CBO: NASA Needs Hefty Budget Increase to Keep on Track

The Congressional Budget Office has released a study of NASA’s budget that indicates the agency would nearly $5 billion in additional funding annually in order to achieve its goals and continue flying the space shuttle beyond 2010.

A summary is below:

CBO’s analysis considers four alternatives to NASA’s current plans, accounting for the possibility of cost growth like what has happened in the past:

  • If NASA’s funding was maintained at $19.1 billion annually and the agency realized cost growth in its programs consistent with the average for 72 of its past programs, its planned schedules for spaceflight programs would be delayed. In particular, the initial operating capability for Ares 1 and Orion would be pushed to late 2016, the return of humans to the moon would slip to 2023, and 15 of 79 science missions would be delayed beyond 2025. The space shuttle would be retired in 2010 and support for the International Space Station would end after 2015.
  • If NASA’s funding was increased to about $23.8 billion annually, the agency would be able to meet its planned schedules notwithstanding cost growth consistent with the average for its past programs. Furthermore, that increase in its budgets would allow NASA to extend the operation of the space shuttle to 2015 and to support the operation of the International Space Station to 2020.
  • Between those two alternatives, if NASA’s funding was increased to about $21.1 billion annually, the agency would be able to meet its planned schedules for the Constellation program even if cost growth was consistent with the average for past programs. But that amount of funding would not permit NASA to fly the space shuttle beyond 2010 or to support the space station beyond 2015. Moreover, under this budgetary scenario, 15 of the planned science missions would be delayed past 2025.
  • Finally, if NASA’s funding was maintained at $19.1 billion annually and the agency reduced funding for science and research in aeronautics to cover cost growth in the Constellation program, it could conduct 44 science missions (35 fewer than planned) by 2025, and the cut to aeronautics research would be more than one-third.

Read the full report.

  • Nickolai_the_Russian_Guy

    This is really funny;

    When they started building the station, it was always Russia dragging its feet on schedules because they didn’t have enough money. Now they’re almost done, and NASA is the one complaining about money shortages. The Russians really gave them a run for their money…

  • NASA’s budget has been hobbled over the years because we unfortunately won the space race too soon. That’s a shame because the jobs NASA creates directly and indirectly are all high quality, well paying jobs doing exciting things and advancing our pool of knowledge.

    I’d be more inclined to buy the line that we shouldn’t be spending money in space with so many needs on Earth, if we spend the money we do have addressing those needs. We seem to have infinite resources for all sorts of pork projects and military adventures that do nothing to feed the hungry, cure the sick or build infrastructure. If we’ve got tens of billions to prop up auto companies that made bad decisions, then we’ve got money to create space related jobs and learn something new.

    NASA needs a more ambitious mission that simply flying around in the space station or taking a reunion tour of the Moon landings. How about we get serious in tracking even the small asteroids, prototyping and testing intercept systems, mining the moon for Helium-3 and developing the fusion process to use it for massive amounts of green power, getting samples back from Mars and so on. Accelerated monitoring of greenhouse gases and global warming and abatement processes also seem warranted.

    Plus, what are we going to do when we discover all those Earth-like planets and have no way to get to them or even get a close up view?

  • Nickolai_the_Russian_Guy

    Artist’s Impression