Friday, March 18, 2011

NASA Planetary Science: the outlook is gloomy

NASA planetary scientists are not very cheerful. The James Webb Space Telescope and Mars Science Lander are far over budget, sucking money from other programs. There is unlikely to even be a Fiscal Year 2011 NASA budget, just a Continuing Resolution that allows spending at the FY10 level. What's worse, though, is that the budget for FY12 and beyond - even if fully funded to the President's current proposal - reduces science mission funding over the next five years. Cornell University's Steve Squyres puts is bluntly: "If that budget were actually implemented, it would mean the end of flagship class science at NASA in the planetary program." The Administration's proposal gives almost $1.5B to NASA's planetary science division in FY12 but less than $1.2B for FY16.
COMMENT: The debate between human and robotic spaceflight in terms of major NASA missions, may be over: we will have neither. Maybe that's an exaggeration, and there's more to space than NASA, but let's hope Congress decides this budget is not what the American people want.
(Opinions, as always, are strictly those of the author as a private citizen.)


omegaman66 said...

I am all for this sort of space stuff but we need to cut 1 trillion dollars from the budget. What sucks is that the space program is getting cut and other useless crap isn't. Congress can't even cut 100 billion and that isn't near enough. They need to wake up before they have to have run away inflation to pay the bills.

Matt Bille said...

Omega, you have a point. NASA - ALL of NASA - is 1/2 of one percent of the budget.