FleaPlus writes: The White House and NASA have revealed in this year's budget proposal their new plans for the agency. The big news is that NASA's budget-consuming Constellation program has been cancelled, as the project was 'over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation due to a failure to invest in critical new technologies,' and would mostly be a repetition of Apollo-era achievements with a handful of astronauts. NASA will also be getting a budget boost of $6 billion over 5 years. Technological development and testing programs will be revived and expanded, in order to develop new capabilities and make exploration activities more cost-effective with key technologies like in-orbit propellant transfer and advanced in-space propulsion. There will be a steady stream of robotic missions to perform science, scout locations, and demonstrate tech needed for future human missions. Research and development will also be done to support future heavy-lift rockets with more capacity and lower operation costs. NASA will be maximizing the return on its investment in the ISS, extending it past 2016 and deploying new reseach facilities (potentially including a long-desired centrifuge to study human physiology in space). NASA will also use commercial contracts for routine human and cargo transportation to the space station, as it already does for most unmanned missions, which will 'help create thousands of new jobs and help reduce the cost of human access to space.' More details will be provided by NASA Administrator (and former astronaut) Charles Bolden over the coming week, and then NASA has to get its plans through a potentially-hostile Congress.
Despite the second stage being a mass dummy and completely unpowered I do not believe that is sufficient reason to say that contact between the stages would lead to anything but catastrophic abort. If the stages are close enough to contact, you would probably not want to light your second stage.