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NASA shuffles aeronautics deck with flat budget

NASA will see no growth in its budget for aeronautics research through 2014, and in real terms may even shrink owing to inflation, in budget proposals set out by the White House.

President Barack Obama has pushed NASA's aeronautics budget for the current fiscal year to 30 September to $650 million, with a $150 million top-up from his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 to be spent on NextGen air traffic management development.

But beyond that, aeronautics research at NASA faces a cut in real terms if inflation rises much above 1% in the first half of the next decade. After the FY2010 request for $507 million, aeronautics research's annual increases never rise above $4 million.

In 2010 NASA will shift some focus to fundamental studies with its "integrated research" budget, which aims to investigate greener aviation technologies. But while integrated research starts with $62.4 million, by 2014 that will drop dropped to $60.5 million, and all this funding is taken from other programmes.

NASA's aeronautics research mission directorate associate administrator Jaiwon Shin defends the funding: "Our budget is stable because we have robust research."

President Obama's FY2010 total NASA budget request is for $18.7 billion, including $1 billion provided for in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and more than $2.4 billion above the 2008 level.

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