Moderating the NASA budget cut

While NASA’s supporters in the House seek to restore full funding for the agency’s FY2005 budget, there are some indications that a smaller cut might be considered acceptable. Aviation Week reported last week that the Senate Appropriations Committee is looking to cut $600 million from the President’s request, a significant amount but still smaller than what the House Appropriations Committee approved in July. (That report indicated the VA-HUD-independent agencies subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee would take action last week, but there’s no sign that they did, and the full Appropriations Committee is busy this week with other appropriations measures.)

Aerospace Daily reported Friday that Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), co-chair of the House Aerospace Caucus, said that the House’s cuts in NASA’s budget were required to fund veterans programs, but that some moderation of the cuts are possible. However, he cautioned, “Space exploration is sure to suffer until we get our budgetary house in order.” In the same article, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) is quoted as saying that he would try to get key members of the House and Senate together to compromise on a NASA budget figure for FY05 that “not everybody’s completely satisfied with, but that’s workable on this year.”

20 comments to Moderating the NASA budget cut

  • John Malkin

    This is a big deal!

    NASA transfers X-37 technology to unidentified U.S. government agency and Scaled Composites will be involved in the X-37 approach and landing demostrations. Could this be the FAA?

  • Bill White

    Unidentified classified agency, correct? Sounds like a military operation.

  • Anonymous

    Could this be the FAA?

    No. Not even close.

  • John Malkin

    I hadn’t read the last part of the article when I posted it. It could be DARPA. I wouldn’t think Scaled Composites will do a purely DOD project but I guess we should know soon.

  • Harold LaValley

    Here is the ealier story leak.

    I thought at first it was an awakening but on an after thought, is it just a gloss over for the real hidden agenda of Nasa to make it look like it is getting the private industry involved as the commission recomended.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t think Scaled Composites will do a purely DOD project

    What makes you think Scaled hasn’t done DOD projects already?

  • Anonymous

    is it just a gloss over for the real hidden agenda of Nasa

    Pray tell, what is the hidden agenda of NASA? What conniving plan to undermine the Aldridge report has O’Keefe and his minions concocted, Harold?

  • Anonymous

    Rutan’s Prometheus aircraft is going to be used for military research. It will probably be used to air drop the X-37.

    When you hear “classified agency,” you should think “National Reconnaissance Office.”

  • John Malkin

    It’s more of a hope that Scaled Composites will not abandon the development of private vehicles for exclusive lucrative DOD contracts.

    I don’t see how the X-37 could be used for reconnaissance since it’s just for use in approach and landing tests similar to Space Shuttle Enterprise. There is no contract for the larger orbiter vehicle as of yet and it wouldn’t be very stealthy. The Air force was originally co-developing this with NASA but they wanted a space fighter. The Air force had a lot of input into Shuttle design and is one the reasons for many of its design flaws.

    NASA appears to be moving to a capsule type design for CEV which is more versatile. The appropriations committee recommended that NASA terminate Space Launch Initiative early and this seems just part of the refocus. The test for NASA will be when they begin to reward contacts for CEV and related systems until than its difficult to see how NASA will use the private sector. The appropriations committee is keeping a close eye on how NASA uses the private sector and is pushing them to use it better. The is a complex issue and it will take time to find the best balance.

  • Anonymous

    “I don’t see how the X-37 could be used for reconnaissance since it’s just for use in approach and landing tests similar to Space Shuttle Enterprise.”

    NRO is interested in a stealthy, supersonic UAV. They may be interested in technologies that can be tested on the X-37, such as autonomous guidance and landing.

  • John Malkin

    Nature has a run down of Bush vs. Kerry on Science. Here is what they said about exploration.

    Mr Bush appears to have back-pedalled from his “man on Mars” ambition but he still wants man to go back to the Moon. “America will return to the Moon as early as 2015 and no later than 2020 and use it as a foundation for human missions beyond the Moon.” He does not mention Mars.

    Mr Kerry is sceptical. “There is little to be gained from a space initiative that throws out lofty goals, but fails to support these goals with realistic funding.” However, he and John Edwards, he says, will increase funding for a continuation of space exploration.

  • Harold LaValley

    hidden agenda of NASA?
    How best to kill off alternative space companies but to give the lead one a project that should defeat it. Just a thought.

  • Anonymous

    “How best to kill off alternative space companies but to give the lead one a project that should defeat it. Just a thought.”

    Not much of a thought.

    Paranoia is generally not a useful emotion.

  • Dogsbd

    Harold, anything to support such accusations? Facts?

  • Harold LaValley

    No Dogsbd: The other comment was based on experience of Nasa versus a virtual statup when it comes to space. But now that we know it is not SpaceShipOne’s owners and instead it has gone to Darpa. Do you feel that they can be anymore successful than Nasa has been with the project?

  • John Malkin

    It depends on how you measure success. Unfortunately the success of any project will depend on the will of the President and Congress. It will take a year to see if they still have the will to make major changes in the American space policy. Unless Congress passes laws that support appropriate funds, provide clear priorities for space and sustain this over multiple years.

  • Harold LaValley

    More news on the x 37:
    The X-37’s body flap was made longer and narrower to better fit onto one of the (alternate) launch vehicles like the Delta IV rocket.

    Arnold testing concludes on NASA’s X-37 demonstrator

  • Cindy

    While I support both manned and unmanned space travel, I do not believe the strategy outlined in the new space policy will be appropriate to support the future space industry. The creation of a “commercially based” manned space industry will be required if we hope to develop a sustainable “exploration” policy. However the creation of a commercially based, manned, orbital space flight industry will NOT occur if NASA continues to put forth strategies such as the “Moon to Mars” mission. This program will only lead to a space industry that will be totally reliant on government funding for it’s survival.

    If we ignore these commercial aspects specifically; a commercial sector that is independent of government programs, we will find that the cost associated with manned space flight will remain to high to justify the expenditure. That is why we should direct our strategic space policies toward developing infrastructure elements and incentives that support a commercially based, manned space industry that is not exclusively funded by the government.
    We will struggle to sustain any manned space exploration policy until we can show the American public that the manned space flight industry can have a direct, positive economic impact independent of government programs. Science and spin-off technology arguments, while valid, will not be enough incentive to sustain public support.

    There is an interesting, alternate strategy at the following website:

    You should listen to BOTH audio presentations as well as read the report to get a full understanding of the importance of this strategy. I don’t think this idea should be dismissed out of hand.