Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, is asking Congress to extend NASA’s authority to buy seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft, and to extend the US space shuttle program beyond its planned retirement in two years.
Obama, has indicated strong support for civil space and aeronautics spending after the removal of the Bush administration.
"The very engine of innovation for our nation, investment in research and technology, has been all but eliminated at NASA," said Obama
"America needs to renew its commitment to NASA and to provide sustained, stable direction with an honest budget and sufficient resources for success across all of its critical missions: human spaceflight, science, and aeronautics research,” said the candidate.
It would cost about $3 billion a year to keep flying the shuttle, according to a recent report by the Congressional Budget Office.
NASA currently uses both space shuttles and Soyuz spacecraft to ferry materials and astronauts to and from the International Space Station. If the shuttle is cancelled in 2010, and relations with Russia continue to develop, the US may not be able to participate in the ISS program until its Orion spacecraft is ready in 2015.