Tight NASA budget emphasizes IT

The president's fiscal 2000 budget request calls for $13.5 billion for NASA, marking the sixth year in a row that the space agency's budget had been decreased, down from $13.6 billion for fiscal 1999.

However, despite the overall decrease, NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin highlighted today in his presentation of the budget the importance of information technology in the agency's mission-critical work.

"I am excited about the great leaps we can make using information technologies to carry out our missions," Goldin said. "We can make engineers and scientists even more productive, able to design airplanes and spacecraft in less time and at less cost. We can interpret and integrate the enormous quantities of space and earth science information our spacecraft are collecting."

In addition, Goldin also highlighted the agency's ongoing commitment to making a wide variety of data available via the Internet.

In the budget request, NASA is one of six agencies that would share a $366 million pool of money for IT research through a program called Information Technology for the 21st Century. IT-squared calls for NASA to receive $38 million.

The budget request also includes a $26 million total increase in funding for mission communications services, with funding for ground networks jumping from $211 million to $228 million; funding for mission control and data systems increasing from $143 million to $150 million; and funding for space network customer services increasing from $25 million to $27 million.

But NASA's budget request also includes some decreases from last year. For example, funding for the Earth Observing System Data and Information System, a NASA effort to build the world's largest civilian database, would fall $30 million to $231 million in fiscal 2000.

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