Thursday, June 20, 2013

House bill threatens $1 billion in NASA funding cuts

A draft NASA authorization bill floated by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee would eliminate funding for the Obama administration’s proposed asteroid retrieval mission and cut overall agency spending by about $1 billion, lawmakers said Wednesday.

The proposed $16.8 billion funding package would focus NASA’s long-term efforts on Mars exploration, set pre-determined milestones for development of commercial manned spacecraft — including a non-negotiable deadline for first flight — and sharply cut funding for Earth sciences.

“This authorization bill reflects a sincere effort to maximize return to the taxpayer while working to protect America’s role as the world leader in space exploration,” Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, said in opening remarks.

“It is realistic and reflective of the hard choices we must make as a nation and provides support for agreed-upon priorities. The stark reality is that if we fail to reform mandatory spending, discretionary funding for space, science and research will continue to shrink.”

He said the proposed “authorization discussion draft” was consistent with the 2011 Budget Control Act, mandating automatic spending cuts — sequestration — in the absence of legislation to trim $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit.

Given the current budget environment, Palazzo said the Obama administration must focus on NASA’s core programs, including the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, needed for missions to a variety of deep space targets; the Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle that would carry astronauts beyond the moon; space science; and the International Space Station.

The draft budget would authorize $1.77 billion for ongoing development of the SLS rocket and ground systems, $1.12 billion for the Orion capsule, $2.9 billion for space station operations and $4.62 billion for space science, including the costly James Webb Space Telescope.

Full article: http://www.spaceflig … 9house/#.UcMEMvlJNI4

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