With a sizable chunk of the federal budget going to NASA spending - but not enough to please every astronomer on Cape Canaveral - debates loom in and around DC on what's the best use of our space money.

Note from editors: This page needs considerable fleshing out, particularly with facts around the Hubble, Moon and Mars missions, which could also be individual "issue briefs." See our note to the right on helping out as a Joe Editor.

What NASA's spending its money on

(out of a total budget of $16 billion in 2005) (NASA - pdf)

  • Space Station and Shuttle: $6.7 billion
  • "Science" (studies and exploration to understand the solar system and universe more using traditional satellites, telescopes, exploration probes, etc.): $5.5 billion
  • "Exploration Systems" (researching and developing technology for future exploration, particularly getting humans farther afield and using new power sources): $2.7 billion
  • "Aeronautics research" (good old fashioned planes technology): $0.9 billion
  • Education: $0.2 billion

for past budgets see NASA.

NASA's space plans

According to a NYT editorial, in 2005 NASA planned to continue to run the space shuttle for 19 trips (18 to the space station and 1 to the Hubble telescope), while building the shuttle's replacement, a "crew exploration vehicle," that would be finished in 2012 and will start taking astronauts to the moon in 2018. By the end of 2007, NASA was admitting that the space shuttle's replacement wouldn't be finished until 2015 at current funding levels, making the US dependent on Russia to lift us to the space station (NYT).

Where the facts are from:

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