WASHINGTON – Business at NASA will continue as planned, after a new federal budget proposal was released Tuesday by President Barack Obama.
“The state of NASA is strong,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
Bolden delivered a state of NASA speech at the agency’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., shortly after the budget release, pointing out many areas where the agency will push for progress in the coming years.
NASA’s federal budget recommendation for 2017 is $19 billion, down by $300 million in the current year’s budget. Human space exploration operations will account for $8.4 billion, including programs that could put humans on Mars in the future and researching ways for astronauts to stay in space for longer periods of time.
“I think the state of the Kennedy Space Center is even stronger,” Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center, said. The center, on the east coast of Florida, was provided $2.5 billion under the 2017 budget. It served as the launch pad for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.
It’s a great budget for the center as it moves towards a mission to Mars, Cabana said.
“It pretty much solidifies everything that we’ve got in place,” Cabana said. “There’s nothing significantly new in it, it just helps us to continue to move forward and make progress on all that we’ve started.”
The Obama administration was heavily criticized last week during a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing for its views on the right approach to put humans on Mars.
“The Obama administration cannot claim it prioritizes Mars exploration if it refuses to prioritize and support the programs that will get us there,” Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas., the committee chair, said. “The budget instability created by the administration makes it hard for NASA to plan and execute critical programs.”
The National Research Council issued a report in 2014 that stated “the committee has seen little evidence that a current stated goal for NASA’s human spaceflight program – namely, to visit an asteroid by 2025 – has been widely accepted as a compelling destination by NASA’s own workforce, by the nation as a whole, or by the international community.”
In the next year, the agency will test an expandable space habitat aboard the space station, which could potentially increase lengths of missions. Next month, Scott Kelly will return to Earth, making him the first American astronaut to spend a year in space.
“We all want a future where NASA technologies are saving even more lives and improving all of our quality of life,” Bolden said. “We’ll continue to do what it takes to turn science fiction into science fact.”
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