WASHINGTON, April 10 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama says "tough choices" require reduced spending for NASA but America will remain strong in aeronautics and space technologies.
The president's proposed 2014 budget calls for spending $17.7 billion on NASA programs, a decrease of about $50 million, or 0.3 from the 2012 enacted level, the White House said Wednesday.
The figure reinforces NASA's current balanced portfolio of aeronautics and space technology development, Earth and space science, the development of rockets and capsules to carry explorers deeper into space, and the use of innovative commercial partnerships for crew and cargo transport to the International Space Station, the administration said.
The proposed allocations would fully fund the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, enabling a fight test of Orion in 2014 and the Space Launch System in 2017.
The proposed figure would keep development of the James Webb Space Telescope -- the powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope -- on track for a 2018 launch, and would include more than $1.8 billion for Earth Science to revamp the Landsat program and conduct other satellite operations.
The budget includes funding for a proposed NASA mission to rendezvous with a small asteroid, capture it, and return it to a near-Earth orbit where astronauts could visit it and return samples to Earth.