Michael Auslin’s excellent post below, like a lot of the coverage of the end of the shuttle program, makes the perfectly sensible assumption that the end of American manned space flight is all about money. We’re in tight budget times, and maybe the space program has been deemed an inessential luxury, rightly or wrongly. But below is a chart (based on this OMB table from the president’s most recent budget) of NASA’s budget since 1996 and the administration’s projections of its budget through 2016.
Does it seem like the end of manned space flight will make a huge dent? In each year of the administration’s budget request, NASA’s budget will be larger than it was in any year of the Bush or Clinton administrations. Whatever this is, it’s not quite belt-tightening at NASA.