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National Budget Proposal Contains Changes for NASA: Robots and Rockets!

This weekend we commented on the information coming out about President Obama‘s then unrevealed national budget proposal.  Well, its Monday, and the cat’s out of the bag: the rumors were right.

As we reported on Saturday, the White House‘s proposal calls for a change in direction on our path to the Universe, canceling the Constellation program, extending the life of the International Space Station, and turning to the private sector to replace the space shuttle.

Join us after the jump for some of the hard numbers. 

  • NASA’s budget last year was $18.3 billion.  The White House’s proposal would increase that to $19 billion, with a further planned $6 billion over the next five years.
  • The budget allows $500 million to “contract with industry to provide astronaut transportation to the ISS.”
  • $3.2 billion for grants and missions to study our solar system, to include creating a successor to the Hubble Space Telescope and (presumably unmanned) missions to the Moon and Mars.
  • $420 million over 5 years in order to send a (again, presumably unmanned) mission to the Sun.

The White House lays out its general strategy in three areas of focus:

  • Research and development into heavy lift rockets, in order to make it cheaper and easier to get more things further into space.
  • Other similar programs to increase the efficiency and viability of missions that venture outside of Earth orbit.
  • ROBOTS!
  • Er, well.  “A steady stream of precursor robotic exploration missions to scout locations and demonstrate technologies to increase the safety and capability of future human missions and provide scientific dividends.”

The 2011 Federal Budget fact sheet regarding NASA, described by Geekosystem editor Robert Quigley as “a beast,” can be found here.

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