Two former officials of the National Aeronautics & Space Administration along with former President Clinton’s national science advisor have issued a report suggesting that the space agency should return to its roots by restoring the aeronautics portion of its mission.
The Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget request for NASA includes an overall increase for space exploration, but aeronautics research continues to fall short, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said last month. The request totals $17.6 billion, an increase of 2.9 percent from Fiscal Year 2008.
An appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives shortly before Congress adjourned for its summer recess contains increases for NASA aeronautics research, along with hikes for exploration and earth and space sciences.
The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) is calling on the Bush Administration to develop a vision for aeronautics similar to the one proposed recently by the President for space exploration.
“The most spectacular enhancements of life in the 21st century will be tied to discoveries made in research and development for aerospace,” said Clayton Jones, chairman, president and CEO of Rockwell Collins.
While the Aerospace Industries Association calls for more money for aeronautics research and development, the Bush White House wants a NASA budget that would slash funding for this type of work.
The first “A” in NASA stands for “aeronautics,” a fact often overlooked in day-to-day discussions of and references to what most people regard solely as the “space” agency.
While most of NASA is reaching for the stars, the segment of the agency that conducts aeronautics research here on earth has taken a budget cut for the second consecutive year following President Bush’s initiative to expand the exploration of space.
Michael Griffin reported to work late last month as the 11th administrator of NASA. By his own admission, Griffin will be “spending a good deal of my time reviewing our progress toward returning the space shuttle safely to flight,” so it remains to be seen if his experience as a flight instructor and instrument-rated multi-engine pilot will result in a renewed emphasis on aeronautics research.
Congress Might Clip NASA’s Wings
NASA’s use of seven of its fleet of 85 aircraft to transport employees to routine site visits, meetings, speeches and conferences cost American taxpayers $20 million more than having space agency personnel fly on the airlines.
The Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) said that unless the U.S. is willing to concede aerospace dominance to Europe and the rest of the world the nation has to invest more money now in technical advancements.
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