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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Feb > Feb 5

NASA Chief Plans New Space Quests

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
Date: Wed, 04 Feb 2004 16:48:47 -0800
Fwd Date: Thu, 05 Feb 2004 07:55:39 -0500
Subject: NASA Chief Plans New Space Quests

Source: SFGate.com - San Francisco, CA


Wednesday, February 4, 2004

NASA chief plans new space quests
Humans may return to moon by 2015

NASA's proposed budget should increase by about 5 percent per
year over the next three years, and would lay the groundwork for
returning robots to the lunar surface within five years, and
perhaps humans by 2015, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said

If approved by Congress, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2005 would be
$16.2 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over the $15.4 billion
budget for fiscal year 2004.

By far the single biggest budget change is a proposed $70
million study of the feasibility of renewed lunar exploration.

That outlay would lay the groundwork for renewed lunar robotic
landers in 2009, followed by human flights "as early as 2015,"
according to NASA's budget statement.

Expected annual spending for lunar exploration should increase
to $420 million by fiscal year 2009, the statement says. Also,
the proposed budget line for Mars exploration research in fiscal
year 2005 is $691 million, compared with $595 million this year.

Last month, President Bush announced an ambitious plan to return
Americans to the moon in the next decade and to head for Mars
after that. But it faces considerable opposition on Capitol Hill
from Republicans worried about the costs and Democrats who want
the money spent on domestic programs.

In his national televised hookup with journalists, O'Keefe
defended the plan.

"This (space) exploration vision is affordable, fiscally
responsible and sustainable," he said. "As the president stated
in his (Jan. 14) speech, we are embarking on a journey, not a

O'Keefe gave no specifics about how the budget increase might
affect NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View. Even so,
officials there are optimistic that Ames will play an important
role in helping to fulfill the president's vision for space

For one thing, a key goal of Mars exploration is to determine
whether the Red Planet ever had life, or can shed light on the
evolution of life in our planetary system. That will tally
neatly with Ames' focus on astrobiology, the scientific study of
extraterrestrial life, its origins and evolution.

"Our scientific focus is squarely in the middle of this
(presidential) vision," said Ames Director Scott Hubbard.

At an all-hands meeting with Ames employees after Bush's speech,
the staff was "very positive, excited," Hubbard said.

O'Keefe also said he expects a substantial savings -- more than
$4 billion annually -- from the phase-out of the technically
troubled space shuttle fleet over the next decade.

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