U.S. space observation program in trouble

May 2, 2012 at 9:08 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- U.S. Earth observation capabilities are declining with next-generation missions hindered by budget shortfalls and launch failures, a report says. A National Research Council report says reduced funding, launch failures and changes in mission design and scope have led to a rapid decline in capability as long-running missions end and vital new missions are delayed, lost or canceled. "The projected loss of observing capability will have profound consequences on science and society, from weather forecasting to responding to natural hazards," Dennis Hartmann, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington and chairman of the report committee, said in a National Academy of Sciences release Wednesday. Budgets for NASA's earth science program will remain inadequate to meet pressing national needs in the near term, the report found, and recommended NASA define and implement a cost-constrained approach to mission development. The study was sponsored by NASA and carried out under the authority of the National Academy of Sciences.

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