NASA officials are so eager to jump-start advanced technology efforts that they sought and won congressional approval to devote $36.5 million in 2010 funding to eight high-priority research projects.
Those projects, which include joint efforts with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to investigate horizontal launch capabilities, in-orbit satellite servicing and power-beam propulsion.
Overall funding for the Space Technology Program is being determined. The White House and the House of Representatives have a plan to provide $572 million for the Space Technology Program but the Senate approved only $325 million for the program. $300 million in 2011 is for continuing existing projects.
The Space Technology Program proposed includes three components: Early Stage Innovation, Game Changing Technology and Cross Cutting Capability Demonstration. The satellite servicing study will explore ways people could work jointly with robots to maintain and repair satellites, which could save billions by cost effectively extending the lives of existing satellites.
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