$17.7 billion budget requested for NASA

Budget slight reduction from last year's funding, NASA remains upbeat


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – President Barack Obama announced NASA would get $17.7 billion under his budget request for fiscal year 2013 on Monday.

The budget would supporting space exploration that will build on new technologies and expand America's reach into the solar system, according to a NASA press release.

NASA said the budget is a $59 million decrease from last year's Congress approved funding. The budget request for the 2013 fiscal year, which starts in October, lays the foundation for new destinations, such as an asteroid and Mars by 2035.

NASA administrator Charlie Bolden spoke at NASA headquarters in Washington D.C. Monday following the budget request and was upbeat about the proposal.

"This budget is about American innovation and ingenuity," Bolden said. "It's about keeping the U.S. the world leader in space exploration."

Bolden said that tough choices had to be made, resulting in cutting some programs.

"Tough choices had to be made," Bolden said. "This means we will not be forward with the planned 2016 and 2018 Exo-mars mission."

Close to home, the budget continues transforming Kennedy Space Center into a 21st century launch complex.

The hardest hit area is the planetary science exploration department, which has proposed cuts of $226 million.

The budget includes: $4 billion for space operations and $4 billion for exploration activities, which includes close-out of the Space Shuttle Program and funding for the International Space Station, $4.9 billion for science, $669 million for space technology and $552 million for aeronautics research.

"This budget puts us on course to explore farther into space than ever before, revealing the unknown and fueling the nation's economy for years to come," Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said in a release. "We are committed to ensuring that our astronauts are once again launched from U.S. soil on American-made spacecraft, and this budget provides
the funds to make this a reality."

Solid funding is included for the continued development of the Space Launch System, which is the rocket and capsule that will eventually take astronauts into deep space. That's good news for the ladi-ff workers on the Space Coast.

Funding is also allotted for the development of commercial space programs with outside companies to service the International Space Station

Former U.S. senator and astronaut John Glenn has been speaking out about budget cuts.

He said that shutting down shuttle operations was a "mistake, because it left us with no way to travel to our own International Space Station."

While NASA faces cuts, it will have to pay the Russian Federal Space Agency in excess of $1 billion through 2016.

NASA managers say the budget continues to reduce administrative costs by $200 million.

"We are having to make tough decisions because these are tough economic times," Bolden said. "We are really looking for smarter ways to do business... and you're going to find that we do things a little bit differently than you're accustomed to."

Bolden said he's heard his critics say that NASA is too big and wastes too much money.

"Every dollar spent on space exploration is spent right here on earth," Bolden said. "This budget insources jobs, creates capabilities here at home, and strengthens our workforce."