The media’s reaction to the FY06 NASA budget proposal can best be summarized in the headline of this Dallas Morning News article: “Budget signals death warrant for Hubble: Moon, Mars plans trump rescue mission for 15-year-old telescope.” (A runner-up is from the Baltimore Sun: “Manned-flight programs to gain at other NASA efforts’ expense”.) Even though there is not a direct link between exploration funding and the cancellation of a robotic repair mission (which got the axe because of concerns the mission couldn’t be completed in time, not because of its expense), the two have become indelibly linked in the media, just like last January when NASA announced the cancellation of the shuttle Hubble servicing mission just days after the VSE was announced.
The second major theme has been the effect of NASA budget on jobs at the field centers. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the budget would result in the loss of 700 jobs at NASA Glenn, while the Hampton Roads Daily Press reports that 1,000 of the 3,900 positions at NASA Langley would be lost.
Meanwhile, members of Congress are speaking out. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chair of the House Science Committee, called the budget “reasonable and balanced overall”. “I would love to save the Hubble, but the decision needs to be made in the context of the overall NASA budget,” he added. Others were less complimentary towards NASA. In a press release critical of R&D funding in general in the budget proposal, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), ranking Democrat on the science committee, noted that the proposed budget is actually $546 million less than what was planned for 2006 last year. Not surprisingly, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) spoke out about the lack of Hubble repair mission funding in the budget, vowing to “fight in the United States Senate this year to fund a servicing mission to Hubble by 2008.”