NASA's 2014 Budget: Space Exploration Experts React
The President's Fiscal Year 2014 budget ensures the United States will remain the world's leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come, while making critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people.
Credit: NASA

President Barack Obama unveiled a proposed federal budget for 2014 today (April 10), which includes $17.7 billion in funding for NASA in the next fiscal year. The budget request also includes $105 million dedicated to support an audacious new mission to capture and asteroid and park it near the moon so that astronauts can explore it by 2025.

In addition to the asteroid capture mission, NASA's 2014 budget request also includes about $200 million in cuts to planetary science, which has upset some scientists and space exploration groups. It does, however, increase funding for Earth science missions and fully fund the agency's private space taxi program and new human spaceflight projects, such as the Space Launch System mega-rocket and Orion space capsule.

See the initial reactions to NASA's 2014 Budget Request below:  

Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator

This budget focuses on an ambitious new mission to expand America’s capabilities in space, steady progress on new space and aeronautic technologies, continued success with commercial space partnerships, and far-reaching science programs to help us understand Earth and the universe in which we live. It keeps us competitive, opens the door to new destinations and vastly increases our knowledge. [NASA's Asteroid-Capture Mission in Photos]

(This is only part of Bolden's statement on the NASA budget. Read the full statement here.)

Bill Nye (the Science Guy), CEO, The Planetary Society

The Administration just released its proposed budget for 2014 and it contains some very bad news for NASA's planetary exploration program.

Our initial review shows a cut of over $200 million this year – a cut that will strangle future missions and reverse a decade's worth of investment building the world's premier exploration program.

(The Planetary Society will hold a webcast at 6 p.m. PDT/9 p.m. EDT tonight to discuss NASA's 2014 budget proposal. Watch it Live Here.)

Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.

We applaud NASA’s intention to capture and redirect a small asteroid to trans-Lunar space by 2021.  Based on the mission study performed by the Keck Institute for Space Studies, the plan is a reasonable extension of a number of technologies and approaches which have already been demonstrated on prior NASA missions.  The U.S. government’s investment in this area could be leveraged by commercial industry in a number of ways -- from supporting the mission to identify, characterize and depending on the type of asteroid retrieved, develop ways to understand, extract and utilize the resources from it once returned. 

Stuart Witt, Chairman, Commercial Spaceflight Federation

NASA also continues to look toward the future by prioritizing investments in technology through the Space Technology Mission Directorate. We have always had a world-class space program, and investments in technology, in partnership with industry, are needed to keep us there. Reusable suborbital spacecraft, in particular, are providing new capabilities that NASA is using to develop new technologies and to perform vital scientific research.

Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX),  Ranking Member, House Committee on Science, Space& Technology

There is a lot to digest in the budget request from the President, so I will simply give my initial reactions to the parts of the budget that fall under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, namely, our federal investments in research and development and STEM education. [NASA's 2014 Budget Explained in Photos]

While there are specific elements of the budget request for the agencies under the jurisdiction of the Committee that are going to require scrutiny, such as the reorganization of STEM education programs, I am pleased to see the President’s commitment to R&D and education.  For example, the budget request includes increased funding for the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The President’s budget stands in stark contrast to the Republican budget introduced earlier this year.  That budget made significant cuts to the spending that funds programs such as those that help develop advanced manufacturing and clean energy technologies, and those that lead to breakthroughs in areas like materials science and space exploration.  It also cut the spending for STEM education that helps our children be prepared for the jobs of the future.

I am also pleased to see that the President’s budget trims the deficit while undoing the short-sighted, irresponsible cuts to critical programs and activities that went into place last month as a result of sequestration.  Most of us have not yet felt the damage caused by the sequester. I am certain that none of us want to see NOAA’s ability to warn the public about natural disasters compromised, or the stoppage of research at the Department of Homeland Security that helps keep Americans safe, or delays of critical upgrades to the Nation’s air traffic control systems.  Those are just a few of the negative impacts we will be dealing with if we do not come to a consensus on how to address the sequester.   

I sincerely hope that I can work with the President and my colleagues to ensure that any appropriations passed by this Congress allow for investments in the programs that will help us remain competitive in a challenging world economy.  Investments in science and STEM education have a long history of providing economic and societal benefits to the American people, and they will continue to do so if they are properly funded.

William Gerstenmaier , NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations

The mission to find, capture and redirect an asteroid robotically, and then visit it with astronauts to study it and return samples takes advantage of expertise across all of NASA in an integrated approach to exploration. Along with the scientific research and technology demonstrations happening around the clock on the International Space Station that are teaching us how humans can live and work in space, this mission will give us valuable experience we need in deep space operations to send humans to more distant destinations in the solar system, including Mars. Through the balance of this fiscal year, we will work to define an affordable mission architecture. In Fiscal Year 2014, NASA will begin developing and testing prototype capture mechanisms and concepts for crew interactions with the asteroid.

John Grunsfeld , NASA Associate Administrator for Science

The crucial first step in this endeavor is to enhance our ongoing efforts to identify and characterize near-Earth objects for scientific investigation and to find potentially hazardous asteroids and targets appropriate for capture. The capture mission will be a highly visible and significant collaboration of robotic and human exploration in translunar space.

Michael Gazarick, NASa Associate Administrator for Space Technology

This mission accelerates our technology development activities in high-powered solar electric propulsion. The ambitious mission to rendezvous, capture and redirect a small asteroid to Earth-Moon space could not be accomplished without solar electric propulsion technology. This technology also will support the commercial telecommunications and satellite industries, and is an essential step toward future NASA human and robotic exploration forays into deep space.

 

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+.