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.”