WASHINGTON — President Bush has called for "a new public investment" in the United States space program and will ask Congress for a significant increase in spending for the country's space-station project.
Speaking here on Friday to the Young Astronauts' Council, Mr. Bush outlined fiscal 1993 budget requests for several projects, including:
* $2.25 billion for space station "Freedom," an 11 percent increase in its budget.
* $250 million toward an unmanned launch system to give researchers and others faster, less expensive access to space than the space-shuttle system.
* $80 million toward development of an aerospace plane, which would fly into orbit and return using a combination of jet- and rocket-engine technology.
The president also said he would ask Congress for money to begin work on two orbiters to map the lunar surface in anticipation of returning astronauts to moon early in the next century. Bush's announcement comes at a time when leaders of the space-science community are looking at ways to tighten the process for setting research priorities.
In a report released on Friday, a task force set up by the National Research Council's Space Advisory Board argues that scientists must go beyond developing a consensus on priority projects and establish a hierarchy of those priorities if the US is to maintain a focused, effective space-science program in the face of tight budgets, public demand for increased attention to domestic needs, and large-scale research proposals whose costs are likely to outstrip even the most optimistic budget projections.
The task force was established to determine whether the Space Science Board should set up a method for ranking priority projects.