NASA Spending Bill Includes $22.6 Billion

House and Senate appropriators have worked out a fiscal year 2020 spending bill that would provide NASA with $22.629 billion, which is roughly what the Trump Administration requested. The space agency’s 2019 budget was $21.5 billion.

The Administration originally requested a $21 billion budget for FY 2020, but then made a $1.6 billion supplemental request in order to accelerate a plan to land astronauts on the moon from 2028 to 2024.

The Exploration budget would received $6 billion, including nearly $4.6 billion to fund the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft, and Exploration Ground Systems programs. NASA would received more than $1.4 billion for R&D programs to develop technologies for exploring the moon under the Exploration program.

“Great news! If passed, the spending bill gives @NASA funding for a human lunar lander for the first time since Apollo! We are grateful for the BIPARTISAN support & will continue to work with Congress to secure the funds needed to land the 1st woman & next man on the Moon by 2024!” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted.

NASA’s Science programs would be funded at $7.1 billion. Space Operations, which supports the International Space Station and related programs, would receive $4.1 billion.

Below is a Congressional summary of the bill with a budget table and provisions that legislators added in.

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

The agreement includes $22,629,000,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

SCIENCE

The agreement includes $7,138,900,000 for Science.

Earth Science.-The agreement includes $1,971,800,000 for Earth Science and adopts all funding levels designated by the House and the Senate, except as follows.

Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud ocean Ecosystem (PACE).-The agreement includes $131,000,000 for PACE.

Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO).-The agreement includes $26,000,000 for CLARREO.

Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR).-The agreement includes $1,700,000 for DSCOVR.

Venture Class Missions.-The agreement includes $200,000,000 for Venture Class Missions.

Earth Science Research and Analysis.-The agreement directs no less than $25,000,000 above the requested level for Earth Science Research and Analysis.

Planetary Science.-The agreement includes $2,713,400,000 for Planetary Science. The agreement modifies House and Senate language regarding the Europa Clipper and Lander missions to reflect launch dates of 2025 for the Clipper and 2027 for the Lander. The agreement includes up to $300,000,000 for the Lunar Discovery and Exploration program, and up to\ $170,000,000 for Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS).

Discovery missions.-The agreement provides up to $190,400,000 for Discovery missons.

New Frontiers.-The agreement includes up to $502,700,000 for New Frontiers missions.

Mission to Detect, Track, and Characterize Near Earth Objects (NEO).-While NASA has discontinued efforts on the proposed Near-Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) mission, the agency has continued work with the NEOCam team on a more cost-effective space-based NEO survey mission to fulfill its obligations under the George E. Brown, Jr., Near-Earth Object Survey Act (P.L. 109-155), known as the Space-Based Infra-Red NEO Surveillance System. Within the Planetary Defense funding provided, the agreement includes $35,600,000 for further development of the NEO Surveillance mission.

Icy Satellites Surface Technology.-The agreement includes up to $37,800,000 above the requested level for Icy Satellites Surface Technology.

James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).-The agreement includes $423,000,000 for JWST. The agreement also includes a general provision to maintain the development cost cap for JWST at $8,802,700,000. NASA and its contractors should strictly adhere to this cap.

Astrophysics.-The agreement includes $1 ,306,200,000 for Astrophysics.

Astrophysics Research.-The agreement includes up to $250,700,000 for Astrophysics Research.

Hubble Space Telescope.-The agreement includes $90,800,000 for the Hubble Space Telescope.

Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).-The agreement includes $85,200,000 for SOFIA’s ongoing scientific mission.

Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).-The agreement includes no less than $510,700,000 for WFIRST. Within this total, the agreement also includes up to $65,000,000 for coronagraph technology development. The agreement emphasizes and reiterates Senate language regarding cost overruns, schedule delays, and adherence to the $3,200,000,000 cost cap.

Heliophysics.-The agreement includes $724,500,000 for Heliophysics.

AERONAUTICS

The agreement includes $783,900,000 for Aeronautics.

Aerosciences Evaluation and Test Capabilities (AETC).-The agreement consolidates and includes full funding for AETC within Aeronautics, as opposed to consolidation within Safety, Security, and Mission Services as recommended in the House report.

SPACE TECHNOLOGY

The agreement includes $1 ,100,000,000 for Space Technology.

Regional Economic Development Program.-The agreement includes up to $8,000,000 for the Regional Economic Development Program. NASA is encouraged to expand the program to all 50 states.

Nuclear Thermal Propulsion.-The agreement provides $110,000,000 for the development of nuclear thermal propulsion, of which not less than $80,000,000 shall be for the design of a flight demonstration by 2024 for which a multi-year plan is required by both the House and the Senate, within 180 days of enactment of this Act.

Restore-LISPace Infrastructure DExterous Robot (SPIDER).-Senate and House report language regarding Restore-Lis adopted. Restore-L will carry the SPace Infrastructure DEexterous Robot (SPIDER) as a secondary payload, and the combined Restore-L/SPIDER mission plans to demonstrate both satellite servicing and in-space robotic manufacturing technologies. Thus, the agreement combines funding for these efforts and provides $227,200,000 for Restore-L/SPIDER with no less than $180,000,000 for Restore-L activities.

Solar Electric Propulsion.-The agreement includes up to $48,100,000 for Solar Electric Propulsion activities.

Flight Opportunities Program.-The agreement includes no less than $25,000,000 for the Flight Opportunities Program, of which $5,000,000 is dedicated for competitively-selected opportunities in support of payload development and flight of K-12 and collegiate educational payloads.

Advanced Technologies to Support Air Revitalization Initiative.-The agreement addresses Advanced Technologies to Support Air Revitalization Initiative within the Exploration account.

EXPLORATION

The agreement includes $6,017,600,000 for Exploration.

Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.-The agreement includes $1,406,700,000 for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

Space Launch System (SLS).-The agreement includes $2,585,900,000 for the Space Launch System (SLS). NASA is reminded that section 70102 of title 51, United States Code, explicitly authorizes the use of the SLS for, among other purposes, payloads and missions that contribute to extending human presence beyond low-Earth orbit payloads and missions that would substantially benefit from the unique capabilities of the SLS, and other compelling circumstances, as determined by the Administrator.

Exploration Upper Stage.-The agreement includes $300,000,000 for the Exploration Upper Stage and directs that it be developed simultaneously with the SLS core stage, to be used to the maximum extent practicable, including for Earth to Moon missions and a Moon landing, as directed in the House report.

Exploration Ground Systems .-In lieu of direction in the House and Senate reports, the agreement includes $590,000,000 for Exploration Ground Systems.

Second Mobile Launch Platform (MLP-2).- In lieu of the House report language, the agreement includes no less than the request for MLP-2. Current funds for construction are believed to be sufficient for ongoing MLP-2 work which was contracted by NASA on July 25, 2019.

Exploration Research and Development.-The agreement includes $1,435,000,000 for Exploration Research and Development, and directs that of that amount, $450,000,000 is for Gateway, $600,000,000 is for Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities, $140,000,000 is for the Human Research Program, and $245,000,000 is for Advanced Exploration Systems.

Lunar Lander Development. –Senate report language regarding Lunar Lander Development is expanded to direct NASA to prioritize the selection of proposals that emphasize designs which reduce risk to schedule and engineering, and, above all, life.

Advanced Technologies to Support Air Revitalization Initiative.-In lieu of the House report language in Space Technology, the agreement provides up to $3,500,000 for NASA’s Advanced Technologies to Support Air Revitalization Initiative.

SPACE OPERATIONS

The agreement provides $4,140,200,000 for Space Operations, including $15,000,000 for commercial low-Earth orbit (LEO) development, as recommended by the Senate.

NASA ‘s Existing Communications Network and Infrastructure.-The fiscal year 2020 President’s request includes $3 ,000,000 for a new Communication Services Program. The agreement includes up to $3,000,000 for these activities to explore the feasibility of using new commercial communications services for LEO aplications, but does not establish a new program office. It is noted that any transition would not occur until at least 2030, and that any transition or purchase of services would require approval and funding in future appropriations acts.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, AND MATHEMATICS ENGAGEMENT

The agreement includes $120,000,000 for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Engagement.

Space Grant Program.-The agreement includes $48,000,000 for the Space Grant Program; directs that these amounts be allocated to State consortia for competitively awarded grants in support of local, regional, and national STEM needs; and directs that all 52 participating jurisdictions be supported at no less than $760,000 each.

Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).-The agreement includes $24,000,000 for EPSCoR.

Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).-The agreement includes $36,000,000 for MUREP.

STEM Education and Accountability Projects (SEAP).-The agreement includes $12,000,000 for the SEAP.

Museums and Planetariums.-No less than $5,000,000 is provided for the Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums, and NASA Visitor Centers within SEAP, and NASA is encouraged to follow the program’s authorized purpose.

SAFETY, SECURITY AND MISSION SERVICES

The agreement includes $2,913,300,000 for Safety, Security and Mission Services.

Challenger Center for Space Science Education Trust.-In tribute to the dedicated crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger, P.L. 100-404 established a trust fund known as the “Science, Space, and Technology Education Trust Fund.” There is concern with the continuing lack of availability of investment interest received from the Trust Fund for quarterly disbursements to the Challenger Center for Space Science Education.

The agreement directs NASA to work with the Office of Management and Budget to secure the release of amounts previously withheld from the Trust Fund that were intended to support the continuity of the Trust Fund. NASA should work with the Department of the Treasury Fiscal Service to invest the Trust Fund corpus in parvalue securities, as may be necessary, to ensure that NASA continues to meet the mandate to provide a minimum of $1 ,000,000 in annual payments to the Challenger Center for Space Science Education from interest earned.

AETC.The agreement addresses the AETC in the Aeronautics account.

CONSTRUCTION AND ENVIRONMENT AL COMPLIANCE AND RESTORATION

The agreement includes $373,400,000 for Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration. Included in this amount is no less than $130,500,000 for NASA’s three highest priority institutional construction of facilities projects. The agreement also includes the request for Construction of Facilities for Science, Exploration, and Space Operations.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

The agreement includes $41 ,700,000 for the Office of Inspector General.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS
(INCLUDING TRANSFERS OF FUNDS)

The agreement directs that not more than 40 percent of the amounts made available in this Act for the Gateway; Advanced Cislunar and Surface Capabilities; Commercial LEO Development; and Lunar Discovery and Exploration, excluding the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, may be obligated until the Administrator submits a multi-year plan.

The agreement also permits a transfer of funds from Exploration to Construction.