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Pressure mounts on new US administration for increased NASA funding

NASA faces an uncertain funding future

WASHINGTON (BNS): Pressure is being mounted on the incoming Barack Obama administration to keep its promise to extend further funding to NASA to retain America's dominance in space activities.

The Coalition for Space Exploration, a leading group of space industry businesses and advocacy groups, last weekend released a statement from legendary astronaut James Lovell comparing the recent bailouts of sick industries and the financial crunch suffered by NASA. Lovell was part of the historic six-day journey of Apollo 8 in 1968, which was the first human voyage to circle moon and also the first human journey away from the Earth's gravitational influence.

"Why the necessity to bail out these mismanaged, short-sighted industries that are consumer based when a federal agency with strong management and awe-inspiring deliverables finds itself strapped for cash? Today NASA is at crossroads it is suffering under economic stress, desperate for the necessary funding to continue its magnificent work. It too faces an uncertain funding future tied to 400,000 to 500,000 federal and civil contractor jobs," Lovell said.

The legendary astronaut pointed out that NASA-derived technologies that have spun off into our daily lives have 'found more than 30,000 commercial uses'. And these innovative products "range from pacemakers and advanced filtration systems to high-tech medical equipment and safer, more efficient air travel."

Lovell sought to draw President-elect Barack Obama's attention to a recent statement: "Together, we can ensure that NASA again reflects all that is best about our country and continue our nation's pre-eminence in space."

Lovell said a recent analysis of the "costs of government bailouts due to the housing crisis, the credit crisis and other economic woes tallies up to $8.5 trillion - more than the cost of all US wars, the Louisiana Purchase, the New Deal, the Marshall Plan and NASA space programme spending - all combined and adjusted for today's dollars."

Lovell further says, "NASA can be counted on to confront key issues here on Earth, from global climate change to energy independence to aeronautics research. As has been the case for over 50 years, there's a payback to the public for investing in your space programme."

Lovell said it was "imperative that NASA receive sufficient funds from the national budget to move on to the next phase of space exploration under the Constellation programme. Provided that President-elect Obama holds true on his promise of $2 billion in additional funding for the programme, NASA will be able to continue its great work and ensure that hundreds of thousands keep their jobs, allowing the work and dollars for the space programme to remain within the US economy. This is not a bailout for the agency, but necessary financing to accomplish all that NASA has been tasked with doing."

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