As NASA undertakes its Obama-ordered review of its future human spaceflight plans, the space agency must now factor in a Congressionally recommended 16 percent cut to its budget for manned space exploration in 2010.
In their June 4 markup of the FY 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies spending bill, the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee cut $670 million from NASA’s FY 2010 budget for space exploration. The surviving $3.2 billion will leave NASA with less to spend on space exploration during 2010 than they had to work with this year.
Subcommittee chairman Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-West Virginia), called the budget cut a “time out,” while Congress and the White House awaited the results of NASA’s review of its post-space shuttle plans for human space exploration, including returning to the moon by 2020.
In his opening remarks to the markup session, Rep. Mollohan stressed that NASA should not consider the budget cut as a reduction in Congress’ support of space exploration. “Rather, it's a deferral taken without prejudice; it is a pause, a time-out, to allow the president to establish his vision for human space exploration and to commit to realistic future funding levels to realize this vision.”
Earlier this week, NASA set up a Web site where the public can have input to the space agency’s review of planned U.S. human space flight projects.
As with all appropriations bills considered in the annual federal budget process, final approved spending levels may be adjusted up or down during the bills’ consideration by the full House and Senate. In other words, the full Congress may restore the full amount requested by NASA for space exploration.