The largest Space Agency in the world, NASA, is due to have its spending budget cut significantly as of next year in an attempt to drive down the national debt the United States currently possesses. President Barack Obama revealed plans to slice the government’s allowance to the aeronautics institute when previously stating it would be increased to fund current and future missions.
Projects such as the James Webb Space Telescope will suffer heavily by this action, that is sure to dent the countries hopes of remaining in pole position in the on-going space race. The cut may not seem a lot, penciled currently at $17.7 billion from previously $17.8 billion, but with America’s money going elsewhere, this is a huge blow for mans progression into space.
NASA’s planetary division will see a cut of $300 Million which is sure to stunt the growth of some of the most innovative space programs to date. Reports convey that the percentage cut could have been substantially more at 15% rather than the 5% that was implemented. Still, brand new missions are sure to be pushed back or scraped by the agency altogether in an attempt to spread spending.
Missions to Mars are likely to be worst hit. Scientists in charge of current Martian missions will have to decide whether to fund new projects to the planet or to keep the current missions including the explorer rovers and orbiting satellites. The MAVEN mission, a satellite designed to detect previous evidence of water on the red planet, will still go ahead next year but this has also had serious reductions.
Other areas that have seen dramatic cuts is Education which suffered a drop of 38.5%, many planetary scientists think this is wrong. Phil Plait; Astronomer and MC at Bad Astronomy says:
“That money funds a vast amount of educational outreach – and I should know. That funding does a huge amount of good for schoolkids, and cutting it is a mistake”.
Rather than help the progression of mankind’s exploration of the Universe the US government proved it would prefer to aid the crusade outside its own borders by subsequently releasing that the Defence budget for 2013 would reach $851 billion. This figure out weighs the cost of healthcare and social security within America as well as NASA’s sliced budget.
Significant budget cuts like this are sure to be felt worldwide and beyond as human kind’s stance of the edge of discovery is pushed back. Missions to Mars are key to our appreciation of life and the understanding of various environments out in deep space. Scientist’s predictions of having a man on Mars in 30 years seems that much further away. Unless private space flight is mainstreamed or Russia takes the lead in the space race NASA will begin to fall behind where before it was so integral to our understanding of creation.
- Believers in a Better Tomorrow (mad4science.wordpress.com)
- Gastronauts: NASA’s Hawaiian Mars diet experiment (rt.com)
- NASA Shelves Ambitious Flagship Missions to Other Planets (space.com)