Obama's budget would scrap NASA's moon mission
President Obama's budget for NASA seeks to end its back-to-the-moon program, rely more heavily on private companies, and invest in new technologies for human space exploration.
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Sen. Bill Nelson (D) of Florida argued in a statement Monday that the budget proposal for NASA would replace lost space-shuttle jobs "too slowly, risking US leadership in space to China and Russia, and relying too heavily on unproven commercial companies."Skip to next paragraph
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Others say the shift is long overdue.
But that effort has faced "a lot of push-back from the centers," he says, referring to major NASA facilities such as the Johnson Space Center in Houston, the Marshall center, and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The budget plan faces several significant challenges. Key lawmakers signaled their displeasure at notion of using more private companies as early as last summer. At a House hearing on the Augustine Committee's report last September, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) of Arizona and chairwoman of the House's space and aeronautics subcommittee, expressed skepticism that private companies could step in to replace the Ares 1 and its Orion crew capsule.
Riding on space entrepreneurs
One of NASA's biggest hurdles, analyst Mr. Williamson says, will be "sorting the folks with real promise from the ones who do mostly view-graph engineering."
Much, he continues, will be riding on the shoulders of space entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, who heads the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation in Hawthorne, Calif.. His company has conducted successful launches with its Falcon 1 rocket, and is building a more powerful sibling, the Falcon 9, as well as a capsule for carrying cargo and crew.
If he and others can be successful in demonstrating human spaceflight capabilities, "then that will make the biggest difference" in building traction for the administration's proposed direction for spaceflight.
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