NASA’s 2010 funding levels adequate for third space shuttle mission this year
According to a February 14 statement by NASA administrator Charles Bolden, if the US space agency continues to operate at 2010 funding levels as it has been doing, it will have enough money for a third – and, apparently, the last - space shuttle mission this year.
The statement by Bolden comes after the recent release of the 2012 budget by the White House. If the budget is approved, NASA’s spending will freeze at its 2010 levels; that of an annual budget of $18.7 billion; thus marking a $276-million decrease for the agency as compared to its 2011 budget.
The 2010 funding levels for NASA have essentially be allocated under the current continuing resolution - a stopgap arrangement that has been proposed by the lawmakers for the period during which an official 2011 budget is being debated – which expires on March 4.
Talking about NASA’s somewhat uncertain funding scenario during a recent press conference, Bolden said: “Because these are tough fiscal times, tough choices had to be made. Our number one priority is safely flying out the shuttle.”
NASA last month set a June 28 launch date for Atlantis' mission – the STS-135 – and, as per the agency, the 2010 funding levels will be adequate to fly STS 135.
About the possibility of the STS 135, Bill Gerstenmaier, chief of Space Operations at NASA, said: “Only if we get some severe cuts would we not be able to go fly the flight.”
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