NASA Wants A Flat Budget For Fiscal 2013, Aviation Week
"NASA will take only an $89 million cut in its topline spending request for fiscal 2013 compared to this year's operating plan, sources said Friday, but the $17.711 billion NASA budget proposal due out Feb. 13 will axe the joint effort with Europe to return samples from Mars to pay for development overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope."
"Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University who also serves as president of the nonprofit Planetary Society, said "there's some validity" to the criticism of NASA's budgetary record. He said the scientific community "has heard that message" and is trying to focus on the highest-priority planetary projects for the next decade, including missions to Mars. "The community has a responsibility to demonstrate that we can do this within cost limits. ... If there are to be cuts, let's try to make them as fair as possible," he told msnbc.com. "It would seem to be fair if everyone across the board is being asked to scale back. The cuts should be equitable, but I don't think we're seeing that."
"Schiff described his meeting with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden as "tense." "What I'm hearing that they're proposing will be absolutely devastating to planetary science and the Mars program," Schiff said. "If this is what they have in mind, I'm going to be fighting them tooth and nail."
"Two scientists who were briefed on the 2013 NASA budget that will be released next week said the space agency is eliminating two proposed joint missions with Europeans to explore Mars in 2016 and 2018. NASA had agreed to pay $1.4 billion for those missions. Some Mars missions will continue, but the fate of future flights is unclear."
Keith's note:Meanwhile the James Webb Space Telescope crowd is eerily quiet. They know that the cost being covered for their latest overrun grossly eclipses the cuts that are being made elswhere. Alas, the grossly over-budget and oft-delayed MSL is on its way to Mars while the grossly over-budget ISS orbits overhead.
50 years of doing this - and NASA still can't figure out what things will actually cost?
Keith's note: Details of the FY 2013 NASA budget are starting to trickle out. One of the most prominent changes will be the substantial cut to planetary science at SMD. At the same time, the agency has to eat $1 billion in Webb telescope overruns - half of which will come out of SMD. Stay tuned. It isn't going to be pretty. This certainly promises to be a rather depressing event: Second International MEPAG (Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group) Meeting 27-28 Feb 2012.
A few words about NASA's Mars mess, Houston Chronicle
"NASA needs to find money to pay for the $8.7 billion James Webb Space Telescope, which has run wildly over its budget but is nevertheless considered a foundation to the future of astronomy. Think: Too big to fail. As NASA's science chief Weiler was ultimately responsible for that budget, Keith Cowing notes. And because of the Webb problems NASA is now in the position of having to gut part of its Mars program and seriously damage its relationship with the European Space Agency, which has been a reliable partner in the past."
Ed Weiler Says He Quit NASA Over Cuts to Mars Program, Science Insider
"Next week, President Barack Obama will propose a $300 million cut in NASA's planetary science programs as part of his 2013 request for the agency, ScienceInsider has learned. If adopted by Congress, the 20% cut in planetary science would in all likelihood shelve NASA's ability to participate in two Mars missions to be carried out in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). "
Obama's budget would cut Mars, solar system exploration, Washington Post
"The budget coming Monday from the Obama administration will send the NASA division that launches rovers to Mars and probes to Jupiter crashing back to Earth. Scientists briefed on the proposed budget said that the president's plan drops funding for planetary science at NASA from $1.5 billion this year to $1.2 billion next year, with further cuts continuing through 2017. It would eat at NASA's Mars exploration program, which, after two high-profile failures in 1999, has successfully sent three probes into Martian orbit and landed three more on the planet's surface."
"The European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, are making plans to carry out the international ExoMars exploration program without help from one of the project's original partners: NASA. The U.S. space agency may have to pull out of the project if the Obama Administration's 2013 budget request to Congress, to be released on Monday, includes expected cuts in the agency's funding for Mars programs."
"Nasa has told Esa it is now highly unlikely it will be able to contribute to the endeavours, which envision an orbiting satellite and a big roving robot being sent to the Red Planet. The US has yet to make a formal statement on the matter but budget woes are thought to lie behind its decision. Europe is now banking on a Russian partnership to keep the missions alive. A public announcement by Nasa of its withdrawal from the ExoMars programme, as it is known in Europe, will probably come once President Obama's 2013 Federal Budget Request is submitted."
"But now, it looks as though NASA could be just days away from officially pulling out of the joint project, depriving the ESA of a major source of financial, technological, and experiential backing."
Has NASA Scuppered Europe-led Exomars Mission? , Discovery News
"It is now hoped Russia might be able to step in where NASA left off. Unfortunately, this decision will raise a few eyebrows considering Russia's recent bad luck with getting stuff into space and keeping it there. Also, Roscosmos' track record with getting stuff to Mars is abysmal."