|Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-51|
This means NASA can continue to develop a heavy lift rocket, which they desperately need, since after the shuttle program is retired there will be no native US technology for getting people or cargo to the International Space Station (ISS).
In the 2011 federal budget, NASA was given a budget of $18.5 billion. Seems like a lot, right? Well let us really break it down compared to the total US budget and some other federal agencies.
Total Budget: $3.69 trillion or $3,690 billion
NASA: $18.5 billion (0.5% of total budget)
Defense $738 billion (20% of total budget)
Social Security $738 billion (20% of total budget)
Health Services $381 billion (10.3% of total budget)
So, in comparison, NASA's budget is only one half of a percent of the federal budget. Not even a drop in the bucket.
Overall, the 2011 budget was very kind to science. The National Institute of Health saw a budget increase of about 3%. The National Science Foundation saw an 8% increase. The Department of Energy science programs saw a 4.5% increase. Note, all these increases are relative to 2010.
I was very pleasantly surprised.
Links for data on the budget:
I took numbers from this NY Times graph. And the Washington Post also has a nice graphic.
Note: There are differences between how NYT and WP define different spending programs. It is hard to reconcile the two.