NASA Cuts Off Budget for Future Mars Missions

For the past couple of decades NASA has been aiming for Mars, Curiosity being their latest effort to reach and examine the planet at it’s fullest. But thanks to a new budget cut, it looks like NASA is going to have to turn around and focus on other matters.

Curiosity, as we all know by now, is supposed to land near the Martian equator where it will begin to search for the chemical building blocks of life. NASA hopes that by finding these blocks we’ll be able to determine if we are truly alone in our universe. in 2010 President Obama stood in front of the Kennedy Space Center and said that it was imperative that astronauts made it to the red planet by mid 2030, but his budget didn’t give NASA enough money to full fill this task.

Two very important robotic missions are supposed to be launched on 2016 and 2018 but after the president’s new budget proposal NASA won’t be able to launch them. The most ambitious Mars flight yet and one the National Academy of Sciences endorsed as the No. 1 solar system priority – a plan to grab Martian rocks and soil and bring them back to Earth – is on indefinite hold. The agency is currently trying to find a way to salvage one of the missions instead of two since they have already spent $64 million on early designs.

If Obama’s budget sails through as outlined, “in essence, it is the end of the Mars program,” said Phil Christensen, a Mars researcher at Arizona State University. It’s like “we’ve just flown Apollo 10 and now we’re going to cancel the Apollo program when we’re one step from landing,” he said.

But really it’s not that people and researchers don’t feel like Mars is worth the trip and exploration anymore, but it’s the fact that the U.S. Governemnt can’t afford it. Unless NASA finds ways to work out their research in an affordable way, NASA researchers are going to kill the space program themselves.

Private companies like Virgin Galactic have proved that going to outerspace can be done cheaper than what NASA spends. Obama only pulled 0.3 percent of the funding away from the NASA program, which means they just need to allocate that from another parts of the company but they can’t find a way to move funding around… not even 1% of the funding.

NASA really needs to find ways to stay inside their budget limits. Curiosity for example was almost $1 billion dollars over budget. MOST of NASA’s projects have gone over budget for millions of dollars each, this is partly due to bad researchers who claim they can get a mission done with X amount of money when in reality they needed Y.

If they don’t find a way to make this work, it’s going to be at least a decade before NASA can go back out to Mars. And if NASA ignores Mars for a decade, it runs the risk of a brain drain, said Ed Weiler, who resigned last year as NASA’s sciences chief because of budget battles over Mars. Via: STL Today