Overall research and development accounts for $4.4 billion of the NASA budget request, up 33 percent from this year’s $3.3 billion. The largest share is the $967 million sought for the space station, which received $392 million this year. Other features of the NASA budget request were an increase from $52 million to $84 million for NASA’s participation in the transatmospheric research for the hypersonic aerospace plane project, and a five-fold increase, from $20 million to $102 million, for research on global geospace science. Funds for the Mars Observer are projected to nearly double, to $102 million.

Congressional sources within the space committees praise the NASA request as “excellent,” but say it will have a tough time winning approval. A $1 billion request for activities related to the space shuttle, they noted, which enjoys strong support, could jeopardize increases for smaller science programs.

The new technology effort, christened Pathfinder, is...

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