Advancing American Leadership in Space Exploration and Scientific Discovery

Earlier today, President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year 2014 budget for NASA. This request is a $17.7 billion investment in our nation’s future. It ensures the United States will remain the world’s leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come, while making critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people.

In 2010, President Obama challenged us to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and then onto Mars in the 2030s. Since then, we have been developing technologies and exploration hardware to send humans on those deep space missions. Using game-changing technologies, NASA is now developing a first-ever mission to identify, capture, and retrieve an asteroid. This mission represents an unprecedented technological feat – raising the bar for human exploration and discovery. Asteroids are incredibly important objects to humanity:

•     Scientifically – offering valuable insights into the origins of the Universe

•     Planetary threats – for their demonstrated role in shaping our planet and life on it

•     Resources – as a potential source of resources for future space development

•     Destinations – as a destination to advance our human exploration technologies and capabilities

That is why we made an asteroid our next destination for human exploration three years ago. In addition to funding this asteroid mission planning, our budget funds an initiative to accelerate identification and characterization of asteroids that pose a threat to our planet. We will use existing capabilities including the Orion crew capsule and the SLS rocket, to benefit more fully from our ongoing investments.

The International Space Station – where astronauts live and work every single day – is the centerpiece of human exploration. This budget sustains operations and allows us to perform technology demonstrations and scientific research only possible in microgravity, all helping to improve life here on Earth and plan for missions into deep space.

Our Commercial Cargo program is funded to keep already successful operations on track and our Commercial Crew program has the resources to ensure that our astronauts are launching from U.S. soil on spacecraft built by American companies by 2017, ending our reliance on other nations and opening up new commercial markets in space.

The budget funds our amazing fleet of scientific spacecraft, including strong support for study of the Earth and its response to natural or human-induced changes. And on the heels of the most daring mission to Mars in history last year, it provides funding to launch other missions to the Red Planet – including one later this year. We also will continue our steady progress to develop and conduct critical tests on the James Webb Space Telescope, leading to its planned launch in 2018.

NASA’s 2014 budget focuses on an ambitious new mission to expand America’s capabilities in space, steady progress on new space and aeronautic technologies, continued success with commercial space partnerships, and far-reaching science programs to help us understand Earth and the universe in which we live. It keeps us competitive, opens the door to new destinations and vastly increases our knowledge. It also supports the Administration’s commitment that NASA leads in science and technology through innovative solutions that inspire the world.

I am excited about this budget. While tough choices had to be made in this tight budgetary environment, I believe it strengthens us for the future and prepares NASA to continue to lead the way in this new era of exploration and discovery.