The budget amendment calls for spending:
• $1.6 billion to upgrade and improve the four-vehicle space shuttle fleet so it could operate until about 2012. The plan leaves open an option of extending shuttle usage into the 2020s.
• $15.2 billion over the next decade or so to add a fifth shuttle flight to the annual schedule. The shuttle has been limited by budget constraints to four flights a year and nearly all have been dedicated to assembly of the space station. The added flight could be used to accelerate station assembly or to perform other missions that are not now possible.
• $6.6 billion through 2006 to finish the basic assembly of the space station. This includes completion and installation by February 19, 2004, of Node 2, a U.S.-made cornerstone component to which European and Japanese components will be attached. "Node 2 completion is a big deal for us," said O'Keefe.
• $1.8 billion to support biological and physical research aboard the space station.
• $2.4 billion to research and develop technologies needed to build a new space system to replace the shuttle. This money would continue a long-range effort to develop a reusable craft that could frequently fly into orbit with less preparation and effort than is required for the space shuttle. O'Keefe would not estimate the final cost of such a craft, but a chart released by the agency suggested it would first fly in 2015.
• $2.4 billion to complete by 2004 the design of a new space plane that is intended specifically to ferry people in and out of space. O'Keefe said the design is still uncertain, but it would be a reusable spacecraft launched by expendable rockets. It could carry as many as 10 people. The plan calls for the craft to start operations sometime between 2008 and 2010.