- Advocacy & Policy
- Research Center
February 05, 2008The administration's fiscal 2009 budget request for NASA includes an overall increase for space exploration, but aeronautics research continues to fall short. The request has several bright spots within an overall increase of almost 3 percent. It covers continued space exploration priorities while boosting Earth observation efforts and the Commercial Orbital Transportation System program. "Exploration and NASA's science activities are vital to maintaining our status as the world's space leader," AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said. "We need to continue making space a national priority and the administration's budget does that." The request totals $17.6 billion, an increase of 2.9 percent from fiscal 2008. NASA has a number of important undertakings in the next few years, including flying 11 scheduled flights before the space shuttle is retired in 2010 and developing the next generation of vehicles in the Constellation Program. "The scheduled five-year gap in U.S. human space flight is an area of extreme concern, since we will have to rely on Russia for access to the International Space Station," said Blakey. The request asks $910 million over five years to fund five Earth observation systems, and it includes full funding of the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services project. By encouraging privately owned spacecraft to re-supply the International Space Station, COTS is reinforcing our space program at a critical time, Blakey said. "Aeronautics research and development is significantly under-funded once again, affecting transitional research that enables technology from government labs to move to real-life applications," said Blakey. Blakey added that the $447 million aeronautics request continues a lengthy trend of inadequate R&D funding. Even allowing for accounting changes that shifted agency-wide support costs from the R&D budget to a central fund, the amount pales in comparison to the height of aeronautics R&D investment -- $1.54 billion in 1994.