If NASA's space program is the absolute last thing on your mind, it's not surprising. But while other government agencies are facing cutbacks, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's budget is increasing, with an extra $6 billion being handed over to the development of new space initiatives over the next five years. NASA stands by the plan, claiming that new programs will take scientific research in space into the future. But some critics say that the President Barack Obama's allocation of the budget is unrealistic; others are wondering where - on Earth - those funds could be spent. (BABs are part of the recovery act created by the Obama administration. Find out how they work and whether they could work for you, in Build America Bonds: Should You Buy?)
In Pictures: 6 Hot Careers With Lots Of Jobs

  • $19 Billion
    The amount President Obama requested to spend on the NASA space program for the 2011 fiscal year last February. Funds would be reallocated to focus on developing higher quality and more cost-effective technologies in space exploration, robotics missions, development of heavy-lift rocket systems that would make traveling to space faster and easier. The government made a spending request of $100 billion that would go to NASA over the next five years.

  • $2.5 Billion
    The estimated cost of closing out the controversial Constellation program, which will be canceled by the Obama administration when approved by Congress. The program supports human flight into space, including sending a rocket called Ares I to the moon. The administration called it "over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest in critical new technologies."

    But Congress is waiting to be convinced that turning to private companies to construct spacecrafts will not be any more affordable or effective. Watchdog groups like Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), which are skeptical of the return on investment (ROI) in manned space exploration, applaud Obama's initiative. "As romantic and inspirational as space flight is, the brutal reality is that the Constellation program has become a symbol of the 'old NASA,'" said CAGW President Tom Schatz. (The President's political party is correlated to market performance. Find out which party tends to outperform, in For Higher Stock Returns, Vote Republican Or Democrat?)

  • 10,000
    The number of jobs, nationwide, that the President hopes to create by investing in the private sector and by upgrading the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

  • 2004
    The year former President George W. Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration plan. The Constellation program made its debut in this report, which would replace the Space Shuttle exploration program once the International Space Station was completed in 2010. The report came in part as a response to the investigation of the deaths of seven astronauts on the Space Shuttle Columbia. The investigation said space exploration needed a clearer vision. "This cause of exploration and discovery is not an option we choose; it is a desire written in the human heart," Bush was quoted in the Vision for Space Exploration report.

  • 50
    The number of years NASA has been in the business of launching space shuttles. Now, there are just four launches left, each with a price tag at approximately $450 million. The International Space Station will be complete after these final materials are shuttled to the research centre that orbits Earth. (A president's campaign trail promises often come up against economic reality. Read more, in Talk Is Cheap: Campaign Promises And The Economy.)

The Bottom Line
If the cancellation of the Constellation program is approved, it will mark a new direction for the NASA space program - away from the days of moon landings and manned space flight, and into a new age of scientific research, with the completion of the International Space Station.

"We will blaze a new trail of discovery and development," assured NASA administrator Charlie Bolden. "We will facilitate the growth of new commercial industries. And we will expand our understanding of the Earth, our solar system, and the universe beyond." (For more, see Budget Like The Government.)

Related Articles
  1. Fundamental Analysis

    The Evolution of Obamacare Since Its Inception

    Find out whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has lived up to its lofty projections from 2010.
  2. Stock Analysis

    The Biggest Risks of Investing in Lockheed Martin Stock (LMT)

    Learn about defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, its leadership within its industry, and how the company can stay on top as the defense landscape changes.
  3. Investing News

    Chipotle Served with Criminal Probe

    Chipotle's beat muted expectations and got a clear bill from the CDC, but it now appears that an investigation into its E.coli breakout has expanded.
  4. Stock Analysis

    China Mobile: Just How Big is It? (CHL, CHU, CHA)

    The story behind China Mobile, the biggest company you might never have heard of.
  5. Markets

    The (Expected) Market Impact of the 2016 Election

    With primary season upon us, investor attention is beginning to turn to the upcoming U.S. presidential election.
  6. Economics

    Trump vs. Bloomberg: How They Compare

    If Bloomberg enters the presidential race how will he compare to billionaire brethren Trump?
  7. Fundamental Analysis

    5 Economic Changes to Expect if a Republican Wins in 2016

    Discover the five most likely economic changes the United States can expect if a Republican wins the presidential election in 2016.
  8. Term

    What Is Section 1231 Property?

    Section 1231 property is depreciable business property that’s held for a year or longer.
  9. Economics

    A Look At Fiscal And Monetary Policy

    Fiscal and monetary policies provide our government and the Federal Reserve with two powerful tools to regulate the economy.
  10. Investing Basics

    This is What Donald Trump's Portfolio Looks Like

    Find out what Donald Trump's portfolio looks like and gain some interesting insights into the way the billionaire's investment mind works.
  1. What's the most expensive man-made object ever built?

    As of April 2015, the International Space Station (ISS) is the most expensive man-made object ever built. The ISS project ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the aerospace sector?

    The aerospace sector, one of the largest and most powerful industries in the United States, supplies five markets: military ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How much money does Florida make from unclaimed property each year?

    Each year, goods such as money, financial investments and physical property are either auctioned off or appraised before ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How much money does New York make from unclaimed property each year?

    According to the Office of the New York State Comptroller, types of unclaimed property accounts include bank accounts, wages, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the Social Security administration responsible for?

    The main responsibility of the U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is overseeing the country's Social Security program. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Where are the Social Security administration headquarters?

    The U.S. Social Security Administration, or SSA, is headquartered in Woodlawn, Maryland, a suburb just outside of Baltimore. ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  2. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  3. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  4. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
  5. Dark Pool Liquidity

    The trading volume created by institutional orders that are unavailable to the public. The bulk of dark pool liquidity is ...
Trading Center