Monday, August 22, 2011

Orbiter Museum Funding Threatened

An artist's concept of the orbiter Atlantis on display at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Image source: KSCVC.

Florida Today reports that the July vote by the Republican-dominated House Appropriations Committee to cut 10% from the Fiscal Year 2012 NASA budget would remove funding for processing Shuttle orbiters for museum delivery.

Funding for the program is almost nonexistent in a budget approved by U.S. House appropriators that would cut NASA spending by $1.6 billion, to $16.8 billion.

The $548 million recommended for space shuttle operations would primarily fund contributions to USA employee pensions. Little would likely be left for ongoing operations. That proposal may not survive, but Congress is not expected to pass a 2012 budget before the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30. The resulting uncertainty could impact jobs.

This could delay the opening of the Atlantis museum at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in the summer of 2013, along with the delivery of the other orbiters to museums.

The committee bill increased spending on the Space Launch System and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle while reducing spending on all other programs. It would cancel the James Webb Space Telescope.

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