House Appropriations Measure Loads Up SLS & Orion Budgets, Cuts Commercial Crew

Capitol Building
The Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion programs were the big winners once again as the House Appropriations commerce, justice and science subcommittee marked up its $18.53 billion NASA spending bill for FY 2016. Meanwhile, House appropriators once again cut the request for the Commercial Crew Program despite pleas from NASA that reductions would imperil the start of service by 2017.

Appropriators’ top line budget for NASA is the same as the requested $18.53 billion, which is an increase of about a half billion dollars over last year’s budget. However, the House’s priorities are different from those of President Barack Obama.

The appropriations bill provides SLS, Orion and related programs with just under $4.76 billion, an increase of $546.4 million over the President’s request. Most of that increase is for SLS, which would receive $1.85 billion for FY 2016.

Appropriators would provide Commercial Crew with $1 billion, which is $243 million below the amount requested. Congress has cut budget requests for the program every year, actions the space agency has blamed for delaying the program.

Legislators cut nearly $100 million from NASA’s space technology budget, slicing the amount from $724.8 million to $625 million.

The Science budget was also cut by $51.1 million, although appropriators did not release figures for individual programs. Officials said planetary sciences would receive a boost. That increase would likely come at the expense of Earth Sciences. Republican House legislators have been critical of the Obama Administration’s increase in spending to study Earth.

Update: I forgot to mention the House would provide $140 million for work on a Europa mission. However, NASA would be required to use the Space Launch System for the flight.

NASA FY 2016 BUDGET
(In Millions of Dollars)
PROGRAMADMINISTRATION REQUEST
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS MARKUP
DIFFERENCE
Science$5,288.6$5,237.5-$51.1
Earth Science
$1,947.3
Planetary Sciences$1,361.2
Astrophysics$709.1
James Webb Space Telescope
$620.0
Heliophysics$651.0
Space Exploration$4,505.9$4,759.3$253.4
Exploration Systems Development
$2,862.9 $3,409.3 $546.4
Space Launch System
$1,356.5 $1,850.0 $493.5
Orion
$1,096.3$1,096.3$0.0
Exploration Ground Systems
$410.1 $410.0 -$0.1
Program Integration
$53.0 $53.0
Commercial Spaceflight$1,243.8$1,000.0 -$243.0
Research & Development$399.2$350.0 -$49.2
Space Operations$4,003.7$3,957.3
 -$46.4
Space Technology$724.8$625.0
 -$99.8
Aeronautics$571.4$600.0
$28.6
Education$88.9$119.0
 $30.1
Safety, Security and Mission Services$2,843.1$2,768.6
 -$74.5
Construction & Environmental Compliance & Restoration$465.3$425.0
 -$40.3
Inspector General$37.4$37.4
 $0.0
TOTALS:$18,529.1$18,529.1$0.0