AIA: NASA Budget Falls Short

 - February 28, 2008, 5:25 AM

The Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget request for NASA includes an overall increase for space exploration, but aeronautics research continues to fall short, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said last month. The request totals $17.6 billion, an increase of 2.9 percent from Fiscal Year 2008.

“Aeronautics research and development is significantly under-funded once again, affecting transitional research that enables technology from government labs to move to real-life applications,” said AIA president and CEO Marion Blakey.

The former FAA Administrator added that the $447 million aeronautics request continues a lengthy trend of inadequate R&D funding. Even allowing for accounting changes that shifted agency-wide support costs from the R&D budget to a central fund, the amount pales in comparison to the height of aeronautics R&D investment–$1.54 billion in 1994, she said.

AIA said the budget request for NASA has several bright spots within an overall increase of almost 3 percent. It covers continued space exploration priorities while boosting Earth observation efforts and the Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program.

“Exploration and NASA’s science activities are vital to maintaining our status as the world’s space leader,” Blakey said. “We need to continue making space a national priority and the administration’s budget does that.”

NASA has several important undertakings in the next few years, including making 11 scheduled flights before the Space Shuttle is retired in 2010 and developing the next generation of vehicles in the Constellation program.

The request seeks $910 million over five years to fund five Earth observation systems, and it includes full funding of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project. By encouraging privately owned spacecraft to re-supply the ISS, COTS is reinforcing the U.S. space program at a critical time, she added.