Search results for: NASA funding


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

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.



NASA Tells Congress A Lack Of Funding Could Lead To Future Asteroid Apocalypse


Everywhere you look, there are similarities to be found. For instance, who’d have thought that the problem holding NASA back from identifying and tracking large near-Earth objects (NEOs) in space is the same problem keeping me from opening my line of Beer and Bacon eateries? It all comes down to Congress not footing the bill, really, but at least I don’t have Congress on my back about it.

It’s been a little over a month since the double-billed meteor strike in Russia and the fly-by of the DA14 asteroid, so Congress gathered officials from NASA, the White House, and the Air Force and asked what’s being done to squash future NEO threats. After some agreement that last month’s episodes were purely coincidental, the seriousness of such an imposing disaster guided the rest of the conversation, which could seemingly be summarized as: No money, no progress.

In 2005, Congress gave NASA the explicit directive of NEO classification, with a goal of identifying 90 percent of these Armageddon-bringers, rocks larger than 459 feet across (140 m). But NASA’s chief, Charles Bolden, had few encouraging words for the space rock-headed governing body.

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NASA Could Construct A Cloud City Over Venus, Details Here

Cloud CityWith events like the successful test flight of the new Orion spacecraft, there’s been a great deal of talk about crewed missions to Mars lately. There’s even a rough timeline now, as NASA has eyes on setting foot on the Red Planet in the 2030s. But Mars isn’t the only planet in the neighborhood, and some are talking about travelling to Venus, and they’re borrowing ideas from Star Wars, specifically The Empire Strikes Back, to further their cause.

The surface and atmosphere of Venus are far too troublesome to realistically plan any human visitation—temperatures hover around 500 degree Celsius—despite the fact that it is a much shorter journey than the one to Mars: roughly 440 days versus somewhere between 650 and 900. That said, there is apparently one specific spot in the atmosphere where scientists believe we could place air ships and even build a permanent settlement, a kind of Cloud City. Whether or not Lando will come out of retirement to run the joint remains to be seen, but some think it could be easier than going to Mars, at least in some ways.

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

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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This Canadian Company Is Crowdfunding A Mission To Mars

Beaver rover

Beaver Rover

When I think of the past, current, and future space powers, a few different countries and agencies pop up. NASA, of course, and the ESA, Russia, JAXA, China, India. It wouldn’t occur to me to put Canada on that list, although one might argue that astronaut Chris Hadfield is a space force unto himself, but Canada is trying to put itself on the cosmic map by landing a couple of robots on Mars later this decade. Interestingly, it’s not the Canadian Space Agency that’s behind this plan—rather, the brains behind the idea belong to Thoth Technology, and the company intends to crowdfund the mission.

Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular approach to bankrolling space missions. The U.K. Lunar Mission One Kickstarter campaign is nearing its final week, and Planetary Resource’s Project ARKYD was funded the same way. Thoth Technology has launched an Indiegogo campaign for its Northern Light Mission, which seeks to raise over a million dollars to put a lander and a mini rover on Mars.

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NASA Renews Seven Planetary Missions

Mars Odyssey

Mars Odyssey Orbiter

Here’s an all to rare thing: a post to celebrate the extension of seven planetary missions. I’m exercising cautious optimism regarding NASA, but I’m happy to hear that some of the agency’s most famous (and most awesome) programs won’t be getting the axe any time soon.

The space agency just finished the 2014 senior review of its currently operating planetary science missions and decided not to cancel any of them. Color me surprised—and delighted. Still, NASA’s Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green did say that some of the missions will have to operate “leaner and meaner” as they deal with some cutbacks. A report of their findings will be released sometime this week.

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