Lawmakers Slash NASA's Manned Space Flight Budget
While President Obama's blue-ribbon panel reviews NASA's future manned space flight program, a House subcommittee proposes trimming the space agency's budget for the planned 2020 return to the moon.With NASA in a state of flux as the Obama administration studies the space agency's future goals, a congressional subcommittee has slashed NASA's 2010 budget for manned space flight by 16 percent. The proposed bill provides an overall increase of $421 million for NASA but slashes the manned space flight budget by $670 million.
The White House announced May 5 an outside review of NASA's program to return to the moon. The 90-day inquiry will re-examine NASA's replacement plans for the space shuttle fleet, currently scheduled for retirement late in 2010, and whether it might be better to bypass the moon in favor of missions farther out into the solar system. "Reductions from the budget request should not be viewed as a diminution of my support or that of the Subcommittee in NASA's human space flight activities," Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee, said in a statement. "Rather, the deferral is taken without prejudice; it is a pause, a time-out, to allow the President to establish his vision for human space exploration and to commit to realistic future funding levels to realize this vision."
NASA has already spent almost $6.9 billion on the plan to be back on the moon by 2020 to establish a lunar outpost for future space expeditions, and the agency continues to spend $300 million per month on the program. Former President George W. Bush introduced the moon program in the wake of the 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident.