NASA's newly approved 2012 budget won't help reduce the gap in launches of astronauts from Florida.
The budget offers $406 million for the development of private space taxis that will be the next U.S. vehicles to carry crews to the International Space Station after the shuttle.
That's less than half the $850 million the Obama administration requested and well below the $500 million the Senate had approved. It's a step up from the $312 million the House had offered.
NASA has said anything less than full funding for the program could delay flights on U.S. vehicles from 2016 to 2017, though it's possible increased funding in later years could make up for this year's shortfall.
NASA in the 2011 budget year awarded $270 million to four companies to help further their spacecraft designs.
In 2012, NASA plans to spend nearly $8 on its giant exploration rocket and capsule -- with a first crewed launch targeted for 2021 -- for every $1 on the commercial program.
Read Ledge King's full story on the $17.8 billion budget compromise here.