by Douglas Messier
The House Appropriations Committee has criticized the Trump Administration’s “ominous shift away” from legacy NASA programs in favor of a “politically motivated timeline” aimed at returning astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024 under the Artemis program.
“NASA’s fiscal year 2021 request, much like the 2020 amended budget request, reflected the Administration’s ominous shift away from legacy programs and programs with clear environmental and educational benefits,” the committee in a report on its funding bill.
“The Administration’s shift in priorities is most evident in its budget request of nearly $3,400,000,000 (nearly $2,800,000,000 above the fiscal year 2020 level) for the Human Landing System and Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities initiatives. These programs are being rushed to meet a politically motivated timeline to again place humans on the Moon’s lunar surface in a little over four years,” the document added.
The committee’s funding bill leaves NASA’s budget flat at $22.6 million, rejecting the administration’s proposed 12 percent increase to $25.2 billion.
Appropriators rejected the Trump Administration’s proposal to eliminate the following environment projects:
- Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Earth-observing satellite;
- Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) sensor on the International Space Station; and,
- Carbon Monitoring System that measures levels of carbon stocks and fluxes in Earth’s atmosphere.
The committee also rejected the administration’s plan to cancel the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope and the space agency’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement account.
In March 2019, Vice President Mike Pence announced the administration was moving the date for returning astronauts to the moon from 2028 to 2024.
The Democratically led House has been far less supportive of the accelerated schedule than the Republican led Senate.