Proposed NASA Budget Praised, Criticized

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)
The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

UPDATE: Added Aerospace Industries Association statement in support of the budget.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation and the Space Foundation have both offered support for President Barack Obama’s proposed $17.46 billion fiscal year 2015 budget for NASA. Meanwhile, the Congressman who represents NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California says spending on planetary exploration missions is too low.

The proposed budget is slightly below the $17.64 billion appropriated for Fiscal Year 2014.  The Obama Administration has proposed supplementing the base budget with an additional $885.5 million from the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, which would bring NASA spending to $18.4 billion in the upcoming fiscal year.

“With NASA’s budget at a historic low as a percentage of the federal budget, we strongly support the $18.4 billion proposal as a bare minimum,” said Space Foundation CEO Elliot Pulham said.

Statements from the Space Foundation, the Commercial Space Federation and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) are below.

csf_logo_newestCommercial Spaceflight Federation

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation welcomes NASA’s FY 2015 budget proposal and its continued support for commercial spaceflight.

“With the proposed budget, the Administration continues to communicate the importance of having a strong national space program that can further our presence in space and benefit life here on Earth,” stated CSF President Michael Lopez-Alegria. “We applaud the robust support for Commercial Crew and Space Technology which will strengthen our space industrial base, and secure the nation’s place as a leader of exploration and innovation. We look forward to working with Congress to achieve the highest levels of funding for these critical programs.”

The White House’s 2015 Fiscal Year budget request would provide NASA with $17.46B. Within that topline, NASA has requested $848M for its Commercial Crew Program and $705M for Space Technology.

Rapidly developing American spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts is crucial to end NASA’s dependency on Russia. NASA currently pays ROSCOSMOS approximately $70 million per seat to fly our astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). In partnership with NASA through its Commercial Crew Program, American companies are developing safe, modern, cost-effective, and reliable transportation to ISS. Full funding for this important program will rapidly reduce our dependence on aging Russian infrastructure.

The U.S. continues to develop innovative technologies that drive exploration through NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. Strong continued support for these programs will ensure the U.S. remains a leader in space despite intense competition from other countries such as China and India. In addition, NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program is allowing researchers to test key technologies through commercial suborbital flights to further aid exploration to new destinations.

space_foundation_logoSpace Foundation

The Space Foundation today offered its support for the Administration’s FY15 budget proposal for NASA, calling the budget proposal a “balanced approach to sustaining key NASA programs and capabilities, while increasing emphasis on next generation capabilities — within a budget constrained environment.”

“The president’s proposal of $17.46 billion in FY15 funding for NASA is very close to the FY14 appropriation of $17.64 billion,” said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. “Additional NASA funding proposed within the Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative would increase NASA’s FY15 funding to $18.4 billion.

“With NASA’s budget at a historic low as a percentage of the federal budget, we strongly support the $18.4 billion proposal as a bare minimum,” Pulham said.

Pulham noted several areas within the budget proposal where “NASA is moving smartly to preserve core capabilities and programs, while accelerating the vitally important commercial crew program.”

“The increase of funding for commercial crew programs from $696 million in FY14 to $848 million in FY15 could not come at a better time,” Pulham said. “Soyuz prices are set to increase yet again, and our dependence upon Russia for key space capabilities is certain to be scrutinized in view of world events.”

“All International Space Station budget lines would be fully funded,” said Pulham, “which is important to sustaining ISS operations to 2024.”

The administration has proposed a slight decrease in funding for the SLS and Orion programs, from $3.1 billion in FY14 to $2.8 billion in FY15 – $2.9 billion when Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative funds are considered.

“The budget preserves Orion Experimental Flight Test #1 for later this calendar year, which is important,” Pulham said. “Overall lower funding still introduces schedule risk and puts further pressure on the industrial base.”

Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Adam Schiff

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a member of the Appropriations Committee’s Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, released the following statement after the President’s budget included $1.28 billion for planetary science, an amount he called better, but still insufficient to maintain America’s leadership:

“The budget proposal for planetary science is significantly better than in past years, but is still far below the levels approved by Congress and isn’t sufficient to meet the priorities laid out in the decadal survey – which put the highest priorities on Mars 2020, a Europa flagship mission, and the Discovery and New Frontiers missions. While I’m pleased to see the budget continues to provide funding for the Mars Exploration Program, in particular the Mars 2020 mission, and recognizes the importance of a future mission to Europa, a far greater investment will be necessary to ensure America’s preeminence in planetary science.

“The Administration should recommit to keeping the Mars 2020 project on track and on time, and to a far-reaching Europa mission. Thanks to the brilliant scientists at JPL, we have the unique ability to design, fly and land sophisticated robots on our planetary neighbors – and if these projects are disrupted, we might lose this perishable and incredibly specialized talent pool. America’s leadership on planetary science is not something we should surrender, and is something that my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee have supported repeatedly. I look forward to working with my colleagues, once again, to restore adequate funding to planetary science and only wish it wasn’t necessary to do so year after year.”

aialogosmAerospace Industries Association

The Aerospace Industries Association is pleased to see that President Obama’s proposed budget request for NASA in fiscal year 2015 continues stable investment in space programs for our nation’s future while also making key investments in aeronautics, science and technology development.  At $17.5 billion, the request is nearly even with last year’s request and is a significant increase over the $16.6 billion NASA received in 2013 under sequestration.

Programs like the International Space Station, James Webb Space Telescope, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and the Space Launch System are all making great progress and are strongly backed by both parties in Congress.  While budget details on specific exploration accounts are not yet available, we are encouraged that the President’s request supports human exploration and we look forward to learning more details on the President’s recommendations to increase space investments.  These programs support important and unique developments that will improve life on earth from new medical breakthroughs to amazing scientific discoveries that fuel our understanding of the beginnings of the universe and propel our exploration efforts beyond Earth orbit.

In addition, we strongly support the proposal to extend the space station until at least 2024; the work that is being done there cannot be replicated at any other national laboratory.  Strong investment in the commercial crew program is the quickest way for our nation to restore independent American access to the station and avoid the increasing uncertainties and costs of paying Russia to transport our astronauts.  Finally, NASA’s aeronautics research budget should be fully supported, as it works hand-in-hand with the FAA on the Next Generation Air Transportation System, upgrading our aging national airspace infrastructure and saving billions of dollars in fuel and environmental impacts over the next decades.  Innovations in aviation technology driven by NASA aeronautics contribute to the largest surplus in America’s balance of trade.

AIA urges Congress to fully fund the fiscal year 2015 NASA budget.