US proposes $19 bn budget for NASA in 2017

Washington, Feb 10 (IANS) US President Barak Obama has proposed $19 billion for the US space agency in the fiscal 2017 budget – a little less that $19.3 billion NASA received for the fiscal 2016.

According to the initial numbers released by NASA, while $5.6 billion are earmarked for science, $3.3 billion are for deep-space exploration programmes like Mars.

The proposed budget also lists $5.1 billion for space operations, including $1.4 billion for upkeep of the International Space Station (ISS) and $1.2 billion for the Commercial Crew programme to replace the space shuttle, the US space agency said in a statement.

“The $19 billion budget, as proposed, would shift some funds from NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion programmes to aeronautics and space technology, in addition to the overall cuts, while also move funds within the agency’s science account,” reported.

The decrease in NASA budget is partly due to Obama’s proposal to cut $840 million from deep-space exploration programmes and $100 million from planetary science.

“This imbalanced proposal continues to tie our astronauts’ feet to the ground and makes a Mars mission all but impossible,” Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said in a statement.

“This is not the proposal of an administration that is serious about maintaining America’s leadership in space,” Smith added.

In a “State of NASA” speech at the agency’s Langley Research Centre, NASA administrator Charles Bolden made no specific mention of those cuts.

“We’ll continue to make great progress on the SLS,” he said.

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