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U.S. Space Programs: Civilian, Military, and Commercial

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Congressional brief

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The 109th Congress is addressing a broad range of civilian, military, and commercial space issues. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration NASA conducts the most visible space activities. For FY2006, NASA received 16.623 billion when adjusted for two rescissions and an augmentation for hurricane recovery. The FY2007 request is 16.792 billion. The future of the U.S. human space flight program is dominating debate about NASA. The space shuttle returned to flight in July 2005 after a 2 12-year hiatus following the 2003 Columbia tragedy, but the next launch has been indefinitely postponed because of a foam-shedding event during that launch similar to that which led to the loss of Columbia. Pursuant to the Vision for Space Exploration announced by President Bush in January 2004, the shuttle program is to be terminated in 2010. The Vision directs NASA to focus its activities on returning humans to the Moon by 2020 and eventually sending them to Mars. The Vision has broad implications for the agency, especially since most of the money to implement it is expected to come from other NASA activities. The Department of Defense DoD has a less visible but equally substantial space program. Figures provided to CRS show a total classified and unclassified space budget of 19.4 billion for FY2003, 20 billion for FY2004, 19.8 billion for FY2005, and a request of 22.5 billion for FY2006. The appropriate role of the government in facilitating commercial space businesses is an ongoing debate. President Bush signed a new commercial remote sensing policy in 2003, and a new space launch policy in 2004, that try to strike a balance between facilitating commercial activities while ensuring the U.S. Government has needed data and services. President Clintons 1993 decision to merge NASAs space station program with Russias is symbolic of the dramatic changes, and risks, in international cooperation and competition in space.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Astronautics
  • Manned Spacecraft

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