The proposed 2003 budget for NASA would be $15 billion, $500 million more than in 2002. However, there would be major cutbacks in money for the space station and space exploration and increases in money for the development of nuclear power and propulsion. scale back spending on the international space station and space shuttle but promote the development of nuclear technology in space.
The budget would eliminate all future funds for proposed missions to Europa, a large Jupiter moon that some scientists think may harbor life, and to Pluto, the only planet that remains unvisited by a probe.
The White House is considering outsourcing many shuttle jobs to private contractors, and may even sell off some of the shuttle hardware. ?Competitive sourcing will enable the full transfer of shuttle operations and possibly some portion of infrastructure ownership to a private entity,? reads the proposed 2003 NASA budget. The Bush administration graded the effectiveness of various NASA groups, and those involving human flight fared poorly, with swelling costs and launch delays. The report did praise the Discovery and Explorer missions, which are comparatively inexpensive unmanned expeditions that have explored Mars, landed on a nearby asteroid, collected interstellar dust and orbited Earth to observe the planet, the sun and the heavens.
This new direction for NASA could set off protests from activists who questioned the safety of past nuclear probes, citing the risks of accidental crashes should something go wrong when they?re launched.
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