By Tony Romm - 04/14/10 07:08 PM EDT
Among other things, the president's revised NASA budget would permit the continued construction of the Orion space capsule, which was initially slated to be cut. However, the capsule will function only as an emergency vehicle for astronauts at the International Space Station, the White House announced in a fact sheet.
The White House believes that move, in particular, will temper criticism that its cuts to NASA's space flight program will result in loss jobs -- a politically perilous charge during a tough midterm election year. In fact, the White House told reporters the new "Orion light" proposal will actually create 10,000 positions.
Obama's revised budget will also propose speeding up the development of a rocket that can actually reach the Moon and farther, officials told reporters in a preview of the president's Thursday speech. That plan arrives in response to an independent commission's finding last year that the space agency is without the technology required to meet the Constellation programs goals over the next few years.
Still, the plan seems to retain its emphasis on contracting out space taxiing services to private companies and foreign contractors, Russia included. It also asks Congress to shift about $100 million to the continued operation of the International Space Station, at least for another five years.
“We are going to increase our investment in groundbreaking technologies to allow astronauts to reach space faster and more often, to travel farther distances for less cost and to stay in space for longer periods of time,” a White House official told reporters on Wednesday.