The House of Representatives of the US Congress approved the NASA budget in the amount o 20.2 billion dollars Wednesday, RIA Novosti reports. The budget bill contains an amendment about the strengthening of NASA’s cooperation with Russia and other countries within the scope of the program which develops protection against a possible asteroid impact. US congressmen plan to use Russia’s RT-70 radar for the purpose.
The amendment says that the predicted number of asteroids, which pose a threat to planet Earth, makes up about 25,000. To prevent a possible impact, the United States will need to cooperate with other countries. Dana Rorbaker, who initiated the above-mentioned program, said that Russia’s RT-70 (aka II-2500) radar was a very powerful radar capable of detecting the asteroids which may pose a serious threat to Earth.
The radar, or the antenna system to be more precise, is located in the Far East of Russia, in the town of Galenki, on the outskirts of Ussuriisk. The system comes under the jurisdiction of Russia’s space troops.
Anatoly Perminov, the head of Russia’s Space Agency Roscosmos, told RIA Novosti that the agency positively estimated the initiative from the US Congress. The official said that it could be possible to make a definitive decision on the matter only with the participation of the Russian Defense Ministry. Anatoly Perminov added that the asteroid danger issue should be discussed on the top presidential level.
The budget bill also stipulates an increase in funds to continue the US Shuttle Program. The Bush’s administration expressed its concerns about the issue. The decision to shut down the Shuttle Program by 2016 was made after the Columbia disaster in 2003. In addition, NASA plans to send astronauts to the Moon again by 2020. The US administration believes that the maximum amount of the NASA budget must not exceed the level of $17.9 million.