Proposed New Space Plan and Budget Are an Improvement

Transterrestrial has links and details on the new space plan and budget.

Jeff Foust has initial budget numbers

* Rand Simberg says and I agree – Whether or not they follow through, this is the most visionary space policy that the nation has ever had.

* Simberg on Complainers – These people live in some bizarre alternate reality in which NASA didn’t kill fourteen astronauts at the cost of hundred of billions of dollars, Lockheed Martin has ever sent someone into space, SpaceX has achieved nothing, etc

* from George Herbert -They’re explicitly stepping away from a roadmap, and onto the technology base that most of us long term experienced enthusiasts have been pushing for.

Popular Science has some numbers and info

NASA won’t be sending manned missions back to the moon any time soon. But in what may seem like a gutting of NASA moon- and Mars-based ambitions there is a silver lining: a $6 billion investment in helping private industry bring their space launch vehicles up to human-rated capacity and a smattering of modest robotic precursor missions to the moon, Mars, Martian moons or the Lagrange points that should set the stage for later manned missions far beyond low-earth orbit.

However, the Constellation program – and the $9 billion already spent developing its Orion crew vehicle and Ares rockets – is decidedly dead.

They will also investigate in orbit refueling.

Highlights from the proposed NASA budget:

* $6 billion over five years to catalyze development of American commercial human spaceflight vehicles.

* $7.8 billion over five years for technology demonstration programs for future exploration activities. These might include technologies aimed at rendezvous and docking in orbit, refueling vessels in space, advanced life support systems for astronauts and other developments that will facilitate future missions beyond low-earth orbit.

* $3.1 billion over five years for aggressive research into heavy-lift rocket engines (but not the Ares-V), new propellants, and innovative ways of reaching deep space.

* $4.9 billion over five years for investment in early-stage and game-changing technologies incubating in the private sector. These could include innovations in sensor tech, robotics, launch vehicles, communications, etc., and will likely be funded through X-Prize-like performance-based grants that reward private sector space companies that can hit certain benchmarks quickly.

* $3 billion over five years to fund a string of cost-effective exploratory unmanned missions to the moon, near-earth asteroids and even Mars, scouting future manned exploratory targets.

Fuel depots have been covered several times here and will help reduce launch costs to about the cost of reaching low earth orbit.

Also,the money that will now go to Spacex and Blue Horizon will be money that is better spent.