NASA is facing an estimated $5 billion funding shortfall for its Shuttle program, Administrator Michael Griffin warned Congress.
Griffin told the House Science Committee on Thursday (Nov. 3) that the space agency needs between $3 billion and $5 billion more than currently budgeted to operate the Shuttle through 2010. He said NASA was looking for ways to close the gap.
The budget shortfall emerges amid ambitious plans to return to the Moon by 2020 and explore Mars. Those proposals, along with soaring federal budget deficits, have left the troubled Shuttle program severely underfunded.
Griffin said he would report back to Congress in the next six months on what savings NASA has found to fund Shuttle operations. He added that the funding gap would not pinch the program until fiscal 2008.
“There is simply not enough money in NASA’s budget to carry out all the tasks it is undertaking on the current schedule,” responded Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., chairman of the science panel. “NASA has gotten in trouble repeatedly in the past by making promises that are beyond its financial means to fulfill.”