NASA has seen a rough couple of years. Economic hardship nationwide has resulted in budget cutbacks for NASA and forced the organizations to reassess its priorities.
To do this, NASA is creating a new space tech division called the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). This directorate, according to a statement issued by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, "will be a catalyst for the creation of technologies and innovation needed to maintain NASA leadership in space while also benefiting America's economy." Share the news: Tweet
Essentially, this means that NASA will be placing a greater focus on discovering and building new technologies here on earth. Once that has been done, there is a possibility for more ambitious space travel in the future. STMD gained traction when NASA publicly requested funding for the project in its budget for fiscal year 2013.
"The Administration's commitment to enhance NASA's role in aerospace technology development aims to create the innovations necessary to keep the Aerospace Industry-one of the largest net export industries in the United States-on the cutting edge for years to come," NASA said in their budget for fiscal year 2013.
When Obama heard the request, he asked for $699 million to fund NASA and the STMD. Although Congress has yet to pass anything, it is likely -- if the budget passes -- the amount NASA receives will be reduced.
Obama, in 2010, also proposed ending NASA's moon program. He said he would like to see a shift toward that facet of space travel handled by private companies.
The president also vowed to increase the role of manned space exploration to farther reaches of space. It is possible that this new measure is a compromise of sorts.
Although NASA has not yet released the specifics of just how the money for STMD would be spent, the benefits of this new directorate are numerous. Tweet it: Tweet
For one, it would not just benefit NASA. The money invested would help other industries, such as the transportation industry.
In its 2013 budget analysis, NASA reported:
"Recognizing the need to find a more efficient means to transport people and cargo to locations like the International Space Station, NASA is working with American industry to develop innovative, lower-cost, and safe approaches to human spaceflight through a combination of Government and industry investment."
The directorate also has advantages that are more long-term. Namely, the development of a new telescope to replace the Hubble, along with many other exciting technologies.
"The Administration’s proposal supports research grants and operating satellites, telescopes, and space probes to study the solar system as well as projects in development and important new efforts. Following a thorough management and technical review, the Budget funds the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble, to enable a launch later this decade."
The budget report mentions plans to land a man on an asteroid by 2025, which will allow them to gather samples to help NASA better understand the composition of the solar system.
Other areas of NASA will see a boost thanks to STMD. Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration will see its budget increase from $433 million to an estimated $619 million in 2013.
Likewise, Space Technology, which received no budget allocation at all in 2011 and $548 million in 2012, will receive $699 million in funding by the end of fiscal year 2013. Tweet it: Tweet