NASA’s science mission directorate would lead all spending in the agency, with $5.02 billion, vs. $5.11 billion from the 2013 estimate, followed by space operations, with $3.88 billion vs. $4.25 billion, as spending on the shuttle program ends; exploration, $3.9 billion vs. $3.8 billion; cross agency support, $2.85 billion vs. $3 billion; space technology, $742.6 million vs. $577 million; aeronautics, $565.7 million vs. $573 million; and education, $94.2 million vs. $137 million, as the administration consolidates a 13-agency focus on science and math education.
As envisioned in the 2014 spending plan, the asteroid retrieval mission would engage the Science, Space Technology and the merging Exploration and Space Operations directorates to select an appropriate asteroid; mature a solar-electric propulsion technology to reach and retrieve the space rock; develop strategies for rendezvousing with, securing and maneuvering the unstable object into a lunar orbit around the second Earth-Moon Lagrange point; and devise a human mission plan.
Additional funding in 2015 and beyond would lead to the selection of a destination asteroid in 2016 and the launching of the robotic retrieval three years later.
Obama’s proposed budget seeks $821 million within the exploration account for the development of commercial crew transportation services in support of the International Space Station by 2017. Without that amount, NASA will be forced to rely on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to carry astronauts to and from the station, Bolden said.
The James Webb Space Telescope, once over budget and behind schedule, was rebaselined two years ago. The $8.8 billion designated successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is on schedule for an October 2018 launch. The $658 million in Webb funding for 2014 would be spend on integration of the four major instruments, further assembly of the optical systems and prelaunch testing.
For continuing, through-the-day coverage of the U.S. budget rollout, Aviation Week Intelligence Network subscribers should click here to visit our Fiscal 2014 budget digest page often, where the Aviation Week editorial team will post expert coverage and analysis.