House Budget Cuts NASA Exploration Funding


House agrees to cut NASA exploration
Orlando Sentinel

Overriding concerns from NASA allies in Congress, the U.S. House agreed 259-157 on Thursday evening to a 2010 budget proposal that would slash nearly $700 million from the agency’s plans to replace the space shuttle.

NASA still would receive about $18.2 billion under the proposal, but the lawmaker who oversees NASA spending wanted to cut about $670 million from an earlier request by the White House for the agency’s exploration budget until a new independent panel — asked for by the Obama administration — concludes its review of NASA’s post-shuttle plans.

“It is a pause, a time-out, to allow the president to establish his vision for human space exploration and to commit to realistic future funding levels to realize this vision,” according to an earlier memo written by U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the appropriations subcommittee of Commerce, Justice and Science.

That panel – known as the Augustine Commission because it is led by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine – met publicly for the first time Wednesday and heard about a half-dozen options on what NASA should do after the space shuttle is retired in 2010 or 2011. It should finish its recommendations in late August.

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