are)