Full NASA Funding?

Frank Sietzen says that Congress is coalescing about a plan to do just that.

With the rapidly dwindling calendar — fewer than 60 legislative days actually remain before Congress recesses for the fall political campaign — next year’s federal spending may be wrapped into a continuing resolution that funds all non-defense and homeland security agencies at 2004 spending levels.

There is one exception to this outcome, sources said. That would be NASA, receiving the funding requested by Bush for 2005.

The breakthrough emerged during negotiations over the new Senate budget resolution, which sets a ceiling on federal spending. A bipartisan effort managed to amend the original NASA amount adopted — only a 1.4 percent boost for the space program — to restore nearly all of the $866 million the administration was seeking.

And for those who think that the administration’s silence on the subject, in the State of the Union and elsewhere, indicated that support for the new initiative was wavering, this explanation makes more sense:

According to congressional sources, several House members complained Bush has failed to say anything more about the moon-Mars plan since his Jan. 14 speech, and his silence has been interpreted as a cooling of support. The group was told the White House was silent, not because Bush was rethinking his grand space plan, but was instead trying to avoid further politicization.

One source told UPI that Bush would “keep his powder dry until the myths, legends, and political barbs on this strategy subside,” and the president probably would speak again about his space plan sometime late in his re-election campaign.

It’s not an obvious big vote getter, and the myths and legends about it (particularly the costs) have been well documented here and elsewhere, so it seems like a reasonable strategy to me. People shouldn’t infer support or lack of it from speeches by the president. Everything that I see going on at NASA, to the degree I have any visibility of it, indicates that plans continue to move forward.

I’m not a big fan of the president’s plan, as far as it’s been described, but I do like the fact that we’ve declared it national policy to go back to the moon and the rest of the solar system with humans. There’s plenty of time to fix the specifics of how that occurs, and I suspect that after the election perhaps more hard decisions will be made.