One NASA plan calls for an unmanned craft to deploy an asteroid-nabbing apparatus before hauling the space rock closer to Earth. Once in lunar orbit, a crew would fly from Earth to take a closer look at the deep-space asteroid.
WASHINGTON (Florida Today) -- NASA's agenda of missions beyond
low-Earth orbit would face delays if the federal government has to
weather another year of sequestration spending cuts, a top agency
official told a Senate panel Tuesday.
flight to corral an asteroid and explore it in 2021 as well as a crewed
journey to Mars sometime during the 2030s - which some critics say
isn't soon enough - are among projects that would be pushed back by
continued budget-trimming, William Gerstenmaier, NASA's chief of human
exploration, told members of a Senate Commerce, Science and
the forced budget cuts remain in effect during fiscal 2014, which
begins Oct. 1, "we can't deliver the programs that we committed to you
that we would deliver," Gerstenmaier said.
can tolerate the (fiscal) 2013 sequester because we're prepared," he
told members of the Science and Space Subcommittee. "But if it continues
into '14, the programs and timetables I described, I don't believe we
can continue to support it. This is really going to be tough for us
automatic cuts that began March 1 were agreed to under a 2011 deal
Congress brokered with the White House to avoid defaulting on the
national debt. Under its terms, deep cuts in domestic and defense
programs would continue through fiscal 2021 unless Congress rescinds
Despite criticisms by both Democrats and Republicans, no compromise has yet been reached.
already has slashed several hundred million dollars from NASA's budget.
The agency earlier this month proposed a $17.7 billion budget for
fiscal 2014 that would fund the asteroid mission, the Space Launch
System and Orion vehicle for a Mars trip and other high-profile
programs. That budget assumes Congress will find a way to avoid
Bill Nelson, D-Florida, who chaired Tuesday's subcommittee hearing, said
lawmakers will find a way to do that because Americans are increasingly
people start waiting at an airport for three hours, when people start
realizing that starving children are not getting their nutrition, when
senior citizens are not getting their Meals on Wheels, there's going to
be an outcry," he said after the hearing. "And eventually this nonsense
of sequestration is going to get eliminated."