NASA Budget Cuts ‘Moving In Wrong Direction’

President Barack Obama unveils his budget for 2013. The $3.8 trillion spending plan seeks to pump billions of dollars into the economy, but at a cost to various programs, like NASA. Two experts on the space agency weigh in on those reductions.

President Obama will ask Congress for $17.7 billion for NASA next year. It’s the lowest funding level for space agency over the past four years. Republican Kevin Brady from the Woodlands thinks the president is going backwards on funding for space exploration.

“I think this president takes a dim view of space exploration and seems to be willing to turn the clock back. I think he’s struggling with what direction to take NASA. He’s not struggling though, in the effort I think, to sort of downgrade the role of manned space flight, and upgrade the commercial side of it. I think long run that hurts us both in our research and the benefits of space exploration.”

Especially hard hit are the manned programs, which will have an impact in the Clear Lake area. Larry Bell directs the Space
Architecture program
at the UH. He says budget reductions will extend outside NASA.

“Primarily hitting the corporate sector, the Boeings and Lockheeds and USAs and so on, and has a huge economic impact on our area. I think the larger issue is where is it going and, is it going to be reliable enough that anyone can really count on it in the future. How do you plan around the uncertainty?”

Professor Bell says the administration’s commitment to space must  be supported by the public, and he doesn’t see that with
this administration because of the perceived lack of direction. He adds that the leading Republican presidential candidates
aren’t doing much better.

“One plan was, or proposal was we go back to the moon. I’m not at all in favor of that. I think we’ve been there, done that. I don’t see that the public is going to support that. With this current cut, which is really dealing principally dealing with unmanned programs. If we have a bold plan to go to Mars, which I favor and Phobos and Deimos, which are the moons of Mars, then we need to do the science to support that.”

Dr Alex Ignatiev directs the Center for Advanced Materials at UH, and has worked with NASA for the past 25 years. He too thinks there is no direction.

“This administration, the president, have not been very focused on NASA and space environment and space utilization essentially at all. It’s critical that we not do this, because we’ve got to be able to move our technologies off this planet into the solar system, onto the moon, onto Mars, and advance both exploration, as well as utilization and long term future colonization. It’s something that man has to do.”