Budget cuts could slow commercial space progress

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The SpaceX Dragon is unberthed from the station's Harmony node as the sun begins to rise over the Earth. (Photo Credit: NASA)

The SpaceX Dragon is unberthed from the station’s Harmony node as the sun begins to rise over the Earth. (Photo Credit: NASA)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The head of NASA says federal spending cuts could eventually slow progress on commercial efforts to fly to space.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden sounded the warning Thursday two days after SpaceX’s Dragon capsule returned from a supply run to the International Space Station with a splashdown in the Pacific.

Bolden says there’s no significant impact to the commercial space program this fiscal year, but automatic budget cuts could affect how much the space agency can dole out to private companies down the road. With the shuttles retired, NASA is relying on private enterprise to fly cargo and eventually astronauts to the orbiting lab.

The latest SpaceX trip started off with a mechanical problem. CEO Elon Musk says engineers have found the root cause and says it won’t happen again.

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