On Wednesday the Aerospace Industries Association released a five-year research and development plan for the aerospace industry. The plan focuses primarily on the aeronautics sector, but the press release announcing the plan does make mention of NASA’s plans to develop a Crew Exploration Vehicle:
Although AIA supports the presidentís plan, which increases funding for exploration capabilities by $12 billion over the next five years, the association believes the administration should be challenged to create a new human-rated space exploration vehicle by 2010, rather than 2014. The current NASA plan calls for retirement of the space shuttle by 2010 and a new manned vehicle by 2014, leaving a four year gap in which maintenance of the International Space Station would be accomplished by Russian or French space vehicles.
The plan would increase NASA’s budget by an average of $4 billion a year for the next five years to (in part) accelerate the CRV development, as part of an overall $34-billion increase to NASA’s budget during that period, according to an additional fact sheet. Some of the additional funding would also go to shore up NASA’s aeronautics program. Under such a plan NASA would get $28.8 billion in FY2008, about $11 billion more than under the current Administration’s plan. (The plan is a little confusing because it talks about increasing NASA’s 2004 budget, but we’re nearly five months into FY04 now and the budget, while delayed, was finally approved several weeks ago.)
The plan has some noble goals, but given the opposition the Bush plan has run into for a very slight increase in NASA’s budget, it seems highly unlikely that the Administration or Congress would endorse a much steeper increase.