The world economy has been in the doldrums—both stagnant and sluggish, by all accounts. In turn, military and aerospace (mil/aero) forecasts have indicated steady if not significant decline.
Defense budgets have been reduced in the U.S. and U.K., but bolstered in other locales. Just this year, in fact, a wealth of countries—including, in no particular order, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Russia, and Saudi Arabia—are reported to have growing militaries.
Whereas military investments have waned, commercial aerospace has been (pardon the pun) taking off. This month, NASA officials announced preparations for a 2020 mission to Mars; this singular space exploration mission is expected to translate to $100 million in industry contract awards—a tremendous opportunity for mil/aero businesses, technology advancement, and the aerospace community as a whole.
On 18 July 2013, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced that the House Appropriations Committee had passed a Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations package for Fiscal Year 2014 that included $1.315 billion for planetary science within NASA’s budget. The amount of the package is particularly interesting; earlier this year, the Obama Administration submitted a request for a $1.217 billion for planetary science—a full $100 million less than the amount approved for the planetary science budget.
“The NASA portion of the bill that was just passed goes a long way towards plugging the funding shortfall that threatens our leadership in the exploration of the solar system,” says Rep. Schiff.
Things certainly are looking up for space, it seems. This mil/aero geek will stop his use of bad puns, but will continue the budget and Mars mission discussion in the next installment.