Space Shuttle Program (SSP) retirement and NASA transition to the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE)
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On January 14, 2004, President George W. Bush announced the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE). The goals of the vision include developing a new generation launch capability while completing assembly of the International Space Station (ISS) and retiring the Space Shuttle by 2010. In support of this goal, the Space Shuttle Program (SSP) initiated evaluation of hardware, infrastructure, and workforce skill mix needed to continue Space Shuttle flights until the projected 2010 retirement. The SSP also studied how NASA will deploy personnel from, and use the facilities of, the SSP to ensure that the Space Shuttle operates safely through its final flight, and to ensure personnel and facilities from the SSP are effectively transitioned to NASA’s exploration programs. NASA funding, like other federal agencies, is affected by various factors including domestic and international political environments, current and emerging technologies available to meet agency goals, and sustainability and potential economic return of federal expenditures. In this paper I will present a retrospective analysis of federal budget allocations to NASA as a percentage of the Federal Budget from years 1958 to 2010 (adjusted to 1979 dollars). The classic method for calculating net present value (NPV) is not well suited for projecting potential value of future R&D technologies. A quantitative analysis of R&D technologies transferred to private industry will be presented, as well as a description of a method of evaluating their significance will discussed relative to current budgetary considerations will likely for past, current and upcoming funding cycles. The opportunity at hand for NASA’s transition from SSP to Constellation in support of the VSE initiative is to advocate their culture as R&D innovators and emphasize the future benefit of increased funding.