Search results for: NASA +budget

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NASA Gets An Unexpected Budget Increase—Yes, You Read That Right

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nasacrewWhat’s the first thing you think of when someone says NASA? Maybe the Apollo missions, maybe the ISS, maybe the Challenger disaster. Whatever it is, I bet one thing no one thinks of anymore is piles and piles of money. NASA is perennially underfunded to the extent that its spokespeople have said its meager budget puts people at risk for asteroid hits, may jeopardize future Mars missions, and generally spells nothing good for the future of America’s space program. So far, 2014 has been a decent year for the space agency, though, with the successful test flight of the Orion spacecraft and the renewal of seven planetary missions. But 2014—and beyond—just got a whole lot better. When the House of Representatives passed the “CRomnibus” bill last week, thankfully averting another government shutdown, it actually gave NASA more than it asked for, raising the agency’s budget by 2% for next year.

The Senate passed the bill over the weekend, and now all President Obama has to do is sign it. Considering that the bill allocates $550 million more for NASA than Obama requested for 2015 (and that a bunch of other hitches were ironed out over the past week), there’s no reason to think he won’t . What that means is NASA is poised to receive just over $18 billion total next year, which is its highest level of funding in a while—$364 million more than they received last year.

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Expert Says NASA Won’t Be Able To Boldly Go To Mars On Its Current Budget

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MarsNASA’s budgetary woes, made even worse by the sequester, could dash dreams of putting a human on Mars.

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives conducted a hearing to discuss the proposed NASA Authorization Act of 2013. The Act involves appropriations for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, discussions of space exploration policies and operations, as well as goals for developing space sciences, technology, and education. The Act appropriates over $4 billion for space exploration and just under $4 billion for space operations, including International Space Station programs.

While this may sound like a big chunk of change, it’s really a drop in the bucket when it comes to what’s necessary for what many argue should be NASA’s primary goal: getting us to Mars. Among those making that argument is Dr. Steven Squyres, Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University and Principle Investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover mission. Speaking before the hearing on Wednesday, Squyres said, “If by exploring Mars we could show that life emerged there — and therefore that it emerged twice in just this one solar system — it would take no great leap of faith, logic, or anything else to conclude that life may be commonplace throughout the cosmos.” He also emphasized the importance of sending humans, rather than robots, to do this work.

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Neil de Grasse Tyson On The Costs Of Cutting NASA’s Budget

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We’ve been talking for awhile here on this site about the United States government’s increasingly callous disinterest in funding space exploration. NASA is headed for big budget cuts from a budget which was already pretty miniscule. It’s happening because most voters don’t really understand why they should care. For those people, well here’s the answer.

Neil de Grasse Tyson is not only a brilliant Astrophysicist but a compelling public speaker. He’s talked before on the importance of funding space travel but I don’t think he’s ever made his case quite as simple and succinctly as he does here in this Fox interview. Make it a point to share this with your friends who just don’t get it. Onward to the edge!

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Obama’s New Budget Shifts NASA Funding To Human Spaceflight, Cuts Mars

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Newt Gingrich may still be dreaming of that moonbase of his, but back here in the real world NASA is facing very real and immediate budget cuts that are hitting the agency’s Mars plans the hardest. According to the BBC, President Obama’s proposed 2013 NASA budget will, if approved by Congress, reduce funds for planetary science by around 21%. One of the biggest results of this is that the U.S. is pulling out of the joint Mars missions it had planned in collaboration with Europe. All is not lost, however; while Mars is on the losing end of this budget, the new figures would increase funds for human space exploration by 6% and space technology by 22%. The budget will allot around $17.7 billion to the space agency next year.

Some of that reallocated cash will be used to fund development of the Orion capsule, a new rocket system which is designed to replace the Space Shuttle program and carry astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit. The Orion could, in theory, take us back to the Moon. The first manned Orion mission likely won’t occur until 2021, however, meaning U.S. astronauts are still stuck bumming rides to the International Space Station from the Russians in the mean time. That’s just got to be embarrassing.

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Is Going To Mars A NASA Pipe Dream?

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MarsBoth NASA and President Obama—at least, early on, before budget realities called for revisions—have outlined goals to get humans to the Red Planet by 2030. Whether or not that’s actually going to happen is up for debate. According to the National Research Council, the space agency’s current plan won’t get us there, and to continue to pursue this course “is to invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best.” In other words, NASA just got busted.

Congress authorized the report, which took the NRC 18 months and cost more than $3 million dollars. One of the findings is that on its current trajectory, NASA sorely lacks the funding to make a manned Mars mission happen, even if Obama’s vision pans out. Hmm…where have we heard that before?

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NASA Art Contest Lets Kids Explore The Final Frontier

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GrandPrizeI’m not sure how long the tradition of putting your kid’s art up on the refrigerator has been around, but I’m guessing it started sometime after somebody came up with the refrigerator magnet. (Before that, art laid tragically in piles across the kitchen floor.) But as happy as a kid might be to see his parents proudly displaying his work for all to see, how much cooler would it be to have your artwork pinned up on NASA’s fridge? (I presume they only have the one.)

Well, several kids accomplished just that, at least metaphorically. NASA’s Langley Research Center recently hosted an art competition for students ranging from kindergarten all the way up through 12th grade. Kids from the area of Hampton Roads, Virginia were given the theme “The Future Is Now” and invited to let their imaginations soar. Kristina Ruhlman, public outreach specialist for the center, said, “The idea was for young artists to take technologies that once seemed far away and explore how they were becoming reality today,” So presumably it was just pictures of NASA employees with empty wallets or panhandling for spare funding.