The Obama administration has announced its 2012 budget request; and, if approved, it will reduce spending for NASA in the next fiscal year to $18.7 billion, the same amount the agency gained in 2010 and roughly $300 million less than NASA received in the 2011 budget request.
“The times today are very difficult fiscally, and we’re going to live within a budget,” says NASA administrator Charles Bolden. “What we do has to be affordable, sustainable, and it has to make sense.”
Despite the potential roll back in overall NASA spending, the budget request boosts NASA sectors’ interaction and collaboration with commercial spaceflight companies. In fact, the 2012 request allocates $850 million for NASA to partner with American companies with the singular goal of providing astronauts transportation to/from the International Space Station (ISS).
Also suggested is a full $1 billion for space technology research and development (R&D), and another impressive $5 billion for robotic solar system exploration, including observation programs. Another $2.8 billion is proposed for R&D on a heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule intended to take astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit.
“This new direction extends the life of the International Space Station, supports the growing commercial space industry, and addresses important scientific challenges while continuing our commitment to robust human space exploration, science, and aeronautics programs,” Bolden adds.
The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2012 is available for all to read online at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget. NASA also provides an interesting budget overview, which lays out the budget request in detail, at http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/516674main_FY12Budget_Estimates_Overview.pdf. This geek finds both documents to be interesting reads, and is encouraged by increased investment in commercial space endeavors. It’s not all good news, however, as I’ll explain in my blog next week.