NASA’s FY 2014 Budget Request


The administration belatedly released its FY 2014 budget request, and while gales of laughter can be heard coming from the U.S. House of Representatives, the ultimate disposition regarding NASA will likely not be so amusing once both houses of Congress get done with their now annual ritual of hacking apart the request for Commercial Crew.

Marcia Smith’s excellent website has a breakdown of the mind numbing gyrations in the current  FY 2013 cycle brought on by  sequestration and rescission,  and it is worth a look to put the FY 2014 request (found here)  in all 657 pages of glory, into context. On the bright side, it is a very well put together document.

As Smith and others point out, the most newsworthy item will no doubt be funding allocated to study a plan to capture a small asteroid and bring it to the Earth Moon L-2 point for study.  The plan itself is intriguing, and offers a number of potential benefits,  but given that it is apparently being presented as an alternative to the much more difficult long duration task of going to an asteroid as a first stop on the “flexible path to Mars,”  it can also be seen as  just a bit too clever “gotcha” by an Administration in finding an asymmetrical way to fulfill a promise.   Though NASA is cautioning against reading too much into estimates of a $2.5 billion price tag, one thing is for sure, any significant funds expended in pursuing the  human component of this mission with SLS/Orion represents funding which will not be spent on other missions.

It would be much more refreshing to see NASA state unequivocably that it is pursuing the asteroid capture mission because the funding simply isn’t going to be available to take on the type of challenge which the agency is constantly alluding that SLS was meant to do. Were it to do so,  then perhaps there could be an honest discussion about the merits of increasing funding to cover actual hardware such as service modules, transfer stages, habitation  modules, excursion craft and airlocks,  (but still no landers),  versus other alternatives such as advanced electric propulsion and fuel depots which it would also like to study further.

Instead we get gems like this: “SLS development is an example of the Agency’s commitment to fiscal responsibility and budget discipline.”

Posted in: NASA

About the Author:

Post a Comment