Obama Plans To Retire Space Shuttle

NASA budget increase does not include continued funding for the vehicle.



President Barack Obama has proposed a $2 billion increase in NASA funding next year but will retire the nation's venerable space shuttle program.

Obama's budget proposes $18.7 billion for NASA in fiscal year 2010. That's up $1 billion from around $17.7 billion allocated for 2009 and does not include more than $1 billion the agency will get through the stimulus package.

Despite the increase in Obama's budget and the president's support for sending more astronauts to the moon, some criticized the move. The Space Foundation, a nonprofit organization supporting space exploration, issued a statement saying NASA needs more money.

"The budget proposal for NASA represents a disappointingly small step in the right direction," Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham said. "It is far from what is needed if the U.S. is to stimulate the economy, create more high-tech jobs, and hold on to its eroding leadership position in space. The proposed budget is a stay-the-course budget, not a budget for stimulus or change. Combined with the lingering absence of a NASA administrator, we are missing a golden opportunity to lead and inspire at a time when leadership and inspiration are crucial."

Obama backs plans to retire the space shuttle next year, which could leave the United States without a shuttle until 2015 when it plans to send Ares rockets and the Orion into space.

The executive budget proposal does contain funds to study greenhouse gases and global warming.

The proposal says: "NASA will develop new space-based research sensors in support of the administration's goal to deploy a global climate research and monitoring system."

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