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Budget Cuts Beset NASA, Damage Research For Future Transport Systems

By | July 24, 2006

      Cuts to NASA aeronautics budgets are undermining critical research for the Next Generation Air Transportation (NGATS) program, an Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) leader told Congress.

      AIA includes as members the largest aerospace companies.

      This new complaint adds to multiple expert estimates that NASA programs are underfunded, with the space agency lacking the long-term financial support needed to realize both the vision of President Bush to launch manned missions to the moon, Mars and beyond, and to execute scientific and research programs needed to maintain U.S. technological leadership.

      There is some $200 million to $300 million every year in unfunded NGATS transitional research, Michael Romanowski, AIA vice president of civil aviation, said before the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.

      That funding shortfall will result in delays in the program’s implementation and have a negative effect on the national economy and competitiveness, Romanowski predicted.

      “If NASA is to remain at the forefront of aeronautics research, it is critical that significant changes are made to the proposed aeronautics funding levels and research plans,” he said.

      According to AIA, NASA aeronautics funding has decreased more than 50 percent in the dozen years since fiscal 1994. The recently marked-up appropriations bill cuts almost $88 million in aeronautics funding from last year’s enacted level, according to AIA.

      Romanowski said that additional budget cuts should not be considered before the National Aerospace Policy is completed in November.

      He encouraged additional collaboration with academia, users, and manufacturers in the development of the National Aerospace Policy, which was mandated in the 2006 NASA Reauthorization Act.

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