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NASA Moving to Scale Back the Space Technology Mission Directorate

Accepted submission by takyon at 2018-03-01 19:36:04
Techonomics

In response to Trump budget, NASA ending separate technology plan [arstechnica.com]

Even though Congress has yet to formally consider President Trump's new budget for NASA, the space agency is already moving swiftly to implement some of its core principles. Among those is a White House desire to end a separate program within the agency focused on the development of advanced new spaceflight technologies intended to keep NASA at the cutting edge.

With an annual budget that has varied between $500 million and $1 billion, the Space Technology Mission Directorate was created in 2010 to develop the kinds of technology NASA needed to explore deeper into space, such as advanced propulsion and power systems, in-space manufacturing, and new means of landing on far-off worlds. If humans really were to expand beyond low-Earth orbit, research and development of these new technologies was deemed critical.

[...] According to internal emails obtained by Ars, this [realignment towards the Space Launch System and Orion] is already happening. The emails characterize the change as a "restructuring" and assign NASA official James Reuter to serve as acting associate administrator for the space technology program. Prior to coming to NASA headquarters from Marshall Space Flight Center in 2015, Reuter played a management role overseeing development of the SLS rocket and Orion.

Some former space technology officials have begun sounding the alarm about these changes being made without oversight from Congress. "Disastrous news!" tweeted [twitter.com] Mason Peck on Thursday morning. He served as the space agency's chief technologist earlier this decade. "NASA is already dismantling STMD even though the President's budget is only a month old. Don't give up. We need Space Technology if we want NASA to have a bold future. I hope Congress will reject this gutting of NASA's technology investments."

Directorate homepage [nasa.gov].


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