Battle Begins to Save NASA’s Lunar Effort

Altair on the moon

Potential uphill battle for NASA
Houston Chronicle

NASA supporters are bracing for an uphill battle to get the extra funding needed to take on missions more ambitious than visits to the international space station.

A high-level panel told President Barack Obama last week that the space program needs an infusion of about $3 billion more a year by 2014.

That may be a tough sell, even though the amount could be considered spare change in a fast-spending capital where the White House and Congress are on track to dole out nearly $4 trillion this year to finance federal operations, including bailouts for Wall Street firms, banks and automakers.

“The congressional agenda over the next year is going to be focused on cutting programs, not adding to them,” said Scott Lilly, a scholar at the Center for American Progress. Adding resources to the nation’s $18.7 billion-a-year space program would require cuts in other areas, said Lilly, who doesn’t think lawmakers are willing to make those trades.

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