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Published:February 6th, 2007 07:38 EST
Bush's $17.3 Billion Budget Request Supports Space Leadership

Bush's $17.3 Billion Budget Request Supports Space Leadership

By SOP newswire

Washington " President Bush`s $17.3 billion budget request for NASA for the fiscal year beginning October 2007 (FY 2008) would provide needed funding for the space shuttle and International Space Station, but budget cuts over the past few years could jeopardize the schedule for replacing the space shuttle by 2014.

I believe that the [fiscal year] 2008 budget request for NASA demonstrates the president`s commitment to our nation`s leadership in space and aeronautics research, " NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said at a February 5 press conference, especially during a time when there are other, competing demands for our nation`s resources. "

The president`s 2008 budget request contains a 3.1 percent increase over the fiscal year 2007 request for the agency. Any funds requested by the president must be approved by Congress. The final budget often varies significantly from the president`s initial request.

Congress also has not yet determined the 2007 appropriation for NASA and other federal agencies. On January 31, the House of Representatives approved a joint funding resolution that left funding levels for NASA below the president`s budget request.

The proposed bill reduces NASA funding by $545 million from the 2007 budget request and specifically directs a $677 million reduction in human spaceflight programs and a $577 million cut to the exploration systems program, which is responsible for the Orion and Ares I crew vehicles that are scheduled to replace the space shuttle in 2014. The space shuttle is scheduled to retire in 2010.

The FY07 appropriation, if enacted as the House has resolved, will jeopardize our ability to transition safely and efficiently from the shuttle to the Orion crew exploration vehicle and Ares I crew launch vehicle, " Griffin said. It will have serious effects on many people, projects and programs this year, and for the longer term. "

DIRECTION FOR 2008

Griffin said the 2008 budget request contains no major strategic changes. He presented highlights of plans for NASA`s mission directorates:

" Earth sciences -- NASA received its first decadal survey for Earth sciences from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, after a request from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey in 2004. Based on that survey, the NASA budget includes the Global Precipitation Measurement mission in 2013, a partnership with the Japanese Space Agency that will measure planetary rainfall.

" Planetary sciences -- NASA has identified funding for lunar science starting in 2008 to let the agency begin discussing opportunities for payloads on NASA and other nation`s lunar spacecraft, such as India`s Chandrayaan-1, and analyze the science data from such missions. These include NASA`s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, designed to gather data that will help people return safely to the moon for extended stays. (See related article.)

" Heliophysics -- NASA is on track for the February launch of five thermal emission imaging system (THEMIS) microsatellites that will study the Earth`s magnetosphere. In 2008, NASA will launch a host of heliophysics missions, many with international and interagency partners, to analyze the effects of solar flares, coronal mass ejections (huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines ejected from the sun over the course of several hours) and cosmic rays. (See related article.)

" Astrophysics -- A September 2008 space shuttle flight is scheduled to carry a servicing mission to the Hubble space telescope to repair its stabilizing gyroscopes and main camera, and increase the diameter of its orbit. NASA is also reinstating the stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy, a next-generation space-based observatory that is a collaborative project with the German Space Agency. (See related article.)

We have many challenges ahead of us, " Griffin said, but we are on track and making progress in tackling them. "

The president`s 2008 budget request, he added, demonstrates commitment to our nation`s leadership in space and aeronautics research. And while we may be taking a hit with the [fiscal year] `07 appropriation, we will carry on, though not at the pace we had hoped. "

For more information on U.S. policies, see Science and Technology.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

By Cheryl Pellerin
USINFO Staff Writer