NASA Receives Significant Funding Increase with $21.5 Billion Budget

The Lunar Gateway (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has received a $21.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2019, which is $736.86 million above FY 2018 and $1.6 billion above the total requested by the Trump Administration.

The funding, which came more than four months into the fiscal year,  was included in an appropriations bill signed by President Donald Trump on Friday. NASA’s budget has been on an upward trajectory over the last few years. In FY 2018, the space agency received an $1.64 billion increase over the previous year.

The table below shows the FY 2018 and 2019 budgets. I have filled in as much information as I could find; if anyone has more information, please include it in the comments below.

NASA FY 2018 & 2019 BUDGETS
(In Thousands of Dollars)
Exploration 4,790,0005,050,800260,800
 Space Launch System2,150,0002,150,000 0
 — Exploration Upper Stage 300,000150,000 (150,000)
 Exploration R&D395,000958,000563,000
 — Lunar Orbital Platform ?450,000?
 — Habitation, Docking Airlock & Logistics?176,2000?
 — Human Research ?145,000 ?
 — Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities?116,500?
Exploration Ground Systems 545,000592,800 47,800
 — Second Mobile Launch Platform350,00048,000 (302,000)
Space Operations 4,751,5004,639,100(112,400) 
 — Commercial ISS and Low Earth Orbit Activities ? 40,000 ?
 — Test Facilities? 60,000?
Science  6,221,5006,905,700 684,200
Planetary Science2,227,9002,758,500530,600
–Jupiter Europa Orbiter & Lander 595,000 740,000 145,000
— Lunar Discovery and Exploration?218,000 ?
–Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) ? 97,000 ?
Earth Science 1,921,0001,931,000 10,000
 — Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) 35,00035,0000
 — Space Weather Science Applications Project ?15,000 ?
Astrophysics850,400 1,191,600341,200
–Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)150,000312,200 162,200
 — Hubble Space Telescope98,30098,200 (100)
James Webb Space Telescope533,700304,600(229,100)
Heliophysics688,500 720,00031,500
Space Technology760,000926,900 166,900
 — RESTORE-L130,000180,00050,000
 — Nuclear Thermal Propulsion 75,000100,00025,000
 — Solar Electric Propulsion ?48,100 ?
 — Additive Manufacturing 25,000 35,00010,000
— Flight Opportunities Program20,000 20,0000
 — Nano-materials Research 5,000 5,000 0
 — Regional Economic Development ? 5,000 ?
 — Small Satellite Constellations High-speed Downlink & Crosslink Communications ?2,000 ?
Aeronautics 685,000725,000 40,000
— Hypersonic Research? 35,000 ?
STEM Engagement (Previously Education) 100,000110,000 10,000
  — National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program40,00044,0004,000
 —  Minority University Research and Education Program 32,00033,0001,000
  — Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research 18,00021,0003,000
 — Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums and NASA Visitors Center ? 5,000?
Safety, Security and Mission Services 2,826,900  2,755,000(71,900)
Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration  562,240 348,200(214,040)
Office of Inspector General 39,00039,300 300
TOTALS: 20,736,140 21,500,000736,860

FY 2019: $5,050,800,000
FY 2018:  $4,790,000
Increase: $260,800,000

Funding for the Space Launch System and the Orion capsule remain the same as last year, with a total of $3.5 billion to be spent. The Exploration Ground Systems program that will support the SLS/Orion missions brings the total to just under $4.1 billion.

Congress has stipulated that SLS will have a lift capability not less than 130 metric tons. NASA must also develop the SLS core elements and the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) simultaneously.

An artist rendering shows NASA’s Space Launch Systems (SLS) evolution from a Block 1 configuration to various configurations capability of supporting different types of crew and cargo missions. (Credit: NASA/MSFC)

The legislation also stipulates EUS and the second mobile launch platform must be ready for flight no later than 2024.

NASA will submit a five-year budget profile to Congress for an integrated system that includes SLS, Orion and EGS that will ensure the Exploration Mission-2 mission will occur as early as possible. It will be the first crewed launch of the system.

Credit: NASA

The Exploration R&D program gets the biggest boost with a $563 million increase as NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the moon. The major programs under this category include:

  • $450 million for the Lunar Gateway;
  • $176.2 million for habitation, airlock for docking vehicles and other logistics activities;
  • $145 million for the Human Research Program; and,
  • $116.5 million for Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities.

Congress has stipulated that NASA must submit a multi-year plan to Congress before it can spend more than 50 percent of the funding allocated for the following programs: Lunar Orbital Platform; Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities; Commercial LEO Development; and Lunar Discovery and Exploration, excluding the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

Space Operations
FY 2019: $4,639,100,000
FY 2018: $4,751,500,000
Reduction:  $112,400,000

Space Operations, which funds the International Space Station (ISS), saw a $112.4 million decline in its budget this year. The funding measure includes $40 million for the development of future commercial use of the space station.

FY 2019: $6,905,700,000
FY 2018:  $6,221,500,000
Increase: $684,200,000

The Science budget got a boost of $684.2 million this year. The two biggest winners were Planetary Science and Astrophysics while funding for Earth Science stayed essentially flat:

  • Planetary Science: $2.76 billion (+$530.6 million)
  • Earth Science: $1.93 billion (+$10 million)
  • Astrophysics: $1.19 billion (+341.2 million)
  • James Webb Space Telescope (JWST): $304.6 million  ( -$229,1 million)
  • Heliophysics: $720 million (+31.5 million)

Appropriators raised the funding cap on the James Webb Space Telescope to $8.8 billion, which is an increase of $802.7 million above the previous limit. They were also scathing in their comments about NASA and prime contractor Northrop Grumman.

Artist’s impression of James Webb Space Telescope. (Credit; NASA)

“There is profound disappointment with both NASA and its contractors regarding mismanagement, complete lack of careful oversight, and overall poor basic workmanship on JWST, which has undergone two significant reviews because of failures on the part of NASA and its commercial sector partner,” the appropriators said.

“NASA and its commercial partners seem to believe that congressional funding for this project and other development efforts is an entitlement, unaffected by failures to stay on schedule or within budget,” they added. “This attitude ignores the opportunity cost to other NASA activities that must be sacrificed or delayed.”

Appropriators boosted spending for a pair of missions to Jupiter’s moon Europa by $145 million to $740 million. The Europa orbiter, set to launch in 2023, received $545 million; the lander mission, which will launch two years later, received $195 million.

Artist’s illustration of Jupiter and Europa (in the foreground) with the Galileo spacecraft after its pass through a plume erupting from Europa’s surface. A new computer simulation gives us an idea of how the magnetic field interacted with a plume. The magnetic field lines (depicted in blue) show how the plume interacts with the ambient flow of Jovian plasma. The red colors on the lines show more dense areas of plasma. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Michigan)

NASA will be required to use the SLS heavy-lift booster for the Jupiter Europa missions. The rocket has been primarily built to launch the Orion crew spacecraft on missions to the vicinity of the moon.

Lunar Discovery and Exploration will receive $218 million this year, which includes $21 million for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Appropriators also boosted funding for lunar activities under the Exploration R&D budget.

The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which the Trump Administration had tried to cancel, will receive $312.2 million this year. The funding is more than double the amount WFIRST received in FY 2018. The program has a budget cap of  $3.2 billion.

Appropriators have provided $15 million for the Space Weather Science Applications Project.  The project is being done in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which received $27 million in its budget for it.

“NOAA shall continue development and construction of two compact coronagraphs,” appropriators wrote. “Further, NOAA shall begin preparations to integrate a compact coronagraph on Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-U and coordinate with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to launch a compact coronagraph as a ride-share with the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Program mission to ensure continuation of Federal space weather sentinel and forecasting capabilities.”

Other programs funded under the Science budget include:

  • $98.3 million for Hubble Space Telescope operations;
  • $97 million for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test;
  • $35 million for  the Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam); and,
  • $45 million for Education and Public Outreach activities.

Space Technology
FY 2019: $926,900,000
FY 2018: $760,000,000
Increase: $166,900,000

The Space Technology budget received a healthy $166.9 million increase for FY 2019.

Appropriators approved $180 million for the RESTORE-L satellite servicing mission. The spacecraft is scheduled to refuel the Landsat 7 remote sensing satellite in orbit next year.

Artist’s conception of Restore-L servicing satellite with Landsat 7. (Credit: NASA)

Appropriators also provided $100 million for nuclear thermal propulsion development. They stipulated that $70 million of the amount must be used for the design of a flight demonstration mission by 2024. NASA must submit a multi-year plan to Congress for the mission within 180 days.

Other projects funded under the Space Technology budget include:

  • $48,1 million for solar electric propulsion activities;
  • $35 million for additive manufacturing R&D;
  • $20 million for the Flight Opportunities Program;
  • $5 million for NASA’s regional economic development program;
  • $5 million for the innovative use of nan-omaterials ; and,
  • $2 million to address challenges with high-speed crosslink and downlink communications for LEO small satellite constellations.