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Frozen Fiscal 2007 Budget To Constrict

By | February 19, 2007

      Moon-Mars Program, Not Space Shuttles

      A budget measure in Congress effectively freezing funds for many agencies will provide adequate funds for the ongoing NASA space shuttles program, but will hamper the NASA program to develop manned space exploration vehicles.

      So said Wayne Hale, NASA space shuttle program manager, speaking to reporters in briefings.

      The money issue revolves around Congress adopting what is called a continuing resolution, which continues funding in the fiscal year 2007 ending Sept. 30 at the same levels as in fiscal 2006.

      Asked whether that would provide enough money to continue operating the space shuttle program with its planned multiple launches and missions this year, Hale said, “For the space shuttle program, absolutely.”

      That means the shuttle program would “spend the same amount of money we spent the previous year, which works out for us.”

      Hale added that NASA would have put the brakes on the shuttle program if it didn’t receive sufficient funds. “We won’t operate if we don’t have the requisite amount of money” needed to provide safety of the program and to make available other critical resources, he said.

      Not so lucky is the Constellation Program, which is to develop and assemble the vehicles that will take humans beyond low Earth orbit, Hale indicated. That will include an Orion crew vehicle to be developed by Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] and an Ares lifter that will be developed and provided by a contractor that NASA will choose later this year.

      One version of Ares will lift the crew vehicle into space, while another version will be a cargo lifter.

      Hale noted with concern that the continued funding level comes at a time when Constellation is supposed to ramp up program activity.

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