NASA Gets $1.27 Billion Boost in Spending Measure

NASA LOGONASA would received $19.3 billion in FY 2016 under an Omnibus spending measure unveiled early Wednesday by Congress. The amount would be $1.27 billion more than last year and $756 million above the amount requested by President Barack Obama.

The Commercial Crew Program would receive “up to $1.24 billion,” which is the amount requested by the Administration. It would mark the first time that Congress has fully funded the program if it receives the total amount. It is not clear exactly what the phrase “up to” means.

Just about every other major program would receive a boost in spending, including the Space Launch System, Orion deep space vehicle, International Space Station, and the Science and Space Technology programs.

Below is a summary of NASA’s funding from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The bill funds NASA at $19.3 billion, a $1.27 billion increase over FY2015, to support the human and robotic exploration of space, fund science missions that enhance the understanding of the Earth, the solar system, and the universe, and support fundamental aeronautics research. This includes:

  • $2 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), $300 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $644 million above the request. The SLS is the nation’s launch vehicle which will enable humans to explore space beyond our current capabilities. The funding maintains the current schedule for the first launch of SLS, and also provides critical funding for upper stage engine work for future crewed missions.
  • $1.27 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft, $70 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $174 million above the request. Orion is NASA’s crewed vehicle that is being designed to take astronauts to destinations farther than ever before, including Mars.
  • $5.6 billion for Science, $345 million above the FY2015 enacted level and $301 million above the request. This funding encompasses missions from the Earth, to the Moon, throughout the Solar system, and the far reaches of the universe.
  • Up to $1.24 billion for International Space Station (ISS) crew capabilities, which is $439 million above the FY2015 enacted level. This funding continues development of privately-owned crewed vehicles, which once developed and fully tested, will end the United States’ reliance on Russia for transporting American astronauts to and from the ISS.
  • $687 million for Space Technology, $91 million above the FY2015 enacted level. Funding is included to advance projects that are early in development that will eventually demonstrate capabilities needed for future space exploration.

Below are some spending provisions from the bill.

Exploration Budget (Includes SLS & Orion)

  • $410 million for exploration ground systems
  • $350 million for exploration research and development
  • not less than $85 million from the SLS budget for enhanced upper stage development
  • commercial crew funding transferred to Operations budget

Science Budget

  • $175 million for a Jupiter Europa orbiter
  • Europa orbiter would be launched no later than 2022 aboard the Space Launch System.

Space Technology Budget

  • $133 million for the RESTORE satellite servicing program
  • prohibition on funds supporting activities solely needed for the asteroid redirect mission.

China Prohibition

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this Act.”

  • spacechampion

    “Finally!” is all I can say.

  • Joe

    Dancing a jig here. What a great Christmas present for space exploration!

  • Paul451

    So it’s an election year then.

  • JS_faster

    Yup. Let the good times roll…


    The real gift will come after the new year when Musk reveal details on his BFR which will waft SLS and be reusable and affordable to fly. NASA may yet have a ride to Mars to make good on their going to Mars bullS@$&.


    My BFR is bigger than your BFR Joe 🙂

  • Zed_WEASEL

    Interestingly the Congress cancel the only manned mission the SLS/Orion combo can do if I read that bit about prohibiting Asteroid Redirection mission technology development right. So basically the Orion can circle the Earth and fly around the Moon.

    Let hope the SpaceX CTO is more ambitious with his next major proclamation regarding the BFR & BFS (aka MCT).


    David Bowie was a profit.

    The SLS/Orion theme song

  • Aerospike

    Personally, I’m a lot more interested in the BFS (big frackin spaceship I assume?) side of things. Big rockets are a bit boring

  • Joe

    We’ll see. I wish SpaceX luck and I hope they succeed.

  • windbourne

    Zero chance of ccxdev being fully funded. GOP leaders absolutely want the money into their districts esp when ppl like musk and bezo might get a $1 from it.

    I love that last paragraph. While I fully agree with it, why does the GOP allow their members to take bribes from Chinese gov owned businesses? And yes, money for election is a bribe esp when coming from a none voter. And yes dems should be stopped as well as all parties.

  • windbourne

    Ah, I missed that. So the GOP wants to go after ARM. They just do not miss a beat to throw a fight on everything and solve none of the real issues.

  • windbourne

    Yes, he made a lot of money, but was it profitable? Not sure.
    But his song might have been prophetic.

  • windbourne

    Hold on. They have still set up a fight by wanting to stop ARM.
    They would do better to allocate 1/2 of the ARM budget to NASA working on helping private space get to the moon. Yet, the GOP would rather fight on minor items, than address real issues like illegals, deficit , daesh, etc.

  • windbourne

    I wonder if spacex is working with other companies/groups? It would be interesting to have an announcement where spacex, bigelow, BO, ULA, etc,, and ideally nasa, all backing this and show how they are working together.

  • The seem to be especially boring when they come back and land and then fly again the next day. Hopefully the passenger lounge will be plush.

  • Steve Ksiazek

    Is there anyone who really wants ARM ? I don’t think it has support on either side of the political aisle, or from more than a tiny portion of the scientific community. SLS/Orion needs a mission, but ARM was DOA.

  • Steve Ksiazek

    They moved commercial crew to operations. I think that’s a good sign that it wont be cut. They also gave permission to take funds from what they held back to pay the Russians in 2018, to pay for CC if they are ready in 2017. The only thing that can hold CC back is if SpaceX loses another IDA.

  • windbourne

    Actually, I hope that ARM is not dead.
    I think that it makes perfect sense for NASA to do, as long as they also help out with getting private space to Luna and hopefully Mars. And to be fair, by having private space go to the moon, it will almost certainly be much cheaper since other nations will want to go there as well.
    Keep in mind that if NASA focuses on nothing but the moon, it will be VERY expensive to go. And the costs will make ISS look like a great deal since old private space is still on cost+ accounting.

  • therealdmt

    Interesting. That does sound like good news. I’ll be looking forward to reading the details.