Todd May. Credit: MSFC photo by Emmett Given

Fri, 19 October, 2012

‘Unprecedented’ Budget Environment Drives Change across Space Industry

By Brian Berger

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Declining U.S. federal budgets and the looming threat that things could get much worse before they get better are forcing government space agencies and contractors to rethink the way they do business, and according to some officials, that is not such a bad thing.

The budgetary uncertainty has caused hiring freezes, and some programs are being structured in ways that might offend the sensibilities of development-efficiency experts.

But adversity breeds innovation: As they struggle to cope, agencies and companies are finding themselves cooking up what they hope are fresh recipes for success.

The fiscal situation was front and center during the American Astronautical Society’s Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium at the University of Alabama here Oct. 15-18, where government and industry officials agreed that downward pressure on spending is unlikely to ease any time soon. But what that ultimately means for the U.S. military and civil space sectors was a matter of some debate.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Susan Mashiko, deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), said budget increases used to be relatively easy to get whenever a new security threat emerged. “Those days are long gone,” she said. “The budget we face is scrutinized, right down to how many people are you sending to a symposium.”

Read more: Unprecedented Budget Environment Drives Change across Space Industry | Space News.

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