Tuesday, November 23, 2004

NASA goes to the Hill

After many years of coming away from the Hill with less than they asked for, this year NASA received all of the $16.2 billion they sought for 2005.

Not only will this money will cover the return to flight programme, but it will also provide funding for them to start designing a shuttle replacement and planning future manned moon missions.

However all did not go to plan. There were some cuts demanded by Congress, and one of the most severe came at the expense of robotic exploration of the moon.

Congress cut all but $10 million from the planned Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, which was to map the moon and attempt to find water ice that could be critical to human missions.

Of course, despite the extra funding, what NASA's new priorities mean for its ongoing science programme is an open question.