NASA receives more funding than last year

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2015

STATE OF STENNIS: Stennis Deputy Director Jerry Cook addresses media during a press conference Monday. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

STATE OF STENNIS: Stennis Deputy Director Jerry Cook addresses media during a press conference Monday.
Photo by Jeremy Pittari

NASA is expecting to receive a higher budget than they received during the last fiscal year.
Of the $18.5 billion that was preliminarily approved for the space agency, John C. Stennis Space Center Deputy Director Jerry Cook said the local rocket testing facility will receive $143 million in direct funding, and an additional $100 million in reimbursable work.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bowden said the agency has been preliminarily awarded a proposed budget of $18.5 billion, which is a $500 million increase from last year’s enacted budget.
Those funds will be used to work towards the goal President Barack Obama set forth in 2010, to bring humans to the planet Mars, and possibly an asteroid.
Behind Bowden during the address to the entire agency via an Internet feed, which suffered from lag and a lot of buffering, were three space travel capsules. One was the recently launched Orion capsule, which was taken apart for study after its maiden test launch in December. That capsule is slated to be part of the Space Launch System, a program touted to be able to take humans to Mars and back.
Bowden also covered the Boeing CST-100 capsule, a reusable capsule that could be used for up to 10 missions.
The last capsule displayed was Space-X’s Dragon capsule. Bowden said the commercial agency is working on a crew transport capsule as well, dubbed the Crew Dragon.
A new telescope is also planned to replace the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, set for launch within the next three years.
Other initiatives include development of lighter materials for spacecraft, and satellites that can help better predict and alert humans of impending natural disasters.
The Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite was launched late last month. Bowden said one of its functions will be to help with weather forecasting and establishing early warning systems.
For the past 40 years a robotic presence has been on Mars, and more are on the way. Bowden said two more are planned, a lander that will help study the planet’s core along with another rover.
“We’re pushing out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay,” Bowden said.
Part of that push involves a year-long International Space Station mission to find out how long term exposure to the conditions of space affect astronauts. The astronaut who will spend the year on the ISS has a twin brother, who will remain on Earth and act as the control for the experiment.
Cook took a few minutes to address the future of Stennis, which he said is bright considering engine testing of the RS-25 engine is planned. That engine, formerly used on the Space Shuttle, will be part of the SLS program. While one test has already been conducted, additional testing is on hold while the facility updates the water mains to the test stands. Cook said he expects testing of the RS-25 to resume in April.
When asked about the future of test stands at the facility now that the Constellation program was changed to the SLS program, he said the agency has plans for the A-1 test stand but no plans for the A-2 test stand. He made no mention of the A-3 test stand, which recently received negative press for being built and maintained at the expense of taxpayers even though there is no engine to test on it due to Constellation’s cancellation. Commercial engine testing is still ongoing at the facility.

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