NASA finally talks Mars budget, and it's not enough, Houston Chronicle
"At the Capitol Hill luncheon, Lightfoot said a Mars program would have to be accomplished with a budget that is one-tenth of the budget that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon. "From a NASA perspective it'll be done for about one-tenth of the budget that we were doing back then," Lightfoot said, according to Space News. A NASA spokeswoman said after Lightfoot's speech that he was comparing the Apollo budget and the agency's current budget based on percentages of the overall federal budget. NASA received 4 percent of the total federal budget during the height of the Apollo Program, and today NASA has 0.4 percent. "We intend to carry out our current ambitious exploration plans within current budget levels, with modest increases aligned to economic growth," NASA's Lauren Worley said. The release of the "Journey to Mars" report that contained no specific budget for a Mars mission frustrated some members of Congress."
Keith's note: NASA's answer just confuses things further. No one with even a shred of fiscal accumen will tell you that a multi-decade program to send humans to Mars - as is typically done by NASA (delays, overruns, and PR hype) - is going to be done "within current budget levels, with modest increases aligned to economic growth." This is just back peddling NASA PR mumbo jumbo designed to try and make it seem that Lightfoot said something other than what he actually said. Oddly, as they berate NASA for its delays that are often due to wacky budget actions by Congress, Congress neglects to mention that between FY10-15 the White House has given $1.8 billion more to NASA than Congress wanted to give the agency while Congress simultaneously and consistently cuts the President's request for Commercial Crew every year.
No one has a plan or a budget. This is no way to send people to Mars.
"What is really going on in the fight over NASA's Mars plans is a battle between the Obama Administration and Congress over the funding of private company rockets from SpaceX and Boeing to send crew to the International Space Station, wrote Keith Cowing of NASA Watch. Congress keeps trying to cut this commercial crew program, while the administration cuts SLS in a political game of tit-for-tat. "No one has a plan or a budget," Cowing wrote. "This is no way to send people to Mars."
"Congressional Republicans are pressing NASA for a more detailed plan to put an astronaut on Mars, warning that agency's lack of specifics jeopardizes the program. House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) criticized the 36-page "Journey to Mars" report that NASA released this week, suggesting it was substance-free. "It's just some real pretty photographs and some nice words. That is not going to do it," Smith said at a Friday hearing on NASA's deep space budget. Interest in Mars is soaring, thanks to a blockbuster film and NASA's discovery of flowing water on the planet. But Smith said a mission to the red planet couldn't really get off the ground until NASA provides firm details about the budget and the deadlines that would be set. "This [report] sounds good, but it is actually a journey to nowhere until we have that budget and we have that schedule and we have the deadlines," Smith said."
- NASA Is In Total Denial Over Humans To Mars Costs, earlier
- Yet Another NASA Mars"Plan" Without A Plan - or a Budget, earlier post
- Hearing on NASA's Budget and Exploration, earlier post