Budget proposal hurts aeronautics – AIA

by Chris Bergin

Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) president and CEO John Douglass believes NASA’s budget proposal of nearly $17 billion shows a continued decline in aeronautics research investment, while giving support for the funding levels for the VSE (Vision for Space Exploration).

The budget proposal for the 2007 fiscal year, released on Monday, included increases for weapons procurement and research – and development in the Defense Department. as well as full funding for NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.

While the budget shows a commitment to national defense and space exploration, it dramatically under-funds aeronautics research.

‘We are very concerned that the budget would continue a debilitating decline in aeronautics research investment,’ Douglass said. ‘We must ensure that all the critical long-term research that underpins U.S. competitiveness in an increasingly global marketplace are adequately funded.’

Douglass said the budget includes increased funding for defense procurement ($84 billion) and research ($73 billion), levels that are critical to the nation’s ability to deploy the precision mobile forces required to meet the new international security challenges of the war on terror.

NASA’s total budget request amounts to $16.8 billion, a level $170 million above last year’s original recommendation. Douglass said that level will support NASA’s near-term space exploration objectives of safely returning the space shuttle to flight and advancing the nation’s dynamic new plans to return to the moon and explore Mars.

‘The aerospace industry strongly supports the proposed funding levels for defense and space systems modernization,’ Douglass added.

The budget also includes the president’s American Competitiveness Initiative, which will help aerospace and defense industry efforts to promote science education.

The American Competitiveness Initiative enhances several science, mathematics, and engineering education programs and proposes the permanent establishment of the research and development tax credit. Expanded math and science education, as well as a permanent R & D tax credit, Douglass said, can ensure that the aerospace industry will have an innovative and highly skilled workforce.

But NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is slated to take a $205 million cut, a decline of 22 percent that adds to years of budget cuts. The proposal includes just $724 million for aeronautics R & D, a steep drop from the $1.5 billion invested in 1994.

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