Space and Obama

The Planetary Society’s proposed “vigorous new space exploration plan” is surely timed to coincide with the US president-elect Barack Obama trying to get things together for his administration. Although currently short on details, the society is being smart by tailoring the plan to reflect the economic conditions, another thing Obama has to deal with.

There may be some good news if the president-to-be follows through with his promise to increase NASA funds by $2bn:

Bill Adkins, a Washington aerospace consultant who worked on space policy in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, said Obama probably could get an extra $2 billion from Congress for NASA if he asks for it.

“I think there will be a premium on the new Congress and the new president to show they can govern and not start off bickering about issues,” Adkins said. “If Obama actually puts the $2 billion in [his budget request] that he promised in his campaign, I think Congress is likely to go along with it because it’s not big enough to have a fight over. If Obama doesn’t, I don’t see the mood in Congress to add the money.”

Other sources who follow NASA’s prospects on Capitol Hill said Obama might be able to get an additional $2 billion for the space agency without having to make a formal budget request. Democrats are working on a $100 billion economic stimulus package that could be taken up this month and sent to Bush to be signed into law before the end of the year. Lawmakers also are talking about assembling a separate, possibly bigger stimulus package early next year after Obama takes office. Legislative strategists said NASA money plausibly could be added to one or both of the proposed bills.

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