Postponing the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit for one year could save the US government $30 billion. Cutting controversial bridges and bikeways from the highway funding bill might reduce spending by $6 billion per year. In the science category, cancelling research on Project Prometheus, slated to develop nuclear reactors for use in space, could eliminate $5 billion over 10 years. As these examples show, it’s easy to find potential cuts to offset Washington’s spending on recovery from hurricane Katrina, as President Bush has vowed to do. A $2.6 trillion annual budget provides lots of targets. But actually making those cuts? That’s another story. One person’s unnecessary program is often vital to another. It’s difficult to save big bucks without infuriating powerful constituencies, such as the elderly, farmers, or the Pentagon.
Where to find $200 billion to pay for Katrina The Christian Science Monitor
NASA grounds project at Knolls laboratory Times Union
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has pulled the plug on a $65 million nuclear propulsion research program at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, leaving 150 employees in limbo. “NASA and Naval Reactors have mutually agreed to terminate their partnership to work on Prometheus,” as the program was called, a Knolls spokeswoman said Friday afternoon. “NASA has been changing its priorities. I don’t have many details on this,” she added.
Space travel at warp speed? The Seattle Times
NASA scientists are developing a new ion-propulsion system that could enable spacecraft to reach unheard-of speeds and undertake long-term explorations of planets in the outer solar system. Dubbed “Herakles,” the system would use an ion beam produced from xenon gas to propel the craft to speeds of 200,000 mph, 10 times faster than the top speed of the space shuttle.
We are a curious species with amazing capacities to imagine and dream. We wonder about what we cannot see, are fascinated by what we do not know and are driven to explore. In keeping with our continuous quest for knowledge, President George W. Bush announced a new plan for NASA in Jan. 2004. A renewed focus on space exploration, he explained, would strengthen our leadership in the world, improve our economy and enhance the quality of our lives. The Vision for Space Exploration calls for human and robotic missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. To realize these ambitious goals, we will need more powerful and efficient propulsion and power-generation systems — systems that can thrust a spacecraft out of Earth’s orbit to the far reaches of the Universe.
Shift in priorities by NASA hits JPL Pasadena Star-News
Several of Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s future missions, including its next Mars rover, might be delayed or cut to compensate for other NASA priorities, the agency administrator said Thursday. Michael Griffin, NASA’s new administrator, told a Senate subcommittee the space agency will have to revise its spending plan for the year in order to offset costs associated with the space shuttle’s return to flight, possible human servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope and growth in upcoming missions.
The head of NASA’s nuclear push says a scientific mission to the inner solar system — perhaps to the moon, Mars or an asteroid — will be used to demonstrate a new propulsion system in place of a mission to Jupiter’s icy moons. But the Jupiter trip is only delayed, not canceled, Ray Taylor said. It could fly in 2017, a few years later than the demonstration mission. In the meantime, “we have a range of options being looked at in the analysis,” he said. “They’re all in the inner solar system . . . and they’re all shorter mission duration.”
A Notice of Intent (NOI) for NASA’s Prometheus Nuclear Systems and Technology program was released March 30 for public comment that ends May 31, 2005. A press briefing will be held at 10 a.m. EDT on April 19 at the NASA-KSC News Center to acquaint the media with the Prometheus program. NASA, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), intends to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) regarding research and development activities associated with space nuclear reactors for electric power production on a robotic spacecraft for potential future civilian NASA missions.
NASA juggles work force as it shifts focus to Mars Houston Chronicle
About one of every seven NASA workers nationwide will be transferred or paid to leave in the next 1 1/2 years as the space agency focuses on President Bush’s moon-Mars exploration plan, officials said Thursday. However, many of those who depart likely will be replaced by new workers with skills more closely aligned with the new, deep space mission. NASA employs about 18,900 government workers.
While NASA fared better than many federal agencies in U.S. President George W. Bush’s 2006 budget request, the White House is not seeking as much money for the U.S. space agency as previously planned. The White House is seeking $16.45 billion for NASA in the 2006 budget. That’s an increase of 2.4 percent over what the U.S. space agency has in its 2005 budget, but still about $500 million less than what the agency had been expecting.