Augustine Tells the Newshour that NASA Needs $4 Billion per Year More

Augustine Tells the Newshour that NASA Needs $4 Billion per Year More

Judy Woodruff of PBS’s Newshour interviewed Norm Augustine on Friday, August 14 about the status of his review of NASA’s human space flight program. She opened her report by noting that the committee had reported to the White House and NASA earlier in the day. The following are particularly interesting excerpts, including his assessment that NASA needs $4 billion per year more to have a successful human space flight program.

“Really, we’ve given the White House a dilemma. The space program we have today, the human space flight program, really isn’t executable with the money we have.

“And so either we have to do something with the current program that’s not going to be very successful, I’m afraid, or spend a nontrivial sum more than that to have something that’s really exciting and workable, and that’s the challenge the White House is going to have, is to sort that out.”

“They’re short about $4 billion a year from what it’s going to take to really carry out a successful program. There are also some real technical challenges.

“For example, we don’t really know the effect of galactic cosmic rays on human beings that are in outer space for long periods of time. We think that the effects could be very bad.

“We also know that weightlessness has a serious impact on humans when they’ve been exposed to it for a long time….”

He also commented that he believes commercial space flight will be “an important piece of the future.”

(Editorial note: Mr. Augustine said that he believed the NASA budget is currently 0.7% of the federal budget. According to OMB historical table 4.2, it is 0.5% of federal outlays today, compared to 4.4% at the height of the Apollo program in 1966.)

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