Funding the exploration studies

Last week NASA awarded $27 million in concept studies for the Vision for Space Exploration, notably on the development of the Crew Exploration Vehicle and human missions to the Moon. One question the awards raised, though, is where the money was coming from: those studies weren’t in the original FY2004 budget, for obvious reasons, and Congress had rejected some earlier requests by NASA to reprogram FY04 funding to support new programs like Centennial Challenges. Writing for UPI, Frank Sietzen reports that NASA was able to persuade Rep. James Walsh (R-NY), chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA, to agree to a request to reprogram $75 million in the FY04 budget to pay for the studies. (The article, unfortunately, doesn’t mention where the $75 million came from, or what else besides the concept studies will be funded by this reprogramming.) The article suggests that Walsh, whose subcommittee cut over $1 billion from NASA’s FY05 budget proposal in July, might be more open now to supporting the Vision. That remains to be seen, however, and since the Senate appears likely to make cuts of its own to NASA’s budget (although perhaps not to the same severe degree as the House has to date), the NASA budget saga is still far from over.

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