Top NASA administrator visits VAFB

NASA’s number two administrator made a whirlwind visit to Vandenberg Air Force Base on Tuesday as part of a whistle-stop tour of the space agency’s California centers.
After landing at Vandenberg shortly after 3 p.m., NASA Deputy Administrator Lori B. Garver met with local reporters and later NASA employees.
The visit was part of her California tour to meet with NASA employees after the recent unveiling of an $18.7 billion budget for 2012 and a new vision statement: To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.
The space agency’s Earth Science Division — responsible for many of the NASA missions from Vandenberg — “continues to be a key cornerstone of what NASA does to improve humanity,” she said.
At $1.8 billion, the funding for the Earth Science missions remains essentially the same as the current year.
“These are hard choices to make, but I still believe that with the leadership of Mike Freilich and his team we are going to be able to continue to deliver cutting-edge Earth Science research to the public,” she said, referring to the Earth Science Division director.
NASA’s budget accounts for just half of 1 percent of the total federal budget, she noted.
The space agency’s budget, including its research and development projects, pays off in valuable discoveries, much like the return on the investment eventually seen with a child’s college education fund, she said.
“We would not have the benefit if we did not today have the benefit of the investment in NASA and other R&D agencies for the past 50 years,” Garver said. “We would not have the advanced technologies we have on orbit and on the ground that have been developed through this. In addition, it is that inspiration of where we go next ... It truly is that next frontier.”
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