FAA AST Budget: A Million Here, A Million There

faa_logoUPDATE: The commmitttee approved an amendment bringing the budget up to $19.826, which is what the Administration requested.

The House Appropriations Committee has recommended $18.826 million for the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA AST) for FY 2017, which is $1 million below the Obama Administration’s budget request.

The amount is $1 million above the enacted level for FY 2016.

“The recommended funding level will allow the Office of Commercial Space Transportation to add operational personnel to support an increased level of activity in its licensing, permitting and safety inspection functions,” the committee said in draft bill to be marked up on Tuesday.

“The Committee notes that the budget request includes a twenty percent growth in personnel in this office above the fiscal year 2016 personnel level. The Committee believes that the office should be able to judiciously hire critical operational staff within the amounts provided,” the measure states.

In a separate account, FAA AST would receive $2 million for research and development efforts into commercial space transportation safety. The Obama Administration has requested $2.953 million.

The Appropriations Committee also included the following provision in the bill relating to commercial missions to the moon.

Space Launch System.—The Committee commends the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation’s efforts to promote private sector lunar exploration and development, which may require the use of heavy-lift launching capability, such as the Space Launch System. Specifically, in collaboration with the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, the Committee encourages the FAA to explicitly define non-interference and to enhance its payload review process to provide companies planning private sector lunar development with the security and predictability necessary to support substantial investments.