NASA budget takes center stage again next week

Obama faced critics, including former astronauts Jim Lovell and Neil Armstrong, who say his plans will kill the human-based flight program. But the president said he is "100 percent committed to the mission of NASA and its future."

NASA's Administrator Charles Bolden will get a chance to further explain the new direction of the space agency when he testifies Thursday before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science. He will be joined by John Frost of NASA's Aerospace Advisory Panel. 

Obama said the administration will ditch much of the current Moon program, Constellation, which has cost $9 billion so far, because it's behind schedule and over budget. He plans to continue work on the Orion spacecraft that will be sent to the space station without a crew then used as an escape pod. 

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) said this week that the president's plans for the agency are headed in the right direction. 

Obama also got backing from NASA's first woman in space Sally Ride, who said the president's plan is "a bold strategic shift that will enable NASA to return to its roots: developing innovative technologies aimed at enabling human exploration and tackling the truly challenging aspects of human spaceflight -- venturing beyond Earth orbit, beyond the Earth-Moon system and into the solar system."