Tags: nasa | budget | cassini | hubble | delayed

Budget Restraints Could Delay or Abort Major NASA Projects

Image: Budget Restraints Could Delay or Abort Major NASA Projects The spinning vortex of Saturn's north polar storm is seen from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

Thursday, 26 Dec 2013 09:40 AM

By Courtney Coren

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Major space projects at NASA may have to be delayed and some already underway may have to be aborted due to lack of funding.

For example, the Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn will run out of fuel in about four years. To continue that mission, now focused on exploring Saturn's rings, it would take about $60 million a year, according to The Washington Post. But the NASA budget presently has no funding designated for the mission, which could bring it to an early end next year.

"I think it would be the height of folly to terminate such a profoundly successful mission when we're not done yet," said Carolyn Porco, planetary scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. Porco works on the project.

NASA officials believe the administration and Congress will likely share that view and in the end will allow the mission to continue with the appropriate funding.

But in early December NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told a NASA science advisory committee that there isn't enough funding to continue a number of other flagship projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope and Curiosity rover mission to Mars.

There are also a number of other projects currently underway that were already approved, but scientists are anxious about the lack of funds and are hoping the economy will improve.

The Administration's Office of Management and Budget is currently working on NASA's 2015 budget and NASA officials are waiting to see what projects can be kept operational and which ones may have to be delayed or aborted.

The House Science Committee approved a $16.8 billion NASA spending measure in July, which was $1 billion less than what President Barack Obama and the Senate had wanted.

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