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Obama's space budget gets thumbs up from experts

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America will send a new generation of explorers to the moon aboard NASA's Orion crew exploration vehicle. NASA image

WASHINGTON (BNS): President Barack Obama has sought a hike of $900 million over the current budget for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the fiscal year 2010. Presenting the budget, Obama sought $18.7 billion for NASA. Moreover, the Recovery Act (stimulus bill) passed earlier this month provided an additional $1 billion to NASA.

Greg Allison, National Space Society (NSS) Executive Vice President, said that they were pleased that one of the four budget priorities for NASA includes returning Americans to the Moon. “This is a worthy goal for the world’s leading space agency. It will challenge a new generation of American scientists and engineers, open vast new resources for economic development, and drive improvements in technology,” Greg Allison said.

Other areas emphasised in the budget include climate change research and monitoring, aeronautic research, and completion and utilisation of the International Space Station. “We agree with the Administration’s decision to stick with the plan to retire the shuttle by the end of 2010. This is necessary to keep new launch vehicle development on schedule,” Greg Allison said. The Ares launch system is expected to be ready by 2015, requiring the United States to purchase rides to space from the Russians till then.

The budget for NASA did not give any details for programmes like additional funds for Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) to provide cargo to the ISS, or funds for research into Space Solar Power. During the NSS and Space Exploration Alliance Blitz on Capitol Hill earlier this week, NSS members expressed their support for these programmes to Congress members.

“Both of these programmes are vital to the long-term economic health of the nation. COTS is needed to spur the development of less-expensive launch vehicles by the private sector, and research into space solar power now will allow the United States to reap the long-term rewards of an endless supply of clean energy,” Greg Allison added.

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