Let the NASA funding battle begin!

Well, the almost official word from the Obama White House has leaked out before the official release of the February 1st 2011 Fiscal Year Budget that concerns NASA funding.

And congress-critters whose states have a piece of the Constellation Program pie ain’t too happy:

President Barack Obama’s new plan for NASA could spark a fiery battle on Monday when it reaches the halls of Congress, where the agency’s current vision to send American astronauts back to the moon enjoys strong bipartisan support.

The Obama plan would effectively kill NASA’s Project Constellation — a program the nation has invested $9 billion in over the last six years; one that big, politically important states from Florida to California have a stake in.

The White House would encourage the development of a commercial rocket to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

A Florida lawmaker called the plan “simply unacceptable.” A Maryland senator said she was troubled. And in Louisiana, where the tanks for the Ares I and Ares V rockets are being built, one legislator warned it would end the country’s position as the global leader in space.

“Based on initial reports about the administration’s plan for NASA, they are replacing lost shuttle jobs in Florida too slowly, risking US leadership in space to China and Russia, and relying too heavily on unproven commercial companies,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a former astronaut, key Obama space advisor, and chairman of the House space subcommittee.

“If the $6 billion in extra funding is for a commercial rocket, then the bigger rocket for human exploration will be delayed well into the next decade. That is unacceptable.”

Administration officials say the proposed fiscal 2011 budget — due to be released Monday — will call for a $6 billion increase in NASA’s budget over five years.

But under Obama’s plan, NASA would shift focus from sending astronauts back to the moon to expanding research at the International Space Station and encouraging the commercial crew launches, administration officials said Wednesday. Those priorities would come at the expense of the Constellation program for human space flight, which a presidentialcommission warned in October has been under-funded and was not going to meet its targets.

My take on this is that the money should subsidize the infant commercial space launch companies like SpaceX, it’ll be cheaper in the long run and it’ll help the commercial sector develop infrastructure capable of developing the Earth-Moon system for business and colonization.

NASA still has it’s place, like developing new technologies that’ll take humans beyond the Earth-Moon system.

What I don’t like is what the space program has turned into, a pork-laden jobs program that produces nothing for decades. And votes for congress-critters.

NASA Plan Will Be Battle

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