NASA forced to review manned spaceflight plans

In conjunction with the 2010 budget release, the White House also announced the launch of an independent review of NASA's human spaceflight activities.

The Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans will examine NASA development programs and possible alternatives. The goal is to provide options that will ensure the nation's human spaceflight program remains safe, innovative and affordable in the years following the space shuttle's retirement.

The panel's results will support an administration decision by August 2009 on how to proceed. Acting NASA Administrator Christopher Scolese expressed his support for the effort. A blue-ribbon panel of experts will conduct the review, led by Norman Augustine, a former aerospace industry executive.

Work will continue on NASA's missions of exploration and research while the review is underway. NASA expects a budget of $18.69 billion for fiscal year 2010 to advance Earth science, complete the International Space Station, explore the solar system and conduct aeronautics research. The budget request represents an increase of $903.6 million, or 5 percent, above funding provided in the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. All totaled, an additional $2 billion has been added to NASA's 2009 and 2010 budgets under the Obama administration.

Funds freed by the shuttle's retirement will support development of systems to deliver people and cargo to the station, the moon and other destinations. As part of the effort, NASA will invest in private-sector development and the demonstration of vehicles to support the agency's human crew and cargo spaceflight requirements.

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