Trump's Proposed Budget for NASA Calls for Return to the Moon

Terry Joseph
February 15, 2018

The budget proposal, due to be released February 12, will include a request for $150 million to support the development of commercial capabilities in low Earth orbit to succeed the ISS, for which NASA could be a customer, according to an internal agency document obtained by SpaceNews.

W├Ârner sees a continuing demand for research in Earth orbit and predicted: "We will need experiments under conditions of weightlessness in low earth orbit beyond 2024".

The 2019 fiscal plan, which includes a 10-year spending blueprint, is not formal legislation, and final congressional budget measures rarely conform to presidential proposals. Rumors about ending federal funding have circulated for some time, and The Washington Post reported on the plansover the weekend.

Beginning during the presidency of George W Bush (2001- 2009), NASA has subcontracted certain ISS support operations, starting with the supply flights now carried out by the SpaceX and Orbital ATK companies - a trend that gained speed during the Obama presidency.

As it prepares a transition plan, the White House said it "will request market analysis and business plans from the commercial sector and solicit plans from commercial industry".

Plus, it's up to Congress to pass a budget, not the president.

Frank Slazer, the vice president of space systems for the Aerospace Industries Association, said the plan also could prove sticky with the station's worldwide partners.

But finding companies to run US operations cost-effectively by 2025 would be a heavy lift. But he's said he not convinced the industry could bear the financial burden of maintaining the space station by the mid-2020s.

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Private businesses already have a hand in the space station project.

Less clear is how such a plan would be coordinated with the station's global partners.

The proposal has stated that given budget constraints and competing priorities at the US space agency, it is not the administration's priority to develop one more huge space telescope soon after the completion of the James Webb telescope that costs $ 8.8 billion.

But pulling NASA funding would likely still have an effect on the space station's future.

Additionally, the new budget proposal will cancel five Earth science missions, including the Radiation Budget Instrument, the Plankton; Aerosol; Cloud; ocean Ecosystem (PACE), the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR)'s Earth-viewing instruments, and the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder. Drug companies like Merck and Eli Lilly have used the space station to research medications.

The administration also proposed to eliminate the entire Office of Education at NASA.

And SpaceX and Boeing are each developing spacecrafts to send astronauts to and from the space station. They will boost the lab's crew back to six, joining Expedition 55 commander Anton Shkaplerov, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle and Japanese physician-astronaut Norishige Kanai. The proposed budget would continue support for those endeavors, NASA acting administrator Robert Lightfoot said Monday.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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