President Barack Obama is essentially grounding efforts to return astronauts to the moon and instead is sending NASA in new directions with roughly $6 billion more, according to officials familiar with the plans.Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie will have the Budget man himself, Peter Orszag, on The Daily Rundown Monday at 9 am eastern:
A White House official confirmed Thursday that when next week's budget is proposed, NASA will get an additional $5.9 billion over five years, as first reported in Florida newspapers. Some of that money would extend the life of the International Space Station to 2020. It also would be used to entice companies to build private spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the space station after the space shuttle retires, said the official who was not authorized to speak by name.
The money in the president's budget is not enough to follow through with NASA's Constellation moon landing plan initiated by President George W. Bush. An aide to an elected official who was told of Obama's plans, but who asked that his name not be used because of the sensitivity of the discussions, said Obama is effectively ending the return-to-the-moon effort, something that has already cost $9.1 billion.
It all comes down to money. The six-year-old Bush plan, which a former NASA chief called "Apollo on steroids," sputtered when promised budget increases didn't materialize. And now money is a big consideration in NASA's latest shift in focus. Read more at Orlando Sentinel
The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins in October, will identify the winners and losers behind Mr. Obama’s proposal for a three-year freeze of a portion of the budget. Many programs at the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the Energy Department are in line for increases, along with the Census Bureau.Obama used a scapel in what to freeze:
Among the losers would be some public works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, two historic preservation programs and NASA’s mission to return to the Moon, which would be ended as the administration seeks to reorient the space program to use private companies for launchings. Mr. Obama is recycling some proposals from last year, including one to end redundant payments for land restoration at abandoned coal mines; Western lawmakers blocked it in 2009. Mr. Obama will propose a total of $20 billion in such savings for the coming fiscal year. NYT
Exempted from the cuts, however, are national security, veterans programs, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — the most expensive and fastest-growing areas of the budget.
By filling in the details behind the freeze, the administration hopes to show critics that it used a scalpel rather than an ax to keep spending for the targeted domestic agencies to $447 billion through 2013.