- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
NASA seeks $830M to get astronauts in orbit without Russia’s help
Question of the Day
With last summer’s end to the legendary space-shuttle program, NASA is relying on its Russian counterpart to transport American space crews to the International Space Station (ISS) at an estimated cost of about $450 million each year. Through partnerships with private industry, the agency plans to end that reliance by 2017, and the Obama administration’s proposed fiscal 2013 budget dedicates unprecedented financial resources to that objective.
NASA is seeking $830 million, an increase of more than 100 percent over the previous year’s spending plan, for its commercial-crew-development program, and agency Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. told members of Congress on Wednesday that without the requested increase in funding, the nation’s space program could be at the mercy of international partners even longer.
“I’m going to pay the Russians $450 million a year for every year that I don’t have an American capability to put humans into low-Earth orbit,” Mr. Bolden told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “I know you don’t want to do that … but that’s the price I pay.”
“We’ve set ourselves up for 2017 [being the] first availability beyond the Russians to take crew to the ISS. It’s due to a lack of execution before now, and we’re trying to correct that,” he said.
NASA is seeking a total of $17.7 billion for FY 2013, a decrease of about $58 million from FY 2012 appropriations.
With a lower total budget and more money dedicated to commercial-crew efforts, the agency wants to reduce spending for “exploration systems development,” programs designed to carry astronauts beyond lower-Earth orbit and set the stage for a return to the moon, an asteroid landing and, by about 2035, the first manned mission to Mars.
Spending on exploration systems would drop by 7.9 percent, or $237.7 million, under the administration’s budget proposal, and some members of Congress say the nation eventually could pay the price for those cuts.
“I think the important role NASA plays in pushing innovation … argues for a bigger commitment to the agency than either the administration or Congress is currently making,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas Democrat and her party’s ranking member on the House committee. “I fear that years from now we are going to question why we didn’t recognize how important it is to maintain our investments in research and innovation.”
Mr. Bolden also defended the agency’s current system of paying for that initiative, under which NASA funds multiple private companies conducting commercial-crew research and will eventually select the best two firms to contract with for the long term.
“I pick the winner,” Mr. Bolden said. “They know what requirements they’ll have to meet if we enter into a contract with them … If someone thinks that they’re going to fool us, or say they’ll put political pressure on us later because I don’t have a choice, they are sadly mistaken.”
NASA is also seeking a $109-million increase for its planned James Webb Space Telescope, bringing the project’s FY2013 budget request to nearly $628 million. The telescope, a descendant of the famed Hubble Space Telescope, is set to launch in 2018 but is already about 900 percent over its initial estimated budget.
“Is that telescope going to be strong enough to see to the bottom of the financial hole that we’ve dug for it?” asked Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican.
While acknowledging the cost overruns, Mr. Bolden said the project, with all of the data it will provide for the next few decades, is essentially priceless.
“I don’t think we can attach a financial value to this,” he said.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obama, first lady will attend Mandela memorial services
- Obama: Nelson Mandela now 'belongs to the ages'
- Obama lived with Uncle Onyango Obama in the 1980s, White House admits
- Obama calls on bartenders to help sell health care reform
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
Latest Blog Entries
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
How does our 50th state view D.C. politics?
White House pets gone wild!