NASA to Move Beyond Ares?

That’s the suggestion by this ScienceInsider story where it is reported that the Obama Administration will request the development of a new, simpler heavy-lift launcher and an additional $1 billion for the agency starting in 2011.  This article is full of anonymous sourcing, so I’m a bit skeptical.  The decision has not been formally announced, and may not be announced until the February release of the fiscal year 2011 budget requests by the administration.  It’s also worth noting that the options described by the article are not the same as those outlined in the Augustine Committee report, though there are similarities.

Should this reported choice be accurate, this represents a change in budget levels for the agency, reversing an earlier decision by the Obama Administration to keep NASA funding flat and below necessary levels required for the current Constellation program.  I do not think the reported plans make up completely for the budget shortfall, so it’s not clear if the flexible path envisioned by the Administration will be achievable under that budget.  Of course, by February, this may all be moot.

Happy New Year, everybody.

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