Obama seeks to raise NASA funding
The president calls for a big jump in funding for the commercial program that aims to get America launching its own astronauts again. But the request would also end financial support for the venerable Mars rover Opportunity. The proposals are not fixed until agreed with Congress, and the politicians on Capitol Hill always insist on some changes, increasing some budget lines whilst reducing others.
This has certainly been the case in recent years with the commercial crew programme, for which Congress has repeatedly denied the requested funding. NASA has contracted the Boeing and SpaceX companies to develop capsule systems to ferry astronauts to and from the space station, with 2017 being their likely entry into service.
To keep this schedule on track, the White House says NASA will need $1.24bn in FY2016, a more than 50% increase on the $805m it received in 2015. The longer the programme is delayed by a funds shortage, the longer America will have to pay the more expensive seat prices being charged by Russia currently to taxi all nations’ astronauts in its Soyuz rockets and capsules.