Is Obama Shortchanging NASA?

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Lawmakers Concerned about NASA’s Human Spaceflight Future
Space News

During a series of budget hearings last week, lawmakers pressed acting NASA Administrator Chris Scolese to concede that U.S. President Barack Obama’s five-year budget plan does not support a robust human spaceflight program capable of delivering astronauts to the Moon by 2020.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations commerce, justice and science subcommittee, enthusiastically endorsed the White House’s 2010 NASA budget which proposes spending $18.7 billion, an increase of $903.6 million or 5.1 percent above the agency’s current budget. “Unfortunately, these gains don’t continue into the future,” she said during a May 21 hearing. “This is where we are deeply troubled.”

Obama’s budget request sent to Congress May 7 proposes a spending plan for NASA that dips slightly in 2011 to $18.6 billion and remains near that level through 2013. Under the new plan, the space agency would spend approximately $3.4 billion less on the Moon-bound Constellation program between 2011 and 2013 than was forecast under former President George W. Bush.

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