NASA held a series of teleconference calls to discuss how President Obama’s proposed budget will affect the agency.
NASA Associate Administrator Bill Gerstenmaier calls the budget a good one for maintaining and expanding the International Space Station.
“It takes several years for us to get the research planned to get the activities on the station. So to actually know that there’s a future — a good ten-year future — for the station that’s very positive for us, we can really plan our research out, bring in the right investigations and really make maximum use of the station.”
What will change, however, is how astronauts get to the station. NASA’s Constellation program to build a new crew exploration vehicle wasn’t funded.
“You know we planned all along to retire the shuttle at the end of this fiscal year. And with that we would then go on to continue to use Soyuz and support space station with astronauts through that period of time and then at some point we’d either use commercial crew to bring crew to station or we would continue to use the Soyuz to bring the crew to station. The overall plan really hasn’t changed all that much. The thing that has changed, instead of having a government transportation service in the future, we’ll have potentially the commercial as well as the Soyuz.”
NASA will partner with seven companies to develop space craft to carry astronauts to the ISS. But Gerstenmaier says for now the mission at NASA is to make the remaining five shuttle flights the best they can be.
NASA enters this new era through new commercial partnerships and cutting-edge technology research designed to spark American innovation and enable us to explore new worlds, develop more innovative technologies, foster new industries, and increase our understanding of the Earth and our universe. NASA will pursue a more affordable and sustainable approach to spaceflight through the development of game changing, next-generation technologies and systems. Image courtesy of NASA.