NASA is in the process of reshaping its aeronautics research program. Much of that work will be completed over the next four to five months. Once that work is done, Petersen said he expects Dryden will continue to have a vital role in that work. The proposed budget provides $3 billion for the space initiative, up $1.3 billion from the current budget. That effort includes the continued development of the CEV and the development of the launch systems that will carry crew and cargo to the international space station. “The bottom line is this: NASA’s plans are to bring the CEV online as close to 2010 as possible, but not later than 2014,” Griffen said. “Given the analysis we have today, we cannot set a more definitive target date for the CEV to our stakeholders in the White House and Congress. But I believe that with the budget proposed today, NASA and industry have a real opportunity to make the CEV operational much sooner than 2014.” NASA tentatively plans to fly the space shuttle 17 times between now and the shuttle’s retirement in 2010. Dryden supports space shuttle missions, including hosting about one out of every five landings. Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “We’ll be staying where we are now,” said Dryden director Kevin Petersen, calling the news “a little better than what we had a year ago.” Civil servants are roughly half of Dryden’s work force. The other workers are contractor personnel. The work Dryden expects to conduct in support of the space initiative includes flight testing an abort system to ensure a crew can exit a vehicle in an emergency during launch. Flight testing of hardware will begin in a 2008 time frame, Petersen said. Over the next six months to a year, Dryden workers will have a better feel for their role in the program, Petersen said. “I will ensure that all of our centers contribute to NASA’s primary mission of space exploration and discovery,” said NASA Administrator Mike Griffen. “We are beginning the process of assigning specific research programs and projects to appropriate NASA centers.” PALMDALE – NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, one of the region’s major employers, will keep its work-force numbers steady despite agency plans to cut aeronautics research funding by 18 percent. On Monday, NASA leadership unveiled a proposed $16.8 billion 2007 budget that features strong funding for space exploration, but reduces aeronautics funding 18 percent to $724 million. Aeronautics research accounts for roughly 75 percent of Dryden’s workload. The cut in aeronautics will be softened by efforts to spread work around on the initiative to return astronauts to the moon. Dryden is expected to play a role in the development of the agency’s next manned spacecraft, called the crew exploration vehicle or CEV. Last year, NASA announced plans that would have cut Dryden’s civil-servant staffing from 568 positions to 403 positions in 2007. Dryden trimmed its work force to just under 500 positions through normal attrition and voluntary buyouts.