Clinton: Time has come to increase NASA budget
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an interview with Science Magazine released Thursday, President Clinton says NASA's budget should be increased after years of penny-pinching.
Clinton told the publication that, when he took office nearly eight years ago, NASA "needed to show that it knew how to economize and could be managed better.
"I think (NASA Administrator) Dan Goldin has done that," Clinton continued. "I think they have proved they can do more with less. I mean, they got the space station up three years ahead of time."
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The president said he now would like to see the space agency's budget increase.
"I think they have proved, after years and years of flat budgets, that they have squeezed a lot of blood out of this turnip," Clinton said. "They have really restructured themselves. They have gotten rid of a lot of their relatively inefficient costs. And I believe that now is the time at least to let them start growing with inflation again, if they're going to be able to handle their missions."
Clinton gave the space agency high marks for responding "in an honest, upfront way" to difficulties with the two Mars probes. And, he said, missions to the red planet should continue with the goal of bringing back surface samples.
Any progress made with the International Space Station should also be a factor in determining how much money NASA needs, Clinton said.
The interview with Clinton is one of several being conducted by various news organizations before he leaves office. It took place December 6 and was released by the White House Thursday.
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