President Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget proposal to congress comes with a controversial new vision for space exploration.
Obama has called a halt to Constellation, the mission to send a man back to the moon by 2020, which has already cost tax payers $9 billion.
The proposal also gives a five year reprieve to the scapping of the International Space Station, which was scheduled to take place in 2016. The delivery of American astronauts to work at the space station would be privatized and require $6 billion worth of funding.
President Obama would like NASA to work on developing new technologies for longer-term space exploration. He conveyed to Congress yesterday his stategy’s “bold, new approach to human space flight that embraces commercial industry, forges international partnerships, and invests in the building blocks of a more capable approach to space exploration”.
Critics claim that the proposed budget begins a death march for the future of human space flight. Republican Senator Richard Shelby believes that “NASA will no longer be an agency of innovation and hard science [but instead, one] of pipe dreams and fairy tales.”
However, a independent review concluded last year that Constellation was on an “unsustainable trajectory” and a new moon voyage would be achievable at the earliest by 2028 due to lack of funds.
The head of NASA, Major-General Charles Bolden, has stated that Obama’s plan will allow the agency to work on developing future technologies, beyond ones being developed for another moon mission. He believes that without timetables and a set target that the sky is the limit.