[update] Jeff Foust discusses the boring budget.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- NASA announced a $17.6 billion budget for fiscal year 2009 to continue exploring the solar system, building the International Space Station, studying Earth from space and conducting aeronautics research.
NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said the increase for NASA's 2009 budget demonstrates President Bush's commitment to the agency's missions. With the increase, NASA still accounts for less than 1 percent of the federal budget.
The NASA budget includes $5.78 billion for the space shuttle and space station programs, $4.44 billion for science, $3.5 billion for development of new manned spacecraft systems and $447 million for aeronautics research.
Dale noted steady progress with NASA's missions, with three successful space shuttle launches last year and up to six planned for this year, including a flight to service the Hubble Space Telescope. The agency also is making progress in developing the Orion spacecraft and Ares launch vehicles to replace the aging shuttle fleet and prepare for journeys to the moon and destinations beyond.
NASA has 55 science missions currently in space, about half involving international partnerships, with 15 additional missions scheduled for launch by the end of 2009.
"In Earth science, NASA's investments in measuring the forces and effects of global warming are allowing policymakers and the public to better understand its implications to our home planet," Dale said.
A recently completed decadal survey for Earth Science includes views of the scientific community that will help the agency develop and prioritize new missions to add to humanity's knowledge of Earth and its climate and ecosystems. NASA will dedicate $910 million to develop new missions to add to our Earth-observing fleet of spacecraft.
The budget also includes funding for lunar science to further scientific understanding of the moon and for planetary science and astrophysics to continue exploring worlds beyond Earth and to study dark energy and other mysteries of the cosmos.
In aeronautics, NASA is helping address fundamental research needs facing the Next Generation Air Transportation System, aimed at making U.S. air travel safer and more efficient.
As the International Space Station nears completion, the NASA budget provides funding to help spur development of commercial space transportation services to send cargo and possibly crews to the station after the shuttles retire in 2010. Without commercial providers, the United States will depend on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to carry astronauts between Earth and the space station.
"The development of space simply cannot be 'all government all the time,'" Dale said. "NASA's budget for FY 2009 provides $173 million for entrepreneurs - from big companies or small ones - to develop commercial transport capabilities to support the International Space Station. Over the longer term, NASA is designating $500 million toward the development of this commercial space capability.
"With over $2.6 billion in NASA funds available over the next five years to purchase cargo and crew services to support ISS operations, we would much rather be using this money to purchase cargo and crew services from American commercial companies than foreign entities," she added.